Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Ring (2.22)

NBC Synopsis: SEASON FINALE—CHUCK MUST SAVE HIS SISTER’S WEDDING AND HER LIFE—MORGAN FAIRCHILD (“Falcon Crest”), BRUCE BOXLEITNER (“Babylon 5″), TONY HALE (“Arrested Development”), SCOTT BAKULA (“Quantum Leap”) AND CHEVY CHASE (NBC’s “Saturday Night Live”) GUEST STAR—When Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Awesome’s (Ryan McPartlin) wedding day finally arrives, Chuck (Zachary Levi) must save Ellie’s life and her big day from being ruined by Ted Roark (guest star Chevy Chase) and Fulcrum.

Chuck This Ranking: 6
Dave’s Ranking: Much Lower

Full Write Up: Chuck vs The Ring (2.22) by Dave, Ernie and Joe
Summertime Top Ten: Chuck vs The Ring by Ernie and Joe

Overview: Chuck in Overview: Season Two by Dave

Alternatives: Season One and Season Two Alternatives by 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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25 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Ring (2.22)

  1. authorguy says:

    I remember rewatching this and seeing Sarah’s unbelievable refusal to go with him when he asked, especially when it was to go with Bryce of all people. Possibly the most ridiculous and horrible moment in the episode, and the series, although S4 was the worst in that respect. One of those bad story logic moments that screams ‘contrived plot coming up!’ And sure enough we get that plot, not only the Ring suddenly appearing, which was okay, but Chuck somehow miraculously loses the wrist computer when he falls into the Intersect Room. A dead giveaway.
    I don’t agree that the writers needed to be replaced. They needed to be allowed to do what they should have done. The story in S3 was hampered by elements that had nothing to do with the story itself, and it showed. No one could have written a good story with those constraints, but they did a decent job with what they were allowed to use. The writers they got after Other Guy were far worse, in my opinion, with slipshod plots and romantic contrivances galore.

  2. Martin Traynor says:

    After multiple re-watches of several episodes, I’ve finally realized just how very much Sarah manipulates Chuck. I think sometimes it’s done without her even realizing it, but a lot of the time, I think she knows exactly what she’s doing. Here, she tells Chuck that she’s going away to work with Bryce, and she says it in such a way that it seems she thinks he should already know that, and that it was a foregone conclusion. I get the feeling she’s throwing it in his face because he turned down the opportunity to continue working with her. I think ( and I have seen this said often here) that Sarah is most comfortable in “pretend land” as Chuck’s sort-of pretend girlfriend. She looks downright happy as pretend wife in Suburbs as well.

    I was just watching Final Exam (not to get too far ahead, but there I am), and she manipulates the he** out of Chuck to get him to kill the mole and puts him in a no win situation, and I think THAT’s at least partly because of her broken heart from the beginning of the season.

    I love Chuck and Sarah, but lately I’m wondering what he sees in her (aside from the obvious) that makes him fight so hard for her.

    • atcDave says:

      I would certainly agree that Sarah’s response may have been in part a slap at Chuck for turning down the job offer. Its hard to blame her for that, Chuck was pretty bone headed for doing so. And I absolutely agree Sarah was happier with all the covers going on; especially when she could get what she wanted without any personal risk at all.
      Final Exam is the worst, ugliest Sarah episode of the entire series. I simply have to ignore it. I can’t believe in the characters at all if I accept it. Unfortunately, that is sort of S3 in a nutshell. And Chuck himself was so utterly contemptible in Fake Name.
      Pretty much the whole misery arc has to be flushed. I simply do not hold canon in high regard at that point.

  3. Martin Traynor says:

    Dave,

    I kind of vacillate on season three and ignoring the misery arc, because I hate the idea of losing any episodes when we have so precious few to begin with. But more and more I’m leaning that way for the very reasons you present – it’s hard or next-to-impossible to believe in the characters and the overall story moving forward, given the inconsistency in character both Chuck and Sarah show during that time period.

    • uplink2 says:

      I come down with Dave on this and it all starts in this episode. The manipulative inconsistencies in the characters are shown pretty clearly here in Sarah. We can stretch a bit and justify Sarah’s actions as her being someone who would follow her orders from Beckman, someone who is affected by Chuck’s decision to move on from her by rejecting the job offer etc. But it is inconsistent from the woman that woke up in that motel room in Barstow and then said “It is real”. The inconsistent behavior that is coming up next makes me agree with Dave that you have to flush it to make what comes 12 episodes later work. One of the biggest problems with it is that the good or at least decent episodes of that early S3 arc all either end up being totally meaningless or are nullified by the actions that follow. I liked Three Words on first viewing but it is greatly diminished by the fact that it ultimately didn’t matter and meant absolutely nothing in the long run. The Awesome arc and Chuck’s confession in Three Words are nullified by First Class and by them jumping so quickly for new LI’s. Tic Tac, probably the best episode of the first 12 is nullified by Final Exam and how Sarah manipulates Chuck and jumps to Shaw both personally and professionally just after she had so easily dismissed him with “Shaw can wait” so she could protect and help her other partner Casey. She doesn’t extend that same courtesy to her primary charge and the man she is in love with.

      That has always been one of my big dilemma’s with that part of the story. Besides how lousy the entertainment value was, the parts of the story that work and dealt with issues that needed to be explored are all just made worthless by what follows. Plus that inconstancy is purely not designed to drive a dramatic spy story choice but to drive the WTWT and OLI angst. As Dave says Final Exam was his darkest and ugliest moment for Sarah but it immediately followed what I thought was the most S2 and Chuck show that I knew and loved episode style in Tic Tac. The string that holds it all together is incredibly tiny and weak. Like this episode I can’t enjoy the elements that make it great by what follows and how. We will see next week that for me at least I have never been so excited about the return of any TV show in my life than I was on Jan 10th, 2010 and no more disappointed than I was when I saw what we had waited 9 months for. This episode is severely damaged by Pink Slip because I can’t watch it in isolation.

      • authorguy says:

        I would put the blame more on Chuck’s refusal to work with the CIA after having shown such a talent for it. That refusal is the first blatantly manipulative step in the chain. Sarah’s experience with the Intersect project makes her the natural handler for whoever got it next. The only way she could reasonably be with Chuck even a little is if he joined up. Otherwise the only course for her would be to quit the CIA completely, a step I don’t think she was ready for at that point.

      • uplink2 says:

        I would agree with that. Plus it sent the message to her that he was rejecting her as well. But that’s all part of the manipulation to create the ever present mis-reading of intentions on both parts.

      • authorguy says:

        Correct. Chuck’s immediate response should have to ask ‘where do I sign’. This is the writer making a character say something stupid to set up a plot point that doesn’t flow organically from the story logic, always a bad idea. There are many of these all over the place. Casey not shooting Quinn in Chuck vs Bo is one that I suffered through most recently. Sarah putting on the glasses, when just 2 seasons before Orion was asking if she had the Intersect already, because she was so good. Forced and contrived all the way.

      • atcDave says:

        I can imagine rebuilding a much more appealing S3 just by starting with Chuck agreeing to the analyst job.

      • authorguy says:

        That was my starting point. One of the three changes I made to S3 was that Chuck didn’t want to be a spy. He signed up to be an analyst instead, then they changed the game on him a little.

      • uplink2 says:

        Interesting thought Dave. You still could have him get the 2.0 with very minor changes. And it eliminates the forced miscommunication that is necessary to drive the canon story. He should have seen that as a way to stay with Sarah and not force her to make the choice about her job or her life with him. Many folks choose as a way to justify his decision in Prague and not be such an ass treating her like crap, say he did it in part so he could prove himself worthy of her and stay with her. By deciding to become an analyst that miscommunication is eliminated and Prague never happens. But again I still content that all of these inconsistencies and miscommunications were set up to artificially keep them apart and ultimately meant nothing to the spy story but everything to the OLI story. That is what drove their decisions. The spy story is just window dressing.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Uplink I agree. The real change needed to be NOT to continue the wt/wt (or at least to dump the OLIs). Everything else is just details.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah AG it definitely works better that way.

  4. garnetflint says:

    I remember, at the time, I was feeling a little unhappy with Sarah and her manipulative behaviour. I wrote a few comments on ChuckTV that suggested that you could take all the “signs” we had been given and interpret them as Sarah manipulating Chuck without any feels towards him at all. Barstow turned that on it’s head. The writers spent too much time on the WTWT and too little on the real relationship in the early seasons.

    Someone had written a story about season 3 where Chusk and Sarah were in a real (hidden)relationship and were able to defeat Shaw as a result. I think is works much better than the misery arc. I’m sure Dave will know which story it was.

    • atcDave says:

      Maybe Uplink’s story; Chuck vs Life, Love and Lies? Definitely a fun take on the whole thing, and one of the better buffoon Shaws I’ve seen.

      • garnetflint says:

        Could very well be…I’ll have to add it to my reread list, and maybe,just maybe, there will be an extra chapter when I get to the end again!! It is a great story and I am really wondering what happens next.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Uplink sure has been a slacker.

      • garnetflint says:

        Now I didn’t say that, just that another chapter would be a treat, and he has a great story going on. I’d love to see it finished, but I appreciate all the hard work that goes into putting out a major story like LLL’s.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ok ok ok. I am working on it. Got 2.5k written but work has been overtaking my life. New owners etc. But it will get finished. I’ve had the ending since I began writing it, I just need to get there. But I think Garnet might be talking about Themselves. That was a much better version of a S3 than my story. Plus it was a secret relationship thing where Prague was actually a planned element of the secret relationship. I loved that concept.

      • atcDave says:

        I was just razzing you Uplink; I look forward to more, but I know it’s a huge job.

        You might be right about Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves. Secret relationship and Shaw as a villain.

      • garnetflint says:

        Two things to add. Thanks for the great news that you are still working on LLL’s. But don’t sell yourself short. You have written several great stories that I think stand up very well compared to any FF writer’s work. Permutations….a great fun read!
        As far as “Themselves” I will try a reread shortly. My problem is reading too many stories and some elements blend into each other so I find it hard to remember what element came from which story. I tried writing a short synopsis various genre’s of stories. but I gave it up after only a few stoies so it doesn’t help me much. 😦

  5. There is a lot of criticism here over the pre-wedding Chuck and Sarah stuff. And I don’t disagree with any of it, really. It still boggles my mind that somewhere between the end of ep. 21 and the beginning of ep. 22, there hadn’t been a conversation between the two of them about how they are going to make their relationship work going forward.

    Having said that, though, at the beach wedding, we saw Sarah indicate to Bryce that she was not going to go with him, and at the reception, while they were dancing and Chuck was apparently talking himself into letting Sarah go, Sarah was working up to telling him that she was not going to go with Bryce, and that Chuck was more important to her than her career, or something like that. Of course, the relationship angst had to continue, didn’t it?!?

    I’ll just add that, for me, the revelation of Chuck’s Intersect-enabled kung-fu skills was a great scene. Chuck’s own reaction, as well as the facial expressions from Casey and Sarah, were awesome.

    Russ / resaw

  6. Oh, and Dave, thanks for the list of season 1 and 2 alternatives in the fanfic world, originally posted last May. I haven’t read any of those yet, and I really want to. They look intriguing.

    • atcDave says:

      Great! There is always something a little different about the earlier stories to me. Somehow the possibilities seemed broader. And there were so many intriguing possibilities that show never got around to looking into.

      Have fun!

  7. Martin Traynor says:

    I’ll agree that the intersect 2.0 reveal was fantastic. From Casey’s “Chuck me!” to his double takes and Sarah’s looks of awe and surprise just made it a whole lot of fun. And I actually like that Chuck got the skills to allow him to fight. I always struggled with the fact that even though he was “supposed” to be more of an analyst-type and stay int he car, that he never got any combat training. Seems like spy 101 to me, and I’m sure TPTB didn’t go there to allow more opportunities for wimpy Chuck to make us all laugh, but if it’s me, I want to learn how to kick butt, or at least save my own…Just say’in.

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