Chuck in Overview: Season Two

Chuck’s first full season. What sets season two apart from the others?  What changed from the first season?  And what impact does this season have on the whole?

After the jump, we’ll discuss Season Two.

Setting the stage for Season Two is still all about Season One.  The first season had been given a full order, but a writer’s strike ended things abruptly at 1.13.  That meant a break for us viewers from January of 2008 until late September of that year.  For myself, the on-line aspect of my Chuck enthusiasm hadn’t really kicked off yet.  At least apart from some research to discover that it had indeed been given a full season order.  (Actually, 13 episodes ordered in January with 9 episode back order placed that summer).

We’ve heard in a few interviews that they did some reimagining in that longer off-season.  We also know a few of the Season One ideas they never got around to did appear in Season Two.  A few things; the Season One Jill arc was put off to Season Two and Chuck was supposed to see Sarah shoot a surrendering prisoner in the finale.  We’ve heard it both ways on the 2.0, I’m not sure what to believe, but I would guess multiple possibilities had been discussed.  Devon was supposed to be exposed as a spy and killed (maybe the prisoner Sarah shot?  I’m glad this never happened!  It would have been the end of me and Chuck).

The long lay off led to some definite changes.  They decided Ryan was so perfect in his part and was connecting with fans, so they would leave Devon alone.  They decided to make Morgan more relatable.  And they decided to switch the Weinerlicious to Orange Orange (I’ve heard a couple explanations for this; one they felt the joke was played out, and two they’d had some problems staging action scenes with Yvonne in the Weiner-Girl costume).  And apparently they lost Tony Todd (Graham); I don’t know the story there, but his filmography at IMDb from about this time shows a pretty packed schedule, so its hardly surprising.  I think all of this points to some of the issues involving long term planning and continuity, really for any television show.  Our show runners have referenced their long term plans for the show before, but obviously these plans are a very fluid thing.  I think over time it is a reasonable, and completely typical thing for this sort of planning to impact story and continuity issues.

Overall

My overall impression of Season Two is dynamite.  If I considered the first season to be the best thing on television at the time, the second lifted it to one of the best things I’ve ever seen.  Above Season Three of Babylon 5 or Season Two of Rockford Files.  I think the objective quality of the show was at its pinnacle too. I still call Season Four my favorite, but I think Season Two was actually better made.

The season had a particular rhythm that encourages strong impressions; it started amazingly strong, and ended amazingly strong, with a scattered number of very strong episodes in the middle too.  A couple of arcs in the middle of the season sagged a little (Jill and Fulcrum Intersect) but we never had more than one weak episode at a time, or more than one weak episode in any arc.

I indicated last week that the government was less menacing after Season One, but only by a small degree.  Season Two started with a kill order, got to a bunker order, life on the lam, Sarah being reassigned; wow.  No doubt the government remained a threat.  Maybe less continuously, but it remained an issue.  And all those story elements are a huge part of quintessential Chuck. These are the things that define how we think about the early part of this show.  I honestly wish every one of those stories had received more attention.  But there’s only so much time in a season. (This is one of those things fan fiction excels at.  There are a number of stories that spend more time on those various elements).

I also think Fulcrum was the most effective and dangerous enemy the team faced.  Especially compared to The Ring which somehow seemed underwhelming by comparison, and later foes who all seemed more like personal enemies.  Fulcrum felt global, threatening in an important sense, and pervasive.  Yet Fulcrum was personal too.  Especially in the person of Ted Roark, and how this tied back to Orion.

Characters

The development of Chuck himself was a little uneven.  We saw the emergence of neurotic, buffoonish Chuck (Third Dimension, Beefcake).  Its no coincidence that I always consider such episodes weak.  This may have been the most unpleasant new development of the season, and it leaves me feeling like much of Chuck’s “growth” in Season Two was more retrograde. But it wasn’t all bad.  Even though he often showed initiative, creativity and leadership from the beginning, by the end of this season he was ready to move ahead with his life.  I’ll always feel like much of the best of Chuck’s growth was undone by the dreadful season that followed; but on its own merits, Season Two showed Chuck progress from “along for the ride” to “taking charge”.  For Chuck personally the season was probably defined by reconnecting with his father and learning how the Intersect didn’t just happen to him, it was his legacy.

We learned a lot more about Sarah over the course of this season too.  Especially about her con artist father and her childhood as a pariah.  But even more than that, her growth was even easier to define than Chuck’s.  She progressed from thinking she would just leave Chuck when this mission was over, to committing treason for him, to accepting that she could never leave.  Like Chuck’s growth, so much of this was tragically and horribly undone by the dreadful story decisions that defined Season Three.  But on its own, Season Two tells a beautiful story for Sarah.

Casey had a very good Season Two.  Although right from the start we see how he has changed since Season One as he tries to avoid his kill order against Chuck.  But by the mid-point of the season I think we see signs Casey would not seriously consider such an order again; certainly when we get to Colonel Casey is willing to go rogue to protect his team.  Great moment from a great episode.  And unlike the other main characters, Casey’s story will not be undermined in the future.

Morgan grows quite a lot as he comes to terms with adulthood, and even moving up the career ladder.  His growth into a good employee will take place more in the next season, but it clearly was starting here.  I know for many viewers he remained an annoyance, but I thought Morgan was used well in this season.  Anna was closely tied to Morgan’s growth.  I think she was a little less odd in this second season, which was a shame because that also meant a little less funny.  Well, apart from clobbering Micheal Strahan (errr, Mitt the Mighty Jock!).

Ellie and Devon “grew” very little, but Devon’s discovery of Chuck’s secret life has to remain one of the many great moments of this season.  And it was so refreshing to find something Devon was pointedly not good at.  Ellie did have to come to terms with how she felt about her dad, which led to some great dramatic and comic moments.

And I can’t do this without mentioning how Jeffster became JEFFSTER.  NOT Jester, like a couple of fools…  The first performance was a lot of fun as something new and unexpected; “Mr. Roboto” has to be one of the finest moments in television history.

Episodes

Much like Season One, there were no whole episodes in Season Two that I disliked.  Every episode had fun moments, and a significant number of episodes are just prefect and brilliant all the way through.  But I can still use my three categories.

  • STRONG: First Date, Seduction, Break Up, Cougars, Tom Sawyer, Delorean, Santa Claus, Best Friend, Predator, Broken Heart, First Kill, Colonel, Ring.  Several of these episodes have some less than favorite moments, but they all do something extraordinary to ensure they belong on this list.  Maybe I could have added a strong/average category!
  • AVERAGE: Fat Lady, Gravitron, Suburbs, Lethal Weapon, Dream Job.  It surprises me how much I’ve come to like some of these episodes that include parts of a love triangle, especially Fat Lady.
  • WEAK: Ex, Sensei, Third Dimension, Beefcake.  I think its significant both Ex and Beefcake are on this list.  Even if I can be won over by a good story with Jill or Cole; getting my favorite characters into a position where these characters can “move in” requires contortionism of a sort that really annoys me.  I think Third Dimension plays a major role in the story of Chuck’s weak ratings in the latter part of Season Two.

One thing jumps right out at me; that’s a lot of strong episodes!  More than half the season.  Season two leads the pack on this count.   This season will always be special, in some ways it is even my favorite.  It still lags Season Four slightly if for no other reason than Season Four delivers the show I’d been waiting over three years to see.  But this was brilliant television.

Next week things will get ugly, in a few senses of the word.

~ Dave

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About atcDave

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

  1. Colonel remains one of my favs, that she was willing to commit treason to keep him safe is amazingly heart warming. the hotel scenes are incredibly romantic and intimate its just a special episode

  2. authorguy says:

    The best season of Chuck, a strong coherent story, well-told and well-acted. I would move Suburbs up, and Delorean down, but overall your list is a good one. It also has two of the best villains, Tommy and Vincent. I wish we’d seen more of them both.

  3. I only have a few comments on S2. The first is that, in some ways, I think it was hurt by the writers’ strike. I remember when I first watched S2, I thought the lead in was a little abrupt, A little more development of Fulcrum in S1 would’ve helped. My only real S2 complaint (takes cover) involves Ellie. I thought she was fine in S1 but, starting with Season 2, I find myself wishing she’d appear much less. Mostly, that’s because in S2 she seemed to want to behave more like Chuck’s mother than his sister. Now, i know she was supposed to be the mom stand-in, but it seemed to be taken overboard this season.

    As for episodes, some of my all-time favorites will come next season, but I really do enjoy Cougars, DeLorean, Best Friend and Colonel.

    As a side thought, this was mentioned during the re-watch, but Colonel alsways plays more like a season finale than Ring does. Thematically, I think Ring fits more in S3, and so feels like it was tacked onto the end of this season.

    • atcDave says:

      I was okay with Ellie being more mom-like, but I would have preferred if Chuck was a little adult! He needed to know when to listen to her and when to ignore her. Unfortunately this problem will get even worse in the next season.
      I agree about Colonel as the true finale. Even though I really enjoy Ring, it is clearly more about setting up S3 than resolving S2.

  4. FSL says:

    Season 2 is my favourite. The obvious “great” is how Chuck is becoming a hero. From the first episode on, he’s growing as an agent. That sort of came to an abrupt stop in the later half of the season. I also liked how Fulcrum was developed throughout. All the double agent and massive infrastructure points to a much larger organisation than the Ring and VI ever would be. And all those chatter about them losing agents at the Buy More was hilarious in a seriously deadly sorta way.

    And of course, Stephen Bartowski. Enough said. =)

    • atcDave says:

      I think it’s more the middle of the season of the season when Chuck himself stagnates. Once his dad appears, he starts to take more initiative again.
      I guess I would also say S2 is when the show could best be called “great”. Although I still find S4 the most the enjoyable, it’s the foundation of S2 that makes it so.

  5. I enjoyed s4 so much, some people have said that Charah’s PDA was too over the top, I disagree especially following fear of death and phase three, that was a game changing thing for Sarah to realize she was “rest of her life” in love with Chuck and Yvonne made sure to show it in the rest of the episodes in S4.

    S2 has very great moments, I love deloreon because its a turning point in regards to Charah’s relationship. If her father can see that this guy is “ends of the earth” in love with her, she couldn’t ignore it anymore ether.S2 was also the best plot wise.

    Man, no disrespect meant to JS but he really REALLY, messed up with S3! I’m really starting to see how disrespectful he was to the characters, the fans and the show. I find it hard to believe that anybody could screw up so badly , it makes me want to cry…

    Dave maybe you should skip S3 or only talk about 3-12 on, everything prior is much much worse than I initially thought

    • with the exception of Beard

    • atcDave says:

      Oh geez Josh I didn’t mean to ruin it for you!

      But I think we will need to talk about it for this series to be complete. If nothing else, the ways it could have been done better are fascinating! And we do need to remember JS did a lot good for the initial creation and set up of the show. Its even possible JS’ guiding hand has something to do with why the continuity and arcs are better in S2 than in S4. But no doubt, I think his fondness for “triangles” and angst became destructive in S3.
      As far as PDA goes, I think they actually could have cranked that up another notch in S4 and S5. I think what some object to is the sort of cute/sweet stuff they did with wedding plans and finding normal. I actually loved the contrast between dangerous missions and mundane “who do we invite”. Like Natasha Romanov asking Steve Rogers who she can fix him up with while destroying hostile mercenaries (in Winter Soldier); I like the contrast. Ironically, Captain America played it for broader laughs than Chuck did. But its the sort of thing that always works for me.

    • uplink2 says:

      It will be interesting as it always is when that season is discussed.

      • atcDave says:

        The dynamic around here is changing. More of the newer marathon viewers seem to tolerate S3 better than us old-timers. So we’ll see if it even generates much heat next week!

  6. uplink2 says:

    I like Dave believe that season 4 is the show I wanted to watch, season 2 is technically the “best” season. For all the reasons mentioned, tighter story, bigger budget, much more character driven than plot driven etc. Too bad many of those lessons were cast aside the next season. But I always wonder how much of season 2 would have been in the back 9 of season 1 if there had not been a writers strike. Schwedak have said that season 1 would have ended with the 2.0 if it had been a full 22 episodes. But do you include the Orion arc or the Jill arc? Do you wait till season 2 for Jill and it becomes part of a much less contrived and forced post 2.0 WTWT scenario. If they did the Orion arc does the whole Cole Barker story happen? Or is that role Bryce’s again? I know this is slightly off topic but I find it an interesting discussion point.
    I pretty much agree with your listing Dave but I’ve never really had the aversion to Beefcake that many folks have. I see that as a necessary element to us learning Sarah’s true feelings and I can’t separate it from Lethal Weapon. I also do agree that 3rd Dimension was an absolutely critical point in the ratings for the show and it was bungled by possible Fedak’s weakest episode and he has never been one of the top writers for me.
    Season 2 is when I started watching the show with the Jill arc and I liked it, but my obsession began with DeLorean. It is a top 10 all time for me.

    • atcDave says:

      There was some good stuff in Beefcake, as I said in the post, there was no episode this season that I couldn’t find good in in. I loved Sarah having the “torture talk” with Chuck late in the episode and I thought the ending was terrific. Would have been a fascinating twist if they actually had been forced to move in together. Obviously I’m no fan of the angst, but it would have been funny I think to have to learn their way around each other while in forced long term proximity. Not to mention, it might have made the show more “Chuck and Sarah” a whole season earlier.
      But whiny Chuck, Chuck just doing as his sister says, and nobody having any faith in Chuck’s hacking abilities all really annoyed me. So I’ll stick with “weak!”

      I’ve heard so many different things about what they might have done with a full S1 I have no idea how it actually would have looked. I’m guessing they don’t really either, I think the strike ended things before much of anything was written (if it was written it would have been shot!). It does make for some fascinating “what ifs”, but I suspect there are no real answers.

  7. resaw says:

    To attempt a fishing analogy wherein I am the fish, season 1 hooked me, season 2 reeled me in, and by the time season 3 came along I was already in the boat; there was no escaping the show for me. Yes, there were some weak episodes in season 2, and even in some of the stronger episodes there were weak points, but it always felt like there was genuine tension in the show, something big was at stake, including, but not exclusively, the future of Chuck and Sarah. I was often frustrated by the failure of Chuck and Sarah to communicate with each other, despite all the talking that Chuck did… all the time…. But hope sprang eternal when watching this series (and now my mind is immediately drawn to the memory of how bewildering and unsure I was following the series finale. Was there hope? I think so, but it sure took me a long time to figure that out). Despite the frustration and confusion, I am just not in a place to criticize TPTB. They brought Chuck to life, and for that, I am only grateful. It was great TV.

  8. bubbasuess says:

    As I stated previously, I missed the discussion over the course of the rewatch, so I am going to bore y’all with some lengthy comments here. Sorry to drive everyone crazy with this, since I know I am covering some old ground. Thanks in advance for the catharsis of getting my thoughts out there.

    I. Overall, I think this season WAS Chuck. All the initial draw of season 1 is still present here but expanded on. Chuck struggling with two lives, the blossoming romance with Sarah, the brooding threat of Casey and the growth (in fits and starts) of Chuck into a leader. At the same time, I think the season is still blessed with a simplicity and sense of innocence that is soon to be lost in season 3. When I think of Chuck, I (and I dare say most people) think of the scruffy shlub in the nerd herder outfit. That is gone after this season and I always missed it. As has frequently been noted, this was definitely the best and most disciplined season by far.

    II. I think that the great elements of the show really crystalized in this season for a couple of reasons. The thing that really sums this up is how tight everything fit together. The core of the show was Chuck and Sarah and Casey. Everything else was important but peripheral. Those three were the center of the show and they each had their roles. One part was Chuck and Sarah and their romance (more on that in a minute). Then there was Chuck and Casey. I think that Casey often get sold a bit short because his real value to the show is often overlooked. Casey is the straight man to Chuck’s comic. Good comedy often comes with this combination, which allows the comic part to play off of the serious part. Think Abbot and Costello and Lewis and Martin. However, when you think of a team like Laurel and Hardy, you have the former as the comic and the latter as the straight man. What set them apart was that Hardy was able to function in the straight role but he was still just as funny as Laurel. That is the dynamic with Chuck and Casey. Casey is the straight foil to Chuck’s nerdy comic but Casey and his grunts are still hilarious. The fact that he can be both menacing and comedic at the same time is testimony to how lucky the show was to have Adam Baldwin on board. Later Casey is going to become the straight man to Morgan rather than Chuck and I think that, while it had great moments, it was a dilution of what was great in season 2.

    IIb. Another element of the show that was tight was the sense of location. First, I think that the addition of Castle was really important. It provided a center for the show. Also, this was the last season where the show was completely focused on the LA area. When they started to go overseas and such, I felt like it started to lose some of the nerdiness. I think it is awesome that Palm Springs and Barstow (and man, have I got some Barstow stories!) are your exotic locations. That is funny!

    III. In my opinion, Chuck and Sarah’s romance in this season (and in season 1 too, but as I recently stated, I think of these sort of as one uber-season) is the core of the show. The chemistry is so real but the restraint only heightens the drama and the excitement. For example, as great as the scene in Other Guy or the entirety of Honeymooners were, I don’t think they had quite the emotional charge that the hotel room had in Colonel. It was great because the dam bursting was made all the greater because of the restraint that had built up to that scene. In the same vein, later seasons require overt or grand gestures to up the emotional ante. In Santa Clause, the simple act of Chuck giving Sarah a bracelet is an incredibly, emotionally charged scene that was, once again, heightened by the restraint that surrounded it. It is as if all of Phase Three is compressed into the single act of Sarah hugging Chuck and telling him she would never let anyone hurt him. I still think that the later seasons’ great events in their romance were fantastic and satisfying to watch but in terms of the thrill and experience, nothing tops season 2. Another case in point is the end of Best Friend. To me, this may be my most favorite Chuck and Sarah moment. Chuck confessing his “care” for Sarah sets up their holding hands. In this one moment, they are both acknowledging their feelings for each other and their cover relationship has now become a cover for their real relationship (we see this again in Suburbs during the great breakfast scene. The cover relationship has become a cover for their real, growing relationship). The romance is strong, poignant and powerful but is fraught with tension because of the restraint. That is incredible story telling. It was great and satisfying to see them happy and together later on, but I think it was tough to top the way their romance in season 2.

    IIIb. On a side note, I was not bothered by the tone at the end of Suburbs and the breakup at the beginning of Beefcake. Consider that up to this point, all the obstacles put in front of Chuck and Sarah getting together had really been thrown up by either Chuck or Sarah. This time it is their respective authority figures that is shutting them down because, after the end of Best Friends, they are not going to put the obstacles in their own path anymore. Beckman tells Sarah to do it at the end of Suburbs while Chuck does it at Ellie’s urging at the beginning of the next episode. This explains why Sarah says what she says to Chuck (for his safety) and yet is melancholy at the dismantling of “their” house. Likewise Chuck breaks up with Sarah so as not to hurt her (and himself, as stated by Ellie). These two external obstacles are negated by the arrival of Barker. Chuck is forced to confront how he feels for Sarah and the rest is history.

    IV. Odds and ends here. I think Third Dimension was an odd episode. It may be the only one where I felt the Buy More plot was actually more interesting than the main plot. Perhaps that unusual state is why it always rates so low. In my own viewing, I had the single biggest laugh of the entire series. Specifically the Molly Ringwald challenge, which was perfect comedic architecture. Anyone familiar with 16 Candles is going to start thinking about whose undies are going to be produced. Will it be Anna’s? Then, out of nowhere, Lester gets his atomic wedgy. Perfect diversion! I was laughing so hysterically at that my wife had to pause the show for a while so I could regain my composure.

    Best Friend was an amazing episode. The action finale’s choreography and editing were perfect and Sarah and Casey’s reactions at the exploding herder and Chuck’s reappearance were tremendous. As noted in other discussions, I think this is where Sarah has to confront her feelings for Chuck. Likewise, I think this is where Casey must confront his growing respect for the heroic imbecile. Pivotal. This is what leads to Sarah and Chuck’s holding hands at the end and Casey’s support of Chuck a little further down the road. Also let’s not forget the epic birth of Jeffster in one of their finest performances. Again, the editing of the end of the episode was incredible. Who would have thought a catchy but lyrically awkward 80’s song could be used to achieve such an emotional crescendo? I don’t want to read too much into the lyrics and the scene, but come on, this was my favorite moment in all of Chuck, so indulge me. Lyrics when Sarah is apologizing to Chuck: “frightened of this thing that I’ve become”. Lyrics when Chuck confesses his “care” for her: “Its gonna take a lot to drag me away from you…” That can’t be by accident. Oh, and the confused look on the green shirt’s face right before that bit of dialogue was awesome. And, oh man, Jeff and Lester are hilarious.

    Jeffster’s performance of Mr. Roboto…what can you say? That whole sequence was one of the greatest moments of television history. Has there ever been a more perfect combination of action and comedy? Well, that and the funniest line I think I have ever heard on television or in film, for that matter): “Why are you letting Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian ruin your wedding?” Comic genius. And who would have thought Mr. Roboto would make such a great action soundtrack?
    I liked how Chuck and Morgan’s arc over the latter half of the season followed each other. Where Morgan steps up and does takes the lead in doing what he thinks is best for everyone at the Buy More, Chuch steps up to do what he must do to save everyone at the wedding. Where Chuck must face his growth as a leader on Team B, Morgan is forced to be a leader at Buy More. Where Morgan chooses to leave Buy More and head to Hawaii with Anna, Chuck gets the Intersect out of his head and is free to pursue his future with Sarah. These parallel journeys both begin with the end of Best Friend, where Chuck and Morgan both confess they “care” for their girls.
    The Mauser shooting in Santa Clause was incredible. The overlay of Silent Night and the location of Christmas tree lot were so incongruent with the situation and the looks of anguish on Sarah’s face. Powerful stuff. By the way, what was up with snow falling at the end of that scene?
    Lastly, Sarah’s entrance at the beginning of seductions is one of my favorite moments from the series. It is oozing with uber-nerdom all the while betraying Sarah’s already fallen for Chuck by lingering a bit too long with the kiss. And I love the look on Morgan’s face as he backs away from Chuck at the beginning of the sequence. Hilarious!

    OK, so those are my most pressing thoughts on season 2. Favorite episodes: Best Friend, Santa Clause and Colonel. Ring gets put on the list solely on the strength of the Jeffster sequence.
    So, there are a newbie’s thoughts. I can’t believe I just wrote all of this after spending the day crossfencing part of my friend’s ranch. I guess pounding in fence posts leaves lots of time to think about things, so why not ponder the intricacies of Chuck? This at least makes up for me missing the rewatch. Thanks everyone for sitting through this lengthy comment and my descent into Chuck nerd-dom!

    • atcDave says:

      You sure don’t need to apologize for going long! Many of us get wordy going on about all things Chuck!
      I don’t see much there I would disagree with, except maybe the strength of your priority for Season Two. It certainly is awesome television, and I think its strength and potential is a big part of why so many of us became so hooked on this show. But I think the fulfillment of that promise in Season Four is just as important, at least to me it is. I’ve seen so many shows tease their way through the wt/wt game. Chuck may have been one of the very best at it, especially with the chemistry and charisma of Zac and Yvonne; but Chuck actually delivered, and delivered quite well. For two seasons we got to see the success story unfold.
      Season Three remains problematic, but we end up with two very satisfying shows in early Chuck vs late Chuck. It is a shame they lost so much budget for the later seasons, I think that translated into fewer writers and less time to polish scripts and work on continuity. Even so, I think the strength of the performances often made up for shortcomings on script.
      I also disagree some with your point about Beefcake, not so much that you’re “wrong”, but that an episode that portrays Chuck as such a doofus will just never score very highly with me no matter the circumstance. Add to that the tension and estrangement between Chuck and Sarah and well, I find it tedious and boring. No matter its technical merits, it will never be something I want to see.

      Thanks for a long and thoughtful comment. That was fun to read, even if we’re only 87.658% on the same page.

    • uplink2 says:

      Really well said bubbasuess. I agree with a great deal of it and my differences are mainly slight. But line thing I do want to mention is the romance element of the show and why season 2 is the highlight and though you see what comes later as great, it doesn’t reach the heights that season 2 does. As I said earlier season 4 is my favorite because it is the show I always longed for but season 2 is the best overall. I can agree with much of issue with the romance and I lay that problem squarely at the betrayal of season 3. That by trying to stretch out the WTWT for one more season with such a contrived, poorly cast and poorly executed trip back to the empty OLI well, the romance never fully reached the heights it could on a regular basis. Sure there are many fantastic moments like Phase 3, the engagement etc. but the consistency of the romance driving the show forward was lost by the tragedy of the trapezoid show choice. The believability of OLI stories was lost by the great moments of episodes like DeLorean, Best Friend, Suburbs, Lethal Weapon and Colonel. No OLI story was ever going to work after season 2 and by trying to force another round of them into the show it forever tarnished what made that romance such an iconic one and pushed aside the amazing chemistry of Zach and Yvonne right when the show needed it the most because of the budget changes etc. To use a sports analogy they decided to bench their star player right when the show was hit by a ton of injuries. Though I love much of what came from Other Guy on, I can agree that the height of the romance was in season 2.I can also agree that the restraint you talk about is much of the reason why. But I want to clarify that by saying it wasn’t the restraint of them not being together but the strength of telling an honest story. We lost that honesty in season 3 and it forever tarnished what was to follow.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I do agree S3 is a huge drag on S2. So many great S2 moments and developments are lessened. It’s like, lessons aren’t really learned, growth doesn’t really happen, because it will all be undone in the next season.

      • bubbasuess says:

        As you said, we are on the same page here. I am not trying to sound argumentative here, rather, just expanding my thoughts a little bit. Regarding what you say as good story telling and restraint, I agree. I think the restraint, WAS the good story telling (and incredible acting). Where all the weight of Phase Three is embedded in a hug and whispered word or all of the emotion of Other Guy is present in them holding hands or the joy of Honeymooners is seen in the hotel room in Colonel. I loved all the latter scenes but the season 2 stuff was just…enhanced by the restraint. The holding back a little bit builds tension even where there is great romance. Tension is what draws us in. That is what really drives these moments home and gives them there great emotional charge. I loved the latter scenes I mentioned but they are more overt and lack the dramatic edge that the ones in season 2 had. I think the edge makes them more meaningful. Of course, it is nice to have a great payoff like seeing their uninhibited happiness, too, but would we really love it if that was where the show had began? I favor the journey, not the destination.

      • authorguy says:

        There are no kisses in S4 to compare with the bomb kiss, or Barstow. After S2 their ‘kisses’ are more superficial, let’s-rub-our-lips-together-and-make-sucking-noises monstrosities. Make me cringe every time.

      • atcDave says:

        Bubbasuess it’s not arguing, this is how we have fun with a show that’s two years gone!

        I think where you use tension, I might lean towards pregnant. And that pregnancy was well done, but it’s because it led to such a wonderful child that I can enjoy it more completely than ever.
        I’m not too dogmatic about ever saying it had to be a certain way, or it was clearly better because of how it was done. I can easily imagine telling an awesome story that starts with an already happy couple, or launches into a heated and forbidden romance right from the Pilot. There’s so many possibilities for how these characters and this setting could have been rearranged or twisted around and still wound up with something special and fun.
        I think there’s a lot of ingredients that made Chuck special. Starting with a particular blend of action and humor that always plays well with me. Add in some fun and likable characters, off the charts charisma and chemistry, and I think there’s a lot of directions they could have gone with it. I think the specific story or journey becomes a secondary consideration. And some of the missteps I see along the way really interest me to see what doesn’t work as much as what does. As always, I’ll start that by saying keeping Chuck and Sarah apart on screen was the clear worst move they could ever make. Making Chuck look like a cad, idiot or doofus is another that never plays well. And making Sarah cold, unforgiving or not supportive is another thing that just never worked. Sticking with the things that worked well and avoiding certain pitfalls I think they could have told the story very differently, and in some ways better. Although admittedly the “better” judgment is subjective, and in some cases requires hindsight.

      • uplink2 says:

        This is all semantics certainly but I do want to reiterate my feeling that the use of the word restraint and its feeling and importance does not necessitate the tension of not being together. That is the failure many writers and showrunners make. They immediately think the only way to generate tension is by keeping their characters apart. That simply isn’t true. There were many ways to keep the dramatic tension when you put the couple together especially in a show like Chuck with the very tension filled spy story. But showrunners simply take the easy way out of “what do we do now to keep them apart?” Writing a couple together is just harder and most fall into the trap of tension can only come from WTWT. To me the tension(i.e. restraint) in season 4 and beyond is lessened not by the fact that they were now together but by the fact that season 3 was just a reset and nothing happened to them as a couple to grow the relationship where I felt they earned the DYLM moment. It was simply episode 13 and they ignored everything that happened in the last 12 episodes. Had they told a more honest story in those first 12 without the stupid OLI’s I think the tension in the story would have felt more honest and that restraint you talk about would have been perceived more comfortably.

      • atcDave says:

        Although Uplink I think the restraint of S2 WAS very well done. I don’t believe it HAD to be that way, but they really did a masterful job, in S2, of drawing out the excitement we all felt just waiting for it to burst. In particular, what would it take for Sarah to chose love over duty? Perhaps part of why S3 was such a fubar is they may not have realized what made S2 work was that Sarah’s decision was such a driving force, and Chuck and the audience were collectively holding our breath for six months wondering how it would happen. S3 by comparison lacked that sort of tension entirely. Chuck and Sarah gave up on each other, and I think enthusiasm was just sucked right out of the show as a result.
        Now I think its interesting that Other Guy still felt like a great moment. But it’s more of an isolated great moment, with little of interest building up to it.

      • Authorguy – hottest kiss of the series is between Sarah and Cole!

  9. mr2686 says:

    It’s a tale of 2 seasons for me when talking about season 2. First, season 2 has five episodes in my top 10 (Ring, Colonel, Cougars, DeLorean, and First Date…and if you’re talking top 11, then I would add Seduction). On the other hand, it also has 5 episodes in my bottom 15 (slightly below avg to way below average) with Sensei, Gravitron and Ex actually being in the bottom 6 (Ex in a tie with season 3’s Mask for last place). Also, the flow really screws me up, since the first 5 episodes of the season really get you going, and then 3 of the next 4 are in the bottom tier. That doesn’t happen in season 4, which may not have quite as many outstanding episodes, although it does have quite a few, it really only has one clunker (Muuurder). Overall though, if I could only take one season to a desert island, I would have to take season 2, just based on the amount of episodes I wouldn’t want to be without.

  10. aalleess says:

    To me, the strong ones are First date, Seduction, Break Up, Cougars, Tom Sawyer, Delorean, Santa Claus, Best Friend, Lethal Weapon, Broken Heart, Colonel, Ring. The rest are average. The weak ones come in the next season.

    Although I put Colonel and Ring among the strong ones I would change the ending. Instead of deintersecting Chuck and putting the Intersect 2.0 in his head I would do a scene where Chuck saves Sarah’s life stopping a bullet by jumping in front of her. This would be the end of Season 2 and the next season would begin with one of my favorite Fanfics – Chuck vs a Normal Life.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, awesome idea for an end Aalleess! Definitely an awesome story, and that sure would be a terrific place for it. Normal life can be found here.

  11. oldresorter says:

    When Sarah is teased or feigned as slutty or she has a PLI, I don’t like the ep. Chuck’s PLI’s / LI’s are funny, cause he is so hapless and such a loser. I don’t view this as a double standard, just the reality of someone who seduced men for a living vs someone who we were told was essentially dateless for most of his adult life. Her loyality bounced off his clueless infidelity was not supposed to be dramatic, it was supposed to be funny. YS portrayed the frustration and the ‘funny’ jealousy in an awesome manner.

    I loved Delorean, mostly loved Colonel and Best Friends, and liked all the non Bryce and Cole eps.

    One comment to the Chuck being a bafoon comment(s). I have become a JS Hart of Dixie fan. One thing I look for is how JS tells a story, and also if it appears he learned things from Chuck. Maybe my least fav character in HOD is the star, Zoey Hart. The reason, like chuck, the comedy is run thru her overplayed ineptness, allowing other characters to shine. Now that plays well or OK in a comedy like HOD, but when Chuck gets serious and the bafoon factor is in play, that seems ugly / mean / unhappy / wrong to my eye. JS’s HOD has all kinds of PLI’s and LI’s, but near all of them are positive, well liked types, that even the jealous party likes. Ryan M plays one, Carter Covington, he is perfectly suited for a Southern gentleman LI type.

    Anyhow, back to season two. The biggest mistake made in Chuck was revealing that Stephen was Orion. Orion being an unknown was the BEST drama in the show and could have carried the show all five seasons. Had frumpy Steven secretly been revealed late in the series as Orion, that would have busted all of our chops. But, those eps with Orion in them, were so darned riveting, awesome really. Even in s4 when chuck faked like he was Orion, those two scenes, the one in volkov’s place where the computer screen faked us out, and then for the moment in Orion’s cabin, those eps rocked. I suppose in some ways, the best idea for a movie would be for Chuck to become Orion unknown to the world …… also probably the best chance for a recurring movie series …. as Orion is the show’s best idea!!!!! I thought S4 was going that way, for some reasons, the writers didn’t agree?

    The second biggest mistake was making the intersect more than mental skills. Chuck should have learned to be a spy physically, while he had the incredible mental skills supporting the team. In many ways, Intersect 1.0 was the engine that drove the show thru the end of season 2. Once Intersect 2.0 got introduced, the entire flavor of the show changed, and not for the better.

    A final mistake was taking the serious edge off of Casey. He, like Orion, gave the drama of the show some legs, other than Sarah PLI’s or LI’s, Sarah being near dead, going away, tortured or mind wiped, etc. This mistake was compounded in later seasons by playing Casey off of Morgan and not Chuck, the writers Morgan love hurt the show a great deal. He should have been a background 6th character, behind Chuck, Sarah, Casey, Ellie, Devon in order. Morgan was less in season two, which was a good thing.

    So season 2, other than Bryce and Cole, was Chuck in its heyday, with Casey still a bit scary and dealing mostly with Chuck and Sarah which netted epic chemistry. The intersect was data only, and really contributed to the drama, as Chuck couldn’t fight, and didn’t want to, which fit him and created lots of neat action scenes. Orion cast a dark shadow over everything for a while, ratcheting up the drama in each scene he appeared. And Chuck and Sarah kept getting better and better, closer and closer, two steps forward, one step back.

    As Sarah said at some point in the show, can’t recall the ep, ‘Perfect’!

    • oldresorter says:

      Wanted to add, that my biggest hope for a recurring movie series would be for Chuck and Sarah to be written as Thin Man like. I recall that some Hollywood type was considering remaking the Charles, maybe they would consider casting YS and ZL? I’m sorry to admit, I would like that far more than a Chuck movie. But if Depp won’t have them, then JS / Fedak should out Charles the Charlessssss with Chuck and Sarah.

      http://screenrant.com/johnny-depps-thin-man-remake-delayed-niall-181572/

    • atcDave says:

      You know I agree completely about the Intersect. I was never terribly enthused about making Chuck more super hero, less normal. A lot of very interesting points. I liked having both Casey and Morgan grow the way they did, but I agree entirely it led to too much Morgan. I can see drawing out the Orion reveal a bit longer, but like so many other issues, I think he has to be revealed. Dragging out any story point too long diminishes its effectiveness. Like all those shows where secret identities are kept secret, at some point you decide all the other characters are stupid.

      Depp as Nick Charles just seems completely wrong. Zac (and Yvonne) would be just terrific casting though.

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave, but we had no idea that Stephen was Orion. Or at least I didn’t. I’d have kept it a secret from us too. I don’t think it would make any character stupid. Mayvbe you didn’t feel the dramatic pull all the Orion scenes had. To me, it was the show’s best drama, and never was replaced. Didn’t you feel that too???

        Now if Chuck became Orion, I think we’d have to know as fans, too much of the story would involve him. I’d tell Sarah, and have her go back to work in the agency helping Orion. Maybe have Casey not know, but really know. Excuse would be that they wouldn’t want Casey to go to jail for espionage?

        I guess that would leave Morgan as the triplets ‘nanny’. And a real life Alfred role to Chuck’s Batman. Beckman as Commisioner Gordon???? Perfect! OK. Too much fanfic’ing going on now!

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I love the idea of Chuck as the new Orion. So many of us thought, hoped, that would be the direction for S3 even. At least, those were the thoughts being discussed between Colonel and Ring.
        Part of the problem I have with the Orion “secret” is that it was spoiled before it ever ran. When Scott Bakula was first cast, we heard been cast to play the creator of the Intersect. A week or two later we heard he was Chuck’s dad. It was definitely one time the spoilers spoiled the experience! I mean, I still thought it was all well done, but there was never any mystery about it to me.
        Even so, I’m Leary of drawing out reveals too long. Like Ellie too long after Devon knew, or Lois Lane baffled by Clark Kent; at a certain point, what the characters don’t know starts to make them look stupid.
        But all that said, I would have been fine with more attention payed to that story. They left it behind for too much of the next season.

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave – I first started watching between s2 and s3, so I had no idea about Orion until it was revealed. Too bad it was leaked. Not knowing was ‘awesome’. Finding out was disappointing.

      • atcDave says:

        It was funny after Predator, the forums were full of comments about how the computer image didn’t look at all like Scott Bakula!

      • authorguy says:

        Just like the guys in the shadows in the Ring HQ didn’t look at all like the 5 losers they caught in S3!

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree with much of that. First the 2.0. I think the greatest thing about the Intersect was that it gave Chuck access to this enormous database that he could use in his unique way to save the day. But once the 2.0 was introduced its like they forgot about the database aspect to the Intersect and only cared about the skill set. They also forgot about the databases incredible value as shown by the fact that it didn’t seem to matter about protecting Chuck any longer as evidenced by First Class and Beard. The “baddies” threatening that database were no longer Rourke and Fulcrum but the ineptitude of Shaw and the CIA/NSA itself. It fundamentally changed the entire feel of the show and not often in a good way. I do realize and accept that a show has to grow to move forward but they didn’t do that here. They simply reset things both in the spy story and in the relationship story with the 2.0. It was a cheat and in the case of the relationship story it failed miserably.
      Though I don’t like LI/OLI stories as much, the ones we had in season 2 worked for me and I saw them as necessary to the story. Bryce, Jill and Cole all had real honest roles to play and justifiable story lines developed out of the characters themselves and where they were in the story. Shaw and Hannah weren’t. They simply reset the relationship and told the same story over again and this time much more poorly. Those characters I have HUGE problems with but I don’t have any really with the OLI’s of season 2.
      I’m not sure what to think about not doing the Orion/Stephen reveal. I liked it and think it had great merit for the story. I also liked that there were consequences of the spy life in the death of Stephen, I only wish that they hadn’t chosen to play the no one is really ever truly dead with Shaw than Stephen. But a secret Chuck becomes the new Orion has great potential.

      • atcDave says:

        One line sums up I disliked about the 2.0 more than anything else; it was “now we need you to protect the world from Chuck.” It set much of the tone for S3, and I just hated that line.

      • authorguy says:

        Definitely counter to the spirit of the show. I’m glad they never followed that line.

  12. joe says:

    Man, you make me want to see S2 all over again, Dave. It’s not the story lines I crave so much as the feelings and emotions they (always) generate. I can’t help but describe the season, especially the episodes following 3-D, as a runaway freight train.

    One thing you didn’t mention, one thing I absolutely love about S2, is the music. From Huey Lewis & The News, all the stuff by Frightened Rabbit and Blitzen Trapper, or The Kooks, the Puppini Sisters version of Walk Like An Egyptian – stop me before I link again!!!

    We simply can’t forget Bon Iver’s Skinny Love, Toto’s Africa, mostly ’cause they’re unforgettable. I love ’em all. But seriously, they aren’t even my favorites of the season. That would be God & Suicide by Blitzen Trapper, Signs by Bloc Party, the song that will always make me think of how working at Apple would look like, Around the Bend (but, MORE COWBELL!) and my all-time, #1 favorite in the world’s longest playlist, Luisa’s Bones.

    Music, carry me away!

    • atcDave says:

      Gee Joe, say it ain’t so; I’m coercing you to watch more Chuck…

      • joe says:

        Well, yeah. As Mrs. Joe is wont to say, “It’s all your fault!” 😉

      • atcDave says:

        One fun comment to make for all those readers who have been frustrated when a comment of yours got caught in the spam filter for some reason. Joe’s comment above, with all those links, got flagged and didn’t post at first. I got an automated message that a message from “Joe” needed to be approved. Too funny. That just seems so backwards.

    • joe says:

      Oh, it just means WordPress knows I crave approval. It’s a common malady. 😉

      (And it goes to show that it won’t even let me get away with too many links…)

      • atcDave says:

        Good thing it never does that to our posts! My Alt Finale post would been sucked into the void…

    • bubbasuess says:

      Creature Fear was my favorite. Speaking of music, there was a little ditty I heard a few times through out season 2 (Best Friend, when Chuck shows up after they think he blew up, several times in Beefcake, end of Colonel, when driving away from exploding Black Rock among others) and then I don’t remember hearing it again until the end of Goodbye, at the end of the concert hall scene once the bomb has been diffused. That has always been my favorite piece of Chuck music but I have never found a name or recording of it. Does anyone know?

  13. BigKev67 says:

    Season 2 – the very best of Chuck IMO. Kicking off with probably my all timed favourite episode (First Date), maintaining a great balance between all the various elements of the show through the season. Very few poor episodes. Great guest casting. The strongest single arc of the series with the search for Chuck’s dad. The wt/wt was still interesting and plausible and the chemistry between Chuck and Sarah still palpable. This is the season that made me fall in love with this show – hands down the best season of the 5.

    • BigKev67 says:

      All timed favourite episode??? I’ve fired my editor 🙂

    • authorguy says:

      Complete agreement in every respect.

    • atcDave says:

      Sorry about the lack of edit!

      One thing I thought about as soon as I saw your comment Kev, S2 was also the last time we were all on the same page in our enthusiasm for the show. The last time we were all Chuck fans before the schisms opened up.

      • oldresorter says:

        right up to the end.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah exactly. The end deepened them even further.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agreed. Its the last time where the fanbase is generally unified in its devotion and appreciation for the series. No matter what storyline attracted you to the show, the everyman’s story, the heroes journey, the “epic” romance, the spy story, the BuyMorons, the comedy, or the drama we were all united in our love for the show. For folks like you guys who followed the leaks etc., that unity ended with “emotionally traumatic” and Josh’s stunned reaction to his hubris at comicon 2009. For people like me who were totally unaware of any spoilers or any of this it ended when I saw the betrayal of Prague where I had no idea who that Chuck was walking away after brutally dismissing and rejecting Sarah. But the last time we were unified was when Chuck said “Guys, I know Kung Fu”.

      • atcDave says:

        Figuratively, or in terms of screen time you’re exactly right. But it was actually drawn out over many months. For me, it wasn’t until Mask that I really started to accept I wasn’t going to get the show I expected or wanted.

  14. Wilf says:

    Season 2 was great, no question and there are few, if any, episodes which I would say are poor. First Date, Colonel, Broken Heart and Cougars are probably my favourites, although others come close. Beefcake, Sensei and Third Dimension are least favourite but I still like watching them … well, maybe not so much Beefcake. Like some others, I enjoyed Season 4 more, not least because the Chuck-Sarah relationship was pretty secure by then but, undoubtedly, Season 2 was better technically and it really set the seal on the Chuck Sarah relationship which so many of us always wanted to see.

  15. Name Required says:

    I’d say Season 2 is the overall best by a wide margin because, literally, it is the only one with a full budget, a full 22-episode order, a complete cast, a coherent story and, perhaps most importantly, a normal shooting schedule.

    Colonel, by far, it seems to me, is the best single episode because it wraps up the story perfectly and, for all intents and purposes, ends the original Chuck show. After Colonel, the show is purposefully changed into another entity that has ups and downs, a less thrilling concept (after all, nothing much new about an average guy who WANTS to be a hero), and the brutal budget cuts. Even if you prefer Seasons 3-5 or any one of them, they all suffer from the lower budgets and incomplete casts and the rushed shooting schedules.

    My own personal favorite is Suburbs. I loved the glimpse at what a coupled Chuck and Sarah could be. It looked so fun and romantic. I thought the ending was brutal and painful, but totally realistic. At that point, I honestly thought the writers had decided they COULD NEVER put Chuck and Sarah together and I bought the logic.

    I think the only very weak episode of Season 2 is Third Dimension and it suffers mostly from the fact that, coming off the high of Santa Claus, it swept the real emotional jeopardy of the Mauser execution under the rug. And even that would have been okay if it had brought more viewers to the show given that Super Bowl lead-in. Sensei doesn’t do much for me, but I loved that Chuck perceives that the way to encourage Casey was to convince him that he had an angry core. That was a clever bit.

  16. Its funny so many people mention “the restraint of S2” as the reason its so great. I do agree with that fact entirely, but MUST point out a parallel that exists between S2 and another portion of the series; the portion being the finale (BOTH 5-12&5-13) Why do I feel there is a parallel here?, simple it is because CF (at least to me) brilliantly put tension (via restraint) back in the relationship. Unlike S3 I thought that this (tension via restraint) was realistically executed and beautifully resolved in the ending because Chuck lets go of his restraint by the end and so does Sarah and they break the metaphorical barrier between them like they did in Colonel and what follows is just as romantic while fitting the moment appropriately in relation to their situation and IMO overwrites the butchering of S3. I don’t know if this makes since to anyone else but it does to me.

    • atcDave says:

      I just think the sell by date for that sort of tension ended at Ring. Any recurrence of it is unwelcome. Period.

      • oldresorter says:

        The writers struggled with telling the next story. They kept wanting to retell the same story, literally not only right up to the end. I find it hard to believe that all the writers could come up with for a series ending on the beach, i.e. falling in love again. It did a complete disservice to those of us that relished the first falling in love story, and wanted to see that love grow into a life long love, the one teased about all season long, and then not delivered on. I view the status of Chuck and Sarah’s love on the Bullet train, as only the first chapter of a lifelong love story. Instead, I was left with the prospect of rereading the first chapter, the falling in love chapter as my lasting memory of Chuck and Sarah. I thought that approach was very unimaginative and epically uncreative, and downright mean.

        I found the interview where Fedak implies that one of JS and he felt the kiss worked, here is the text and the link for those interested. Since JS has been more silent and somewhat snarky about the finale, my bet is he thought the kiss worked.

        HITFIX ?: “I want to start at the end. They sit on the beach, Chuck tells Sarah the story of their relationship, she laughs, and we’ve gotten hints that she’s starting to remember her life with him. And he kisses her. Does Morgan’s magic trick idea work and she remembers everything instantly? Or is it just going to be a slow and steady process for her to get all her memories and feelings back?

        FEDAK ANS: “I think I’m going to leave that up to the audience. I have my thought, and Josh has his. It’s a sweet, nice moment. A happy ending for those two. I think it’s up for everyone to judge that kiss at the very end.”

        http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/interview-chuck-co-creator-chris-fedak-on-the-series-finale

        I wonder if one of the two writers thought the kiss worked, and if so, which one? Fedak almost implies one of them does?

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that Jason. Although JS is not credited as a writer for Goodbye. Obviously he still has oversight as an EP. I think that’s part of his relative silence, it wasn’t really his baby anymore.

      • BigKev67 says:

        “I’m going to leave that up to the audience” – surely the greatest cop out any writer can come up with? Sorry. I just grind my teeth whenever I see that quote!

      • atcDave says:

        Certainly those are words that should just never be said.

  17. I maintain what I said a while back that I would’ve felt real loss had I seen an epilogue because the issue with such a thing is that CHUCK went only 5 seasons! If it had gone 7-8 I would’ve wanted to see culmination of their relationship, trials, adventures and lives but…I just felt the CHUCKverse as has too many stories left to tell, by the end of most shows I’ve watched they’ve no story potential left but I think we all agree that the problem with CHUCK being taken away is it was dealt a bad birth, bad circumstances, bad outcomes from bad circumstances and thus came to an end before we had our fill of that world and the people in it!:(((

  18. I meant it couldn’t have been crammed in. It would’ve taken at least another full season to provide a truly great final evil conflict and at the same time set the stage for the epilogue we all wanted!

    • atcDave says:

      That is very optimistic! But at this point, I have limited confidence in ever getting more, so a better end would have worked, well, better.
      As we were discussing last week, any good epilogue would have left Chuck and Sarah alive and well, and happy together. And that means infinite potential for a new story. I just think the OLD story (amnesia story) should have been fully resolved, without questions hanging.

  19. bubbasuess says:

    A couple other things I loved from season 2:

    My favorite Casey line, which comes from Beefcake: “Great! The most annoying romance of my life is finally over.” The straight man strikes again!

    Also, I really missed the Orange Orange later in the show. I thought it was subtle but well used this season. Sarah had a little more dignity, a great outfit (with the orange chucks!) and the opportunity to show off knife skills.

  20. CaptMediocre says:

    You know why S2 was the best?

    (Yes far superior to S4)
    (S1 is 2nd best for me)

    Because they didn’t try to tell TOO MUCH story.

    And let’s face it, after S2 the Chuck character that we all knew and loved, the one that was about noticing the little things and using his wits to get out of situations, never came back.

    The more mature Chuck, that everyone said he had grow into, was replaced by someone constantly looking for grand gestures and not noticing his wife might be pregnant. Immature Chuck was much more grown up in many ways.

    • BigKev67 says:

      Couldn’t agree more Capt. I’m with you and OD on this. Of all the things I missed after S2, the loss of smart, resourceful, observant Chuck (except for Season finales) and the gradual transference of those qualities to Morgan, was by far the most significant. Ironically the later seasons were when he most needed those qualities (as a real spy, rather than an accidental one) and instead of being emphasised, they were virtually taken away.

      • oldresorter says:

        Lost the writing team.

      • Chlojack says:

        Someone I really missed after season 2 was Anna Wu. She was my favorite Buy More character and I thought she was hilarious.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Jason,
        I think you’re spot on with that observation – the “second” writing team wrote Chuck’s character in a markedly different way. He was more insecure and at times cartoonish and goofy – which fit with the lighter vibe of the show but really didn’t fit with the show trying to convince me that he was now a real CIA sanctioned spy. The handling of Chuck’s character is another smaller one of those schisms that Dave referred to upthread.

    • Bill says:

      I agree with the capn — the first two seasons of Chuck were its best. S2 in particular was must-see TV for my family.

  21. I never had an issue with the way Chuck was portrayed in S4 or S5, as we grow up we change, stumble, make mistakes, I never thought the Chuck we see in S1,2 or 3 was the real Chuck. I see Chuck in S4 and S5 as a great representation of everyday people but I’d never say that early Chuck was better than Chuck in S4 or 5 because early Chuck wasn’t moving ahead in life! Which could be why he makes mistakes when he finally does grow up. We are all human and if that’s what later Chuck is being penalized for than that’s just wrong. Everyone gets clueless, or insecure and fights for what they want. I’ll take a grown up who makes mistakes over a kid whose afraid to grow up any day! The Chuck of season 1&2 had to go but S4 and 5 is how he should’ve been in S3! Besides he never lost the nerdy quality that I loved, even in the darkness of s3 it was always still there.

    • atcDave says:

      I think they were mostly arguing the opposite. In many ways, Chuck of S1 and S2 was MORE mature and stable than the later Chuck. I think really S1 Chuck was the most mature of the entire series. He was steady, respected by his peers and a good leader. But starting slowly in S2, and then increasing a lot in S3 he became whiny, annoying and a bit of a buffoon on occasion.
      Now I would argue, apart from some issues of total jerkiness in S3, it never really went too far. That is, if we saw Chuck as a whiny baby in Third Dimension or Curse, by the next week he was behaving more admirably again. And apart from early in S3 he was never really a “bad” guy, but occasionally he was annoying. And I think was not the best approach on a show that asked the fans to relate so closely to that main character. He seemed less like one of us, and more like a living cartoon.
      If I had to guess, I would say during the long off season after S1 they decided it would be “fun” to go for the over-animated Dick van Dyke sort of humor with their main character. At least occasionally. I’m not sure if it was Zac or someone else decided it was a fun sort of humor. But I think it didn’t work for many of us. Although I think it worked better in episodes like Balcony where it just showed up as slap stick, and less well when Chuck actually crossed that line into annoying.

      At any rate, I think it had at least as much to do with performance as it did with writing. And I’m sorry, I do love Zac. I think he’s a great guy and a talented actor. But if I were directing I would have reigned in his performance on occasion.

  22. I just don’t see what a lot of other people do, maybe it’s because I grew up with siblings who acted in an over animated way most of the time. His behavior in later seasons looks to me like its Casey’s sarcastic remarks have just rubbed off on him and maybe as they became closer he didn’t feel the need to be quite so offended by them and instead embraced that side of himself! Plus by Other guy he finally gets conformation that Sarah loves him and with that personal (I know he still had professional baggage) weight removed he could take himself less seriously on a regular basis especially around her, which happens to most guys once they’ve got a long term girlfriend and then eventually wife, they become more carefree and goofy and even somewhat egotistical like in Cat Squad and Kept man. My dad didn’t notice the signs when my mom was pregnant with my sister. I just am saying I get Chuck’s various personality “flaws” for lack of a better word because some combination of them exists in my entire family, which is why I never stopped feeling like I was Chuck.

  23. garnet says:

    I loved many episodes of season two, and funnily enough, “Hello Cleveland” is a bit of a catchphrase around our house. Not the best episode, but some fun anyway. Cougars/Colonel/ Best Frient…the list goes on and on….

    If I had to say would have done to keep the tension in season 3, I think there is a FF story (or three, I’m sure Dave will know and might be willing to help me find the title(s) again) with Chuck and Sarah together, but hiding it from everyone. This results in both fun and tension at the same time. Shaw is never the threat he was supposed to be in the show, and we get to have interludes with Charah time. This concept is a Win-Win for me.

    • oldresorter says:

      I said at the time of s3, Chuck and Sarah reading the phone book to each other for 42 minutes would have been better than s3. Let Morgan and Casey come in for maybe 25% of the time, and the show would be just about right.

      I liked the cast 8 minute interview after the final on the beach, much better than either 5×12 or 5×13.

      • I get irritated when people imply that the finale was “bad” or even “lousy” because they were amazing episodes, they just didn’t meet mass fan appeal and there’s A BIG difference! Mask is a “bad” episode, the finale was simply “unsatisfying” for many fans but it wasn’t bad even in the slightest way so I would much prefer that people who didn’t like it stop implying it was terrible, I know that’s difficult but please try.

      • garnet says:

        Well, I don’t know about the masses, but I found the finale to be too vague by half. The acting was great, but I think the choice of an unresolved amnesia arc for the finale was a BAD choice. As far as being amazing, I would argue that that is a personal assessment as well, and in my book, I give them great marks on the acting , and rather poor marks on the story line. I would rank the finale as maybe 30th on my list of favourite episodes (I could be convinced to drop it by 10 or 20 places without too much arm twisting).

        I guess this line of discussion would be best in a week or two…

      • atcDave says:

        Well we can always have this discussion over on the “Goodbye” thread…

        I think I rate it about exactly like Garnet. As I said in the Goodbye post, it polled at 38, and I think that’s a very good place for it. Good episode, terrific performances, poor choice for an ending.

        As for the fan fiction You were asking about earlier, there have been many stories that touched on the idea of an active romance, public or secret, set in the early seasons. I’ll get back to this in a couple hours with some links.

      • atcDave says:

        The more I think about this, the more I’m leaning towards doing a big S1/S2 Alternatives post with a lot of fan fiction for that period. It also might lead to some fun ideas for other directions the story could have veered from an earlier point.

      • uplink2 says:

        Josh, I can agree with you actually. The finale are not bad episodes. The acting is terrific and they are probably some of the best performances of the entire series. But they are a “bad” finale for me at least. I also agree with Garnet that an unresolved amnesia arc is a terrible story choice for a finale. That is where my dislike comes from, never the episodes themselves.
        And speaking of “themselves” Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves is my favorite of the s3 secret relationship stories. I love the whole idea that Prague was a rouse as they knew they were being watched. It is one of the first longer FF stories I ever read and it hooked me right from the start. I think that may be the one you are mentioning Garnet.

      • uplink2 says:

        Also Josh I agree that Mask IS a bad episode. It is so bad in fact it never bothered me anywhere near as much as Fake Name did and still does. Mask is so pathetically bad that its almost laughable how awful it is. How could anyone take that episode seriously? But Fake Name offends me to no end and there is a big difference.

      • atcDave says:

        Themselves” is a terrific example of a secret relationship story, although its S3. NinjaVanish is one of the best action/adventure writers, and he had a great idea for both the why and how of it. Although NV does use less overt humor than the show, and he’s “R” rated for both violence and sexual content.

      • garnet says:

        Thanks Dave and Uplink. Themselves sounds right!. I have read so many stories over the past 2 years that I have trouble remembering what was in each. It can keep me awake wondering which story Sarah was chewing on stir stick that had been poisoned by Shaw or the one that General Beckman is Fulcrum and shoots Sarah, or, and I have been looking for this one for a while, the story that goes to Lac La Plonge Saskatchewan and the Moose Jaw Airbase along with Stephen Harper as Fulcrum for example…

        Some stories stick with me and I’ll give a plug for uplink’s LLL and Permutations and Angus McNab’s Lost Years and Farm or ninjavanish’s Frontier (an 1800’s Intersect and a great story) are well worth a read.

      • uplink2 says:

        Garnet , thanks for the plug and the Moosejaw fic is Notorious JMG’s Chuck in a Moment. I just read it when they published their new story.

      • garnet says:

        You are welcome Uplink, and thanks for the assist on Moose Jaw. It has a special place in my heart as I live just down the road, and no one ever writes about Saskatchewan. We sit just above North Dakota and Montana. I remember writing to ask about how the writer came to write about Lac La Plonge, but never recieved an answer. I have been rereading some of NJMG’s other stories recently, and would not have thought that the scenerio I was asking about was in his canon.

        I would recommend JMG’s Bright Side stories. Including the “Star Spangled Intersect”. They can be a little dark and the backstory of how Sarah came to be in that Universe (The Seduction of Sarah Walker) is both funny (think assassination by exploding toilet) and dark (10,000 dead due to a ‘mistake’ by Sarah and Casey). I won’t give anything more away, but if you haven’t read them, they are worth your time.

    • Justin says:

      atcDave, I think S1/S2 Alternatives would be great ideas. I would take part in that.

      • atcDave says:

        Well cool. I’ll shoot for next Tuesday (that’s a day off for me).

      • Justin says:

        atcDave, when you do begin to post S1/S2 Alternatives, I’m thinking of doing another alternate version of Chuck separate from the one of AU Chuck Season 3 and 4. It will be its own unity of story that ends with Season 2. What do you think?

      • atcDave says:

        Justin I’m not sure why this comment got stuck in the filter. But I would love to see a new story. Given that your previous work spun off from S3 I’m not sure how much different set up you would want to do, but whether you do that or something wholly new it could be fun either way.

      • Justin says:

        One of the ideas I’m mulling over is having Chuck and Sarah become an item earlier than S3.

      • atcDave says:

        Earlier is always fun. And it adds a whole new complexity to things.

    • bubbasuess says:

      I’m not much for FF but that actually sounds like a decent concept. What was the rationale for keeping it a secret?

      • atcDave says:

        It started with the idea Sarah would be reassigned if her bosses thought she was emotionally “compromised” with her asset. It sort of died a quiet death once Chuck became an agent. But a few writers played around with the idea. Its often tied to the idea of running/life off the grid if a kill/bunker order was ever initiated. Quite a few more writers explored that idea.

        There’s a really some rich potential. We’ve had a lot of fun with alternate story ideas, both our own and published fan fiction, starting with Season Three and continuing through the finale. But I never got around to writing a post for the first two seasons. And its quite an oversight, I think mid-Season Two was sort of the first golden age for fan fiction. And its different from the massive amount of Season Three or Epilogue fiction in that it wasn’t so deliberately counter-canon. It was a period when more writers were inspired by their love of the show than their frustration with it.
        So this should be fun.

      • bubbasuess says:

        The love for the show rather than the frustration does seem more appealing. Especially if it continued the vibe and style and trajectory of season 2.

        By the way, has anyone bothered to write in Jeffstar specific FF?

      • atcDave says:

        I couldn’t say no, there’s over 3400 titles under the “Chuck” heading at fanfiction.net, not counting crossovers. But I don’t remember seeing one. They have appeared a few times, but most writers don’t seem too drawn to them.

        And don’t be too put off by “frustration”. Everyone writing fan fiction does it because they love something about the show. Once you find a writer or two who share similar sensibilities to your own it tends to snowball.
        And so many writers are inspired to write in the best tradition of the show. It really is the only source of new content at this point, and much of it is outstanding.

        Take a look at my “Getting Started” post, something may catch your eye.

  24. I don’t think they could have done anything better, at least not from a final arc standpoint it would have been too boring if they would’ve thwarted another enemy with no price because that would have been “just another Chuck episode.”

    That being said they could’ve certainly started it a few episodes earlier but I maintain that the arc was a great storyline. A bad storyline is one that makes no sense and has no meaningful point to it, like the 1st half of S3.for example.

    • atcDave says:

      Given that I loved the show Chuck, just another Chuck episode is exactly what I would wanted for the finale. I like Chuck and Sarah. I wish they had paid less of a price for their final battle. I would have been okay if Jeffster had paid a price however….

      • oldresorter says:

        Or Morgan, the drama would have been epic if Morgan died, or lost his memory, or a limb, anything really, I might have even not laughed.

      • I’m not shy about saying that I love the show more than anybody probably does, it saved my life after all, (not an exaggeration) and because of that I will always see the positive aspects of the writers controversial decisions and rate the outcomes of such decisions higher as a result. I guess I’m saying that unlike most fans nothing the writers did tarnished my love of the show, though S3 is my least favorite I’ll gladly watch it every time!

      • atcDave says:

        Heh, Jason I always wanted good things for Morgan. ‘Cause you know, it would have really messed up Chuck if anything ever happened to Morgan…

      • oldresorter says:

        you got it Dave – LOL. Castle by the way is writing as if each ep is for me. They seem to have their formula show now start with some intimate scene between Kate and Rick that isn’t exactly working, which causes funny banter for the ep, then the loving couple resolve the issue in a cute, intimate, water fountain type way at the end.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I’ve been enjoying Castle a lot this season. I hope they don’t do anything stupid. But I feel really good about how they’ve been handling things.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Sadly, Castle, like TBBT has basically lost me. I still watch for some mild amusement, but there is no investment left. It happens to all shows of course, as the seasons go on, the humor gets broader and elements once used sparingly to great comedic or dramatic effect become crutches and cliches. It’s still a fairly well done show mind you, and better than a lot of things, but at this point, to me, it’s running on the fan’s investment and what little of Nathan Fillion’s charisma they let come out in a Castle that they’ve made into a caricature of the character we were introduced to.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, I just 180 degrees disagree with that Ernie. I have thoroughly enjoyed these last two seasons of Castle. I think it was wallowing some in its fourth season, the very typical “drawing things out past their expiration date” sort of thing that most shows do. But just like Chuck, I think they caught a second wind by letting the characters develop in a more adult manner.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’ll agree with fourth season wallowing and with a second wind, but these last episodes in particular have just left me with a “meh” feeling about the whole thing.

      • atcDave says:

        Last week I though the mystery part was weak, but the character part was a hoot! But the specific mystery de jour has always been up and down. They can’t hunt Bigfoot every week…

  25. noblz says:

    I guess I’ll tell my story here…

    I did not regularly watch Chuck as it aired in Seasons 1 and 2. In October 2009, Mrs Dave drug me to the local Wally world to “shop” (I hate shopping). I saw Chuck S1 on sale and remembered seeing some on TV (it turns out I saw all or part of First Date, Cougars, Gravitron, 3D, Dream Job and Colonel) so I picked up the DVDs.

    As I watched, nothing was familiar and I realized that there was at least one more season out there. I was hooked.

    I pre-ordered S2 and began to participate in the fan boards on IMdB. I got my S2 DVDs on 6 Jan 2010 and I powered through before the S3 premier on the 10th.

    I thought S2 was really good and the production quality was definitely the highest of the series. I was so revved up for S3 only to be stunned by Pink Slip. Happily the next 2 or three eps were the best of the front half of S3, so I stayed, plus I was a spoiler junkie and could tell it would get better.

    I prefer to re-watch episodes where Chuck and Sarah are together as a couple. But S1 and S2 are very, very good. The only episode I didn’t like was Beefcake. Unlike many, I liked 3D and originally hated Break-up but it grew on me.

    • atcDave says:

      Break-Up was tough the first time through. Funny how much I’ve come to like it!

      I thought you’d been with us longer than that. Good thing for that shopping trip.

      • noblz says:

        atcDave

        I didn’t find this blog until S5. I did have some run-ins with Ernie over on IMdB from the time I started on their site. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and still do.

        Ernie and I usually fought over the effect of the front of S3 on the ratings.

        Ah, the good old days…

      • atcDave says:

        Ahhh we can still have that argument with Ernie….

      • uplink2 says:

        Just keep saying 2 million viewers were lost because of it! lol

      • noblz says:

        Uplink

        That would be 2.5 million…..he,he…

  26. KG says:

    Dave while I’m sure you make a compelling case for Season Four, ultimately I still give Season 2 the nod as the best overall, certainly the deepest in terms of number of quality episodes….And for me, I think Seduction remains my favorite.

    • atcDave says:

      For me its a close run thing. In the “Complete Series” post I scored both as 10s. I only give a slight edge to S4 because its the fulfillment of what I was waiting for.

      • KG says:

        Yep…I get that.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry, it’s tricky sometimes when replying to comments in various posts to know what I’ve said, and when!
        So I tend to error towards giving complete answers at every opportunity, which leads to a lot of repeating myself…

  27. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Ring (2.22) | Chuck This

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