The Chuck Versus Santa Claus; The Execution

Yet another comment that has turned itself in to a post.

Execution

As many of you know quite the discussion on the episode Chuck Versus Santa Clause, and specifically the ending and its execution (in both senses) has developed on Dave’s Episode of the week post. I had some comments in mind.  Apparently a lot of comments.  The comments eventually constituted a post.  And so here we are with another post on Chuck Versus Santa Claus.  But you should also read the episode of the week discussion.  Go ahead and catch up if you haven’t read it. Then join me after the jump. I’ll wait.

First, while the discussion on Dave’s weekly episode post inspired this I do want to touch on a few more aspects of the episode than just the ending.  For one thing this is one of those episodes that flows organically from the last, with the closeness we saw developing between Chuck and Sarah continuing, then hitting a speed-bump in one of what I find to be the least contrived and best executed pull-backs in the Charah express.

Chuck Versus Santa Claus is in the middle of an arc originally meant to end a 13 episode season with Chuck Versus The DeLorean, Chuck Versus Santa Claus, Chuck Versus The Best Friend, and Chuck Versus The Third Dimension, in that order. When they storyboarded the original 13 episode season that’s the order they intended and how they structured it. when they started production on these episodes, that was the intended order.  They did however know early in the writing process that the backorder was pretty much a done deal, and then that the episode order would need to be changed to air the 3D episode the Monday after the Super Bowl. But you can see that a lot of the structure of the original storyboarding still remains in these episodes. The end of Third dimension is almost an exact copy, though more comedic than dramatic, of Chuck Versus The Ring, with Chuck making a conscious choice to become a spy (or at least to join the team on missions when he was given a chance to opt out) and “To Be Continued” flashes on the screen. That is preceded in both cases with an arc, or at least a few episodes of Chuck chafing against the spy life and his and the team’s role in it.

Now obviously the season break and the desire to get the 3D episode on after the Super Bowl made some changes a necessity, and many of those changes were well done, some less so.  For instance the notorious charm bracelet as a symbol of their non-spy relationship is fore-fronted in Santa Claus and Best Friend, but absent in 3D.  Chuck Versus the Third Dimension has the excellent nightmare sequence and Chuck’s jumpy on edge stressed out cereal pouring, but also a pretty nonchalant (in spy terms) morning greeting from Sarah, and a fairly easy-going rapport between Chuck and Sarah for the most part.  But in both cases, even with the fixes, a lot of the narrative is still there. My guess is that the original intent was to make the Mauser resolution a part of the conflict over having to betray Morgan where everything comes to a head over Morgan and Chuck throws Mauser in Sarah’s face. Resolution is essentially him seeing what his apparent death did to Sarah and we have the sweet moment watching Jeffster in the Buy More, with that kernel of doubt still there between them, but Chuck choosing to try to understand she still needs him, despite his doubts and misgivings. That would have been an organic, not overtly dark, but with enough dark and doubtful undertones to properly serve the drama and the impact of the decision to go with Mauser.

OK, they didn’t do that, I know, but they did something similar. They adapted 3D to serve as the best friend controversy where Chuck is chafing over what he has had to do and what Sarah does. They knew by the time they were writing these episodes that they had the full season so could move up the “To Be Continued” without worry and adapt 3D and best friend as more stand-alone episodes. They would after all get to revisit Chuck’s choice even over still lingering doubts about Sarah.

So here is what leads up to Chuck’s reaction to Sarah’s execution of an enemy agent.

In DeLorean Chuck learns something about Sarah. That normal high school girl he thought he learned about in Cougars was in fact a con man’s daughter who grew up as a career criminal and was also repeatedly betrayed by a father she adored. She’s pretty messed up emotionally, just like him.

Christmas is a pretty depressing time for Sarah, we see this as the episode opens. Chuck is determined to become a surrogate family, and this is his first mistake. An emotional Sarah, especially when it comes to Chuck, often acts rashly.

While there are many great moments in this episode there are two that give the most context to the Mauser scene. The first is the bracelet scene. Sarah is walking through the Buy More alone as everyone else calls loved ones. It’s reinforced again, Sarah’s isolation, and how it hits home this time of year for her. Chuck’s gift, and nearly explicit statement of his feelings and her place in his life and family, while wonderful and thoughtful and true, is made under duress of a sort. He gives her the gift and tells her his feelings while they are held hostage. They are both confident of the outcome, but Chuck is still under a lot of stress, and as we soon learn nobody is taking the threat seriously enough. The second is Sarah’s promise that she will never let anyone hurt him. One of those charming lies we all make to those we love when we know they need to hear them, very much like “I’m not going anywhere, and neither are you.”

Before knowing the stakes Chuck has pushed Sarah in to a level of emotional commitment she’s unfamiliar with and uncertain how to process. Before knowing the stakes Sarah has put not just Chuck’s safety, but his freedom and her place in his life above anything else.

While everyone is waiting for the crisis to resolve itself so they can get back to their holiday plans Fulcrum has been methodically walking them all in to a trap.  Within a matter of minutes Chuck is separated from his protection and his handlers, and taken hostage, along with his sister by the very organization everyone sought to keep his identity hidden from.  It is probably the most sinister and effective Fulcrum has ever come across to me.  Certainly the enemy has rarely hit so close to home for either Chuck or Sarah and Casey.

And here is where we get to another aspect of Chuck, and perhaps Sarah’s reaction.  While there is a big part of Chuck who wants nothing to do with the spy world and does his best not to think about it, there is another part that resents being shut out by the rest of the team.  A part of him fees left out, even if he knows at some level he doesn’t want to be involved with a lot of the things Sarah and Casey do, as an honorable man it bothers him that others have to do these things on his behalf.  In his name as it were…

So once again, Chuck is isolated with the enemy who knows exactly how to get to him.  Don’t threaten him, threaten his sister.  It has always been immediately effective with Chuck.  He will not let someone else take the bulet meant for him.  So untrained and alone with a pair of hardened Fulcrum agents who make it perfectly clear they mean business and will brook no delay in his compliance Chuck does what he usually does and metaphorically jumps on the live grenade.

Sarah and Casey of course put things together in the nick of time, but not in time, unfortunately, to keep Chuck’s secret.  The daring escape, the deadly cat and mouse game in the trees (is there something about LA that everyone wants 7″ tall trees?) and Sarah has sent Chuck on his way so she can neutralize the threat.

And Sarah was right to do so, and Chuck was right to obey.  Sarah alone is more than capable of taking care of herself.  Sarah worried about Chuck as a hostage, or Chuck as collateral damage or losing Chuck does rash things.  But Chuck is an honorable man, and leaving his girlfriend to face a deadly enemy agent alone is not something Chuck can do.  And so the stage is set for Sarah to do something she’d rather Chuck not see, and for Chuck to see a side of Sarah he tries not to think about.

Yes, Mauser goading Sarah is a trope, setting up Sarah’s action as being the only choice. But think of it this way. Sarah had just captured the highest ranking Fulcrum agent they’d ever encountered, or so he claims. And he gloats that in the end he’ll win because there is nothing Fulcrum won’t do to get him back.  And you see the conflict, the resignation, the decision, the determination, and the execution, as does Chuck.

We don’t know exactly what Chuck or Sarah are thinking, but the visuals again let us know generally what is going on with the focus on the bracelet as the focal point for the emotional connection they’d just made. Sarah isn’t ready to risk Chuck in any way, even to the point of executing a surrendering man for goading her about taking Chuck away from her. And Chuck, I get the feeling he is thinking several things. One is probably  “How could Sarah do this?” Yes, he has flashed on Sarah doing some pretty unseemly things like a live assassination of two men, or poisoning a bunch of French spies, but that woman was a spy. This is Sarah, a woman he has come to know and consider a friend, and possibly far more.  A woman he knows and who is emotionally vulnerable, and who he just invited in to his life.  And she has just executed, in cold blood, a man who represents no immediate threat who was attempting to surrender.  We know that in Sarah’s world such a thing isn’t black and white, as does Chuck.  But Chuck looks on that world with disgust on a frequent basis and tries to forget that it is Sarah’s world.  A world where she needs to shut down and bury parts of herself so that she can execute a defenseless man.  For him.

That she can do so, and then, walk into the Buy More, bury her guilt and disgust and go to Chuck all sweetness and light and lie to him just might be worse.  Shutting him out of some of the unscrupulous aspects of the spy life is one thing.  Keeping the costs of what is done for him, of what his freedom and protection cost others is a different matter.

There is one last part to the scene, one that I think often goes unnoticed by most.  After Sarah has told Chuck everything will be alright, when Ellie and Awesome have come over to say Merry Christmas, and while Ellie is admiring her brother’s gift to his girlfriend, their mother’s bracelet and an obvious invitation to join the family and Sarah is responding in kind, a look of disgust mixed with horror mixed with betrayal slowly overtakes Chuck’s face as he looks on.  Sarah steals a look at Chuck over Ellie’s shoulder and her smile is gone in an instant, and she swallows hard as she holds his gaze for the briefest moment, and then looks down as she can no longer look him in the eye.  She can’t meet his gaze.  And in that final moment, when Sarah has to look away, we see their larger problem in a glance.  He knows what she did, and what she does, and she knows she can’t hide that part of her from him, nor can she shut it off if they are to survive, and being his girlfriend in a real relationship makes it that much harder, perhaps impossible, to be the Sarah he wants and the Sarah she needs to be.

Chuck and Sarah are in an unstable position.  They are each caught between two worlds, their own, and the one they are pushed toward or drawn toward.  Something must change before they can ever move on with each other, and the change may just be that they need to let each other go rather than trying to pull each other into their world or push their way into the other’s.

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About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
This entry was posted in Analysis, Angst, Inside Chuck, Inside Sarah, Re-watch, Season 2. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to The Chuck Versus Santa Claus; The Execution

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    I certainly understand your take, but in my opinion, or rather my take is that this isn’t about what Chuck knows about Sarah and a logical processing of what he saw, I dealt with that aspect.

    Yes, he has flashed on Sarah doing some pretty unseemly things like a live assassination of two men, or poisoning a bunch of French spies, but that woman was a spy. This is Sarah, a woman he has come to know and consider a friend, and possibly far more. A woman he knows and who is emotionally vulnerable, and who he just invited in to his life. And she has just executed, in cold blood, a man who represents no immediate threat who was attempting to surrender.

    Chuck is not dealing with an assessment of Sarah’s career or proficiency or judgement, he’s dealing with an emotional raw nerve being poked. He’s dealing with witnessing first hand the brutal and cold blooded side of Sarah, and how much responsibility he has for bringing that out, or how hard his attempts at being more than an asset to her make both facets of her life.

    • Christopher says:

      @Dave,

      But at least we only waited one episode for them to resolve there issues. As I began my study into Sarah and Chuck for Chuckaholics. I began to see some things the writers tried to tell us prior to the Ring, and really Pink Slip is two episodes in one. from the time Chuck downloads 2.0 until Sarah dropped the phone into the water at that point ends S2.

      I know you guys aren’t going to comment on my ideas, and that is fine. but i will post comments anyway because as I mentioned before I love this site, and if it wasn’t for you, Ernie and Joe there is no Chuckaholics. You guys taught me what was missing from my life. I get enjoyment out of writing about this show, and i extend an invitation to you guys to see the work I have put into Chuckaholics.com all because of what I learned from you guys here. I always endorse your site on my site, and recommend your writing. But now that I digressed.

      We can complain about the writing and the mistakes, but what the series did best was space out their storylines. They dabbled here and there and prepared us for what’s too come. Sometimes they would lead you into the next episode at the end of an episode.

      with that said, S3’s idea came to be once Orion took out the original Intersect, and Sarah and Chuck were looking at each other. They both knew times were changing . I am a firm believe if Chuck and Sarah slept together in Barstow it would of done more damage to the relationship than help because as I wrote in my article Path to Prague, They still couldn’t admit they had a real relationships. It’s human nature once sex becomes apart of the equation. it could ruin things. They couldn’t even say I love you until AH.

      I don’t think fans understand the gravity of what Sarah went through from the beginning of the Ring and until Chuck downloads the new intersect. Same thing in Santa Claus.

      Does Sarah risk losing Chuck because of protocol, lose Chuck because she loves him and is too afraid to admit it. Does a gesture like killing Mauser warrant and explanation at the time it happened, maybe but Chuck did the same thing with his brain condition. i have read many times about how it was a great gesture from Chuck to not tell Sarah about his brain condition, but Sarah finding out from Shaw about Chuck’s real condition was worse than Sarah simply keeping something from him in order to protect him.

      now I bring up S3 for one purpose. Sarah was on the verge on committing to Chuck, she told him she didn’t want two beds if they had an options of bunking together. Big step, communicating feelings. great. Then the two elephants in the room were BL and the agency. Despite being able to stay on with him after BH, they fired her for showing loyalty towards Chuck.

      but as Orion took out the Intersect, Sarah always felt she was going to be sent away. After that she hears Chuck turn down the CIA, now Sarah def. is confused because she had an opportunity to work with him as an analyst. not a spy/ Sarah never wanted Chuck to become a spy, because of what it did to people. It changed them. Sarah believed Chuck would lose himself,

      Now, Once Chuck left. Sarah would learn she would be working with BL again. Huge damper because by this time Larkin was annoying her. She wasn’t thrilled with this set up. Especially, as she is telling Chuck she would be leaving in the morning, she is almost in tears.

      when he said, thanks for coming…good for the cover. Sarah was taken back by that. now Sarah didn’t respond or say anything until the reception, and the reason is she was reminded why she loved Chuck when he was able to give up his money for Ellie. So, when Bryce asked if they were leaving together. She said no.

      now comes the issue at hand, which is why Santa Claus is better in the long run, Sarah saw Bryce dead (First Love, which I question her love for him now) than she watched Chuck perform Kung Fu without any previous training that would be a rollercoaster of emotion since Orion took out the original Intersect.

      Chuck hearing Sarah in his head plus the elephant in the room BL he feels he needs to become a spy. communication break down. it would send Chuck and Sarah on a 12 week rough stretch, whereas Chuck saw Sarah kill Mauser and put it out there in one episode.

      So much to say, but I leave you with that.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Dave, I’d quibble with the notion that Chuck and Sarah were adult characters at the end of season 2. Even within season 2 they showed that neither was sure what they wanted out of life, other than each other, and they clearly didn’t know how to express it or go about achieving it.

      Granted we see the characters in different ways depending on what we invest in from the show. I can see how some might see a few still, in my opinion, very foggy or uncertain expressions of affection as being more certain or reassuring than I see them as being or the characters as I see them taking heart in. Given the characters situations, outside the knowledge that they are the main romantic pairing in a TV dramedy. Just as Kate Beckett can believe that Richard Castle, the titular character of a TV show, could be dead in a fiery car crash, Chuck and Sarah are allowed to see themselves as something less certain that a sure thing in the long term.

      Christopher, thanks for your kind words. I think it is not so much people aren’t responding, but that with the holiday season many of us have less time to read and blog, what with family obligations and holiday events.

      Now as for one aspect of what you mentioned, the pacing of the serialized parts of the story, I’m going to come down between you and ATCdave and say it depends on what part of the serialized story and what part of the pacing.

      In season 3, while I liked many aspects of the serialized story they had real serious problems with the pacing of the romance as a result of their decision to make the culmination of Chuck and Sarah’s romance the season’s climax. Chuck’s spy arc was far more organic, and still managed to climax near enough to the finale to not be a drag on the show before the final moments.

      There are many other examples, and certainly some were imposed on TPTB based on back orders and subsequent seasons they were told they would not get, but on balance I think they handled most of the serialization quite well, with some occasional problems.

    • Christopher says:

      As I wrote in my article, The Mauser Test vs The Red Test, Mauser vs The Red Test: http://wp.me/p4eSgb-6N

      Here is the article for you guys to read, I am a huge Sarah Walker fan because of the dynamic she was in all 5 seasons of Chuck, and the best episode that really showcases how far she came was Baby, i have had argument that her life was a lot harder than Chuck’s because of two major things 1. her support system was lack there of. between her father and LG I find it amazing that she still had a heart to not follow through with the baby.

      The other thing was the hardship it was for to get acceptance from Chuck into his world. What I mean is. Did you guys ever wonder if Chuck loved Sarah. Or did he love her life of adventure likewise did Sarah really love Chuck for Chuck or did she love also love the image.

      The Mauser and red test are perfect examples of that. What do you guys think.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Well a lot of this will depend on the individual fan’s perspective. I understand that a lot of people see Barstow and a few suggestive endearments in a cell facing a lifetime in a bunker or jail means they’ve come to some sort of accommodation or understanding. I’ll agree that it is the most frank admission of their feelings toward each other, but those feelings were never really in doubt. Some believe that the professional barriers were the only thing keeping them apart, that Sarah couldn’t admit her feelings because she’d be seen as compromised and re-assigned, and Chuck could, but as we see in this and other episodes, when he does force Sarah deeper in to their relationship that she is ready for, things go badly. She can’t be a spy and have those feelings at the same time. She needs to shut off the girlfriend enjoying having Christmas dinner with her boyfriend and his family so she can see that Ned Ryerson isn’t just a hapless guy that got in over his head and that Lt. Mauser has his own agenda before it’s too late to do anything about it. And when she needs to brutally assassinate an unarmed enemy agent in her custody, she needs to be able to do that without worrying about how Chuck would see her if he knew what she did to keep him safe.

      Now granted that is all in the present, and with a change in their status could change. Theoretically. If it is only professional barriers. But we know that isn’t the case. Sarah can’t tell Chuck how she feels because, well, Sarah can’t tell Chuck how she feels. That switch isn’t easily flipped, and it is more than a switch she developed for professional purposes. Sarah has deep seated emotional issues that cause her to keep people at a distance and to pull back when they get too close. And it isn’t really an obscure or hidden aspect of her character. She states it explicitly in season 1 and it is a regular feature of season 2. The cover relationship is about as much relationship as Sarah can handle. Would she really be able to be the girlfriend Chuck wanted had she stayed in Burbank? I know there is probably a lot of Charah fanfiction that lays out how she could, but I don’t see it in the character as presented on the show.

      As for Chuck, his notable jealousy and insecurity when it comes to Sarah is a constant source of overcompensation and as often as Chuck comes through for the team with his unique way of solving problems, it is that same jealousy and overcompensation that has landed the team in the situation where he has to deploy those unique methods to save himself and the team. Chuck does not feel he deserves Sarah, and he certainly doesn’t feel her equal. And there is a reason for that. He is constantly shown if not explicitly told that he is not. He’s half-way in and half way out of the spy-world. He’s half way in a relationship with Sarah that she dictates will go no further, but one she also often makes sure he can’t get out of. The only way Chuck sees forward is to become Sarah’s equal, the partner she deserves in every way. Sarah however does not want that. She wants a safe Chuck, in multiple senses of the phrase. She wants Chuck to stay the same gentle lovable nerd that SHE needs and wants him to be, despite the fact that he hates who he is and where he is stuck in life. She also is incapable of allowing him to make decisions about his own future, and this lingers on well past the point where they are a couple. In a very real sense Sarah is standing in the way of Chuck becoming the Chuck he wants to be to preserve the Chuck she feels she needs him to be.

      To be brief, not that that is any longer possible, there is an immaturity and selfishness in both characters that combined with a total inability to communicate brought on by a long history of insecurities, manipulation insecurity and hurt that to me practically guarantees their first attempt to be together would inevitably end in disaster and broken hearts.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Yes, they could have made different decisions at many junctures, but they didn’t. Once again, I’m going with the story they decided to tell and basing my answers on that rather than the story you or I or a myriad of others wish they told. Why they went the way they did is, I can only assume, because they believed in that story and wanted to tell it.

      We can endlessly second guess based on other’s fanfiction, and that’s fine if you enjoy that, but if that is the case, that their storytelling must exist in a world where any decision and the subsequent repercussions and consequences are endlessly malleable, including retroactively, any real analysis of the story they DID tell is virtually impossible.

      They told a particular version of the story, their version, where Chuck and Sarah were specific characters with their own strengths and weaknesses not cyphers constructed to contain a myriad of potential characters.

      Based on that I don’t see them as a viable couple at the end of season 2.

    • Christopher says:

      @Dave @Ernie

      But from a story telling basis, I look at S3 as Chuck being weaponized by Shaw. I have a new outlook on Shaw, and he was very important in the development of Chuck. What was the first thing Shaw wanted Chuck to do, Shoot him right, of all the people that was supposed to help Chuck develop into a spy Shaw got the most out of him because he needed to use a real gun.

      I will save my theory on Shaw for the appropriate time.

      See i am not in favor of Barstow because of the chain of events leading up to Barstow. Look at what Chuck and Sarah went through

      Beefcake, Suburbs, Santa Claus and Best Friend all are episodes that prove they were not ready. Sarah’s reaction to Chuck working on his own to find Orion and later not telling her he was looking for her father was more of a jilted girlfriend than an agent.

      See When two people know they are ready for intimacy it just flows like Honeymooners. They were ready then.

      If Sarah just told Chuck, “Chuck I want to be with you, but I can’t because the agency wouldn’t approve. Except she did in the freezer during the Seduction episode..

      The story In S3 wasn’t about the relationship, it was how do we get Chuck to become a spy. Damn the risk. Character Assassination sure, I truly believed they dropped the ball on two characters in the series Shaw and Quinn could of been iconic characters. Except the writers forced us to accept them.

      Much like they did with BL, Chuck and Sarah share an amazing kiss in IHS only for Bryce to return. Chuck and Sarah share an intimate moment outside stephan’s trailer only for Sarah to be fired and than take off the watch moment. Yes, it was powerful but where Chuck and Sarah mature to sleep together in Barstow. After Watch this episode again, and through to Prague. No they weren’t

      We have to look at the timing as Dave said, and realize with the timing and the people involved we have cluster muck up.

      Mauser started the domino effect follow by misunderstanding in Suburbs, I am currently writing about The Truth Vs Best Friend, and in the article i am talking about how much Casey and Sarah really didn’t learn anything from Chuck about friends and family.

      From The Truth when Chuck was worried about his sister dying to Morgan getting blown up in the car. Chuck would put them first before country and orders. Something the rest of the team couldn’t grasp.

      Sarah turned the corner with Mauser, she put her love for Chuck and need to keep him in her life as the motivating factor.

      Sarah was willing to run in prague, but Chuck said no. It devastated Sarah. Much like it Devastated Chuck hearing Sarah saying she was going to leave in the morning.

      Sorry guys with what we know from this episode until Three Words in S3. chuck and sarah weren’t ready for Sex or even a relationship. Not until Tic Tac did they start communicating their feelings.

      Sarah started it with I thought you have Change to Shut up and kiss me. All that communication i am alluding too. To think Chuck set us up for it with scenes like in this one Real life situations for Charah, and how do hey deal with it. Most times not well. In fact, home many times did the team work against each other.

      What bothers me about Mauser and the red test is the lack of distrust in the team. For example, Do you guys really think Sarah would of mind Casey pulling the Trigger for Chuck. I mean she just went against orders to help Casey with Kathleen. Same thing here with Mauser.

      Chuck just gave her a bracelet and said I know when she said give it to a real girlfriend. She should’ve trusted Chuck to handle it.

    • CaptMediocre says:

      Chuck was not “weaponized” by Shaw.

      That might have been a great story but it’s not the in they told.

      As far as Chuck and Sarah, they’re less ready to be in a relationship after Other Guy than they were before it. The misery arc adds too much baggage for any real relationship to work, unless it’s addressed somehow – and it wasn’t.

    • Christopher says:

      @Dave
      It’s ok if you don’t like my theory on Shaw, we all can’t agree on everything it makes conversations like this one boring if everyone did.

      As I said up top I don’t want to ruin Ernie’s piece with bringing in Shaw to this discuss because he isn’t apart of this discussion. I only mention Shaw because out of all the characters that come across the series Shaw was the only one to look past the whiny self destructive Chuck.

      When Shaw entered the story, we seem to forget he was apart of the story since 2005 when Eve was killed. Shaw never wanted to be in Burbank, he was asked by Beckman to come to burbank, and when he did. He took over a mess of a team. His mind set was revenge and that being said, also had the Intersect at his disposal. A huge advantage for mr Shaw.. He mentioned with lines like “You can be a great spy, but they don’t let you evolve.” Great manipulation of Chuck. or “Go ahead answer the phone, just know when you do. he will never become a real spy and some day that may get him killed.” which in fact occurred in fear of death.

      The first day Shaw met Chuck, he asked him to shoot him, which if he read Chuck’s file like he said he read, than he would know He was into Sarah and his reluctant desire to fire a weapon. Shaw made his mission to get the Intersect working because what ever the CIA did wasn’t working because Chuck stop functioning. He progressed well under the wings of Shaw because Shaw took him out of the van and ignored his whining. And since that didn’t work the next logical step would be to move in on Sarah.

      S3’s Sarah was far less attractive in this season than when she shot Mauser, The time I felt Sarah was really ready to be in a real relationship with Chuck was after P3. She struggled to say I love you until the Tooth and didn’t unpack until Suit Case. She didn’t realize how much of a big fish she was until Morgan of all people told her so.

      Yes, Dave your right a couple could grow together, but they couldn’t even face each other and discuss their feelings until American Hero. and further that Role Models was when she admitted having a future together. Communication and Actions were what told me they were close.

      Sorry Dave, but I saw Shaw wasn’t interested in the man like Sarah was. Shaw was interested in the computer and if the show writers ran with this story instead of putting Shaw with Sarah it would of done wonders.

      Casey Beckman and Sarah all thought Chuck wasn’t a real spy only Shaw and Larkin did. Even Beefcake gave him some respect.

    • Christopher says:

      What annoys me about the S3 trapezoid is the fact it was done already,

      I bring it up here was because I missed the rewatch you guys went through. I was conducting my own rewatch by the way guys.My buddy Paul has a podcast called the Intersect project. It’s offered on Itunes for free or if you don’t have Itunes you can visit my site. I have a playlist at Chuckaholics if you want to listen.

      The original Trapezoid for me is Bryce/Jill/Sarah/Chuck, the fact that all the part of the trapezoid eventually cross paths at some point. While Chuck, Sarah and shaw worked together Hannah only affected Sarah personally. Jill worked with Sarah and it showed how much Sarah hated it.

      Plus Jill really was apart of the spy story since 1998. which means Jill is just as important.

      I also found it interesting that Sarah would be listening in on Chuck convo with Jill after all up to that point it was only Casey listening in. What are your thoughts on that?

    • Ernie Davis says:

      As once again Chuckwin’s law takes hold…

      But I will never get why anyone thinks they would mature better apart than together.

      I sometimes forget the rhetorical nature of some of these. There may be many reasons I or TPTB could lay out that they felt neither Chuck nor Sarah could move forward without breaking up their rather dysfunctional relationship and essentially starting fresh after each has a better sense of who they are and want to be. I am not quite sure what you mean by you don’t get how anyone could see Chuck and Sarah maturing better apart than together, or as I parse it, needing space from each other to mature rather than metaphorically trying to build the same road they are driving down. You don’t strike me as someone unaware that other people have considerably different views on what constitutes good drama or different views of the characters and might have views and tastes that don’t align with yours. I think it is more that you don’t see as entertaining any storyline that does not keep Chuck and Sarah together after Barstow, or perhaps after “take off your watch”. That’s fine. But there are many reasons why TPTB might choose those story-lines, and discussing them based on the characters they have developed as I and other see them and the history they created throughout the series can be just as enjoyable to some of us as considering the characters potential in all possible Chuck-verses is to you and many fanfiction readers and writers. The two just don’t seem to mix well. You are of course as free to reject the story-lines as we are to accept and try to understand them.

      But there is absolutely no reason why Chuck and Sarah’s issues would be better addressed after 3.13 than after 2.22.

      There many reasons in many peoples opinions, including the writers. They may have not dealt with Chuck and Sarah issues in 3.01 through 3.10 because in their view Chuck had Chuck issues to deal with and Sarah had Sarah issues to deal with, and dealing with Chuck and Sarah issues was best left till after each has at some level come to terms with their own stuff.

      Your preferences and anyone’s issues with execution aside accepting that as a part of the story is as legitimate as your rejection and dislike and as worthy of discussion among those who find it interesting as is fanfiction to those who find that enjoyable.

      It is 100% a story teller’s choice of timing. And for so many of us, the timing they chose made both main characters look very bad.

      And the storytellers made a choice that many of us want to discuss based on that choice, previous choices, and how that impacts the characters and where they are headed.
      It is a tautology to simply repeat as a mantra that they could have told a different story or a myriad of different stories or made dozens of different decisions in direction, pace, character or that this didn’t have to be the story. Agreed, it didn’t “have” to be, but it was. You may not enjoy it or what it did, and you may want to reject one part of the story they told wholesale, but when you do that you pretty much disqualify yourself from any meaningful discussion of that part of the story beyond the fact that you reject it.

    • Christopher says:

      The problem is fellas,

      If we are going to use the canon as our source than if you like it or not. They gave you the path they were heading once orion took out Intersect 1.0. Chuck was destine to get 2.0 the problem my friends is this. i have read that Fedak and crew wanted the show to stay close to the time each episode aired. For example, each video log corresponds with an episode of the week like day 49 and 51 are seven days apart/ The hard part is the last entry which isn’t important here/ (Day 564)

      with that said, it would of been a hard sell to say hey guys Chuck knows Mandarin or can perform Surgery. Those are one extreme, but the other is how could they sell Chuck learning Kung Fu without training. The show needed a new direction because Two handlers protecting one Asset would of gotten old. A lot of people soured on 24 because it was the same premise Jack gets screwed Jack saves the day Jack gets blamed. Its the same cycle.

      The other thing is after study the show like i do for my site, I have come to realize Chris Fedak valued Chuck and Morgan more than Sarah. In fact by the way he treat her was really strange. Sarah was growing more and more popular with the fan base. and it killed Chris. The focus was supposed to be Chuck/ how come it took one episode (The Beard_ for Chuck and Morgan to settle their differences but Sarah and Chuck don’t it takes 12 episodes for them to come together, and let’s not get started on S5

      Chris did more to destroy Sarah than make her equal as of Chuck. I mean Sarah’s mind was erased for goodness sake. Who controls the pencil? Josh didn’t make that call now did he?

      S Sarah a company girl who after Lou shows up realizes she doesn’t want to share Chuck. Than Bryce returns and she elected to stay with Chuck. than Save me LAter all signs Sarah wanted Chuck’s life. Chuck missed Sarah’s “You can have anything you.” Which by my poll most fans believed Sarah was including herself when she thought Chuck was done being a spy.

      S2 Sarah was more becoming Sarah the Girlfriend but without Trepidation.

      S3 Sarah becomes voiceless and easily manipulated by Shaw, which imo was by design to get Chuck to focus more on being a spy.

      for example, When I did the write up for The Mask, I though of something at the end when Chuck went to get the counter agent, This one is for you Ernie,

      First, I find what Shaw was doing to Sarah was nothing more than sexual harassment. Sarah didn’t enjoy it at all throughout the episode. i don’t by her saying she liked it because her expressions didn’t say as much, but the one expression that told me a lot was the one when she watch Chuck run off. IT was like she was saying please don’t leave me Chuck.

      See Prague doesn’t matter anymore after Operation Awesome, she was back in the apartment with Chuck she was smiling and all. So, Prague wasn’t an issue. The issue that bother Sarah after that was the dramatic change Chuck went through. Lying to Ellie, screwing Manoosh. to destroying Hannah. all that wasn’t the Chuck she was trying to remember.

      I am sorry i would love it if you guys read my articles so we can debate because I have such passion and I bet it would make my viewers like your site as well.

      Dave I have two series you might like to read.

      Sarah Walker vs Agent Walker and Master of expressions. How Yvonne Strahovski mastered Sarah Walker.

      Ernie I have a menu called The Arcs of Chuck. as i go through my rewatch which we are only up to Tom Sawyer, but again I want to extend an invitation to you guys to visit my site after all As I said before. If it wasn’t for you guys there is no Chuckaholics.com

  2. Christopher says:

    @Ernie,

    The order your talking about is correct, It’s why Suburbs is connected with Beefcake. Best Friend really throws off the story sandwich between the two episodes. Suburbs is really a underrated episode in my view.

    Santa Claus through Best Friend is a really struggle for Sarah and Chuck because as Mr. Bush wrote in his book, Sarah really shows the fish out of water complex when it comes to Best Friend. I write in my article, Mauser vs The Red Test about my issues with Mauser and when the story line is recycled.

    Mauser vs The Red Test: http://wp.me/p4eSgb-6N via

    In the article, I showcase the difference in character. Nevermind the mind the story at hand. What we have is a woman wanting so much to be with Chuck, but we are three episode away from V-Log 564. She is at the brink of admitting she doesn’t know what to do about her feelings.

    Sarah is a in unfortunately place. She doesn’t have a Ellie or Morgan that can coach her through her feelings, and Chuck can’t talk about his without creating a domino effect of events.

    What Sarah did for Chuck was protect him, she said it “He knew who you were, his safety was at risk, but let’s be honest If GB found out that Mauser knew Chuck’s secret than goodbye Chuck for sure. Sarah did kill Mauser in protecting Chuck, but she also did it for herself.

    The most important thing to Sarah was her home, and she admits in Chuck vs The Suit Case, Chuck was her home. Thus, the hesitant pace to leave Burbank in Broken Heart, she told Shaw she went to Lisbon to bury BL’s ashes, but Lisbon is not far from Prague. The need to be close to Chuck? in the equation

    What do you think?

  3. Good evening Chuck fans in the U.S. and all over the world! First of all, MERRY CHRISTMAS to your family and friends. I know its been almost a year since I did a post on this website! To Ernie, Liz, Faith and my old friend Joe. This is Bernard Gilree. I hope you all doing well this holiday season.
    I will commenting in the next day or two on the Santa Claus. I’m just letting you all know that I’m doing fine. Happy Holidays!!

  4. joe says:

    Great write-up, Ernie.
    I’m not sure if I ever understood (or, for that matter, if I ever read) that Best Friends was intended to follow Santa Claus and that a version of 3-D was to be the finale of a 13 week season. (Hey, they say forgetting’s one of the first signs, you know.) But it makes a great deal of sense to me. Parenthetically, having Best Friends immediately follow this episode colors the ending scene of BF (where C&S are holding hands, she looks at their hands and at him unsmiling, and uncertain about – something) very differently. We’ll come to that later next month and I’m not sure I’m going to change my interpretation, but this ordering sure informs that scene.

    More importantly, this order sure helps with the let-down many of us had with the abrupt and seemingly weak resolution to the Mauser incident at the end of 3-D. That, and the interminable break between the two episodes (thank you, Mr. President) explain much.

    But this:

    Chuck and Sarah are in an unstable position.

    – that statement is insightful. All through S1 and most of S2 – right up until Sarah says Take off your watch, everything between Chuck and Sarah seemed to be unsettled and shifting. We were all looking for clues as to how this was going to turn out and the #1 complaint had to be about Will They/Won’t They.

    Settling that wasn’t going to happen so early, bracelet or no bracelet. (Heh. I think the fans strong-armed TPTB into resolving that in S3, earlier than they wanted to. But that’s just a suspicion! 😉 ) Mauser was going to be an obstacle every bit as much as Chuck’s failure to become a spy early in S3.

    And for nearly the same reasons, too. The Mauser incident represents Sarah’s failure to be “a real girl” and have a normal life just like Prague shows Chuck’s inability to enter Sarah’s world and be a spy.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks Joe. I need to do a more in depth re-watch of Best Friend and 3D, but as I watched Santa it just struck me how much more organic the distance between Chuck and Sarah in that episode is if it followed the Mauser incident, especially the scene in Castle where Sarah fondles the charm bracelet as Chuck inadvertently tells her he doesn’t consider her a permanent part of his life.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I’d say that they are clearly obfuscating to some extent. Suburbs, Beefcake, and Lethal Weapon were clearly meant as an in tact arc coming after 3D and Best Friend. If they meant that 3D was always meant to come before Best Friend, I’d concede that by the time production started that was almost certainly true, but I don’t doubt that there was some trading scenes and re-writing done before that production started. But as I look at 3D it has all their trademarks of a mid-season/season finale.

        I know I’m speculating and have no real proof, other than I think I have a decent track record prying apart the mechanics of the storytelling these guys use.

      • Happy holidays everyone!

        Work has occupied much of my time (I revise and update computer files 18 hours a week) so my tolerance has sadly diminished for computer use…

        Ernie your posts are always among my favorite because you seem to be able to stay objective…I agree with what you had to say. I actually wonder how you find time or will to write such insightful posts ?

    • Good evening Joe my old Friend! Ernie wrote a great write up on this article. The Santa Claus had more drama from a personal level than ever thought especially when Sarah was in a life and death struggle in the fight with Mauser then she had to kill him when he threatened not only Chucks life, his family life, his friends and Sarah. Now, did Sarah made the situation worse by lying to Chuck when he asked her back at the BM what happened? Sure she did.! Which led to a lot of problems in the 3rd Deminsion. In fact, Chuck was very reluctant to trust Sarah and truth be told, he was scared of her.

  5. Dave

    I’m sorry but largely reject the notion that accepting the misery arc means Chuck and Sarah are a doomed couple…I know people who have worked through much worse than an unintentional broken promise and “iffy rebounds”

    The fact is the misery arc (right or wrong storytelling aside) simply exploited the least developed part of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship; their communication; this goes all the way back to S1! and while i don’t care for it’s length I think it is necessary and ultimately showed what can happen when people are immature and have idealized views of their mate

    As much as i want to say their was no point to the misery arc i can’t. I will admit that it was severely mis-handled though:)

  6. dkd says:

    Mauser’s gloating is more than just a trope. It’s such a stupid move on his part, it is a major annoyance in an episode that is otherwise quite strong dramatically. You might have just had him say, “kill me now.” There is no reason for him to suddenly start spilling his ultimate plan when he has been portrayed as being pretty smart up until that point. It just sticks out like a sore thumb for me.

    I wonder how much more dramatic it would have been for him not to say anything and for Sarah to conclude she couldn’t let him live all on her own without the stupid gloating. I wonder if there was a “network note” at work or if the writers were just chicken to go there. Or maybe they thought we’d be too stupid to figure out what Sarah had to do without the exposition.

    • atcDave says:

      I’d call it a variation on suicide by cop. Mauser knew he would be interrogated and forced to reveal all of Fulcrum’s deepest, darkest secrets. So he provoked Agent Walker into fixing the problem…

    • joe says:

      I get your point, dkd. From a strictly theatrical POV, you’re absolutely right. But somehow it just wouldn’t seem “Chuck” to have it be any different.

      We had to do a weird kind of suspension of disbelief to even watch this show from the start, right? I mean, the supercomputer in the brain idea is simply not believable, even if it’s a touch more believable than a ‘Jeanie’ in a bottle, a mom reincarnated as a 1928 Porter, or castaways surviving in comfort for years on a dessert isle (complete with gowns).

      Mauser was never believable, but you know, I found his arrogance was. – as I did Roark’s megalomania, Shaw’s insanity and Volkoff’s superior chess playing. 😉

      • DKD says:

        I hear what you are saying, but I was reacting to it in the context of this particular episode. Mauser has gone through a lot of effort to find out the Intersect’s identity and his number one priority would be to get that information to the rest of Fulcrum. I don’t buy the “suicide by cop” theory either. He has no way of knowing he would not be able to get that information to someone before being interrogated, particularly with Fulcrum having people inside the CIA. Roark’s megalomania was established from the start. It didn’t appear out of nowhere. Mauser’s stupidity appears out of nowhere.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Network TV is rarely driven by subtlety and nuance, and Chuck often embraced it’s tropes, but I get it. To me though you can point to something along these lines in virtually every episode. The number of characters clinging to the stupid stick in Chuck Versus The Ring for instance is absolutely astounding, but the episode works, and that is the key to me. The Mauser execution and Sarah’s dilemma comes across powerfully in a pretty contrived and really poorly cut together scene. I mean really, every single cut has her in a different position or the gun in a different hand… But like I said, the scene works for me. Your mileage may vary.

      • joe says:

        DKD, didn’t you find, though, that Mauser “misunderestimated” (heh!) Sarah? I’m not feeling that he was committing “suicide by cop” either, so much as he thought he could cause Sarah to blunder by playing on her emotions. That’s much more subtle.

        That’s just an impression, though (and like Ernie says, YMMV). And I’ll concur that it WOULD be stupid with a capital DUH! if Mauser actually was written to play that trope.

    • anthropocene says:

      I think it would have been interesting if Mauser had played it even more: not only taunting Sarah with his knowledge of Chuck’s secret, but flat-out daring her to kill him where he stood in cold blood. He could have said something to the effect that the CIA is too soft and that if their positions were reversed, he—the Fulcrum agent—would not hesitate to shoot. All this with Chuck listening in. The idea being, of course, that Mauser would have arrogantly believed that Sarah would not kill him in cold blood. Surprise! We would have been contrasting a scene like that with the scene in “Other Guy” where Shaw dares Chuck to shoot him in the back.

      • thinkling says:

        I like that idea, Anthro. Also like the suicide by cop theory.

      • atcDave says:

        Really I always took it as pure arrogance. I think Anthro hit the nail on the head; it never occurred to him Agent Walker would make such a call.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think that is what we are supposed to believe, that he is merely taunting Sarah with no thought of consequences, but then the real purpose is to lay out Sarah’s dilemma and emotional state.

      • joe says:

        Bingo, Ernie.

      • anthropocene says:

        I agree with you, Ernie, and would add that the scene also illustrated a bit of Chuck’s learning curve about Sarah and the spy world.

  7. Christopher says:

    I think you guys miss a point that i would like to bring into the equation. Something I wrote about in my scene comparison article here,

    http://chuckaholics.com/2014/03/12/mauser-vs-the-red-test/
    I compare Mauser with Chuck’s red test because of the lack of communication there was between the two and most specifically, not trusting each other.

    Chuck didn’t hear what Mauser said, and what Sarah said in 3D could of been said in an extra scene in Santa Claus much like I feel Chuck vault confession should of been said at the train station.

    Chuck and Casey should of trusted Sarah in being happy with Chuck not being able to pull the trigger on the mole. I am not question the writing here because thats too easy to do.

    What I am questioning is faith in the one you love. Chuck knew Sarah for two years and she never shot a unarmed man before. There had to be a reason Chuck eyes didn’t hear what Mauser said much like Sarah only hear the shot but didn’t see it. It’s interesting to see a very similar act done in the reverse caused the same reaction

    BTW Dave Ernie and Joe, I have a question posted here on The Chuck Project, A social network I started in honor of Chuck. Come and see, we had Mekenna Melvin day today. Last week we had Mini Anden Day, which Carina herself saw and tweeted to me she loved.

    Take part Dave, Ernie and Joe and the rest of the Chuckthisblog. COme home to social network all about Chuck.

    http://chuckproject.socialgo.com/topic/21/was-sarah-wrong-for-keeping-shaw-s-earrings

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