Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Final Exam (3.11)

NBC Synopsis: CHUCK’S FATE AS A SPY RESTS ON A SINGLE MISSION-BRANDON ROUTH (”SUPERMAN RETURNS”) GUEST STARS-Chuck (Zachary Levi) learns that his latest solo mission will be a final test to see if he is ready to be a spy. Chuck needs to put everything he has learned into action to avoid going back to his old life while Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Shaw (guest star Brandon Routh) observe his every move.

Chuck This Ranking: 74
Dave’s Ranking: Dead Last

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs The Final Exam (3.11) by Ernie, Joe and Faith
Saving Agent Walker by Joe
S3 Revisited: Final Exams, Pass or Fail by Ernie

Alternatives: Season Three Alternatives: Final Exam by Dave


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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57 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Final Exam (3.11)

  1. joe says:

    If you haven’t been reading the old write-ups, please consider doing that. Ernie takes a prize for being the first to bring up “Chekhov’s gun” in a blog post about a dramedy TV show. It’s an observation that’s surprisingly salient in this episode.

    Love it or hate it, Final Exam is jam-packed with stuff.

    • Put me down in the “love it” category. I thought it was a great episode. Viewers get to see the foundational tensions in the series, the conflicts inherent in the spy life, the influences that Sarah and Chuck have on each other, whether real or perceived, and its’ all coming to a head right here.

      To adapt an almost holy statement of Sarah’s, “I love season 3 and I don’t know what to do about it.” For some support for that confession, read the full write up by Ernie, Joe and Faith.

      Russ / resaw

  2. mr2686 says:

    Dead last Dave? Wow, that’s saying something if you like Ex, Fake Name and Mask better than it. I’d put it in the bottom 15 but it would be on the top of that list.

  3. CaptMediocre says:

    I always thought the, “It was the worst day of my life” line, was missing “until today”. It would have certainly help me “feel” something for Sarah. As it is, Sarah is not a likeable character and certainly hasn’t regained her humanity.

    Without any Sarah Walker redemption or epiphany, or any sign really that shows she realizes she’d had a part to play in this melodrama, I simply can’t resolve, or fix what happens in this episode with Other Guy. There’s just too much baggage that is never addressed or resolved. It just goes away. By now in this story, Sarah is not worthy of Chuck, and nothing from here to OG fixes that.

    • atcDave says:

      That sums it up pretty well Cap. I can enjoy the series from Other Guy on, but only by ignoring this episode and most of the arc.

  4. Wilf says:

    To me this episode was more or less the nadir of nadirs, only softened by that beautiful song In My Sleep.

  5. Martin Traynor says:

    Have the writers and/or producer ever come out and explain why they had Sarah share her real name with Shaw and shy they had her deal with the Chuck the way she did in this episode? I know they don’t have to, and it’s not like they owe “little ole me” an explanation, but I’d just like to hear/read what they had to say on the matters.

    As has been mentioned before (I seem to say that a lot – sorry, but it’s always true!), Up until this season Sarah has been Chuck’s protector in many senses of the word, but especially in the spy world. I know he broke her heart as what I and many others perceive to be a forced reset of their relationship, but for her to treat Chuck as she has for the better part of this season, especially as of late, really doesn’t gel. I know they said they were re-tooling the show or whatever language they used, but do they ever address directly and specifically Sarah sharing her name and giving Chuck his Red Test? Just curious.

    I love all the cross talk, and even in the earlier comments from 2010, which offer some superb insights. But I would really like to hear from the horses’ arses (uh, erm, I mean mouths…Right?).

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t believe anything specific was ever said. There were some vague statements acknowledging things maybe didn’t go as well as they could have (like not knowing to write for Shaw/Routh in the front arc), but nothing concrete.
      And in CF’s mind Sarah/Shaw were some sort of perfect power couple; in another universe with no Chuck. Many of us never saw that on screen, but it may provide some clue as to what they were thinking.

    • uplink2 says:

      Martin, read this interview. http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/chuck-vs-the-retrospective-interview-part-3 It’s about as close as they get to admitting their mistake and they come really close to throwing Routh under the bus. But at least they admit the chemistry was not there. The only other time was at SDCC 2010 where they said “we learned some things from season 3”. And everyone knew it was about Chuckpocalypse. Gomez’s comment about “one thing I learned from season 3 was not to get in between you two” meaning Zach and Yvonne. That tells me they were all well aware of what was going on in the FB that season. We even heard reports that the crew on set knew it wasn’t working either but it was too late to fix it.

  6. Martin Traynor says:

    Thanks, Dave. I’ve read some really fantastic comments about Sarah turning to Shaw was like (my words) a recovering alcoholic returning to the bottle – she was backsliding to her earlier ways. Just wondered if the producers offered any thoughts.

    Well, at least this arc is almost over. By the way, I’ve really been enjoying the FF you’ve mentioned…though it does change the way I view the show. The characters (esp. C/S) in a lot of the stories are so much…better? They love better and deeper, it seems. And act accordingly.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree exactly about the fan fiction. The show provides a prototype and visual aid; but some of the best fan fiction is immensely more satisfying.

  7. noblz says:

    otherDave’s rating: DUD
    otherDave’s ranking: 83-89 (didn’t differentiate my DUDs)

    This one wasn’t quite bad enough to make the NTBRW list (barely).

    Good stuff: Chuck

    Bad stuff: Sarah, with the exception of the first 10 mins of American Hero this episode is the nadir of Sarah Walker. She does so many 180s in this episode she was probably dizzy. The final scene was totally incomprehensible. How could Sarah now turn to Shaw? This was the part that just did not make sense, it was not believable. Sarah’s mind boggling behavior was not believable.

    • atcDave says:

      I completely agree about Sarah. And its this behavior from my (normally) favorite character that makes this episode unwatchable for me.

  8. Greg says:

    Although this episode had a lot of action, it also had all the themes that I thought made season 3 the weakest.

    First – like PS, if Chuck screws up he’s out of the spy world. Whereas in season 2 the only way he leaves with the Intersect is via a bullet (and the Intersect 2 is more powerful).

    Second – They overplayed the theme of Chuck not being able to shoot anyone. Regardless of the morality argument, he is eventually going to get killed unless he defends himself. Instead of just leaving it low key like “stay in the car” – they took it to a farcical level.

    Third and most important – Sarah’s character is thrown under the bus. Her character was the best part of the show in S1 and S2. Here, she is manipulated by Shaw into breaking Chuck’s trust, and then is mad at Chuck for the outcome. She can’t be with Chuck because he shot someone, so she goes with Shaw – who shot someone in an earlier episode and manipulated the whole situation. If she was drinking whiskey and listening to Neil Diamond by herself at the end – that would have made sense at least.

    I agree with Cap – there was no redemption or epiphany to Sarah turning this around, other than her basically going – “I was only kidding Chuck, I really want to be with you” in Other Guy. It would have been better if Perry shot Chuck, since it would have at least provided an epiphany to both Chuck and Sarah.

    So I also agree with Dave – this is the worst episode. Fake Name and Mask have a few stupid scenes that made no sense – like Sarah telling Shaw her real name. But in this episode, they destroyed her character. To turn it around, they just ignored FE ever happened in future episodes (well except for two scenes in the second half of S3). I was very glad when they brought S1/S2 Sarah back in Honeymooners.

    • atcDave says:

      Pretty much agree with all of that. I like your take on a better ending for Sarah! That would have been far better I think.

    • authorguy says:

      Except that they didn’t bring S1 or S2 back in Honeymooners or any other time after S1 and S2. Everything after Other Guy lacks any of the story or power of the first two seasons. (It just has a lot of Chuck and Sarah pressing their faces together at the lips, in some feeble parody of a kiss.) S1 and S2 are great stories told well, S3 was a great story told badly, and S4 and S5 are mediocre stories (actually barely-connected fragments of stories) told mediocrely.

      • atcDave says:

        I saw some pretty terrific story in the later seasons, so I sure won’t buy into most of that. But then I don’t believe Chuck was ever particularly about “Story”; it was primarily character driven, that lost its characters for a single arc.

      • authorguy says:

        I can agree with you about story content in the later seasons. S4 had 16 episodes worth, but unfortunately they had 24 episodes to fill, and that 16 episodes worth was scattered. I haven’t finished with S5 yet, so I can’t say for certain how much goo and dribble is in here, but so far S4 seems to be the reigning champion for goo and dribble content.

      • authorguy says:

        In fairness, 16 is too low a number. Cubic Zirconium and Coup D’Etat were perfectly fine stories. They were just part of the useless proposal/wedding plot, but that doesn’t make them any worse as episodes go.

      • atcDave says:

        I thought the proposal/wedding plot was excellent entertainment. One of my favorite parts of the whole series. But then I always do like goo…

      • authorguy says:

        Unnecessary, poorly written, and it dragged the whole season off kilter. The Volkoff/Frost plot would have been stellar if they hadn’t wasted so much time on stuff we knew was going to happen anyway.

      • atcDave says:

        Again, I completely disagree. It’s the fun stuff that makes the rest worthwhile. It’s not enough to just tell a story, there needs to be “down time” to just enjoy the characters and setting. Too much plot, too much story creates a dreary, self- important product.
        For four seasons Chuck managed this balance very nicely. And the mission statement comes from the season they messed up; it’s important to know what you’re fighting for.
        And I think this is something that is all too often messed up in modern television serials. They push so hard to keep a story moving that they loose sight of the characters. And I’m not even talking about OOC sort of stuff; I’m talking about time spent with those characters we love. Sharing their joys and lives. I think we could have had a very fun “Chuck and Sarah go to the grocery store” scene that wouldn’t have had to tie into any other part of any story. Just a slice of life with our favorite characters. It’s about keeping it fun, and keeping it real.

      • authorguy says:

        That’s what fanfiction is for. Commercial product has no time to waste on fluff that doesn’t advance the plot. The wedding was a foregone conclusion, and could have been included with a single sentence every fourth episode, rather than shoe-horned in where it didn’t belong. With a 20-hour flight to Macau, I would think C&S could find time to talk about her wedding dress, rather than wait for the middle of the mission. I was able to make S4 all about Volkoff and still keep the relationships prominent, not necessarily the Charah relationship but some relationship. I would expect a professional scriptwriter should have been able to do better. (But I also think there’s some set of rules in scriptwriting that would get a perfectly fine script rejected without review, simply for putting the leads together.)

      • atcDave says:

        AG your description of writing sounds more like an engineering exercise. Every show NEEDS fluff, it’s the human element that brings the story to life. This especially true for commercial entertainment. You know I’ve quit fan fiction written like you describe, commercial product can’t afford to be so mechanistic and by the numbers.

      • authorguy says:

        No reason you can’t do both.
        Chuck woke up in bed, heart pumping. Sarah snuggled closer, and he knew the knives were coming out. He wore a set now, too, so no matter what position they found themselves in she’d have access to one of them. He opened his eyes. No ninjas. “It’s all right, Sarah.”
        Her fingers moved, pushing the blade back. “I beg to differ, Mr. Bartowski. Almost getting thrown out of bed does not qualify as ‘all right’ in my book.”
        “How can you talk like that first thing in the morning?”
        She squeezed his arm, and the knives strapped around it. “The same way I can impale an alarm clock first thing in the morning.”
        “You said that was muscle memory.”
        “The knife-throwing is. The part about identifying and responding to the enemy isn’t. An army of zombies isn’t going to wait until I’m ready before they attack, I have to be ready right from the get-go.”
        He stared at her in wonder. “Did you just say zombies?”
        She nodded. “It’s called tailoring the message to the audience.”
        “Ooh, no complaints, I love it when you talk nerdy. Say some more. ‘Ash Williams.’ ‘Army of Darkness.’ ‘Skull Moun–'”
        Her hand pressed harder over his mouth as she pushed herself up into his field of vision. “You don’t really think you’ve distracted me, do you?”
        He shook his head as much as she let him, mumbling, “Mm-mm.”
        “Good.” She removed her hand from his lips. “Spill.”
        “Just a nightmare. I dreamed Ellie was putting the skills back into my head.” He didn’t need to mention the Terminator and Frankenstein imagery involved, Sarah’d already had to hide those movies.
        Sarah frowned. “She’s doing that today.” And you’re worrying about it now?
        “Duh. If she was doing it tomorrow I would have had the nightmare tomorrow!”
        “You schedule your nightmares?”
        “I have a remarkably efficient subconscious.”
        Let it go. “Chuck, you need the skills. Ellie may be on retainer, and Manoosh may be part of some kind of elaborate work-release program, but your detail isn’t free and I’m not supposed to be here. Beckman didn’t budget the extra manpower to protect you, and the CIA had an entire team they had to reassign at the last minute because I got sidelined.” Oh, crap.
        He watched her face fall. “You think I’m the sidelines?”
        She dropped her head to his shoulder. “Can I take back what I said about waking up smart?” Her head came up and she looked him in the eye. “No, you’re not the sidelines-if anything you’re the referee who watches the referees-but only you and I know that. To everyone else I’ve been benched-I’m not even teaching-and sooner or later they’re going to ask why.”

      • atcDave says:

        And yet you complain that canon does so.

      • authorguy says:

        I only wish they had, instead of the swill they did write. There was nothing like that in canon, after season 2.

      • atcDave says:

        What you call swill I call awesome. The last two seasons of Chuck were the best things on television, and among the best I’ve ever seen. And they got the level of human interest just about right for me.

  9. Martin Traynor says:

    Having Perry shoot Chuck would have been brilliant. Oh, the places they could have gone from there…!

    I was reading some comments from 2010, and Ernie had some pretty powerful insights into why Sarah might have acted the way she did. Mostly what I got from it was that she had reverted to Spy-Sarah mode fully and had given up on Chuck and Love. I don’t think it fully explains everything, and I really don’t like that they went that direction, but I can see it. I don’t like it or even really buy it, but I can see it…

    I think that Sarah giving Chuck his red test is something she hated to do, but did because it’s what Chuck wanted. That is, to be a spy. If he wants to be a spy, then (in this show’s universe), he has to take and pass his red test. I think it’s clear she does not what him to do it, but it is what he wants (to be a spy, not kill someone). I don’t think Shaw’s the bad guy here (though I can’t stand him nonetheless), and so I’m not surprised that Sarah would turn to him. It’s kind of a flip on the Chuck/Sarah relationship in earlier seasons, where Chuck would go to Sarah for advice/comfort, even though she caused at least some of that need for such comfort.

    At this point, who else does Sarah have to turn to for expressing all those girlie feelings (thanks, Casey) that Chuck has taught her to embrace?

  10. Greg says:

    I agree with that analysis. Ernie did an excellent job and I believe that’s what TPTB were trying to accomplish. But I find Sarah’s actions in S3 very OOC based on S1/S2. And even more OCC if you include Baby in S5.
    Sarah is presented as very tough, both emotionally and physically in the other seasons (I’m not sure what her body count is, but its high). But in S3 she becomes this ’emotional damsel in distress’ that needs to run to the nearest available man for help. They made her helpless around Shaw – even at the end of S3, he captures her in the Buy More without even a fight.
    Casey is arguably in a much worse situation than Sarah (he’s lost everything at this point), but if he went crying to anyone, I’d be saying WTH. The same with Sarah, having her so ‘man needy’ in S3 and especially this episode left me saying WTH.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree exactly with this Greg. We get one long arc of a broken, needy Sarah. Its not the same character we see before or after. Its “Stockholm Syndrome Sarah”, and I don’t like it one bit.

    • uplink2 says:

      I think what this shows to me is how TPTB viewed this season differently. The story is obviously so plot driven and destination driven that they were willing to sacrifice the characters to push their plot. Especially Sarah. Its apparent to me that they never really asked how their decisions affected Sarah the character as long as it drove the plot of the big, last minute, pointless reveal and putting them together in 3.13. Those things reigned supreme above all else, even Chuck at times but absolutely more than Sarah.

      With this episode they were only at 3.11 so they could not have her act appropriately or in character here because they needed to have her flip flop a few more times to have the final 180 come in AH/Other Guy and coincide with the big reveal. Her reaction and her behavior in this episode only makes sense if you strain yourself, get up on one foot and turn your head around 20 times before looking at it. But that didn’t matter and I really don’t think they ever asked what is her motivation and is this how she would/should react after the stake date and Shaw’s manipulation of her to put him in that Catch-22 position. They felt that all of it was necessary to set up the big reveal in AH and her final flip flop to get them to the DYLM scene in OG. Their view of the big reveal works much better in their eyes IF Sarah and Shaw are a couple. The whole new girlfriend killed his wife drama was very attractive to them. The problem is that for me at least they had so poorly executed that plotline and done so much damage to Sarah’s character and the show itself that I simply didn’t care anymore. I just wanted Shaw gone and to get the old Sarah back. None of that big reveal impacted how I viewed the season. It didn’t explain thing or make the journey justified in any way. It was irrelevant I just wanted it over with. That is something a showrunner should never want to happen with his audience.

      I think it illustrates one of the major flaws in how this season was conceived and played out. It was plot driven and not character driven and they then executed the plot rather poorly. And to execute that plot the characters were sacrificed, especially Sarah. Add in the ridiculous and totally unnecessary LI storyline and it just mucks up an already messy pile of mud into unfortunately a pile of manure at times. I just don’t think they ever asked “What would Sarah do in this instance?” instead they asked “What do we need Sarah to do make this plotline work?” To me that was a grave mistake on the part of TPTB.

      • authorguy says:

        Asking “What would character X do in this instance?” is the only real way to write a good story. Keep the characters real above all else.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agreed. But to me at least that clearly isn’t what happened in this arc with Sarah in particular. The plot was “above all else”.

      • authorguy says:

        Don’t agree entirely. The plot they had could have worked in sync with the characters, if they’d been willing to give up some of their nut-points. Without the LIs, and the push to make Chuck a spy, and the Buy More location, I think the story could have worked perfectly well.

  11. Martin Traynor says:

    I hear you and agree, to a point. But I think what they were going for here, or at least what I see, is that as Chuck journeys farther into the spy world and starts to lose himself (because his anchor, Sarah, is not really helping him like she used to), Sarah is just as much journeying into the world of emotion (the real world?), and likewise is without her anchor (Chuck) to keep her from losing herself.

    So yes, they are both OOC as presented in the first two seasons, but the producers I think chose to have their characters walk a little in each others’ shoes as a way to grow the characters. Like many, many others have said, I don’t like the way it was executed, and I would have much preferred they grow together, not apart as presented. But they did grow (or at least Chuck did; I struggle to see how Sarah grew in this arc). But Chuck, I would say, has a much better feel for the life Sarah has led up to now…

    Was it all necessary? I don’t think so, and I don’t appreciate TPTB messing with what I consider to have been a perfect formula with seasons 1-2, despite a couple of missteps.

    • atcDave says:

      I can see where there could have been a good story in doing exactly what you describe Martin. But there are two flaws where I’m concerned (well, on a meta level there are two flaws, I can find more when we start picking into the details); the first is that so much was OOC compared to the previous show. The second is closely related, the show stopped being fun. Specifically, the characters I loved so much the first two seasons were undone by the main arc choices.
      So IF the story you (and Ernie) have suggested were told in a way that did less violence to those characters (and preferably was much shorter) it MIGHT have worked quite well.

  12. Martin Traynor says:

    And I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m just trying to hate it a little less so that I have more episodes to watch, if not enjoy. Like Dave always says, this part of the show is just not enjoyable, and enjoyability is what Chuck was great at (and returns to again with Other Guy).

  13. uplink2 says:

    For me this isn’t #91 but its certainly in the bottom 7 or 8. I won’t go into the whole abhorrent story of Goverment sanctioned murder as a prerequisite to becoming an agent and we have an entire graduating class from the farm just waiting on who they will be assigned to murder to get their badge. Its a ridiculous part of their universe but it is there. But Sarah is such a ping pong ball in this story. You can’t make sense of her actions minute by minute. The ending is just so god damn awful in how she is portrayed and it leads her, we find out later, to go spend the day having sex with Shaw in his loft. Is she really that ditzy to go from almost kissing Chuck and obviously desperately wanting to do it to then having sex with the man that manipulated her to betray Chuck’s trust a few hours later?

    This is another case where the interrogation scene in Living Dead makes things so much worse. And offensive in that it was played for laughs. Like destroying Sarah’s character is somehow comical. But this also leads us to next week and to me the absolute biggest flip flop and 180 she made in going from telling Chuck she didn’t trust him for the very first time in the series to telling him she loves him a day later. That was a huge scene and a few minutes later its like it never happened. Much like this episode and many others in this arc.

    • atcDave says:

      Of course that 180 is the moment the show becomes watchable again. So even if the delivery was lacking, at least it happened!

    • uplink2 says:

      True but I still really agreed with Fogh and why he ended up writing Rome Assignment. Damn I wish he had sent me the last two chapters like he promised to post for him. I’ve reached out multiple times over the years but it seems it will remain unfinished.

  14. Chlojack says:

    This one ranks pretty close to the bottom for me too. Sarah managed to be pretty unlikable and manipulative here and the red test storyline was pretty bad. This episode usually winds up on my skip list during rewatches.

  15. Martin Traynor says:

    We often ask about when we first thought Sarah loved Chuck, or when we first loved the show, etc. What do you think is Sarah’s lowest moment in the series (not counting the mind-melting travesty of the series finale)? I think for me, it’s next week, when she says she doesn’t trust Chuck. But her crass manipulation of Chuck here with the catch-22 she presents him (shoot the mark, be a spy and lose me…or fail to shoot the mark, remain an asset and never get me…all the while letting him think that by shooting the mark he WILL get her) comes in at a very close second.

    • atcDave says:

      I guess I consider those the same event, but it is all part of Sarah’s rock bottom. I find American Hero less troubling because we see her get over it; while Final Exam ends on a sour note.

      • uplink2 says:

        For me I disliked Sarah most at the end of Beard but I agree that these scenes, the Catch-22 manipulation, running to the man who manipulated her into doing it instead of the man who needed her, and her not trusting Chuck for the first time ever in the series are all part of the bottom for the character. And that bottom is only made more disgustingly deep by the revelations from the Living Dead interrogation scene.

        But the total ignoring of that not trusting scene after it happens and another complete 180 in a single episode inverting Mask at least makes the ending very hopeful. But even though these final two episodes of this arc are more enjoyable, the plot holes are still as big as that little ditch in northern Arizona.

      • noblz says:

        If only American Hero began right after Sarah tells Chuck she doesn’t trust him anymore. From that point on, AH is pretty good stuff and gets us headed back in the right direction.

        I’m with Uplink and others in that somewhere from the end of AH till the end of S3, we needed at least on scene of emotional mending over all this. The it would have been close to perfect going forward.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think I would have felt a little better about the whole misery arc with some meaningful apologies and explanations at the end. I probably never would have liked it all, but it’s one of those things that might have kept me from being cranky five years later. And it’s funny, looking back at our “First Reaction” threads, apologies were exactly what I wanted back then too.

  16. Martin Traynor says:

    I just read Kate McK’s “Sarah v. the Ugly Truth” (which was fantastic – Dave, I think you recommended it – thanks!), and had forgotten, really, all of the crapola that Sarah put Chuck through throughout the years. I’ll comment on it more next episode when she reaches, for me, the bottom of bottoms, but he’s a far more forgiving man than I – I don’t care how attractive (in many senses of the word) Sarah Walker may seem…

    • atcDave says:

      As far as S3 goes, there’s enough ugly to go around. I can’t respect or like either character much at this point in time. The writers broke the characters. So I have no use for canon.
      For the older stuff; well, I guess I am that forgiving. I always though Agent Walker’s dedication and determination, in spite of a hopeless conflict of interest was beautiful.

      But in “Ugly Truth” its all cumulative. I have no problems with the ugly conclusions Chuck draws, because the weight of canon at the point is oppressive and grotesque. Its turned Chuck and Sarah both into very ugly characters. But the story pretty much features both of them snapping out of it. And what I like is that Sarah has to work for it a little bit. I think if we accept canon at this point, both characters had a lot to atone for and working for it a little seems fitting.

  17. Martin Traynor says:

    Yes, that’s what I liked about it. Chuck developing something of a backbone when it comes to Sarah, and her having to fight for him, not the other way around, as it always seems in cannon (Phase 3 being the only exception that presently comes to mind, and even that was a pursuit by her against external forces).

  18. oldresorter says:

    I’ve been doing a watch of two shows I’ve already watched full thru, one for the 3rd time (ALIAS), one for the 2nd time (STAR TREK VOYAGER). I like both shows, one is a top 5’ish, the other a top 10’ish for me. But a few things jumped out:

    1 – Star Trek Voyager, a 2nd watch, has a remarkable number of eps that I watched the 1st few minutes, then FF’d to the final 5-10. I had no interest, for a whole variety of reasons. I would guess I only watched 25% of the eps straight thru start to finish, probably over half I skimmed over. Even though I FF’d alot, I still enjoyed immensely, the eps I did watch. It’s just certain parts of the story I had no interest in.

    2 – Alias, a 3rd watch for me, enough time has expired, that I’ve enjoyed watching it much, much more than the 2nd time I watched, which was right away. I suspect I will still FF and skim in later seasons, but I made it thru the entire first season, with NO FF’inig.

    3 – I once lobbied for Jeri Ryan to be Sarah Walker’s mom. My lobby didn’t gain much traction, but on rewatching Voyager (her scenes / eps ‘never’ were FF’d), Robbie Duncan McNeil had to be borrowing a great deal of Sarah’s ways from the Voyager Borg Drone he hung out with for several years on set. I’d thought this even though I hadn’t watched much of Voyager for 10 or 15 years, now that I rewatched, all I can say is the two of them could be, if not mother / daughter, at least clones or part of the same ‘collective’. It’s almost comical how much alike the two of them are at times. Jeri Ryan was incredible on Voyager, if you loved Sarah Walker, I don’t know how you can not help but love ‘Seven of Nine’.

    4 – Alias had a remarkable cast of actors. Its funny watching future mega star Bradley Cooper in a role to Sydney Bristow very much like Chuck if Chuck was just a supporting member of the cast, while a character more like Bryce was the main love interest for Sarah. I have not gotten to the cringeworthy arcs in Alias, I suspect I will do my fair share of FF’ing once I do, but for now, it’s been a 100% rewatch.

    5 – The rewatching mode made me wonder, if after some time, I can come back to all 91 eps of Chuck and watch them and enjoy them, or if it’ll always be the sort of show that will require a great deal of FF’ing for me, in the case of season 3, more FF’ing than not.

    6 – Even my very favorite shows, like Friday Night Lights or Everwood or Alias, have a few arcs that I can’t stand, and most of them have some predictable scenes with characters I don’t like that I FF thru. I’m less inclined to be as hard on Chuck writing that I used to be as I think bad arcs, bad characters, are in the eye of the fan, and are to be expected when a show runs for a long time. It’s logical that most 1st seasons don’t have the bad, or I would quit them. I sense that the series this season that is going to get my goat over time is The Flash. I really like it so far, but I can’t stand most of the teases I read about the future.

    7- In conclusion, as the eps / arcs / characters pile on, not liking everything is bound to happen. For me, s3 and the end of s5 were those two times with the Chuck show that I wanted to hit something (or someone) over my dislike of what was on display. Now days, if anything, I think the good in Chuck was so ‘great’ for me, that the bad seemed exaggerated. The more time and perspective I have to look back on things, that dislike is not so much a function of Chuck as me, cause near all tv affects me that way, to some degree or another. In the case of Chuck, the effect was just more profound.

    • joe says:

      Great comment, OR.

      I’ve got a memory, vague though it is, of you lobbying for Jeri Ryan. (…trying desperately to avoid joking about Ms. Ryan being responsible for the Obama administration… must… not… joke…) It’s a great observation that 7-of-9 could be an inspiration for Sarah Walker, especially with the McNeil connection. I liked Cheryl Ladd as Sarah’s mom, but you’re right. Ryan would have been a great choice too.

    • atcDave says:

      Some excellent stuff there OR, very well thought through. I agree with most of that, I know I’ve even made the comment a few times that “every show has the occasional dud episode or arc”. I think though our reaction to those duds is often a function of our passion for the things we like best about the show. If we weren’t enthused we wouldn’t care!
      Very good observation about any show’s S1. Although even Chuck went some places I didn’t like much in the first season, it is certainly true if they messed up too much too early we’d never get hooked!

  19. oldresorter says:

    Sorry for the length of that post, the writing, as is being a participant of this blog, is somewhat therapeutic. I feel as if I’m zooming in on the ‘cure’ for my bitterness over Chuck s3 and the final two s5 eps these days. It’s a good feeling.

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