Chuck in Overview: Season Three

Chuck has a new Intersect and has decided to become an agent.  But after a misunderstanding with Sarah, and failing spy school due in part to a buggy 2.0 the new season gets off to a bleak start.

After the jump, we’ll discuss the third season of Chuck.

Season Three is a bit controversial; and to say I dislike the main arc is an epic understatement.  But it didn’t have to be that way.  There’s a few good ideas, and some important points on the journey to consider.  Its made more interesting by a back order that fixed most, but not all of the issues with the front arc.

There’s just a couple of Season Three specific terms to be clear on.  Many of us call the front arc of the season, from 3.01-3.12, the “Misery Arc”.  No doubt, that name says a lot about where this is going!  The last six episodes, 3-14-3.19, were ordered late and will often be referred to as the “back order” or S3.5.

I’ll start with setting the stage again.  A big and successful “save the show” campaign after Season Two led to a wildly enthusiastic and united fandom until the bottom fell out at Comic Con 2009.  We discussed this more in depth in “The Long Wait” and I won’t repeat it all here.  But I think the operative word here is reinvention.  After being a bubble show for two seasons the show runners tried to reinvent their product to increase its appeal.  In short, to make Chuck look more like everything else on television with dark themes, a troubled protagonist and boatloads of angst.  The problem is, the rabidly enthusiastic fandom that had just successfully saved the show, pointedly didn’t want it to be like everything else on television.  Add to that CF comments about Colonel being a “complete game changer” and “building a new show on the skeleton of the old one”, and the gulf between expectations and reality was deep.  I still believe this disconnect led to a permanent split among fans and a shortened total run for the series.  

Shortly after the misery arc wrapped up back in April of 2010 we ran a poll on its appeal (“Was it Worth it?“) and it looks to me like it has to be called an entertainment failure.  And yes I know such a poll has to be regarded carefully; it is the mood of this site only, it is a small sample set, and it consists entirely of viewers who were watching in “real” time back when the season first ran.  But my own anecdotal research corroborates it (the casual viewers I know are very critical of the main arc) and I’m comfortable with the results.

Overall

I think most viewers agree it was time for some changes in the show, and growth for the characters.  The biggest issue being to turn Chuck into an agent of some sort, and give him some “professional” standing. There’s a lot of obvious issues this will bring up, especially relating to Chuck’s attitudes on violence and lying.  In short, how do we turn Chuck from the honest and decent ordinary guy into a professional spy without stripping him of those traits that made him so appealing?

Sadly, I don’t think they really tried.  They pointedly robbed Chuck of his most appealing characteristics.  I see this mostly as a cynical business decision that backfired.  Its actually difficult for me to discuss story or character decisions because I think the whole creative process was corrupted by that bad business decision to make the show “darker” or “edgier”.  But to try to get under the hood some, I think they initially over-played how much Chuck needed to change or grow.  He had already done mission planning on occasion, and saved the day many times with his outside the box thinking.  So I think what we mainly needed to see was Chuck getting in on planning from the beginning, and learning how to run a whole operation.  I love the idea of Chuck as the mastermind, and we did see that on occasion, but the show runners vision was more “Chuck the superhero”.  This is not a huge problem for me, but it may be some of the “ground zero” of my disconnect from the show runners.

The next issue had to do with Chuck lying. Against his better judgement, Chuck has had to lie since the start of the show to family and friends about what he was really doing with his life.  But throughout Season Three Chuck became more comfortable with lying to everyone.  To the point it became a character defining trait.  I think this was just a horrible show runner decision.  If it had come to a head in one or two episodes it might have been less of a problem, maybe even an interesting challenge for Chuck to face up to.  But this was drawn out past the misery arc itself into the Season 3.5 episodes too.  Although I like the way his lies to Ellie came back to bite him, lying to Sarah or his Dad was always unacceptable. Again, if this had been a small sub-arc it might have worked; but this was a very unappealing twist on the original character and I think it diminished both the character, and ultimately the entire show.  It made Chuck less likable and less relatable; and since likable and relatable had been his defining traits in the first two seasons I think it was a very unwelcome change.

The overlapping love triangles are sort of the 900 lb gorilla in the room.  This has been written about at such length I’m tempted to just say “’nuff said”.  But I can’t quite do that.  This really is foundational to what I dislike about the misery arc. When Chuck worked best for me, it was Chuck and Sarah’s story.  It was about their friendship, their partnership and their romance.  I think for many of us, having Chuck and Sarah “together”, and trying to figure out how to be a couple and have a life together was the only completely acceptable way to start Season Three.  We probably could have accepted some external obstacles, especially if they related to professional and security issues.  Like say, if the Intersect was an important issue in the first two seasons, it’s priority is quadrupled with the 2.0.  So now there are new agents and security people violating every corner of Chuck’s life, and the only way for Chuck and Sarah to be “alone” together is on a cover date with Ellie and Devon.  Might have worked.  But any decision that reduced their screen time together could not work.  Period.  Chuck and Sarah together was the number one selling point of this show from the start.  Reducing that together time was a bad decision.  And love triangles?  Of all the bad decisions they could have made, this is the grand champion.  After the way Season Two ended, there was no way to introduce new love interests without making the characters look like complete flakes.  So what a shock, they did look like complete flakes.

Chuck’s behavior may be prize worthy all by itself.  Our formerly likable protagonist goes from breaking Sarah’s heart in Pink Slip (mostly through poor communication), to telling her he loves her and having a “cleaning up messes” talk, to flirting with and quickly sleeping with the next pretty girl to come along.  And he then has the nerve (in American Hero) to tell Sarah that him becoming an agent so they could be together was the plan all along.  Uh?!  This is character assassination plain and simple.  Or are they thinking we’ve already forgotten about Hannah?  I have never disliked a main character so much on a show I didn’t just immediately quit.  If that actually had been a plan it might have been a good story.  It might have even been a fun story if we’d seen Chuck and Sarah occasionally trying to remind themselves of what was on the line for both of them in Chuck’s training.  Bonus points if they have to sneak around behind security to even steal a few moments together.  Maybe a scare at some point that if Chuck can’t complete a difficult part of his training he could be bunkered and his “team” reassigned.  But there was no plan.  Suggesting there was one looks like sloppy writing and adds insult to injury.

This also leads to the problem of Shaw. He was never the biggest problem with the season, but for many of us, he is the symbol of all that went wrong.  We were told Shaw was a great spy.  But what we saw was an arrogant, condescending jerk.  He had no charisma, and no chemistry with the cast.  We never saw a plan of his work as advertised, yet he insulted Chuck’s plans and claimed his team was broken, even though we’d previously been told Team B was the government’s very best. And yet at different times first Chuck, then Sarah fell completely under his spell.  Oh my.  They simply tried to do too much with this character.  Ultimately making him a romantic interest for Sarah is just a fatal decision.  There’s two major problems with that; the first is he no longer is even a remotely sympathetic character.  Most viewers are just wishing him dead.  The second is it makes Sarah look very foolish.  How she falls for a character who is already a smirking, superior acting jerk; and turns to him for sympathy and understanding over her concerns that Chuck is turning into a monster of Shaw’s making?  That culminates in Shaw manipulating Sarah into ordering Chuck to kill someone, then Sarah turning back to Shaw for comfort and sympathy.  This is “Stockholm Syndrome Sarah”, my least favorite phase of her character “growth”.

I’ve mentioned a few times how frustrating I find the Shaw part of the story.  Especially when I can see two ways he could have worked much better; both are simpler and neither involves a romance.  First; if he’d just been a mentor to Chuck.  I like this option a lot.  There could be a natural rivalry between Shaw and Sarah as Shaw is pushing Chuck to grow in directions Sarah isn’t sure she wants to see.  We could see Chuck often torn between two major influences in his life; Shaw as a mentor and coach, Sarah as his moral guide and emotional support.  This could have led to actual drama when Shaw turns traitor and tries to kill Sarah at the end of the arc, instead of viewers cheering with every bullet Chuck puts in him.  Second possibility; play Shaw as a buffoon, of the Agent Rye variety.  Casey already identified him as a moron in First Class.  So go with it.  Casey and Sarah should see right through him.  Chuck is still a comedy, right?  So play Shaw for laughs.  Maybe Chuck is dazzled briefly by a big shot agent who seems to believe in Chuck and pushes him to do more.  But quickly it should be obvious to everyone, except of course for Beckman, that Shaw is going to get them all killed if they aren’t very careful.

Last overall topic I’ll mention is the Red Test.  The idea has some tradition in spy fiction of the last 70 years, and as such I hesitate to say they never should have gone there.  But, it is usually reserved for an elite class of spy/assassin.  Whether its “00” or Treadstone.  It was generalized here like a rite of passage for every spy.  And I find that sort of sloppiness with such an ugly trope to be insulting and disgraceful.  It annoys me that they ever went there.  Adding in the insult of Sarah abandoning Chuck in its aftermath, and I think was one of the ugliest and most embarrassing story-telling decisions ever made.

The season does end on a much better note.  Especially with Honeymooners, which may be my very favorite episode of the series.  Putting Chuck and Sarah together fixes the most glaring deficiencies of the front arc.  I still found the back episodes darker than I prefer; with both Chuck’s health issues and his chronic lying.  But it was still a vast improvement.  Overall, no surprise, I rank Season Three dead last among the seasons.  If S3.5 is judged separately it is much better, really as good as the other four seasons that I love.

Characters

Well obviously I’ve already said a lot about our characters.  As season three unfolded the story telling decisions just ravaged the characters in a way that makes it difficult to separate the two.  But I can still sum up a little. For Chuck, this season was nominally about professional growth, and a belated realization it all meant nothing without Sarah.  Unfortunately the telling of it was not remotely entertaining.  And I’d argue he already knew he wanted Sarah by his side at the end of Season Two.  So the misery arc is a frustrating journey to get back to where we should have started the season.  The back episodes lift the mood enough to be a lot more fun.  But Chuck’s lying remains a problem to the end, and quitting the CIA at Ellie’s urging is just wrong.  Chuck is an adult and needs to be making big decisions with Sarah not Ellie; if anyone following along at home is confused by this, I urge you to stay single until you understand.  This is clear retrograde movement.  Whatever spy skills Chuck has learned, he is a lesser man at the end of S3 than he was at the start of the series.

For Sarah the growth is a little more promising.  Although Shaw turned her into a zombie for several episodes and she ended the misery arc exactly where she started it.  Okay not quite “exactly”; she started by wanting to run away with Chuck from Prague, while she ended up actually running away with Chuck from Paris.  Obviously a meaningful distinction.  But apart from the zombie phase, Sarah actually did grow quite nicely in the back arc.  And we saw the beginnings of the mature and steady woman she would become in the following seasons.

Season Three was actually very good for Casey and Morgan.  Both characters grew up a lot over the course of all 19 episodes.  Casey has clearly become a good friend to Chuck.  And Morgan has shown significant growth first in his day job, then later as the new chief peon on Team B.  I particularly liked how Morgan could make himself useful in eccentric ways, and making him Casey’s spy partner was comic genius.  Very well done.

Ellie and Devon were both mostly well used, but with a few fumbles. I loved how Devon was used early in the season, and his mini-arc (3.03 and 3.04) was one of the few highlights of the misery arc.  But his worries over lying were a bit overplayed.  I liked  how Chuck’s lies caught up with him were Ellie was concerned.  I really wish Chuck had actually learned a more lasting lesson about lies and secrets, but it will take Sarah calling him on it in Season Four before he shapes up. I also loved how Ellie found out about Chuck and their Dad’s double life, terrific scene.

Episodes

Sadly, for ranking Season Three episodes, I need to add a fourth rank; bad.  This is unique to this season, but these are episodes I would never choose to watch again.  Many of the other episodes measure worse than they otherwise would because the situation is so bleak.  Misery arc episodes would place one rank higher in any other season.

  • STRONG: Honeymooners
  • AVERAGE: Angel De La Muerte, Operation Awesome, Tic Tac, Other Guy, Role Models, Subway, Ring II.  Every one of these episodes except Role Models is almost strong.  But there’s some aspect of the situation or Chuck’s poor behavior that leaves me gnashing teeth.
  • WEAK: Beard, American Hero, Tooth, Living Dead.  Ditto what I said above.  Chuck lying to Sarah and his Dad really irks me.
  • BAD: Pink Slip, Three Words, First Class, Nacho Sampler, Mask, Fake Name, Final Exam.  The Ring of Dishonor.  Three Words could have been an average, maybe even strong episode if Chuck and Sarah had actually acted on “cleaning up their mess.”  But the lie of that makes this episode insulting.

This season was really disappointing.  Both serious and less serious story telling flaws leave much of it unwatchable to me.  I can honestly think of no other show I would have stuck with so long, through so much disappointment.  But after the first two terrific seasons my investment level was very high.  Don’t let those rankings fool you, once we got to American Hero I enjoyed every remaining episode.  And Honeymooners is really beyond strong, more like extraordinary.  It almost washed away all the tears and frustration in 43 perfect minutes, and the most perfect ending, the most perfect moment I’ve ever seen on television.

This Tuesday night I should have a “Season One and Two: Alternatives” post up.  This should be fun as we look at a number of hooks and hints that could have been more thoroughly explored, or different directions the show could have gone.  I expect to have another fairly lengthy fan fiction list too, as those early seasons continue to inspire the imaginations of many amatuer writers. Next week’s “Overview” post will get to Season Four, which should be more fun and less frustrating for all of us!

~ 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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232 Responses to Chuck in Overview: Season Three

  1. hey everyone!

    I haven’t commented of late because of working on my fan-fic, which I’m still on the 1st Chapter of.

    Dave I completely understand the whole “Chuck adult” thing but those just aren’t big enough issues for me to place the episodes you have at Avg. when they should be strong,, I think beard is way better than you think and Zac did a fantastic directing job so that’s strong to me, I find Fake name HILARIOUS so it is AVG., along with Nacho Sampler. weak ep include angel of death, first class, and three words Bad ep are MASK (worst ep in series) final exam and pink slip/

    • ChuckFanForever says:

      I also though Beard was a pretty good episode. The moment that Chuck can finally share his secret with his best friend and a great fight scene following it up. Perhaps Dave is knocking it for Sarah allowing Chuck to be blown up by Shaw’s attempt to call in the airstrike, but I see that scene as Sarah was just about to whip out her gun to order Shaw to put the phone down, but before she can do that, the freezer door opens…

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah CFF that’s exactly why it doesn’t hold up well for me. I barely recognize this zombie Sarah. I’ve seen it handled far better in fan fiction (Chuck vs The Fight by KateMcK), and it frustrates me to no end how it was presented.

  2. I’d never place living dead American hero or tooth as weak they’re great episodes and lets face it EVERONE has told larger lies to their parents/siblings/significant others before so I say as politely as possible get over it already.

    • atcDave says:

      I’ve never lied to my parents about my status as a government employee! And I don’t believe I’ve fibbed to them at all in 30+ years. Part of the problem is, Chuck is too old to still be playing the part of a troubled teen.
      All of those episodes have good and bad moments. But the burden of the bad is pretty overwhelming.

      • I was speaking generally, not in direct comparison with the show and as far as not lying or fibbing times have changed people do it all the time now, big and small “the goody two shoes era” (my grandparents generation and parents upbringing) is over, unfortunate but true.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry Josh, if it is a generational thing its not a good one! It reads as severely juvenile behavior to me.
        And as Uplink mentions below, Chuck’s lying is hardly the only troubling aspect to Living Dead!

    • uplink2 says:

      Sorry but I disagree. Living Dead has one of the most insulting scenes in the entire series with the earring scene. I know it was played for laughs but the idea that Sarah would wear earrings given to her by the man, a traitor who tried to murder both her and the man she loved is so insulting to the Sarah character it borders on…. well I won’t use the word as I know it is a no no here. But that scene really bothers me a great deal and takes that episode down to my least favorite of the back 6 by a mile.

      • if it were clothing or make-up I’d agree but its earrings, so it didn’t bother me, plus the extension of the spy log far outweighs any less stellar part of the episode for me.

      • atcDave says:

        I assume you mean the “spy will”. That and the fight at the cabin are terrific scenes. I also really like the “B” plot with Ellie being deceived. But I stand by weak because the troubling aspects are pretty serious to me,
        As I’ve said many times, weak episodes I can still enjoy; only the misery arc ever manages to be “bad”. But weak episodes have story or character elements that bother me beyond just the initial viewing itself; they leave a bad taste afterwards that doesn’t easily go away.

      • uplink2 says:

        They were probably 2 carat diamond earrings from Tiffanys. Those are NOT some insignificant gift. Those meant something, certainly Shaw expected to be “thanked” rather passionately when he gave them to her. They represented something about their relationship and to wear them in the first place is horrific but to wear them in front of Chuck is almost unforgivable. Shaw tried to kill her and Chuck yet she wears a gift from him? I am amazed that LeJudkins wrote that scene and it has bothered me since the moment it aired.

  3. my taste is that any heartfelt part(s) of an episode has way more bearing on its overall quality than the juvenile part(s)

  4. MASK doesn’t count here obviously because Chuck’s actions in that just aren’t Chuck even in the slightest WORST episode of the entire series!! Makes me think JS was unaware that he was channeling Gossip Girl when he wrote S3!

    • atcDave says:

      Well that is exactly my biggest beef with the Misery Arc.

      A favorite show of mine prior to Chuck was SG-1. For their 200th episode they had a ton of fun with a “clips” episode; clips of things that had never actually happened. It was very funny. And it was all pretty stupid stuff (“oh I remember that was the month when Jack was invisible…”). But one of their things was from the teen soap version of SG-1. Very funny. But I felt like Chuck actually gave us a whole long arc of it. Very disappointing.

  5. uplink2 says:

    Ahh, season 3. I’m not going to write a long dissertation on the numerous reasons why I dislike so much of this season and actually hate parts with a passion. I’ve written thousands and thousands of words on the subject. So I will this post at least confine myself to just a few and start with the feelings I felt, Jan 10th 2010. I had so been looking forward to the return of my favorite show. The fight to save the show, the long wait, the incredible excitement I felt after Chuck said “I know Kung Fu” and all the possibilities I had welcomed. I trusted the showrunners to deliver the same quality show I had felt so passionately about but by the end of Pink Slip I felt like I had been betrayed and kicked in the stomach by the obvious contrived storyline they were setting up. I would never fully trust them again. I disliked the Chuck character, well it really wasn’t the Chuck character I knew and loved, so the contrived AU version of Chuck so much for how he betrayed Sarah and how he treated her. It is by far the worst season opener and it made me question why I was even watching if this was the BS story they wanted to tell. By the end of Three Words I felt a bit better because of the “clean it up” scene and the surveillance video. Too bad nothing that happened in that episode meant a damn thing long term.
    I will post more as we go along but I don’t think I have hated an episode of television more than I hated Fake Name. As I’ve said many times it almost made me leave the show forever.
    Season 3 is the least entertaining, had the fewest great episodes, 1, with 3 maybe 4 good ones and 4 of the 5 worst of the entire series.
    Volumes have been written on how badly conceived, cast and executed the Shaw character was. When I think of a show killing character I immediately think of Shaw. It’s so bad I will never knowingly watch Brandon Routh in anything ever again because his weak, limited and terrible performance in admittedly a terribly written role is so bad that I can’t separate the actor and character. So I simply won’t watch any of his future work.
    Ultimately the biggest problem is that the first 12 really didn’t mean anything storywise certainly as far as the Sarah Chuck relationship. It was all about keeping them apart for one more season of WTWT. In fact the couple sitting on the floor in that hallway are no more ready or deserving of being together than they were dancing at Ellie’s reception. In many ways they are less deserving because all of the major issues that season brought up were simply swept under the rug because it was episode 13 and time to put them together. The stench of the trapezoid is so bad I simply can’t enjoy the few good elements of the spy story in the first 12. It’s why I will never rewatch that period again. Shaw, Hannah and the silly Red Test just hang over it and make it impossible to fully enjoy the few tidbits of necessary spy story there are there.
    Season 3 was such a disappointment and it’s biggest success was at fracturing a once united fanbase so badly it never fully recovered and ultimately drove 2.5 million people away never to return.

    • atcDave says:

      Amen to all of that Uplink. The circular “growth” of the characters is one of the more disappointing aspects.

      We’ve obviously been over this in depth many times. And I think the earlier S3 Alternatives posts will remain the most in depth discussion of the subject, I’m really not interested in such excruciating detail again. But its interesting just how long the list of problems is even in “overview”.

      • I didn’t have a problem with Charah being apart nearly as much as “how” and “the ridiculous ways” they did it and that they dragged out 6 ep too long! the phrase “A/U characters” is a very good one!

      • uplink2 says:

        Neither did I. There were tons of reasons to keep them apart if that is what they wanted but turnign them into AU characters so they could destroy the relationship, reset it to get them one more round of OLI’s was the absolute worst choice. Keeping them aparg could have worked but OLI’s were a non-started and doomed before they even began as evidenced by Pink Slip. Prague had nothing whatsoever to do with the spy story. It was all about betraying Sarah, and breaking her heart so they could set up the god awful trapezoid.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think keeping them apart could only be done through external devices. After the way S2 ended, there wasn’t much they could do to put things off without making them look pretty flakey.

  6. FSL says:

    So many things wrong with the misery arc. If I didn’t marathon it within a couple days (I discovered Chuck the summer between season 4 and 5), I might have given up. The major creative decision was wrong from the start, like you said. But even with what they have came up with, there would have been much better potentials (e.g. secret relationship, mentor Shaw, etc).

    What you wrote about the red test actually gave me an idea. What if Chuck decided that certain missions are acceptable with predictable lost of agents’ lives given the potential “greater good”? (just like Dr Bashir in DS9 after he became an augment) That could be his “real” dark side. Shaw and Beckman could even love the idea. Now Sarah would be truly scared about what her Chuck is turning into.

    Alternatives aside, I think they made up for it in the back 6. But I’m glad I marathoned it the first time around.

    • atcDave says:

      I would have guessed from your other comments that you were an old timer FSL! Interesting you drew similar conclusions even with a power watch.
      I would not have liked your darker version! But I would have liked if Chuck had found the nerve to just stand up and say no at certain times!

      I do agree the back six are far better. My complaints there are more nit picking.

      • FSL says:

        Indeed. =)

        I did feel like the solid first 2 seasons allowed me to ride through the misery arc.

  7. in that sense I’m glad that CF put Sarah back at square one because it gives a do over to ridiculous parts of their relationship that weren’t them at all and that I wish I could forget:(

    • atcDave says:

      It would be nice if she never remembered certain things!

      But I imagine Chuck being unexpectedly sent to sleep on the couch some nights when she has an ugly recall!

  8. bubbasuess says:

    Season 3…man, it makes me glad that I did not watch the show when it was originally broadcast. Obviously not everyone who has streamed the show enjoyed these episodes enjoyed these episodes but watching them in a compressed amount of time AND knowing there is back order on seasons 3 and a 4th and 5th season makes them much, much more palatable. There was no tension regarding whether the show would end with these or waiting from week to week to suffer through more pain or the misery being stretched out for months.

    Watching them in a tighter time frame and knowing there is more to come (even the banner image on Netflix indicates a Chuck and Sarah on the far side of the misery arc) made appreciating the positive aspects of the episodes much easier. Generally speaking they were not all bad and could be enjoyed for what they were. Still, I respect the original fans that persevered through the torture.

    Now, having said that they were probably much easier to take via streaming than via the original broadcast, I concur with most of the criticisms of this part of Chuck. It was poorly conceived and poorly executed. However, if I were to sum up the real problem with these, I would say that the ultimate problem was one of duration. The one arc that was really terrible was the one arc that lasted for most of a season. If they had cut it down to 3, 4, or even 5 episodes, starting with Pink Slip, it would have been much more acceptable. In other words, whatever story they were trying to tell did not need to be told in 13 episodes. Tighter writing and plotting would have been SO helpful here. Poor concept and execution is bad enough. Poor pacing and a subsequent dragging out of the mistakes is what really makes it hurt. Even if the story they were trying to tell HAD to be told, it did not have to be told for so long it robbed fans of other stories that could have been added to the canon.

    In the end, having had the luxury of not sitting through the months of torture, I tend to take a long view on the subject, looking ahead toward the good and the great that is to come on the far side of the misery arc. I am reminded of a line near the beginning of the Silmarillion where Tolkien states that if Finwe had been satisfied with having only his one son Feanor great evil would have been avoided. On the other hand, Feanor’s brothers and their children were great and glorious and if they had not been born then the history of the elves would have been tremendously diminished. Sure it would have been better if the misery arc was avoided but through the pain great things came into being. We can lament it but what was, was and what came after was still great and glorious. (Now who is the nerd!)

    • uplink2 says:

      The thing was that the story was written backwards. It started with the destination that they would put Chuck and Sarah together in episode 13 as it was originally thought to be the shows finale. Had it been the finale it would have been an awful one to have only had 2 scenes of Chuck and Sarah together after all the garbage before it. But the point is the season was structured backwards with the destination of the plot driving the story instead of the characters driving the story forward. That is why the arc took so painfully long. They intentionally stretched out the horrific WTWT with the God awful OLI’s and because it was so drawn out, it was what fans focused on. No one cared about the spy story underneath. No one cared about Shaw or his story and certainly no one cared about Sarah killing his wife by the time it was revealed. We just wanted him gone. It was a horribly constructed character and he stayed around way way way too long.

    • atcDave says:

      BubbaSuess I agree with almost all of that. One thing you get at I think is huge; when it started we had every reason to believe it would end at 3.13. If I could have first watched that arc knowing there were 43 episodes after, it would have taken a lot of the grief out of it. I don’t believe I ever would have liked it (!), but enduring would have been far easier.
      The love triangles are the one thing that always are most unbearable to me, so cutting them is a requirement for me ever liking it though.
      And I agree entirely that shorter would have been better. This is the longest arc of the entire series.

    • atcDave says:

      Bummer.

      • macnab13 says:

        Sorry, Dave.

        I think you laid out a number of my concerns well. I found the whole Pink Slip debacle and all it implied to be very tiring to try to reconcile. TPTB simply made so much unlikable about these characters to force them down the path they chose. Chuck the supposed communicator NOT communicating, and Sarah being vindictive and abandoning him for *possibly* turning into what she’d become even though he still loved her with all her baggage. It made the leap to E13 too big without retcon.

      • atcDave says:

        You summed that all up nicely.

      • oldresorter says:

        odd thing was the writers made little or no attempt to make Shaw or hannah likable either. So not only were Chuck and SArah unlikeable, but so were their love interests, joyless comedy is a lousy formula.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Hannah was objectively likable. Is that even possible? But it was just too late for her story to work. It was the very definition of inappropriate. And that made her unlikable.

        But Shaw was hopeless on every level.

  9. aalleess says:

    After finishing season 2 I expected a lot but got very dissapointed and sometimes even insulted. There were good moments of course, but the bad ones somehow make them less good.

    Honeymooners is the only episode I find strong. Pink Slip and Mask are the two episodes I never want to see again.

    • atcDave says:

      I feel your pain Aalleess!

    • joe says:

      You put your finger on it, Aalleess. I can’t shake the feeling that, after S2 (and especially after the excitement caused by the “To Be Continued” rally at the end of The Ring), expectations were running extremely high. Mine certainly were. I was never sure that they were going to be met and in fact, I became convinced after ComicCon that a letdown was inevitable.

      So I lowered my expectations a bit. I’m sure many well say that TPTB didn’t even meet the lowered expectations – they certainly said so in the past. But that’s how the conversation gets deep into the muck.

      My experience is still that the individual episodes, even Mask, play a lot better when we’re further away from the need to shout GET CHUCK AND SARAH TOGETHER, ALREADY!!!. And, oh yeah, the intermidable break for the Olympics didn’t help either.

      • atcDave says:

        After that incredible S2 it was hard to imagine I wouldn’t love what came next. So a big part of that let down involved disbelief.

      • joe says:

        I can’t say I was stunned in disbelief when C&S had their Prague (and doesn’t that remind you of the ST:TNG episode with the race that spoke only in metaphores? “Shaka, when the walls fell”).

        But I was stunned by the sheer length of time it took to get to The Other Guy. It was one set-back after another.

      • atcDave says:

        Its hard now to recall exactly what I felt that night. I seem to recall being plenty concerned that the season might not be to my liking. We’d had ample warning going back six months at that point. But I still held out the “it can’t be THAT bad sort of hope”. And after Three Words I had some hope the worst was already past. I think I was clinging to words like “Potential”, when it was actually a false hope.
        And then, it just dragged on and on… Every week I hoped things would get better, and they didn’t.
        You’re completely right that the Olympic break came at a horrible time too. It was a conspiracy to drag it all out as long as possible!

      • uplink2 says:

        But Joe, it wasn’t just the length of time to get there, its that for Chuck and Sarah nothing was gained by it. It wasn’t about growth, it was simply about delay. It was if anything regression. That’s what can be so frustrating. The destination was simply not worth the journey because they gained nothing or very little because of it. I can’t point to anything that happened to them that made them any more ready for that DYLM moment than they were dancing at Ellie’s reception. In many ways for Chuck and Sarah the couple, all of that journey through the darkness gained them nothing and if anything tarnished the yes, “epic” nature of that romance that it never felt like they had finally made it and earned that happiness, it just felt like the joy was because it was finally over and nothing more.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Uplink that’s always a big part of the complaints with that arc. Chuck nor Sarah “grew” or changed in any significant way, it was more just a matter of “times up”. That may say a lot about the strength of the S2 finale arc too though. I think it “felt” even more epic than TPTB meant for it to. It got us all thinking in grand terms for what came next, while the show runners were actively looking to undo what they’d done. I’ll always say they seriously damaged their own legacy by doing so; S2 was knocked down a peg, and an epic romance suddenly seemed a lot less special.

      • joe says:

        Uplink, I can’t agree with you about not seeing growth throughout the misery arc – I just do. It comes, though, much more through tears and pain more than in smiles and victories like in S1 and S2.

        If C&S hadn’t had Prague, I think I would have ultimately thought that S3, maybe even the whole series, was unrealistically lightweight. It really would have become “Nerd gets Hottie”, much more like TBBT, only 3/4 as funny. My complaint would never be that there was a regression. It was only that the gut wrentching split went on for too long. Unneccessarially so.

        You know, I could see Shaw and I could see Hannah as neccessary components to a dramatic, romantic story – separately. But both concurrently? Yeah, too much. Add to that Chuck’s self-doubt crises (Nacho Sampler, Tic Tac, Final Exam…) and then I agree with you. They found the edge and stepped over the cliff.

        But once you’re confident that C&S were ultimately inevitable and if the episodes are seen without interruption (by Olympics, presidential speeches, etc.) and preferably in more rapid succession, it plays much better to me. Makes me think that they loved the story, had to get it out, and felt unpressed to imagine it in the time-frame experienced by the fans back then.

      • bubbasuess says:

        I agree Joe. As I stated, being a newer watcher with the luxury of knowing there is a lot more Chuck to come and getting through the first part of season 3 quickly definitely permits a lighter perspective on the whole affair. While it was definitely flawed and the weakest part of the series, I never had the visceral dislike that long time fans had. That said, I think the missteps and come down from season 2’s heights coupled with the torment of the stretched out original broadcast make the reactions of fans who vehemently dislike the arc quite legitimate.

      • uplink2 says:

        The problem Joe is that because it went on so very long everything gets diluted and becomes meaningless. All I, and many many others, could see was that it was never about story, it was simply about delay. I’ve said many times there were plenty of dark, disturbing ways to keep them apart but that OLI’s weren’t one of them. To drive that story they had to change the characters to fit into areas that simply were not engaging, justified and definitely not entertaining. The spy journey gets lost under the weight of the LI’s. Take them away and you could have had much more enjoyable and earned resolution to Chuck and Sarah. I also don’t agree that S1, S2 lessons and growth came just from smiles and victories. There was a great deal of heartache, drama and angst that led them to waking up in Barstow. All of that drama and angst was worth it and necessary. But for me none of it relating to Shaw and Hannah was. It also forced them to create AU versions of the characters that were much less appealing and engaging. A tighter faster spy story with all of its darkness and necessary lessons was simply diluted by the overarching delay and because of the OLI’s that it simply didn’t taste very good to me anymore if I could even taste it at all. And we can’t negate the fact that Routh was given a poorly developed character that highlighted his weaknesses as an actor. Too much was run through a character and actor that simply wasn’t charismatic, sympathetic or had any chemistry with any of the other actors on screen. As Mo Ryan said he dragged down every scene he was in. It made watching the show tedious and that simply isn’t a good reaction from your devoted fans to have.

      • authorguy says:

        I think Routh’s character was very well developed, and he was the proper actor for it, but you don’t know or can’t see the character he was playing. It’s a flaw in the storytelling, not that I could have done any better. I doubt anyone short of Shakespeare could have told that story well in the time allotted. But they could have told a very different and less ambitious story very well, if they’d been willing to drop some of their tropes.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        But DYLM DOES NOT resolve the “dramatic” storyline. If fact it never get resolved.

        It’s a lightweight resolution (at best) to a heavyweight story. There are 5 or 6 episodes missing in order for DYLM to mean something. If the goal Paris, France – but the journey landed them at the Paris Hotel in Vegas.

        If around Fake Name C&S started reconnecting I would say DYLM is a great moment. As it is it’s a “Thank God That’s Over” moment at best.

        Everything afterwards carries on as if the misery arc never happened.
        Chuck was certainly not a better spy and Sarah was not a better human being because of it.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe I think there was plenty of suffering and angst through S2 to feel like something great had been achieved! Stepping back from that could only undermine what came before. And that’s the core of what I hold against S3, it made the characters look bad. Chuck and Sarah didn’t grow, they regressed. They were both (especially Chuck) lesser characters at the end than they were at the start. In fact, for me, liking and respecting these characters in the future can only be done by ignoring most of this season.
        I wasn’t quite about “just get them together already” for me. Although that clearly is a big part of it. But if they’d drawn that story out through external forces, without having the main characters look so foolish, it might have worked. Especially if they’d had to fight to be together. Both of them. What we saw was giving up on each other; and that is exactly the one thing I cannot tolerate.
        To me, what’s wrong with Hannah and Shaw ultimately has nothing to do with Hannah or Shaw; its all about how Chuck and Sarah behave that makes them relevant and so destructive.

      • atcDave says:

        CaptM I mostly agree, although I think I’d phrase it as DYLM is an appropriate resolution to an inappropriate story. It turns out to be getting the show back on track, and I can enjoy everything after. Of course I have to ignore the whole arc before it, but I was going to have to ignore the whole arc before it anyway. There was no acceptable way to resolve the mess they’d created short of it all being a dream. Which of course isn’t actually a resolution, it just would have been a canon rationale for ignoring the story I had already decided to ignore!

      • oldresorter says:

        but waiting until DYLM was the style of the writers, to wait as long as possible, and to leave things as indeterminant as possible. They wrote that way, right up to the time the credits rolled for the final time.

      • oldresorter says:

        I have a ? for anyone who power watched thru s3. Did the show feel OK in terms of weekly missions vs s1/2/4/5 or the back half of s3?

      • atcDave says:

        Jason/OR you are exactly right about putting things off to the last minute. It seems to have been the style to not really develop certain elements, and just delay them as long as possible. It most cases it worked okay as a pacing/dramatic style. But when it failed, it failed badly. I think delaying DYLM for 13 episodes too long is the worst example, but Charah reconnecting on the beach in 5.13 is exactly the same sort of thing. I think both examples would have played better with more gratification early, OR with better development showing us how the big moment could be trusted and was in fact, a real fulfillment of the story.

      • uplink2 says:

        Can we imagine that at the end of Mask when Sarah says she has a type she adds, “but you don’t understand, Chuck, my type is you not Shaw. Plus there’s something definitely wrong with him and we need to find out what it is.” and the reaction that would have gotten? They could still have played much of what follows and just never have those OLI relationships consumated but both of them go to Hannah and Shaw and say they want to keep things professional. That was the point it needed to end and have them start reconnecting to make them fight through the next bunch of episodes to earn DYLM.

      • uplink2 says:

        Captain, I agree completely. What was the resolution to the beginning of Hero when Sarah doesn’t trust Chuck for the very first time in the series? Chuck says “It’s not what you think and I need you to believe me.” her reply “I don’t.” Answer, there was no resolution. Plus as stated here earlier if passing his spy test so they could be together was the plan all along how do you explain Hannah? And then 30 minutes of screentime later she has decided to run away with him and its like that lack of trust never happened nor does Chuck call her out for putting him into that Catch-22 to begin with. And yet we are supposed to think they deserved DYLM and it was the culmination of a well thought out and executed 13 episode arc of growth to get to that moment? Sorry, not buying it.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not quite sure what you mean by professional Uplink. I like the extra dialogue for Chuck and Sarah; but I don’t like, and I just never could have accepted anything for Chuck and Hannah anymore than I could have accepted Sarah and Shaw.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, by professional I mean that they are colleagues and simply work together no relationship. Have that short description of Fake Name actually mean something and not the total BS like it was in reality. But also extend that to Chuck and Hannah. After that extra dialog have them go to Hannah and Shaw and simply say they want to keep things professional and not get involved with either. Now true it makes the useless character of Hannah even more useless but it simply limits her to a small temptation that he never acts on and puts the focus onto what was really wrong with Shaw down deep. That could have led to an earlier reveal about Sarah killing Eve and I might have actually cared about it but waiting till they did I couldn’t have cared less about Eve Shaw.

      • authorguy says:

        Just because you cannot see the usefulness of a character doesn’t make her useless. Your endless rants on Shaw and Hannah lost their appeal on the second reading.

      • atcDave says:

        Obviously that would have worked better than what we got. But I still think that ship had sailed for mere professionalism between Chuck and Sarah. There was always going to be more there, and they both knew it. Delaying it for anything other than fighting to be together, I think creates episodes that are an emotional waste of time.

      • uplink2 says:

        I guess I’m misstating things. Chuck and Sarah were not going to keep things professional, just Chuck and Hannah and Sarah and Shaw. Have them begin to actually clean things up there and eliminate all of what the ridiculous OLI manure. It was really just saying that extending things all the way to 13 was just pointless torture. By ending that at say ep 7 and have them rebuild things makes the DYLM moment earned. That I guess was my point. But I agree Chuck and Sarah were never going to keep things just professional. It simply wasn’t in the cards for a long time.

      • atcDave says:

        I see now, yes I agree completely with that.

      • aalleess says:

        I learned my lesson and never expected much of seasons 4 and 5.

      • authorguy says:

        Certainly nothing to write home about.

      • atcDave says:

        Aalleess that may be part of why I enjoyed the later seasons so much. But of course my expectations had grown quite high again only to be let down by the finale…

    • uplink2 says:

      Agreed. It still amazes me to this day that they actually thought Pink Slip was a good idea after season 2 and the long wait that was to follow. I know that much of the season was already locked down by Comicon but the reaction should have clued them in to the fact that they were going to get some serious blowback when it aired. Was it they were out of touch or was it simply hubris that the fans who helped save the show would worship at their feet so much they would love anything they put on screen? They really didn’t get the idea like Dave mentions in the writeup that Chuck fans loved the show in great part because it was different, it wasn’t traditional TV troupe filled TV. Another round of OLI’s should have been totally off the table going in to break the new season. Keep them apart if you must to tell the necessary spy story of post 2.0 but anyone who knew the show’s audience should have immediately dismissed the idea of another round of OLI’s. Then to have the longest OLI story of the series be run through the weakest and most pathetic relationship with zero chemistry, zero charisma, and zero likability is beyond clueless. And all of that was telegraphed by Pink Slip. Mask is probably universally viewed as the worst written episode of the entire series. An hour of television I wish I could wipe from my brain that was followed by an episode where I felt the writer was spitting in my face throughout. Those were dark days to be a Chuck fan.

  10. authorguy says:

    The largest and most painful flaw of S3 is the wonderful story they had but didn’t tell. Nothing is worse. (Unlike so many other fanfic writers out there, my goal was to reveal the good things I saw in the story they had, rather than try to overwrite the story with something else.) Fake Name is a powerful episode told weakly (the wrong characters in the wrong places), and the ending is horrendous. Honeymooners is a weak episode (too focused on C&S kissy-face, like much of S4, and the fake angst) told powerfully. The Charleses were good, and Morgan came off very strong and smart. The spy stuff with C&S was good, but the whole thing was betrayed at the end, when Chuck dumps all of his growth as a spy because Ellie told him to. I find it hard to watch Honeymooners now, knowing how little he means any of it.

  11. oldresorter says:

    Other than Role Models and Honeymooners, I doubt I’ll ever watch s3 again. Honeymooners was the one perfect episode of Chuck, the time the show didn’t take itself too seriously, took the blinders off and just plain and simple had fun. If we’d gotten 91 episodes of that, we’d be watching something like episode 175 or 200 tonight!

    In many ways, I no longer am upset about season 3, season 5’s final two episodes were so harsh and joyless, that I gave up. In some ways, I feel sorry for Chuck fans in general and specifically the Chuck cast, they deserved a more talented creative staff than what they had.

    Good news, 24 starts tonight!

    • atcDave says:

      I agree completely about Honeymooners. THAT show was special, I would never get tired of that kind of fun.
      I’m not quite so down on the writing overall, but I would agree with saying other elements were stronger than the overall story issues.

    • uplink2 says:

      Jason, even for someone like me that hates so much of season 3 I do think that Subway is a very strong episode. Similar to season 2 in that the penultimate episode is much better than the finale. Now of course I’m not comparing Subway to Colonel in any way as they are nowhere near the same league but I do think that Subway is a top 20 episode for me. The second best of season 3. Tic Tac would get that honor if not for the totally contrived, unnecessary, angst for angst sake, episode crushing final scene. Had they used the deleted fountain scene with Morgan and Chuck instead of the taxi scene it would jumped ahead of Subway for me. But up until that moment it was a very good episode. It felt the most like a season 2 Chuck episode of any of the front 13 up until that moment. Plus NO SHAW and that was always a big plus. Sarah’s being dismissive of Shaw when she said “Shaw can wait” in such derogatory tone was fantastic.
      But strangely the reason Subway works is that it is the only episode Routh gave a decent performance in. The look through the Subway door was menacing and the first time we actually saw any meaningful emotion from him as an actor. It wasn’t the phoney emotion of his pathetically, laughable scream at the Director’s hologram in Hero. He’s still not a good actor but it was his strongest moment in the series though that isn’t saying much. But the episode in total is action packed, and one I really enjoyed.

  12. bubbasuess says:

    It is natural to dwell on the misery arc and the way that infected much of season 3. However, after watching it, I had a much different primary complaint about the season3 relating to the antagonist and the tension it created (or, more accurately, didn’t create). I thought, coming off of seasons 1 & 2, the Ring was a pretty lame foe for Team B. Frankly it seemed like a weaker, lamer, less threatening version of Fulcrum. As Dave noted in the season 2 overview, Fulcrum was a great antagonist. It was pervasive and offered a sense of looming menace that permeated both the end of season 1 and the entirety of season 2. The fact that you never knew who the Fulcrum agents were (except Jill of course) and that they could even succeed in killing Graham gave the organization a sense of real intimidation. I think the pervasive, oppressive feeling that Fulcrum was out there, somewhere and could strike anywhere from parts unknown upped the tension of season 2 considerably and created the perfect crucible for Chuck and Sarah’s relationship to thrive. The hotel room in Colonel was great not because of the dam bursting in their relationship but because it took place while they were on the run from both the government and Fulcrum. It was in the midst of the tension they finally came together.

    Contrast that with the Ring. They never felt very threatening, never really seemed to accomplish all that much, except to turn Shaw, which many probably saw as a good thing. The story that was being told in the misery arc was darker than normal Chuck fare so maybe a more ominous villain than the Ring may not have been a good thing. In some ways they seemed too comical even. I always felt like the elders were too cartoonish. Furthermore, the entire season just seemed like there were no real stakes outside of the internal tension within Team B. Perhaps the Ring could have been put to better use if they had appeared in a later season, not coming hot off of the heals of Fulcrum and really seeming like Fulcrum-lite. In the end, I think Edgar summed it up best in Goodbye when he labeled them as amateurs.

    • uplink2 says:

      I agree completely and these are great points. What was the threat of the Ring? I still haven’t figured that out. As you said they only seemed to threaten Shaw and I’m still trying to figure out what Shaw did to become the “Ring expert” and deserving of that attention. From what I can see there was none. And part of that is because the fosuc of the season weas never about The Ring or about the spy story, it was all about the WTWT and the OLI’s and so we see very little screen time or attention being given to the Ring or it’s threat to anything or anyone beyond Shaw. Were the Ring terrorists? Were they trying to take over the world or the intellegence community? We have no idea becuse they never showed us anything beyond trying to steal the Intersect from Bryce and threatening Shaw.

      • bubbasuess says:

        Part of the greatness of season 2 is that Chuck and Sarah’s romance was, while terrifically compelling on its own, took place in the midst of an equally compelling (albeit in a different way) spy story. The Orion arc was fantastic on its own, but made stratospheric by the developments between Chuck and Sarah. In season 3, that double threat is lost completely and Chuck and Sarah’s relationship, or lack thereof, was told so poorly it could not fill the vacuum.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree 100% with all of that Bubbasuess. The Ring so often gets overlooked in these S3 discussions, and I think that’s symptomatic of the whole problem. They made the dysfunctioning romance the major issue/distraction of the whole season. And I think its a truism that the broken romance was going to dominate the show as long as it was broken. To make the Ring, or the spy story in general, a bigger part of the show, the romance simply had to be “fixed.” And I don’t mean things had to be perfect for Chuck and Sarah. But I think they at least had to be seen as fighting to be together before any other part of the show even matters. I think the “Awesome” mini-arc works a little better than the rest of the season because things at least seem to be getting better.
      But as the season unfolds, much of the narrative energy and ALL of the emotional energy is sucked up by romantic misadventures. If they had DUMPED the love triangles entirely, they could have spent extra time developing the Ring and spy story. Again, I’m not even requiring a wholly healed Charah for this. Simply the suggestion they are “cleaning up their mess” in the background of a bigger arc and I think much better use could have been made of The Ring.
      I’d mention here too I think it was a mistake, a small mistake, but a mistake nonetheless to come up with a new spy organization anyway. It was not clear to me at the end of S2 that Fulcrum had in fact been destroyed until I concluded that from their absence in S3. Simply keeping the name “Fulcrum” for the spy rivals in S3 would have given them more leverage without spending the time of developing a new villain.
      Its like a business story that was big here in southeast Michigan a few years ago. Back in about 2000 (?) Ford had discontinued the Taurus name and replaced the car with the Ford 500. Well when Alan Mulally took over Ford one of his first marketing statements was to call that a stupid move, He said that “Taurus” had global brand recognition and immediately meant something to consumers. So even before an all new full size sedan could be introduced he insisted that the 500 be renamed “Taurus”. The name alone means something.
      I’d say the same thing for Fulcrum. Unless they were willing to really work on a new villain, they were better off keeping the legacy of Fulcrum alive.

      • bubbasuess says:

        That is a really, really good point Dave. Keeping Fulcrum around would have given them a little more capital carry-over from the previous season.

        Also, for what it is worth, as contrived as Pink Slip was, I did not think the season really went off the rails until after the Awesome arc. You are right when you say it seemed like things between Chuck and Sarah were getting better. Three Words even felt like a season 1 episode to me and the security footage played out with the vibe of episodes from that season. After that, well, things went all to pieces.

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly agree. I think I never would have like Pink Slip. But one single bad episode is not a terrible thing. It wasn’t too late to tell a good story. But yeah, after the Awesome Arc things went downhill. As I said in “ranking the episodes”, I might have even come to consider “Three Words” a strong episode if they’d made good on “cleaning up their mess”.

      • duckman says:

        I remember reading an interview with Alan Mulally where he came right out and said that dropping the taurus was disrespectfull to their customers. If CF/JS had done something like that I’d be inclined to cut them a fair amount more slack. Instead they always seemed dismissive to those who disagreed with them.

      • atcDave says:

        You know I completely agree about fessing up to mistakes. Although the Fulcrum/Ring name thing isn’t one of those mistakes I’m terribly worried about (!), but I can think of a few things I’d like hear “sorry, we really shouldn’t have done that…” about.

  13. This might sound strange but I’m most proud of S5 for very big reasons that are extremely important to me so I can’t wait for that discussion!

  14. In a previous post I had noted my opinion of the misery arc: interesting the first time, but ultimately boring. For me, Chuck as a series picks up with Other Guy, After all, after that, there’s no more tension, no more “When will they?”, and no more OLI’s. For one of those viewers who watched, and still does, for C&S, that’s a good thing.

    • atcDave says:

      I completely agree with that Jeffrey. Other Guy brings a sort of energy to the show that was lacking from Ring to American Hero.

  15. I know this is a S3 thread but I thought of a MUCH better name for 5-12, Chuck versus the brainwashing!

    Oh and I think that the Misery Arc officially ends at the end of 3-11, because Chuck spends the next two episodes REALLY TRYING to tell Sarah he loves her and wants to be with her and half the misery for me was that he didn’t start doing that right after beard.

    • or better yet 3 words

    • atcDave says:

      Chuck vs The Brainwashing is a much better title!

      Notice I don’t consider American Hero a “bad” episode. There is still some things I don’t like about it, like Sarah not trusting Chuck at all early on. This arc is sooooo long, and Sarah not trusting Chuck so far into things things is just a horrible story telling decision. As Jason/OR was talking about above, with the way these writers liked to drag everything out for a big moment, with no meaningful context, it just makes for a very tired feeling episode.
      BUT, I will grant you the end is terrific. If they’d arrived at this point with less character destroying melodrama it would have been an all time favorite moment.

  16. oldresorter says:

    Some more season three observations / comments:

    1 – One problem with Chuck s3, is Sarah had control of the wt/wt (other than the retcon of the Prague scene). All she had to say at any time was Chuck’s lets date, and date they would. I think a far more interesting situation, be it here in season 3, or even on the beach in the final, would be for Chuck to have the power, Sarah to be pursuing Chuck.

    2 – For guest characters to be a success, a certain degree of fan love and / or interest must be written into the character. Neither Hannah nor Shaw were written very well.

    3 – Somewhat related, but not really, when the pair were announced as guests, I honestly was excited, as I felt the spy team needed a pair of season long regulars to make the spy missions better and stronger. A second Sarah in Shaw and a second Chuck in Hannah would have made sense, along with Casey the five man team could have had more interesting missions in theory, with each character having more roles, etc. This would have allowed some friendships to develop on screen among characters, instead of creepy stalker like Hannah, and sexual harrasment supervisor subordinate stuff between Shaw and Sarah. IN s1/s2 the spy plot was better, at least in the ball park of Alias or real spy shows. By s3, the spy part of the show had become cartoonish, with the LI part of the show soap opera-ish. Key word there is ISH.

    4 – The Ellie / Awesome Africa stuff and the Ellie / Jason (was that the guys name?) was God awful, and every bit as creepy as anything from season 3.

    5 – Orion’s death should have led to the conclusion by Chuck ‘that our family’s lying led to our dad’s death.’ No secrets no lies should have been his idea upon his father’s grave. Then telling the truth and / or trusting that something was true against all odds should have been involved in the ring takedown, rather than some Get Smart prank with Chuck and Shaw, and rounding up the seniors citizens tour bus folks in the stair well. Has any show ever done worse?

    • atcDave says:

      It would have been nice to see Sarah as the pursuer, just once. Maybe if Chuck had thought he’d blown it hopelessly in Prague, for Sarah to have to win him back. Maybe. I’m not into the soap opera stuff, I would prefer no relationship drama by this point. But something that makes the characters look good (no triangles!) would have been fun.
      Well I do agree some more spy world friendships could have been interesting. But by the time those casting announcements were actually made there was so much foreboding about the season I wasn’t pleased.
      I think you mean Justin, I actually, mostly liked that arc. I loved the idea of Chuck’s lying to Ellie causing the ambush of their father and the whole cascade of events in the 3.5 finale arc.
      Which leads to; I agree completely about your point five. Chuck really needed to figure out for himself that lying was very bad. Its sort of funny if you contrast Chuck and Sarah from S1, with how the lying developed and ended at the start of S4. It is a great moment for Sarah when she finally puts her foot down. But just, shame on Chuck!

  17. A rewrite of S3 will likely be the next thing I make an attempt at…but I am really enjoying writing my post finale story though I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t publish a chapter at a time for fan fic, I’m also not publishing anything until it meets my expectations which makes me glad I was blessed with discipline and patience.

    I was originally going to leave Sarah’s memories behind completely but have since altered my story to show a gradual but realistic recovery of her memories (in other words there won’t be an automatic fix at any point) because there is a lot of fun when going this route and it makes the relationship fresh without getting rid of everything that happened the 1st go around!

    I must attempt to stick up for JS&CF (mainly the latter though) because I have been working on the 1st CH for roughly 10 days and I’m still not satisfied or even finished with it! I can’t imagine the pressure they felt with weekly deadlines and later a severely slashed production budget on top of NBC’S constant guessing games! I may not like JS but I can sympathize 100% with CF

    • atcDave says:

      I have no doubt the job of head writer is stressful and difficult. And I’m happy to cut some slack on minor issues of continuity, or the occasional dud episode. But I’m much less sympathetic about major issues of story or character. Bottom line is, these guys are professionals. It’s their job to create a satisfying, entertaining product. And it’s a full time job, 40+ hours a week.
      I’d also point out they had a staff, so no individual writer has to produce a lot by volume. Also a 43 minute televising show is likely far shorter than most fan fiction stories. And if you are slaving over details and a polished final draft, you will likely put in at least as many total man hours as they did.

  18. noblz says:

    As I related earlier, I sat down for the premier so revved up only to be stunned into near depression by Pink Slip, it was stunningly horrible at least to me. Good thing the next three episodes were OK.

    Now my issues with S3 are really four…

    First, why did they completely blow up Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. Not believable.

    Next, they had a near resolution at the end of each episode and then proceeded to forget it in a fit of collective amnesia. It was as if TPTB were not watching their own show. I’m with Uplink that they had a time oriented solution, so having continuity from episode to episode didn’t seem to be a priority. This was confusing and depressing. Depressing is not good dramedy.

    Third, they made everyman hero Chuck into a complete cad. He was such a boor, I felt like punching in the face myself at times.

    Finally, they made Sarah into a slutty vamp with a spy IQ in single digits. How dumb they made her just was not believable.

    Their basic idea was good, Everyman makes momentous decision and has to climb a mountain of shocking new things in a dangerous world to make it.

    I would have kept that idea and had Chuck and Sarah pursuing their elicit relationship hiding it from Shaw. This could have led to some good scenes of frustration for our couple with Shaw basically watching Chuck 24/7 and hitting on Sarah (unsuccessfully). But it would have Sarah actually helping Chuck as opposed to basically being an adversary for the majority of the front 12 episodes.

    I say all of that to say this, from American Hero (most start at Other Guy or Honeymooners) on was some of the best stuff in the series IMHO. S3 was weird in that it had the worst of the series linked with some of the very best of the series.

    And Ernie, the S3 ratings dive was because 1-11 was not good Television, and 2.5 million viewers left and never came back.

    • atcDave says:

      Well I certainly agree with most of that! I agree entirely with your view of what the season should have been.
      I’ll sort of agree, with a little less enthusiasm, about the back arc. It absolutely was exciting and fun. But I feel it missed greatness because of the ways Chuck was made to look bad. It still is a ton of fun to watch, but falls short of the really great moments.

    • noblz says:

      “slutty vamp” not a good choice of words. I meant that based on the way things were done Sarah either a) was sleeping with Shaw while still in love with Chuck or b) as soon as Chuck finished his idiotic “Red Test” she immediately jumped in bed with Shaw before ever even going on a date…either choice does not show Sarah in a very positive light. Whatever adjectives describe this is what I meant.

      • atcDave says:

        Hey I’m not arguing…

      • noblz says:

        atcDave

        I know you aren’t. You posted while I was typing. I had merely tried to think of a better set of adjectives and couldn’t.

      • duckman says:

        I’m generally more critical of s3.5 than most. Stupid/lying Chuck and clueless Ellie just annoy me to no end. It’s like everytime they need someone in a pickle they just make them stupid for a minute. If they had to bring Shaw back (what were they thinking?), he should have stayed in chucks head. I always thought Christopher Lloyd was one of their best guest casting scores and he was criminally underused. Chuck could have had nightmares from killing shaw and spent 2-3 eps with the doc around. Add in not lying to Sarah and shaw staying dead and 3 of my bottom 5 eps are out of the toilet. I quit the show after subway. At the time I didn’t realise ring 2 was coming up, I thought they were sticking me with a cliffhanger and I was having none of that. Never gave the show another thought till april 2013. In hindsight, the show had simply stopped being enjoyable and I’d missed so many of the great s2 eps that I wasn’t invested enough to carry me through.

  19. Off subject I never watched 24 before but I figured now is the perfect time to check it out, pus I want to see how good Yvonne is at separating this CIA agent from Sarah Walker!

  20. Christopher says:

    There is a reason why season 3 is my prefered season of the 5. We have a bad guy that challenged both Chuck and Sarah. I have grown to not like the Sarah/Shaw relationship because of lack of Chemistry but Shaw does offer something to the main story. He took Chuck out of the van and forced him to become what we all knew he was destine for back when he was in Stanford and being in Van was not useful for the intersect 2.0 and for Sarah she was ready to commit to Chuck during Ellie’s wedding so when asking Chuck to run was great but the writers had to do what they do best and drive a wedge between the two characters that the fans cared about the most.

    Here is something I don’t understand was the point of the writers. IF we have Chuck and Sarah proclaim their feelings for the other at the end of season 2 whether its directly or indirectly they were close to sealing the deal, but then we have the prague incident that has my mind puzzled because if the focus was Chuck can’t be with Sarah because he was trying to become a spy than what was Hannah for other than being a device used to keep the two apart. See I have come to believe the show never really was happy that a romance high jacked the series and it shows by the willingness to maintain Morgan/Chuck relationship but did everything possible to destroy Charah’s relationship.

    Where the creators/writers mad because of the fans interest in the relationship or was the fact they wanted us to maintain focus on the spy stuff. If thats the case Yvonne and Zach made it impossible to ignore. Season 3 has good episodes but because people’s ill will towards Shaw splitting Sarah and Chuck which was the fault of them. I think by the time we get to season 3 seeing Chuck with another woman again after breaking it off with Sarah was redundant and Sarah not pursuing someone was annoying. look at the examples.

    Season one: Chuck breaks up with Sarah and ends up with Lou this is acceptable because Chuck was looking for something real
    Season two we have Bryce and Jill cancel one other out but still Chuck breaks up with Sarah and ends up with Jill I don’t really consider Cole a threat to Chuck as much as Shaw and Bryce but again Chuck breaks up with Sarah to end up with another woman…..Sarah is forced to take a back seat this is the second time.

    Season 3: Sarah puts her heart out for Chuck something she has never done before and He said I Can’t than goes out with Hannah…after three times of this don’t you think its fair for Sarah to actually want to go out with someone else. She may had liked Shaw but we all know her heart belonged to Chuck.

    So the writers really kept recycling a story that got old and this is what bothers me. what do you think of this theory of mine?

    • joe says:

      …but then we have the prague incident that has my mind puzzled because if the focus was Chuck can’t be with Sarah because he was trying to become a spy than what was Hannah for other than being a device used to keep the two apart.

      Great thoughts, Christopher. But I think I have an answer, of sorts, to your question.

      As improbable as it seems, neither Chuck nor Sarah were ready for each other in Barstow. Chuck was still insisting that he wanted to make a difference – to be a spy. How does that fit into a normal life? But what did he do best? Nerd stuff. Caring for friends and family. That was his nature. For her part, Sarah was trying to run away from the spy life. For her, that was now a deadening existance, devoid of feelings, friends and family. She wanted the normal life Chuck offered, but was too good a spy. She was the best.

      Hannah and Shaw together were C&S’s last great temptation back to the worlds in which they were most comfortable, the last and greatest threat to split them apart emotionally. Hannah is not like Lou in the sense that Sarah was not jealous of Hannah. – Sarah was trying to move on. Shaw is not like Cole Barker because Chuck is not threatened by Shaw (or more precisely, Shaw’s attempted romance with Sarah) – Chuck is trying to move on.

      • authorguy says:

        “neither Chuck nor Sarah were ready for each other in Barstow. ” Completely true. However, this doesn’t mean that they have to be kept apart as they were in S3. As I did in nine2five, they could have been thrown together unprepared and then spent the season trying to figure out how to make it work. That would have been a much more popular line.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh c’mon, “not ready for each other” is made for TV nonsense. They’re ready exactly when they decide to be. Or more to the point, exactly when they were written to be. That could have been 3.01, 3.13 or 1.01.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        OK. I’ll bite.

        “neither Chuck nor Sarah were ready for each other in Barstow”

        (I disagree. But that’s beside the point.)

        Unfortunately – if that is the case, then neither Chuck nor Sarah are ready for each other in Paris. In fact, as the story was told, they’re less ready.

        It doesn’t really matter if C&S were ready or not. What matters is fans were ready and the writers weren’t. Lump that with a backwards story with all the exposition held until the last possible second and you’re left frustrated fans wondering what the hell is going on.

        As far as Christopher question the “spy story” in S3 – there wasn’t one of any importance.

    • authorguy says:

      “what was Hannah for other than being a device used to keep the two apart?” Before Uplink hits us once again with his proclamation that Hannah was useless, let me tell why she wasn’t. In this season Chuck has made a choice, something that he hadn’t done in the previous seasons. Hannah was the test of that choice, his perfect woman in the non-spy world.
      In fact, you’re better off not seeing her as a woman, any more than Shaw is a man. They each represent these two worlds, spy and non-spy, and each is trying to pull either Chuck or Sarah into that world. Hannah and Shaw both pull at Chuck, but only Shaw is trying to pull Sarah more fully into the spy world. There are a number of problems with this, the main one being that these mostly symbolic relationships got cast as love triangles, which no one wanted. If we see the Sarah-Shaw-Chuck triangle instead as a choice between Chuck and the spy life for Sarah the story is perfectly fine. Similarly the choice for Chuck between Sarah and a normal life (as represented by Hannah).
      Another benefit to this view of things is that Shaw’s inconsistent behavior is perfectly explained, as the inconsistent goals of the spy world, where alliances shift on a dime and the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing.
      This symbolic interpretation of S3 is highly abstract, and the writers couldn’t make it any more real than they did, and no one gets it.

      • atcDave says:

        Fortunately Marc we have you as the sole voice of wisdom and insight.

      • authorguy says:

        Not sole, anumber of people on this blog regularly make astute observations that change my view of the show. But something like this, I wouldn’t expect anyone to see it. I doubt even the writers knew what they were doing while they were doing it. These deeper meanings are usually buried in the tropes. I believe the writers wanted the Love Triangles, all three of them, but they got lucky that the hidden meaning of the tropes they used gave the story more coherence than what they actually wrote.

      • oldresorter says:

        I admit it, I’m not near as smart as Marc. But I do have a request from one of the site administrators, that is “Say it isn’t ‘sole’ Joe! Bonus pts (or a pair of shoes) for where that line came from – LOL!

        Seriously ‘tho’, I’d love to hear an interpretation from someone involved with telling the story, now that it’s been over for a while.

        I’ve postulated dozens (hundreds) of theories, but my most lasting is that Chuck wasn’t good enough for Sarah in his mind until he became a spy (even in balcony his line referenced something along the lines ‘I’m not James Bond’), and no matter what Sarah thought to the contrary, until Chuck was comfortable (ready), they couldn’t make it. I don’t think I ever saw any hint in Sarah’s lines or actions that she felt unworthy of Chuck – ever? I’ve seen that given as a theory off and on, but I can’t recall scenes that support the theory???

        Did I just half agree with Marc (i.e. Chuck wasn’t ready at the start of s3)? Maybe that means I’m at least half as smart as he is? Cool!

      • authorguy says:

        Since I was agreeing with Joe you’re as smart as both of us. C&S could have gotten together at the end of S2, which IMO is what should have happened. Then they could have spent the season trying to figure out what they did, and how to make it work. I don’t believe that they were ready to be together at the end of S2 with no further work necessary. They needed lots of work, the only question is should they have been together while doing it. The C&S in Honeymooners is not the C&S from Barstow.
        The only thing I can think of to indicate that Sarah felt herself unworthy was her line in Phase Three, “Without you I’m nothing but a spy”, which indicates to me that she felt that ‘spy’ was the lowest rung on the ladder.

      • joe says:

        You’re still twice as smart as I, Jason. 😉

        I’m not sure that, for Sarah, the word “unworthy” fits. I mean, she doesn’t feel unworthy the same way Chuck does. Right?

        But I suspect that she feels like she would wreck Chuck’s life, which is nearly the same. With her, he’s in constant danger of being either killed or, worse from his standpoint, being separated permenantly from friends and family. She can’t take away the Intersect and she really can’t make him a spy; only he can do these things. She knows that Chuck can almost-but-not-quite touch her (especially in S1 and most of S2) so that even for her to be around is awful for him. But who can protect him better? Casey? Forrest? Beckman? Not on your life!

        They both are stuck in limbo in the most amazing way. Yet as we see in S3, it only gets worse for them when they get un-stuck (worse until it gets better, of course).

      • CaptMediocre says:

        Sarah in S3 can feel anything you want her to.

        She never talked, so nobody knows for sure.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc just exposed the fallacy of the whole “not ready yet” argument. It is with the qualification, “no further work necessary”. There is always further work necessary. That’s life, love and romance. It’s never a done deal. But at any point a real or fictional couple decides they’re ready to work for it, they’re ready.
        And for Chuck and Sarah, I ‘d say that’s any point from 1.01 on when the writers were ready to make them ready.

        But I have no patience with a fatalistic argument that it could only be a certain way. If that is true, then all discussion is just about justifying the story as told. And that would be a very boring discussion.
        Joe you’re a scientist! You know better than that!

      • Christopher says:

        I will be the first to tell you Chuck v The ring was were. Sarah and chuck were ready Sarah’s expressions show distraught because Chuck turned down working with her and being tokd she was going to Lisbon with Larkin than watching Chuck on the beach cemented what Sarah wanted she said no to Bryce

        Saying no to larkin showed she was ready Chuck choising to download 2.0 showed he was ready my only question whether it be a device or not its bad to make people think they were getting together than pull the rug

        The reason I like season 3 over the series finale is at least we got an ending with your still my Chuck however road we get there

        Every time charah were ready a wedge shows up but not for chuck and morgan they took the time to bring back Mirvan’s memories Sarah had to ordeal watching another woman sitting at her dinner table and with her family its not right to treat ur characters like that

      • authorguy says:

        Since no one is ever ‘ready’ you can justify keeping them apart forever, and lots of writers do exactly that. It’s easier to do, and lets you get that next script done faster.
        I got married very early and have spent most of my life still married to that same woman. I can very easily see C&S doing exactly that, and that’s exactly what I think they should have done. Then let them worry about making it work. But there was work to be done, and saying that they could have stepped from Barstow to Paris with no intermediate steps is completely false. Married or not, the growth they got in S3 was necessary, although it would have been more pleasant for us if it had been them growing together rather growing *back* together.
        What we got(in a sort of graphic format) What I wanted
        /\
        / \ /\
        \ / X
        | | X
        I hope this little graphic stays formatted. Basically in S3 they went apart then came back together. In my preferred S3 they came together, overshot, went back some, maybe overshot again, and eventually ended up in the same place.

      • atcDave says:

        Marc you are a maddening writer. You say both things at the same time and assume everyone else is unsophisticated for not understanding.
        We have been over this about a billion times. No one, and I mean NO ONE, has ever claimed Charah of 2.22 could pop out as a fully mature couple. But they were exactly as ready to work at it as any couple ever is. And they were in objectively the same exact place 13 episodes later. It is purely a matter of when the writers chose to pull the trigger. What you wrote in nine2 five nicely illustrates the point of easily this could be made to work.
        And yes, what you say that they could have chosen to put a coupling off indefinitely is EXACTLY true. It is ALL a writers decision. The timing is a combination of how the characters and story are presented; and what the audience needs to see for matters of entertainment and investment. All those elements need to be considered. If something is out of balance it will usually result in an unhappy audience. And THAT is exactly what happened in S3. Really, pretty much every element was out of whack. The result being it felt dishonest and manipulative to a sizable, possibly a majority, of viewers.

        My point in all of that just being, it is the writers’ choice to time an event like bringing a couple together 100% of the time. It can happen fast, it can happen slow. But it needs to feel honest to the audience. And Schwedak failed badly on that count with S3. I can imagine it being fixed in a number of ways, most involve speeding up the timeline to some degree. It also could have been screwed up even worse any number of ways. But given how fast viewer enthusiasm was flagging in S3 they couldn’t have screwed it up worse for very long!

      • authorguy says:

        “And they were in objectively the same exact place 13 episodes later. ” That’s where I disagree. I see C&S at Honeymooners being a very different couple from C&S at Barstow, while you and many others have always said they could have stepped from Barstow to Paris.

      • Christopher says:

        But you cant take out prague just because you dont like the story Whatever the writers chose to do with the characters is up to them but on a story purpose Prague is important because it was the final chapter tell her it’s coming together. When we think about it. As soon as Orion took out the intersect. We knew both worlds have changed. So from the end of the colonel until Prague we have hey disconnect in character development. If we are going to say the writers got it wrong here or didn’t like what they did. Then we can say the same thing for Chuck v the goodbye

      • atcDave says:

        Yes but you put words in our mouths when you say “without work”. That has never been true.
        And of course it took a lot of work from Paris too. At least as much as we’re ever likely to see on a “Dramedy”.

        And yes, I feel strongly that the characters, Chuck especially, only showed negative growth in the misery arc. So by the time they got together it was actually with MORE baggage, MORE heartache, and MORE difficulty than if they’d done so sooner.

      • authorguy says:

        You and many others have repeatedly said that they could have stepped from Barstow to Paris, which implies to me that you think no further work is necessary, since they don’t do any significant growing *after* Paris (except for the keeping of secrets, which only goes to the beginning of S4). If you think they had work to do, I can’t see where they were supposed to be doing it. The last two seasons are a romp as far as the relationship goes.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well Marc, yes I am going to challenge much of that assertion because I disagree that season 3 was the first time Chuck had a choice. Chuck made a choice in season 1 with Lou. After Sarah told him they had no future he made the choice to “cross #1 off that list” and broke up with her. The look on Sarah’s face is priceless. She fully expected him to be the assertive male finally and kiss her and was stunned, hurt and jealous when he made that choice. He rejected the spy life, in terms of a cover relationship, and chose the normal life with Lou. He rejected what was for her the most fulfilling relationship she had ever known even if it was fake. But that relationship with Lou failed because it was based on lies. Things he could never tell her and parts of him she would never understand. Once he saw that it endangered her, he chose to protect her and then realizing he could never escape the lies he broke it off. Again, another conscious choice on his part because honest Chuck couldn’t stand lying to another person, a person he wanted to be intimate with. Then Chuck made the ultimate heroic choice of choosing death over letting Sarah die alone.

        Chuck made a conscious choice to protect Sarah when he was manipulated by Bryce once again to sacrifice his happiness for her safety, and of course Bryce’s gain. Right when it seemed Sarah was going to admit her feelings for Chuck he chose to not even allow her the chance to speak, he chose to push her away once again. With Jill he made a conscious choice again. He chose to try and move on with something, someone familiar. He chose the normal life over the spy life once again. But that relationship was also based on lies but this time by both parties. He then chose to arrest Jill when she threatened Sarah

        Then for the first time he chose the spy life over the normal life with the 2.0. We can debate if he chose that in part so he could still be with Sarah or simply because it was the right thing to do, or as they so horribly portrayed him in Prague, he chose it for purely selfish reasons to become a spy. But all of that brings us to your point of the choice he had with spy life vs normal life. He had been faced with that many times. Now in comes Hannah, and I totally question your idea of his perfect mate as anyone used to flying First Class who gets fired and chooses to come and work at a barely above minimum wage job to be close to a guy she met on a plane and spent a few hours with is a woman with some serious issues. The oft mentioned stalker aspect to it as well as the fact she asked him to meet her parents the day after she slept with him without ever actually going on a date.. All in all Hannah had some serious psychological issues. But again its the same choice with the same reasons that choice won’t work as with Lou and to an extent Jill. There is nothing new about this choice. The only difference is Chuck is being even more stupid by hooking up with another repetitive normal girl as he is about to become an agent and tells her a bunch of lies just like he did Lou and Jill. Well that’s not totally true because when faced with the realization of the spy life threatening her safety he didn’t chose to protect her and breakup with her, he chose to sleep with her instead. This Chuck had become an ass throughout this storyline. Christopher is right the only reason Hannah is there is to fit those three things I’ve said many times, eye candy, stunt casting and to justify Sarah/Shaw. It is a totally repetitive storyline from beginning to end except Chuck is made to look despicable throughout. He confesses his love for Sarah and bangs the first girl who shows interest in him a few weeks later. He then flaunts he got laid in front of the woman he said he loved a few weeks before and then breaking up with the disturbed stalker girl in front of her parents the next night. So yes Hannah was useless outside of those three things and I believe you give the writers too much credit if you think they ever had that grand deeply philosophical choice in mind when they created Hannah. She was simply the repetitive, been there done that, other girl, the other corner of the trapezoid and yes, totally pointless in the grand scheme of things.

      • atcDave says:

        Well put Uplink.

        Marc/AG, again, you are willfully and deliberately misrepresenting what myself and many others have said. Even when its clearly explained. Either play nice or I will start removing your comments.

      • authorguy says:

        My apologies. But if you think they still weren’t “fully mature” I’m still not sure where you see them ever maturing. Other than S3 they don’t seem to do any.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes Christopher we can just take Prague, or Goodbye, or anything else we want out of the story. Its part of examining what works and what doesn’t. With a show as strong as Chuck I think most elements can be cherished and left alone. But some parts just beg for variations or alternatives. And some might be better eliminated.
        Obviously when you remove or alter a major plot point it requires some examination of what other changes it will require. That’s all good fun. Just like when a composer takes a theme and explores variations in tempo or instrumentation. They way it plays back to the original can be fascinating.
        Obviously if you LIKE a story you’re more likely to want to leave it alone; while a story you dislike may scream for a different treatment. But even the like/dislike component is hardly absolute. So many ideas were brought up on Chuck that received only the briefest of passing treatments. And they all may be explored as variations.

        Later tonight I’ll have a S1/S2 Alternatives post up. Its not really critical of the show at all, but its full of different ways the story could have been told. To me, its those variations that keep the show alive and growing.

      • atcDave says:

        I see them maturing, growing a lot, AFTER they come together. Sarah starts growing almost immediately in S3.5. I think Chuck’s growth is mostly “professional” in nature through through all of S3. But they both grow a lot in S4 and beyond.

      • authorguy says:

        I saw all that growth in S3, although it was represented negatively. As Shaw (the spy world) tried ever harder to bring her back into the fold, she grew steadily less happy. In S3 they compressed the spring and let it go, in S4 the spring was bouncing around. I didn’t see much change or development there, just a lot of bouncing around.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I would agree there was a hint of Sarah not being happy in the spy world; but S3 is where I saw the bouncing back in forth, Sarah worried about Chuck changing, then grinning as Shaw slugs a helpless prisoner…
        It just felt to me like she was further along at the end of S2, bounced around a for a while, then showed more consistent growth in the back arc.

      • authorguy says:

        I didn’t see any grinning, but I have no desire to revisit Fake Name to verify. That particular scene is the most disgraceful of the whole episode, and I usually fast-forward through it. It occurs to me, though, that the whole reason for its disgracefulness might be to show the depths to which the spy world will go, and Sarah’s dislike at it. I’ll have to check for her expression at that point.

      • joe says:

        I can’t say I see the grinning either, Marc. But I know what Dave means.

        That scene is haunting. I find myself asking “what did Sarah think?” – about Shaw slugging Rafe for insulting her? Was she glad he came to her defence? I wasn’t even sure that the insult registered on her and I never saw that she reacted to it. In fact, Sarah was so uncharacteristically passive when Rafe opens his mouth that it almost seemed like she was accepting the insult.

        When the episode first aired I wrote, about the penultimate scene, that Sarah was more than despondant when Rafe seemed to pull the trigger. She was blaming herself for everything and maybe even not willing to go on with her life as it is. We hear a gunshot and see Sarah falling to the ground, seemingly dead.

        She awakes, of course, but the idea that she had given in to her misery and wanted to die is powerful in the story. I’m not saying I like it, but it’s one of the things that makes the episode hynotic. You know – a slow-motion train wreck of emotions.

        BTW, it’s not until S4 that we see Chuck come to Sarah’s defence in the same way – slugging a guard for insulting his then fiancee in a Colombian cave (Last Details). She’s much more appreciative to Chuck than she ever was to Shaw for that.

      • authorguy says:

        I don’t find it haunting at all, just repulsive. Sarah’s reaction may be the only thing worth watching it for. I suppose I’ll have to force myself.
        The whole setup is contrived, since there’s no reason to check the cuffs on a prisoner who was not released. She’s only there so Rafe can insult her. Shaw’s attack was so egregious and unprofessional, it reeks of instability and cruelty, certainly appropriate for Shaw seen as a symbol of the spy world. As a man it screams ‘psychopath’, and for all I know Sarah had the sick smile of a woman who realizes she’s dating a serial killer halfway through the entree.

      • atcDave says:

        And yet she sticks with him for another four episodes. That is zombie Sarah. Its just offensive to me that the writers paired her with Shaw in any capacity. Shaw is such a terrifying and repulsive character, Sarah looks like a moron for not seeing it.
        And Marc I agree Fake Name is unwatchable for much the same reason. But I apply that to most of the arc.

      • authorguy says:

        That’s the thing, I think she was seeing it, maybe for the first time, the depths to which she had allowed herself to sink. It’s Shaw’s first overtly depraved act. I may have to rewatch the season with a special focus on Sarah’s part.

      • atcDave says:

        He was a condescending arrogant jerk from the very first. But yes, Fake Name is our first solid hint he is actually deranged and evil.
        Whether she saw it or not, she stuck with him for four more episodes. And although I would admit real people often make such foolish decisions; this is the most popular character on the show being reduced to playing the fool. Not cool.

      • authorguy says:

        Okay, first, horrible, just horrible. I can’t believe I just saw that again, on mute, with captions, at double speed. Just…horrible.
        That said, I saw the ‘oh my god I’m dating a serial killer’ look on Sarah’s face after Skaw slugged Rafe. No pride, no joy, no grin. Not horror, exactly, but dismay bordering on disgust. She’s not as bad as Shaw, but she’s not a good normal person, either.
        She does respond to Rafe. She pulls on the chain harder than she needs to, and she looks back at him at him as she leaves. Not a lot, but normal human responses.
        She spends most of the episode thinking about how Chuck is losing himself, and *there’s* the horror for him, and the sorrow for herself. When Chuck is making a try for Hannah, the normal life, she’s happy. She wants Chuck to want the normal, even though that normal thing isn’t her. She’s seen the spy world at its worst in Shaw, and she wants none of that for Chuck. The last thing she wants is to eat that meal with Shaw. I see her letting Chuck go, at the end, glad that he’s chosen to be normal (she thinks). I see sacrifice.
        At the end I see her aliasing someone else, sort of a ghastly echo of what Chuck did in First Date. Sarah is watching the monitor but it’s not Sarah who turns around, who buys the crockpot. The episode is all about Fake Names and Sam has become her fake name. Chuck has made her into Sarah, and she gives Sam to Shaw. I don’t see Sarah anywhere in that final scene. I don’t see romance in that kiss. There’s all sorts of symbolism to kisses, from Judas to the Godfather, but that wasn’t a lover’s kiss. It’s a meaningful gesture from a meaningless persona. Or something equally vague, but it’s not any form of intimacy.

      • uplink2 says:

        But the big problem with all that is even if she did see his repulsive behavior as proof for the first time that he was psychotic which once again makes her an absolutely terrible spy, she didn’t just stay with him for 4 more episodes, she slept with him shortly after that scene. In my view of it she slept with him that very night in Castle. I feel that way because it fits into TPTB verified intent that the start of both of the new relationships happen in the same episode. So I extend that into the fact that both couples slept together in the same episode. After Chuck offensively gloated like a teenage boy who got laid for the first time there is no reason why she shouldn’t sleep with Shaw in “their” story. The idea of course makes me want to vomit but the whole episode does so why not end it with the most repulsive aspect to it? That episode is hugely damaging to the Sarah character and its one of the reasons I totally and completely despise it.

      • atcDave says:

        Although that’s a problem of your own doing Uplink. We are never explicitly told that was true. And since the whole arc is stupid, I’m willing to be stupid in my rejection of it, and say nothing ever really happened with Sham. I’ll proudly say I’m no more unreasonable than the show runner.

      • uplink2 says:

        Probably so Dave but it still leads to another big problem that is indicative of many of the issues especially with season 3. You can’t trust what TPTB said to mean anything both on screen and in interviews beyond that single moment. They clearly stated that there was definite intent for both new relationships to start in the same episode, Mask. Yet you have to choose not to believe that extends to both couples sleeping together in the same episode, Fake Name. Was it their intent to create a symbiosis or not? If I remember correctly that was the word they chose to describe what happened. Fake Name is such an incredibly repulsive episode that I can’t see any clear reason to not assume that repulsiveness extended to Sham actually happening in the same episode as Channah. The only reason not to is to not be as disgusted by that very thought of it.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I agree Fake Name is a repulsive episode. But I see no reason to believe “relationship” has to mean sex. And since they didn’t show it, I’m not going to imagine it was worse than we saw when it was already plenty bad enough.

  21. Christopher

    I agree that C&S were ready in Barstow the passion and poignancy of those scenes clearly shows as much.

    However that’s the reason I love the finale its powerful and it puts meaning in their relationship that didn’t exist the 1st time around, I always had a major issue with the fact that the only reason that their prior relationship existed at all was because Chuck opened that email! Here what happened wasn’t a fluke but was based on REALSTIC consequences. (Morgan broadcasts that he’s the intersect which alerts Quinn; Chuck lets Quinn escape in veil KNOWING he is angry and vengeful [Casey was going to purse Quinn} because he’s anxious to quit field work and subsequently gets kidnapped; Sarah goes to rescue him but naturally its a trap and she must download the faulty intersect to escape; she begins to lose motor control and her memory suppression starts on the train, then despite being told not to leave her compartment she pursues Quinn who seals her off from Chuck and Casey and kidnaps her; her memories are subsequently suppressed and then she’s brainwashed and manipulated) I walked away happy and felt inspired by the ending, unlike most people it made me appreciate the time I invested in the show. if your speaking in the context of whether they’ll be together that is a laughable question because SARAH ASKED FOR THE KISS, which means even if it takes time she WANTS to be with Chuck!

    I didn’t need or want closure but I DID want more context but the lack of that didn’t really bother me either, I couldn’t picture the ending being anything different than what it was and contrary to what people think CF did tell a great story in the finale arc and I respect the fact that he had the guts stick to his vision and that his ultimate gift was letting a fan driven show be continued by its fans

    • Christopher says:

      Josh,

      Your right it was powerful, but majority of the fan base didn’t like it. If you watch Dexter and see how that ended it was just as bad, but at least we got a glimpse of Dexter being on his own. I said I didn’t like the ending thats fine but at least it was a conclusion. Why does the fan have to use his or hers imagination in order to feel satisfied that Sarah got her memories back and why would they take time to give Morgan his memory back but not the most popular character of the show besides the lead.

      We are subjected to an ending that lreally isn’t an ending its a potential cliffhanger for a return. Each season ended with a cliffhanger why not go out with one. The problem is with 24 here now and the rest of the world learning how talented Yvonne is we may wait a long time for it. Look at what happen to the Sopranos with James dying. I know the cast of Chuck is younger and take better care of themselves but WB’s slow movement on a movie shows its not even in consideration. The ending was a way for fans to say see they can withstand anything but did they. Throughout the series they were apart more than together They actually had 3 straight episodes of being a normal couple before Volkoff comes and then The Belgium so IMO the creator and writers never wanted the relationship to succeed that was not the theme of the show.

      Here is another example look at how Cheers ended with Sam alone in the bar. its ideal because after watching the whole series It was destine for Malone to be with his bar

      I am on even talking about seeing them in the house with kids that’s not important its seeing Charah together or not its seeing if the kiss worked. A one year later of sorts.

  22. Let’s do the time warp! Agaaaiinn!!

  23. Christopher says:

    Dave,

    if we are going to dismiss Prague than we need to reevaluate the entire series. You can’t pick and choose what works for you because they the story gets convoluted. We take this out and we take that out add this and add that but what was done can’t be change you said that once before.

    If we take out Prague than we need to take out Mauser v The Red Test which is far worse than Prague. Sarah getting mad at Chuck for “Pulling the Trigger” was poorly done because if it was required to become a spy than what was Chuck going to do. furthermore, we have Sarah pleading her case that it was professional and just doing her job and you can’t have it both ways.

    What I would take out is each part of the story that split Charah apart whether it was the CIA or a bad guy. especially when Quinn erases the mind of Sarah, which today I feel like is not feasible but we are suppose to accept that as a conclusion. When in reality we got black screened.

    Lets take out Shaw shooting Orion lets take out Mary Bartowski because we don’t need her in the story. how about we take out Roark since it was more Hartley and Orion who worked on the Intersect. Prague was important because it showed the direction the two characters were going, and unfortunately the writers did poorly in executing it on their own admission

    • atcDave says:

      Yes Christopher we can do that. We can discuss or imagine anything we want. We can remove the whole Intersect. We can discuss “what if” the show were set 50 years earlier. Or even if Sarah were a brunette. Its fiction. We can consider anything.

      • Christopher says:

        If I had a decision in how to fix season 3 it would be instead of Chuck going with Hannah. I would of continued to see if Chuck would of ended up like Volkoff it would make us understand the ending more with Chuck’s mind beginning to malfunction.

        I would of kept Orion throughout the show because he and only he would of been able to help Sarah.

        Shaw was done after Ring II and Quinn would of been mentioned throughout the series. My Wife and I agree that when DExter ended with Dr. Vogel apart of the story and when we learn that she was the one behind the Code. I was like why waste a character like this til the end.

        Same thing with Quinn if we recall he said he was suppose to be uploaded the intersect that Bryce stole for Chuck than that means Quinn has been in the story since the beginning. A wasted Character

        BTW on the side Dave,

        Richard Burgi and Arnold Vosloo are awesome bad guys from 24 and Chuck what do you think?

      • atcDave says:

        Hey I like it! Now you’re getting in the spirit.

        I like both those actors a lot. Previously I only watched S1 of 24, but obviously now I’m watching the summer series.
        But Arnold Vosloo will always be Imhotep to me.

  24. Christopher says:

    Dave,

    There are two episodes in your bad category that actually were pretty good episodes IMO. First Class and Fake Name are not that bad compared to the Mask and Final Exam.

    First Class was good because we see Chuck working alone for a change and the fact that TB didn’t back him showed why it was important for him to do the mission. Shaw saw potential in Chuck just like we did but for some reason he would not be able to he was told wait in the van ala Morgan, First Class also showed the way Shaw was going to run things to get a reaction out of Casey was priceless and lets not forget a week before TB didn’t not invite Shaw over for dinner they left him out in the cold.

    Fake name for me has three scenes it that really make me smile. We finally see a expression out of Sarah when Hannah is sitting at her table. Finally, she showed that it was bothering her seeing another woman with him and in his apartment no less. and how Chuck took command of mission when Paulie Walnuts made Casey. Chuck really progressed at this point and the very reason why Shaw was positive influence professionally for Chuck like it or not Shaw not TB forced Chuck to become a spy that he is the rest of the way. The other scene was how Chuck took command again when he heard Sam and protected his team while staying in character. Do we like the kissing between Shaw and Sarah no but this was more of the maturation of Chuck as a spy. I enjoy every min. of it

    • atcDave says:

      I’m not surprised someone who likes S3 would have issues with my choices!

      Both of those episodes have too many problems for me to like. First Class starts with Shaw being dismissive of TeamB, has Chuck flirting with the new girl, and Sarah finally making nice with Shaw. Just no fun at all for me.

      You know Fake Name is second to last on our big poll? I found it utterly insulting, and they flushed away the name reveal. Just a terrible episode to me.

      • Christopher says:

        I would never take issue is with your choices after all it is your opinion and I would never tried to convince you otherwise. Its not my style, but I love it how we have different opinions on season 3 and the finale you have once said that goodbye was a fairly decent episode. However, for me it sums up season 5 for me sure the season has good episodes but there was a lot more questions then answers from season 5. This is that how you want to end a series I often say that Chuck and Sarah victim of their success. The chemistry on screen between Zachary and Yvonne made it impossible not to root for them. One simple line did it for me I could be your very own baggage handler sold me that this relationship was going to work how many times in season one and two did Sarah and Chuck get close only to be driven a part by Bryce or the job. Season 3 has issues but so does the rest of the series plot holes for example did anybody ever realize how Casey causes mother in Santa Claus or how Chuck met Jill was different from the pilot and alma mater it is these issues that plagued the series in general but hey Adam 91 episodes we are complaining about a handful that is pretty good ratio for them

      • Christopher says:

        Dave, you have to admit one thing Chuck and Sarah were able to make men women and children emotional a gift only a few couches can say they have done. The acting and the delivery was so well done the at times you forget the characters are fictional. I know when I watch Chuck versus phase 3 I often begin to tear when Sarah is telling Chuck about finding the proposal plan. I cannot sit through rivers and roads without tearing this is why we both have blogs this is why Chuck will forever be in our minds because we love show that drove home so many memories with music and funny lines and the scenes +91 episodes and what we got was a story that we could tell our children about weather there is a movie or not that’s not the issue we have the DVDs and we can say we saw that relationship develop and get destroyed only to be reminisce in the future. How many shows have you watched that you have forgotten characters names but you won’t forget Chuck and Sarah you won’t forget Lester and Jeff and you know why because we love them

      • atcDave says:

        Christopher I agree with all of that. It was an awesome, powerful show. It is in my nature to critique and nit pick. But I never mean to loose sight of what a great experience it was in total.
        We’ve definitely had some discussions here about the continuity issues (Johnny boy!). Some viewers are bothered by them quite a lot! I’m not in general, but some more than others.

      • olddarth says:

        Continuity are character bookmarks. Changing the bookmarks invalidates the character’s journey.

      • atcDave says:

        Every show has dozens or hundreds of little things that crop up over time. I’m not going to worry about it unless it contradicts something important. And apart from character assassination in Season Three I never felt like Chuck had a serious problem.

        Some of the glitches are amusing. Or even informative to look at how the concept developed over time or was interpreted differently by different writers.
        I’ve been a big fan of classical mythology since I was a teen, and its often interesting to me to see how such stories morph over the centuries. Especially when writers are overtly contradictory.
        More recently we get things like the James Bond movies which don’t really have any continuity in a meaningful sense. Maybe we could consider each different actor who played the character as a complete reinvention. Yet they occasionally bring up details from past incarnations that don’t quite make sense in a later context.

        And its all good. I like piecing together a fractured mythos sometimes. Its the whole “well some say…” sort of thing.
        Chuck really never had these sorts of problems. Its a modern serial told in a pretty consistent and rational sort of way. Even elements I dislike and want to “kick out” of the Chuck myth are mostly rational.
        The biggest continuity hang ups I see are OOC sort of things. But this is always a dangerous charge to make. Its usually more accurate to say a character is OOC as I understand the character. And don’t get me wrong, that can be VERY serious. Especially when it has a major impact on how I like or relate to a main character. But in the end, it really is all about our taste and preferences. Very little of what we ever talk about here is any sort of objective reality. We’re all just having fun…

      • bubbasuess says:

        It is funny mention Casey’s “Johnny Boy” line from Santa Clause and how it contradicts Tic Tac (at least I am assuming that is what you are referring to). Even before I watched season 3, I sort of assumed he was calling Beckman there, not his actual mother. I think it had something to do with his probing look as he is making the call.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah bubbasuess I think that’s a completely reasonable assumption.

      • I agree Dave the worst continuity errors are the one that relate directly to a character’s emotional journey. Gaffes about whether a M15 or M16 rifle were used for instance are annoying but harmless. More a sign of sloppiness.

        My problem with Chuck is too many of those continuity errors altered my perception of character emotional journeys. By the time Chuck and Sarah got together I no longer felt they were meant to be together but that they were put together because the showrunners had run out of ways to keep them apart. Far from satisfying.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        ^^^^^ This.

        Which is why, almost of evrything that comes after feels likes it’s built on a wobbly foundation.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bravo Lou! I agree completely.

      • atcDave says:

        That’s why I just ignore S3. I can’t accept it AND continue to care about the characters and show. It’s like saying I prefer Odysseus by Homer to the same character written by Virgil.
        So much of S3 Chuck and Sarah must be ignored. Obviously not a good solution. But it’s either that or quit the show. And there’s just too much that I like about later episodes to just give it up.

  25. Christopher says:

    Hey guys,

    I am sorry I wasn’t able to comment today, I been meaning to but been busy raising a 11 month old girl. who tends to keep me busy.

    When I mentioned Johnny Boy I been thinking about this all day and I guess Ned did the same thing right? We think he is calling his wife but he was really calling Mauser, but see here is the issue I have more than anything is Jill. In the pilot, Chuck says he met jill by bumping their heads together while five episodes later we get Bryce introducing them. Johnny Boy and Tic Tac are ways away apart so forgetting is easy and not as egregious as five episodes apart.

    Continuity is not important for me either in a sense because Chuck had a lot of Stand alone episodes for example season one had a lot of them that is why season 1 is rank in the middle of the five for me. The main story;s focus was the intersect and how a nerd becomes a hero I get that but when we are faced with an original idea like only a special brain was suppose to be able to handle the Intersect and by season 5 half of the cast was able to download it gets really off the ball sort to speak.

    Season 3 while some may hate it. we have one story completed from pink slip to ring 2 we have a character that comes in and makes an impact in Shaw and becomes one of the series best bad guys only Quinn, Decker and Volkoff are better and for that matter Volkoff is the best baddie I still get chills when he tells Charles Hand frost the damn phone follow by my love to frost great sycho stuff.

    One of the things I think nobody mentions is how much the show missed Scott Bakula. Orion’s character is so vidal to the show, it is sort of like Harry for Dexter, he needed to stay on if we only saw him for half a season that would of been ok. Wouldn’t it been cool to see if Orion could of fixed Sarah? or help Volkoff.

    Season 3 also was great because we saw Chuck becoming a man as Casey put it. but than again we get buffoon Chuck in some of the episodes. Season 3 also gave us some interesting guest stars like Justin was a thorn in Chuck’s side by manipulating Ellie

    Angie Harmon and Armand Assante and of cause one of my favorite scenes with Sarah comes with Christopher Lloyd.

    Sarah Walker: No you don’t understand. He’s not like other people. He is… incredibly special.
    Dr. Leo Dreyfus: Especially to you, I gather.
    Sarah Walker: He needs to be okay. I – I need him to be okay. I’d like to go to the hospital tonight to talk to him. Try to figure this out. Help him somehow… Please I love him.
    Dr. Leo Dreyfus: Ever tell him that?
    Sarah Walker: Please Doctor, I am begging you.
    Dr. Leo Dreyfus: You’re not the only one

    This scene for me is powerful because not only do we get Sarah expressing her love for Chuck but we see Casey trying to help Chuck as well. Who would of thought that after Chuck vs the Helicopter right?

    Season 3 gave us some great Jeffster moments and Awesome on his first and only mission.

    So yea you guys may hate Sharah (Shaw and Sarah) but there is still plenty of other great stuff.

    Two things I didn’t like about season 3

    one Sarah’s reaction to the red test. How quickly she fell out of love with Chuck when she thought he killed the mole. Kind of repeat history if you ask me she was pretty quick to kick Bryce to the curb in the pilot as well.

    and two

    Chuck not telling Sarah about his brain issue would of been a deal breaker in some relationships especially finding out from the man that tried to kill her a couple of months ago. Sarah’s plea

    Sarah: Chuck I know I am your partner but I am also your girlfriend..you can tell me anything?

    Chuck should of told her.

    • oldresorter says:

      I disliked the final 4 eps of the season almost as much as the first 12, for reasons like the direct lying about the brain issue. My only good eps were great and series best in Role Models and Honeymooners, but I thought the final two eps of s3 were embarrassingly lousy, kind of how the final two eps of season 5 were.

      • revdr says:

        I tend to agree that Honeymooners and Role Models are by far the 2 best episodes of season 3 and that the final 4 were pretty bad; Tooth especially. I did find some good things in the final 4, but for the most part the writing seemed rushed, and that the entire brain trust behind the Ring could be captured in a stairwell is still beyond belief, but at least Chuck and Sarah were together in the end. But there was entirely too much secret keeping, and Ellie’s demand was way over the top. All that and the death of Papa B. made for a pretty bad season 3…..and I of course I totally agree about the final 2 of season 5 but that’s another story for another day.

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly liked the whole back order; but I agree entirely the lies and secret keeping were too much. To the point Chuck himself became my least favorite character on the show for a while.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Dave and as I mentioned elsewhere, I especially liked Subway and surprisingly its because of Routh. It’s his only decent, still not saying much, performance of the entire series IMO and there are many moments that are very tense and riveting. Ring II, mainly for two big reasons, is not anywhere near as good as Subway. The stupid homage to Superman II with Shaw jumping onto the flag I found offensive and totally ridiculous and then finding out that the Ring and its “elders” who we were told, but never shown, were much worse than Fulcrum turned out to be to quote BAW just 5 accountants caught in a stairwell. I liked the ending of the episode but Subway was a much better episode IMO.

      • revdr says:

        Yeah Dave; season 3 Chuck was not a very nice person, overall. His character was mishandled from the very beginning; from Prague, to Hannah, and just overall being a jerk and a liar, keeping secrets from the one person who he should open up to the most. Of course, in the end, everything was aimed at redemption, and again making Chuck the hero, but he was still keeping secrets into the beginning of season 4.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah rev exactly. It still irks me some that we go into S4 with the secret keeping still going on. Its like the vague sour feeling I had at the end of Ring II proved to be well founded.
        I think I would rank Ring II much more highly if 4.01 had started with Chuck and Sarah in on the “Mom” mission together. Bonus points if Sarah had quit the agency too to be with Chuck full time. Or if neither had quit and they were pursuing Mary as a side mission.
        Now don’t get me wrong, I like that its all put to bed by the end of Anniversary, and I think the last fifteen minutes of that episode are pretty terrific. But ideally, I would have liked for Chuck to reach the “no secrets, no lies” pledge a little sooner. And much as I love Sarah pushing the issue, I dislike that she had to.

        I guess if I were to score Subway and Ring II on a score of 1 to 10 I would give both about a 7.
        Subway had many great and exciting moments, and I like the episode. But I knock it down for Chuck’s continued lying, and trying to abandon Sarah on the sidewalk.
        Ring II also had many great and exciting moments and I like the episode. But I knock it down for Chuck’s stupid promise to Ellie, and the suggestion (later verified) that he would be keeping another secret from Sarah at the very end.

  26. garnet says:

    A agree with Lou a little ways above. At the end of season 2 I was watching what I thought was an epic romance unlike anything I had watched on TV. By mid season 3 I was saddened by how TPTB had decided to tear apart their relationship. Yes they rebuilt it, and yes I can accept that there were issues with the relationship we were shown at the end of season 2 that needed work, but in my opinion they were never able to recapture the “EPIC” nature of the relationship. They also made some truly bad decisions with Sarah’s character (Ear rings—gag me with a spoon) often for a cheap laugh. I remain convinced that the show we wanted to watch and the show they wanted to give us were not the same. I think that they found in season 4, more of what many wanted, but they finished off season 5 with some really brutal treatment of both Sarah, and the relationship itself. In other words, we were watching “Chuck + Sarah”,they were writing “Chuck”.

    • revdr says:

      Oh absolutely, garnet; I have always said that CF especially never could get past the fact that the relationship became the driving force, and focal point of the show, putting Chuck’s hero’s journey to a less important position. Hence, they did everything that they could to push Sarah’s character to the background as much as possible, especially in finales. The show was called Chuck, even if Sarah became the more likeable, and more popular character. The idea at the end that Chuck was the hero, but still had to win the girl yet again, was a cruel thing to do to fans, even though CF thought that that was a “cool” was to end things.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree exactly with all of that Garnet. And although I think they put together a wonderful and fun show in Season Four; Season Three permanently destroyed the “epic”. It’s particularly maddening to me because I do love Season Four SO MUCH; if only S3 hadn’t ruined the characters the way it did, Chuck’s position as best show ever would be unassailable. But now, I imagine and HOPE someone will eventually do it better, do it all right.

      • I’m not denying the treatment of the relationship was terrible in S3 but I disagree that the EPIC factor never came back, it was still EPIC but not “wt/wt epic” and instead a “go to the end of the earth for each other and overcome all odds” EPIC!

      • atcDave says:

        I think for a lot of us, what they lost is the sort of thing they could just never get back. And no doubt I loved the show and the characters again. But something special was gone.

      • bubbasuess says:

        I think I will join the minority here and say that the epic nature of the romance was not erased by the events of season 3. On the contrary, as unpleasant as much of it was, it did add an element of dark that only increased the light that comes later. I also thought that the way things panned out in the misery arc enhanced great episodes like Phase Three. Both we and Sarah know full well what kind of person she can be and what her life is like without Chuck. When she says she needs Chuck, we have some pretty poignant examples of just how right she is. I am not saying we needed the misery arc or that better stories could not have been told, but I would not say that the epic nature of their romance was lost or permanently tarnished. People make mistakes, whether they be show’s creative forces or Chuck and Sarah. They got back on track and it came to a fantastic conclusion (which y’all are free to disagree with as well, of course).

    • revdr says:

      Josh, I wont go so far as to say that the epic aspect of the relationship was completely erased, but it was indeed tarnished. The utter wastefulness of keeping them apart for 12-plus episode damaged the epic scope of what should have been a great season 3 with them together learning how to cope with each other and the changes in both their lives. More of the same is what almost lost many fans early in the season and what made the later part of the season feel rushed in many ways. Instead of strengthening the relationship early on they made Sarah look stupid and spiteful at times and Chuck look like a whiney weasel and a complete dunderhead. They wasted a lot of valuable time. And that whole scenario was repeated again in season 5 with the whole tainted intercept debacle. By that time the intercept should have been completely gone.

    • revdr says:

      Bubba; I agree with you on several points save one….if you are speaking in terms of the series coming to a fantastic conclusion I would beg to differ, simply because, at the end of the day there was no conclusion. There was an assumed outcome, but you know what they say about people who assume. It was hopeful, but ambiguous, and an ambiguous ending is no ending at all. I’m not discounting to epic nature of the romance by any means, but it was tarnished, because of the “mistakes” made, both on the part of the characters themselves, and the people who write them. There is no doubt that Sarah was different without Chuck, and indeed, Phase 3 certainly made that clear; but Chuck was different with Sarah as well, and that was never fully articulated. And by virtue of the ridiculous memory suppression plotline that we were left with, we have to imagine the outcome, rather than actually seeing it. There’s nothing epic about that. That wasn’t a fantastic conclusion, that was definitely, a maybe.

      • bubbasuess says:

        Not to totally reopen the debate about the ending, especially since we still have a season 5 overview that will no doubt tackle this issue, but the open ending was actually something I really liked. Of course I want Chuck and Sarah together. Their love was what ultimately drove the show (though I contend that in seasons 1&2 it was only one of the great things about the show, not the primary thing) and I would hate to see it come to a tragic end. That said, I think that there is something to be said about the arc of their romance in contrast to the entire show. When we get to the end of season 5, everyone else’s arcs are complete. Casey is a softer (in a good way) person going after Verbanski. Morgan has grown up and is starting a life with Alex. Ellie and Awesome are moving on with their careers and their family. Jeff and Lester are going Hasselhoff in Germany (on a side note, I actually SAW the ‘Hoff perform in Germany back in ’96 and that was possibly not the zaniest of the performers at a 40 band concert!). Even Big Mike has come to the end of his arc, with the juxtaposed nirvana of his two favorite corporate entities. All of that said, the one thing, the most important thing on Chuck, the love between Chuck and Sarah is not over. It is the one arc that goes on beyond the end of the show. In that sense, it is still going on today. Would it have been nice to see them back to normal? Sure, but after great scenes like the hotel room, DYLM, Honeymooners, the end of Phase Three and the proposal, amongst others, what emotional crescendo could they give us that they have not already done? They dropped enough bread crumbs to lead to the conclusion that they will be together but the arc of their romance is still going beyond the fade to black. Honestly, I think that is the most satisfying ending I, personally, could have hoped for. It has great beauty and great power with just a hint of loss, which I think is fitting for the end of the show and the loss we all feel at the end of Chuck and yet their arc continues. Well done, in my book. (I reserve the right to copy and paste this into the comments in the season 5 overview.)

      • revdr says:

        I agree that we still have season 5 to get to, and I certainly respect your viewpoint of the ending being satisfying to you. As I said, I don’t discount the significance of the ebb and flow of the Chuck/Sarah romance by any means, but I, for one just don’t get why it was necessary to take it back only to have to essentially a begin again senario. That’s not an ending, but a beginning. To me it’s like short sheeting a bed. Why is it not satisfying that they don’t have more than an hopeful, imagined, implied conclusion and not an actual, visualized, happy one. They were, after all, the central figures in this fairy tale, and while it was great that everyone else had closure to their stories, why not the principles. It puts an asterisk on an otherwise great story, and for some (not me) left the outcome in doubt. Hey, my profession calls for complete reliance on faith, and I certainly have faith in Chuck and Sarah’s inherent love for him, but it would have nice to have the cherry on top at the end of the day. As for what could have been better? A, Chuck, I remember, or Chuck, I’m pregnant, would not only have been more satisfying, but it would have established a great continuation of their love story.

      • bubbasuess says:

        It is funny that you mention the pregnant option. That was in my mind as one possible good conclusion as I was typing out my previous comment. I think that would have actually been an interesting ending. It still leaves the memory question open (and thus the arc continues, which I like) but it ties the two of them together even more than the obvious reconnection they were making. I guess what I was trying to explain was why I thought the ending was good. I liked it and I thought it was a powerful ending. That does not mean that there could not have other good endings, though I do think it would be tough to top some of the earlier flourishes with more romantic flourishes. To me it was satisfying. That is not to the exclusion of other satisfying endings.

      • revdr says:

        The only thing is that I didn’t like the memory loss plotline. It was mishandled and wasn’t given proper time to develop. It would have been more logical and realistic to use the memory loss as a plot point in season 4 after Phase 3 when Chuck’s mind was deliberately being wiped. They didn’t use it then, so why now? Simple, Sarah had to be the victim so that Chuck could be the hero. To have to decide between love, and doing the right thing. It was a cheap, way to bring the story full circle. Sure, there is a certain satisfaction in presenting the hero’s journey an seeing it come to fruition, but at the expense of the focal point of the show (the romance), where’s the fairness in that?

      • atcDave says:

        I’m with rev here in terms of finding the ending for Chuck and Sarah incomplete and unsatisfying. Although I think the actual finale story was far better conceived and constructed than the Misery Arc, and I’m (mostly) satisfied the future is all good for Chuck and Sarah.
        But given that Chuck and Sarah together was my favorite part of the show from quite early on, and especially in the last two seasons Sarah was my favorite character and favorite journey by a wide margin, I feel thoroughly unsatisfied. We last clearly see Sarah Bartowski in Bullet Train. I think we see a glimpse of her again in the closing seconds. But the very fact I can’t be completely sure is maddening.
        And I’m left not getting to say goodbye to my favorite character, or see the fruits of her journey and struggle. By the time we got to Season Five I was so happy for that character; for how much she’d grown, how much she’d changed, how much she’d gained. And then, what? Okay, I believe she made it back. But I wanted to see it. I wanted to see her with her husband, in her home, with her children.
        We get a probably. Eventually.

        Not enough for me.

  27. I agree about S3 but I think that it made perfect sense that the thing that was a boon to Chuck from day 1 ends up causing lasting setbacks in the end

  28. Bubba

    Thank you¡!!!! You explained what I have been trying to for a long time. It’s ALWAYS been IMO that no epilogue could’ve been provided because C&S had only recently decided to take their next Journey together (a safer job and building as normal a life as possible) so what could’ve been better than them falling in love again WITHOUT STRINGS ATTACHED!! (NOTHING!)I think people highly under appreciate this fact! The majority are so focused on seeing the outcome of Charah’s relationship that they forgot that the outcome can’t be shown until can build a life without constant danger, and strings, that’s what the’ve got the opportunity to do now and that is a beautiful gift!! (I also reserve right to post this in the S5 overview)

    • revdr says:

      But they didn’t decide anything other than Sarah deciding that she (rightfully so) needed to find herself and Chuck being there for her. Of course there were strings attached…they are married….and Sarah doesn’t remember. That is something that CANT be overlooked, or swept under the table. No one seems to get that. Sarah didn’t turn down a job, because she made the decision to leave before a job was offered. It’s unrealistic to just say lets start over without seeing the consequences of what has gone before. They get to fall in love all over again; that’s like me saying that I want to re-present my dissertation for my doctorate because it was so much fun and so enlightening the first time around. I don’t see that as a gift, because you are suspending all reality to get to that conclusion. Of course it’s an opportunity, and that they have the chance is indeed a blessing, but why should it be necessary that it got to that point. A poor writing choice is a poor writing choice.

      • bubbasuess says:

        No offense, but I think Sarah and Chuck falling in love again (assuming she does not regain her memory, which is still an open question, though I think she does) would be a lot more entertaining than watching someone do their dissertation. I think the satisfaction comes with knowing that, whatever happens with Sarah’s memories, the two of them will be together and their romance/arc continues. For me, that was a great way to end considering that, while the show is ending the story of their romance goes on. It was like a little balm to the sadness of the show concluding. Sure, they could have shown them together but if they did that then Chuck and Sarah’s arc is complete and the show is really done for good then. Instead, they live on. I guess I just don’t see it as a poor writing choice. I thought it was a good, satisfying ending. I will even go a step further and say that, while of course I would like to have seen more Chuck, I felt like all the characters’ growth was such that additional seasons would start to get stale. I will put it a different way. I think the show peaked with season 2 but the potency of the story, the growth of the characters and the chemistry that they all had was sufficient to have a quality show for a few more seasons. So, as I said, when we got to the end, everyone was where they should be and Chuck and Sarah’s romance, the one thing that I think really kept people watching to the end, has no end. It is the one thing still going at the fade to black. We got five seasons of a great show, the completion of arcs and the knowledge that the one thing that was most potent in Chuck, is not over with. Nicely done in my book. I understand the discontent with how it ended. I just don’t share the discontent.

      • bubbasuess says:

        Sorry. I missed your response to my comment above when I wrote my lengthy reply. I see your point and it is a fair one regarding the timing of the memory loss arc.

      • revdr says:

        I understand, and I appreciate your view. I’m happy that you see it as a satisfying end. Me, not so much. The analogy that I was making about having them to have to find each other again is not realistic, and it completely discounts what has gone before. It’s one thing to have the faith that they will, under any circumstance, fall for each other again, but if she hadn’t lost her memory wouldn’t their love, and their story have continued anyway? The throwing under the rug of the memory suppression was poorly written, and puts no weight on the very real facts that Sarah cannot remember, very important things about her life, not only with Chuck, but 5 years of living gone, with doubts of a possible return. Realistically, you cannot discount this, and it will have a profound effect on her relationship with Chuck, and her personal relationship with herself, as well.

      • bubbasuess says:

        When I speak of things continuing or going on, I don’t just mean their love. Obviously that would continue on if the ending were different. The point that I was trying to make was that the arc of their romance went on. They dropped enough indicators to know that they will be together, but when Chuck, the show, is all said and done, the most powerful plot thread continues. I like that. Of course there is the potential for all sorts of personal baggage, but at what point in the show was that ever not the case? Anyway, we can all rehash this in a couple of weeks when we get to season 5…(or, the arc of this conversation goes on!)

      • atcDave says:

        Bubbasuess I think if everyone was sure they saw what you saw, the ending would have been better received. That is, memories or not, Chuck and Sarah are back together and they’ll make it, together. I KNOW that would have been enough for me. If I’d seen it on initial viewing. But I didn’t. It took me some time to be satisfied all was well.

        It always comes back to the guy who ran up to me the next morning at work and asked “so what’s with that end? Did Sarah stay with Chuck or go back to the CIA?” I’ve studied it enough to be positive Sarah stayed with Chuck. But so many viewers weren’t sure. And in my book, if the viewers aren’t sure of the end, it failed.

      • Josh says:

        I’m sorry but if they were unsure that’s laughable and they never saw the power in the relationship or the pilots beach scene

      • Josh says:

        And it’s sad beyond words that so many people no faith in love or fate or even the power to overcome setbacks it’s a reflection of how far our country has fallen and I don’t like it…

      • revdr says:

        Nah; I’m off my soapbox for a couple of weeks. I just wanted something more. I read a lot of fanfiction, but I like fan fics that are a continuation of the story or the next chapter, not AU or what if’s. I, like you, love the idea that the story would indeed continue, but what I didn’t like about Chuck was that before we could continue with the further adventures of Chuck, Sarah and co., we were left with the task of completing a story that wasn’t ours to finish. As one journey ends, another begins, but you cant start a new adventure until the current one ends. It didn’t…..

      • bubbasuess says:

        Dave, to some degree I think this comes down to the different perceptions people have that came out of seeing things in the original broadcast or watching it all via streaming or DVD’s. Not that everyone who watches for the first time comes away with the impression I did but I think the opportunity to see everything together does facilitate a…quicker conclusion toward the positive. It is the same thing with watching the misery arc, as I noted before. Watching it all together with the knowledge that there was so much to follow definitely changed my perception of it. It is a bit different with the ending, but I still think the way it was viewed matters to some degree.

        Now, if I did have a complaint about the ending, it is that the emotional nadir at the end of Vs. Sarah, there at the fountain with Your Hands playing, was not necessarily surmounted by a more positive ending. The emotional parabola dipped lower than it rose and, to me, therein lies the real flaw in the ending. I guess that is a conversation for the season 5 discussion.

      • revdr says:

        Josh; why would it be laughable that not everyone wouldn’t see the same things that you see with the ending? When the original pilot was written and filmed even the creators didn’t realize just how powerful the Chuck/Sarah (or Zac/Yvonne) chemistry was. They have as much as said so. It was also pretty much an accepted fact that, in the end they were determined to make the hero’s journey paramount, even at the expense of the romance, although that had been more than recognized that the Chuck/Sarah relationship was the drawing card to the show. While the end is eternally hopeful, than is room for doubt, especially for those whole are not as attached to the show as most of us are. Everyone interprets the ending differently, and I would never discount their opinion. All any of us wanted in the end was to be satisfied, and many of us just were not.

      • revdr says:

        And I honestly don’t believe that their being unsure has anything to do with believing in the power of love or the significance of fate….but there are certain realities that some didn’t want to be discounted or swept under the rug. I certainly didn’t come away thinking that they wouldn’t get back together, but I did recognize they weren’t just going to get up and walk away from that beach and everything was ok….that’s just not realistic. We wanted more closure….we were not given that.

      • Josh says:

        I guess I find it laughable because giving closure to a story that doesn’t “feel” over is well… dumb and I think that’s how CF felt but I won’t disagree that he could’ve given more context

      • atcDave says:

        Interesting observation about 5.12 bubbasuess. I do agree they went too far “down”, especially with the house sequence.
        But I’m not so sure the way the show was viewed matters as much for the finale as it did for S3. We did have so many depressed fans here for six months after, it was like a Chuck trauma center. But their were also fans who saw it as joyful that very first night. Just among our six principals; Ernie and Faith thought it was awesome, Amy was frustrated and discouraged and never made peace with it, while Joe Thinkling and I were somewhere in between. We saw a range of reactions among our long time visitors. And I found a range among the more casual viewers I know.

        We’ve continued to see a range of reactions with new commenters who show up here. Although more upbeat reactions may be slightly more common now, its not by enough to be sure of a trend. Every time I try to come up with a theory or predictor, something comes up to invalidate it.
        Those who are less pleased are often very displeased. And I do think that will remain a legacy of the show unless a later project is made that can win back those fans who were most disaffected. Unfortunately, that will also make it harder to generate the enthusiasm to get something else made. And I for still need just a little bit more…

      • bubbasuess says:

        I think you are right that the way it is initially viewed matters more for season 3. I think that matters a lot. I keep forgetting that 5.12 and 5.13 were broadcast together. I was imagining people stewing in the end of 5.12 for a week before Goodbye rolled around a week later. At that point, that is where the emotional parabola factored into my assessment, if that makes any sense.

      • oldresorter says:

        josh what i find sad is that fans who loved the show are blamed for the lousy job the showrunners did in providing a satisfying ending to a series that their fans clearly loved. The ending pair of eps we got were joyless and unhappy, the final scene on the beach was lukewarm at best. That isn’t the fans fault. Its the writers. Did some people like it? Sure. Chuck fans deserved more.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah bubbasuess, that would have been rough! For the just finished re-watch series I watched 5.12 and Goodbye a week apart. It was probably my fifth time watching, but it was still brutal.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah OR/Jason that’s getting into a “blame the victim” sort of thing. Given the pure number of upset viewers (polls I’ve seen elsewhere indicate somewhat less than 1/3. Although I suspect higher) I think you have to consider it a problem with the story.
        I get that completely happy viewers don’t want to acknowledge it. But just so many viewers were upset…

      • revdr says:

        Did you ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe CF was dumb for thinking that just because he thought that it was “cool” that his not providing closure to his own story or that ambiguity is a good thing was the correct path? While I respect his right to end things his way, it doesn’t mean that I, or anyone doesn’t have the right to dislike his choices. But unlike having the ability to change the channel if you don’t like the content, it’s extremely difficult to do so after the program has ended. As a day 1’er, I felt cheated. And, it made me call into question the degree of respect that the writer had for his fans; and if the fans feel slighted, as many of us did, is it not our right to criticize or critique his work? Some of us just wanted more.

      • Josh says:

        That’s certainly people’s right but I would have ended it the same way with only a minor increase in context. I find that creators won’t provide closure to a story if the story shouldn’t be brought to an end. A curse of still having so many stories to tell and getting axed after only 5 seasons…believe me if it had gone 7or 8 and still ended like this I’d COMPLETELY agree with you.

      • revdr says:

        But Josh my friend; what you don’t seem to grasp is that by right, Chuck should have, by all accounts been canceled after season 2. NO ONE WAS WATCHING. It was only because of the creativity of the fans that we did have, along with the Subway campaign, that got us a late renewal for season 3. And that season premier was moved to January. Then after the disaster that was season 3, it was almost cancelled again. NBC was desperate for anything resembling a hit, so they gave us a full order for season 4 although, the back 9 was not guaranteed. Did you know that Phase 3, one of the best episodes of the entire series, was also one of the show’s lowest rated episodes…ever?. That’s because the brain trust over at NBC decided to air it over Thanksgiving week. Real smart. You keep thinking that we only got 5 seasons, but that we got 5 seasons was a tremendous gift to us. Especially season 5. So that CF and co. chose the path that they ultimately took in ending (or not ending) the series was a disservice to most of us loyal fans who actually went to Subway, and waited for word of renewal after renewal. TPTB made conscious choices to end every cliffhanger ambiguously, never knowing whether they were coming back or not, EXCEPT WITH SEASON 5. NBC gave the fans the gift of the final 13. There was not going to be any more stories told and CF and company, and the fans, knew this. You end things when you absolutely know the end is coming. What they did was cruel and on a certain level an insult to those of us who NEVER missed an episode live. That’s why I would have great difficulty in getting involved with any of his future projects, because he betrayed many of those that kept his creation alive for much longer that it should have gone.

      • Josh says:

        Your point about NBC and the show actually proves my biggest point. Despite KNOWING the 90s hits were over NBC kept REDICULIOUS ratings standards and became STUPID with promotion and chuck was 1 of many shows that suffered

      • atcDave says:

        Rev that is exactly what frustrates me most too, very well put.

      • atcDave says:

        Josh I don’t think its fair to blame NBC for most of Chuck’s problems. Not to say they’re blameless, but every show has the occasional scheduling snafu. We DID get renewed for S3, the show was well promoted; but I think JS/CF let down the network. They delivered a poor product and ratings tumbled in spite of a strong start. And Season Four was the longest order of the series; NBC was having serious ratings problems at the time, and when Chuck debuted with steady ratings they placed a large back order (11 episodes).
        But ratings fell off badly late in the season. They still placed an S5 order, and informed the show runners this was probably the end. So there’s no reason for a rushed or flawed story. Story issues, for good or bad, are all on the show runner. Now NBC did move the show from one bad slot to another bad slot, with very little advertising. Even that would have been fine with me. My only real beef with NBC is that when Chuck’s ratings were disappointing in the final season they got kind of nasty about it. And since this was a new management team they don’t get any of the goodwill the previous managers had.
        Basically I have no problem with most of NBC’s decisions, just with the classless way they treated Chuck and Chuck fans in the end.

      • Josh says:

        I never said they were blameless but they couldn’t face that their best days are behind them. Chuck, heroes, the event, awake and go on all eventually got screwed bc of that! All shows I loved btw

      • revdr says:

        But you still don’t seem to get the gist of what I’m saying ,Josh. Every network has ridiculous ratings standards, Chuck came along at a time when some of the most creative television shows were introduced (Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies and others). And none of these shows survived, or were even given the chance Chuck was. After the writers strike in 2007, Chuck was given a full season to gain an audience. Unfortunately, even though the critics loved Chuck, the audience didn’t. Sure, NBC didn’t promote the show, but it still kept it on the air, even though trends were going in a vastly different direction (Dancing with Has-Beens, The Voice etc.). You base you opinion based on the fact that Chuck was canceled abruptly, after 5 years when in fact the shows cancellation was ALWAYS a distinct possibility from season 2 on. I would think that every show creator has many stories to tell, but none can ever know what kind time they have to present their vision. The creators of HIMYM wrote (and filmed a great deal of) the ending of their story in season 2, already knowing what they wanted to do. That TPTB decided to end each arc ambiguously was a conscious choice, not based on the pressure of not having enough time. What if Chuck had actually been cancelled at the end of season 2? Would you have been satisfied with ending of Ring, presented as it was, when ABSOLUTELY NOTHING had been resolved? What they did from that point on was blatant, Other Guy was supposed to be the end; then Ring II, then Push Mix etc. OF those only Push Mix provided what could been deemed a satisfiying ending to the series. CF never cared enough about fans who kept this show alive to actually end the show. “To be continued” was a fun thing to him. Unfortunately, this never was a Saturday morning serial with 15 episodes to tell the story. Would all of us have preferred to have 7-8 years of Chuck? ABSOLUTELY. But, realistically, that was never going to happen. NBC gave the Chuck fans a 5th season, as a gift for their loyalty and creativity in showing their love for the show. TPTB knew this. So to end the show the way they did was their decision, not based on fan loyalty, but creative design. I respect a writers choice in what they present, after all, its their creation, but when you don’t take your audience into account then your presentation becomes suspect. Every story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end; yet, knowing that Chuck had a definitive end point, they STILL chose not to end it . Pushing Daisies was abruptly cancelled 13 episodes into it’s 2nd season, and it’s ending was still more satisfying, and they didn’t see it coming. TPTB at Chuck did…..

      • authorguy says:

        Those are some good endings. Although to be honest, I wish Pushing Daisies had ended in such a way that the two romantic leads could touch each other at last. It wouldn’t have been hard. But yes, they did create an ending that tied off most major plot threads. Wonderfalls left some threads open, but they were left open the right way. You knew the two leads would be all right.

      • bubbasuess says:

        It still amazes me that the show was not a huge hit with the second season. That was incredible television. Since I stumbled on Chuck I have gotten four other families watching it online and they all think it is hilarious. I am sure y’all have been over many many times. It sure does not give me confidence in the general TV viewing audience. But then, I look at the pervasiveness of reality TV and wonder if I really should be surprised…

      • atcDave says:

        Bubbasuess I’m convinced Chuck could have been a huge hit if they’d been able to reach their audience. I have been VERY successful introducing new viewers to it, some of whom get very excited and marathon through the whole thing quickly.
        Yet to this day, the most common reaction from people when I mention Chuck is “never heard of it”. I think part of that is a terrible name. (“The Secret and The Agent”. Much better). Some was scheduling; they advertised heavily during football, for a show that aired opposite Monday Night Football, and we were always opposite popular programming on the other networks. Part of it is promotion; Chuck was a funny, sweet and exciting show, but promos rarely showed it at its best, too much was made of dark twists and Chuck the spazz. And part of it was the name.

        Did I mention the name?

      • revdr says:

        Bubbasuess: I call it the dumbing down of America. I tend not to watch so called “reality tv” simply because it’s actually unscripted, situational television. Even talent competitions are no more than glorified popularity contests and the real talent doesn’t always win. Chuck’s 2nd season was indeed a good one but it just never seemed to get off the ground. And NBC did give the show a shot, promotion-wise, and gave it the coveted slot after their Super Bowl broadcast that year. It probably didn’t help that the episode presented was “Third Dimension” the worst episode of the season. But Chuck season 2 was good tv overall, and it was going to catch on that was the season to do it.

      • bubbasuess says:

        Dave: I see what you mean regarding the name. It tells you nothing about the show whatsoever. Something better would have definitely helped but I can’t help but think that if word-of-mouth or promotion had been better the name would not have mattered. There are plenty of other shows that do well-OK that have lame names (actually, I am only guessing this since I don’t have TV. I am basing this solely on what I hear and read online).

        Rev: I am right there with you as far the dumbing down of our culture. That has been going on for decades but it seems to have reached something of a tipping point these days. I wonder if we, as a culture, have been completely overtaken by the panem et circenses mentality (for what it is worth, I have been heavily influence by Philip Reiff on that subject). I suspect we have been, unfortunately. But hey, Chuck still rocks, so I guess there is that to talk about!

      • atcDave says:

        I think its common for a title to not give away much (“Castle”, “White Collar”); but part of Chuck’s problem is spelled out in the tease from the Pilot, no one names a kid “Chuck” anymore. So if people even notice the title, it looks like something about a retired electrical draftsman. Not promising.

        I do agree modern entertainment, especially reality shows, are moronic and say little good for our culture. Except one thing. I do know viewers who are so tired of how dark, explicit and twisted most television is they will only watch things like singing competitions and cooking shows.
        Part of the success of “reality” programming is a condemnation of the “quality” choices. There is a market for positive, uplifting, and intellectually stimulating programming; but Hollywood has lost the will to find it.

      • duckman says:

        I’ll offer a theory on why quality is so rarely rewarded in tv anymore. I think that audience has at least subconsiously given up looking. A friend of mine got into chuck last year and watched with his wife after the kids were in bed…on his laptop because they NO LONGER OWN A TV. There was simply nothing on they cared to watch and when the old tv died, they just said screw it. There’s a market for quality content but I don’t see the current business model capturing that market. I’ve recently asked myself what I’d be willing to pay for a show of the quality of early Chuck or west wing and here’s my plan.
        13 episode “seasons” , however many seasons per year the people involved feel like producing. $10/ep or $100/season. The first ep of the season gets put on youtube etc. as a promotion. For that kind of cash I expect 60 min.,not 40, No ads of any kind whatsoever, No s3 disconnect from the producers, probably even some kind of input into story direction as a loyalty bonus. No trope, no breakneck pace ,18 hr day excuses for sloppiness. Make a quality, distinctive product, charge accordingly, and treat me the customer with respect. I think there’s a lot of people who have more money than free time and would trade that cable bill for one or two shows they really love and could (hopefully) trust to not jerk them around. Just Imagine if JS had to get approval from the viewers for the s3 outline before he got the financing to shoot it.

      • atcDave says:

        Duckman I love your idea, but with reservations. A big problem being, I actually want some surprises and tension from the story. So actual script approval would be counterproductive. But it sure would be nice if we could tag tropes. At least to spell out certain things that just won’t fly.
        Ultimately, I just want to support a story teller I can trust. I know a few fan fiction writers I would support to make a show…

      • duckman says:

        Yeah Dave, if I hit the powerball Quiste64 is getting a call and a big-ass check from me.

      • atcDave says:

        I was thinking the same thing!

      • revdr says:

        Duckman; I kinda like that idea as well except that, like Dave, I think that having script supervision is a bit much. A creator needs the freedom to be able to create. All I ever ask for is, as a fan, to be taken into consideration when it comes to making story choices or decisions. No one is ever going to be totally satisfied with the direction their favorite shows are going, but it’s nice to be thought of when making those choices. In this age of instant gratification or criticism, creators don’t have to wait for input as to how their story is being received. You can see what your audience is thinking while your show is being aired, and as this site, and many others prove daily is that we are very vocal and are not afraid to say what we feel. That unto itself should be enough in the way script supervision. You can sustain your vision, just be open to suggestion that might enhance an already great idea. We as fans just like to know that you respect us and want to give us the best product possible. If you don’t care about what your fans want, then why as fans should we ever trust or respect, or support you?

      • duckman says:

        Trust and respect seem to be the operative words. I didn’t love everything west wing did, but I never felt like sorkin was mocking me. I felt that at times with Chuck.

      • revdr says:

        Yeah; and it’s funny that mentioned Sorkin; I was just thinking about how, when he left the show after it’s 1st 4 years that he deliberately left open threads and tropes for the new showrunner that fans had been clamoring for (like Josh/Donna), proving that at least he was listening to fan input. That’s all I ever hope for, that they are actually taking their viewers into consideration.

      • uplink2 says:

        duckman, I agree with that completely. There were a number of times I felt that TPTB and the writers were mocking me for actually caring about the show and the characters. The perfect and most egregious example is Fake Name. I felt like Ali was using what I loved about her writing to spit in my face because I actually cared for these characters and who I thought they were. The humor came off as insulting and the storyline made me want to throw up and not simply because it was dark. I’m ok with dark and depressing as long as its honest storytelling but this was so blatantly manipulative to both the audience and the characters themselves that I found it extremely offensive.

        I never got that way with Sorkin. Sure his politics run throughout his work but he never insulted his viewers in how he wrote the characters and how their storylines played out. Sorkin would never write such a blatantly contrived storyline as Pink Slip and Prague simply for the sake of extending WTWT for one more season like Schwedak did.

      • oldresorter says:

        Interesting that a couple of us liked West Wing. It rewatches really well for me, no FF’ing, or limited at least. It’s the type of show that does well vs other shows, it stands up well over time. Everwood did that way for me too. I’ve found that neither Chuck or Alias rewatches well for me. I’ve never rewatched 24, maybe I will after this season, and see how that does. I think when you know how it ends, most of the serialized stories don’t rewatch well. Castle rewatches well for me too, again, each ep is self contained in Castle, more or less.

      • revdr says:

        Uplink you’re exactly right. I’ve come to realize over the years that showrunners love to “dangle the carrot” and tease us just to make us sweat. It’s so blatant at times that I literally find myself screaming at my tv set. That’s why season 3 was so infuriating. There was no doubt after Ring that Chuck and Sarah were going to be together; yet, when they open season 3, they are farther apart than ever. A terse explanation, and a contrived, and poorly conceived plot almost turned me off to the relationship all together. I have seen this so many times now that I don’t even care whether they couple up these people any more. Case in point: Castle and Beckett’s upcoming wedding is going to be hindered by the fact that Beckett is already married….really? I can never understand why these writers have such a difficult time just letting things happen. Are they so inept creatively that they simply don’t know how to write happy and still make it interesting? It makes it very difficult for me to watch anything more because I expect to see “Murphy’s Law” in full effect. They have become so predictable, it’s no longer a surprise. That insults my intelligence more than anything.

      • atcDave says:

        Except something like “Beckett’s already married” plays just fine if its all for laughs, all in fun. And knowing Castle, that’s exactly how its likely to be. Its when stupid things like that, or Prague, are played for “drama” that it ruins the show.
        Ironically, I would put far more trust in the Castle writers to handle this well than I would for Chuck!

      • revdr says:

        Yeah OR; West wing and Everwood re-watch well for me too. It may have more to do with subject matter than knowing the outcome of those series, although Chuck would be easier for me if I actually liked the ending. West Wing gave me complete closure, and Everwood took the time to actually film an alternate ending after being erroneously cancelled too soon by the new programmers at the CW (just like Veronica Mars). West Wing let us know early on in the final season the fate of most the major characters and left only the election, Josh/Donna and the untimely death of John Spencer (Leo) to deal with. It makes it easy to enjoy. The one good thing that we got ou of the Everwood cancellation though was it brought us Sarah Lancaster, because if there had been a season 5, she was going to be back as a series regular, as Madison.

      • revdr says:

        Yeah Dave; it’s just conditioning on my part. I’ve said before that Chuck’s finale changed the way I watch tv. It was the 1st time that I allowed myself to get that invested in a show and my disappointment with the way things ended jaundiced my viewing habits going forward. It’s almost like I now expect the worst, just so there’s no element of surprise. Makes it easier for me.

      • Apologies for not being completely caught up on this thread, in case this was covered…

        While Sorkin is know for West Wing, a better cast study is his Sports Night (my 4th favorite show behind Chuck, B5, and Farscape). The writing was some of the best of seen on TV. None of the three WTWT relationships were handled well, though. Jeremy/Natalie was great first season but then torn apart for no good reason (much flimsier reason than Chuck’s S3). Casey/Dana had the stupid OLI thing happening, but I gave it the benefit of the doubt because the show was only two seasons in. Dan/Rebecca didn’t have enough time to develop.

        I rewatched the back half of Chuck seasons 5 last weekend. I was smiling like an idiot during the last scene. I know what happens next… at least in my story.

      • revdr says:

        Jeff you are absolutely right about Sorkin and Sports Night. It had some of the smartest writing (and directing) on television…ever; but the relationships were not handled well at all. I just figured that after seeing his work on West Wing that relationships are just not his strong suit, and the wt/wt with Josh and Donna was sweet, but maddening. I find though, that I just cant watch Chuck season 5 anymore, because although there was a hopeful sign at the end, it still isn’t my job to fill in the blanks and finish the story, using my own imagining…even to satiate my own need for closure. It will forever remain unsatisfying, and unfinished I my minds eye.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I know the last couple times I’ve watched the last scene I’ve felt pretty good about it after; and it is large part because of how you and Thinkling and others have helped me imagine what comes next.

  29. Hey Dave I’m curious what critics thought about the finale compared to fans

    • atcDave says:

      I couldn’t quote anything precisely. It was generally well received. Although I remember Mo Ryan commenting that it was a little bleak for her. I’m sure others (Uplink?) will remember more details.

    • anthropocene says:

      It’s all still there. Google “Chuck finale reviews” for example.

  30. Wilf says:

    Well, despite being deeply upset by having been left up in the air by Chuck’s oh-too-arty/clever-clever finale, I haven’t been put off watching other series and their finales from time to time. Latest for me to complete has been Breaking Bad (as recommended by Morgan in Last Details, of course) and I thought its ending was excellent and well in line with what I might have been led to expect.

    • revdr says:

      Wilf; I’m not put off…not really. I just don’t allow myself to get emotionally invested in the characters or the fates. If a couple I ship gets together that’s great; if they break them up the following week, that’s ok too. I have taken an “oh well” attitude towards most series. I still have my favorites (Parenthood, Castle and a few others) but I cant be let down if I watch them w/o being to invested in the outcome to care. I trust showrunners only so far, and I promised myself never to be let down by a series finale again. I enjoyed Breaking Bad as well, and I wasn’t disappointed. I liked HIMYM’s, although I actually expected it’s outcome, as opposed to the majority of fans who vilified the end. If you don’t trust the writers, they cant let you down.

    • Wilf says:

      I think that’s a good philosophy … don’t get too invested. Funnily, Chuck has been the first and only TV series I’ve ever really got into so deeply. I doubt if any series in the future is likely to catch my eye in the same way.

  31. KG says:

    Dave you have never ever been more correct than your fourth paragraph under the subhead OVERALL. I think everything bad about Season Three you alluded to centered around your excellent paragraph four contention.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks KG. For all the many things we can gripe about for that season, that is certainly the main issue to me!

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