Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Other Guy (3.13)

NBC Synopsis: CHUCK QUESTIONS SHAW’S EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING-BRANDON ROUTH (“SUPERMAN RETURNS”) GUEST STARS-Chuck (Zachary Levi), Sarah (Yvonne Strahvoski) and Shaw (guest star Brandon Routh) reunite to find the Ring operative behind the death of Shaw’s wife. Sarah has faith that Shaw is ready for the mission but Chuck is worried about his emotional stability. Meanwhile, Morgan (Joshua Gomez) considers leaving the Buy More.

Chuck This Ranking: 14
Dave’s Ranking: middle of the pack

First Impressions: The Other Guy First Reactions

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs The Other Guy (3.13) by Dave and Joe
The Other Guy – Second Reactions by Joe
S3 Revisited: Other Guy (3.13) by Ernie
Summertime Top Ten: Chuck vs The Other Guy by Ernie

Arc Survey: Was it Worth it? by Dave

Alternatives: Season Three Alternatives: Other Guy by Dave

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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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48 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Other Guy (3.13)

  1. CaptMediocre says:

    I know it’s just me, but I can’t agree with the ranking this episode receives, because quite frankly as a climax to the story it’s weak, very weak.

    Spy-wise, this episode had some merits, with Chuck brandishing a real gun to save Sarah, something I believe he would have done at anytime, regardless of the consequences. But this character growth is taken away only a few episodes later.

    Romance-wise, these two characters are nowhere near being at where they shown to be in this episode. Apologies and explanations (which weren’t there) wouldn’t have been enough. There had to be some reconciliation, reconnecting and regaining of trust for this episode and the relationship to have any meaning moving forward. The “rebuilding” of the relationship, a required story element, needed to happen on screen.

    With all the supposed issues Chuck and Sarah had to work through in order to be together, by Other Guy they really haven’t worked through anything. There was no movement or growth in the relationship to get Chuck and Sarah to DYLM. (To me, it went backwards, in full reverse.) The entirety of fans buying into Chuck and Sarah finally being together comes from S1 and S2, not from S3. It has to.

    • uplink2 says:

      No it’s not just you. For me this is probably the weakest of all of the “possible finales” and that includes the real one. I completely agree with you that particularly in light of what happened in Castle at the beginning of American Hero, there is no way they were ready, deserved or earned that moment. You have to completely ignore it and much of what happens in the earlier 12 episodes to get even close to accepting that moment as real, honest and the culmination of honest character growth. As you said Captain, we buy into it because of seasons 1 and 2 and NOT because of what happened in season 3.

      And I know I’m repeating myself but what still always bugs me about this episode is how absolutely awful Routh is in his climactic scene. The entirety of his arc is to get to that cafe and he fails miserably now that he’s there. His performance is like he is reading the phone book. This is his shining moment, the moment he turns and becomes the evil villain, he is now a traitor to his country and he lays a gigantic egg. There is nothing in his performance that shows anything about what this moment SHOULD be like for Daniel Shaw. He isn’t torn, he hasn’t “snapped”, he isn’t rejoicing in achieving his goal of killing his wife’s murderer. Nothing. It’s flat, emotionless, totally without anything that shows us what is going on inside him. In his most important scene, he gives his worst performance.

      Hey I think we all were extremely happy the misery was over and the Chuck and Sarah scenes are though unearned, they are fantastic but the rest of the episode is pretty bad at points. One last moment of Sarah and Beckman being horrible spies and Morgan Grimes of all people being the only good one. Good grief. But at least those two did get to have some sexy times lol.

    • atcDave says:

      Well you know I mostly agree with this. I rank this episode middle of the pack because it is fun, and it finally ushers in a new era of the show I was completely ready for.
      But I agree with saying Chuck and Sarah were MORE ready to be a real couple after 2.21 than they were after 3.12. That is part of why I say I just ignore the misery arc, at least In my own little Dave’s canon mindset I do.
      I have a number of issues with show and story from here on out; but as a matter of magnitude, the rest is all small stuff. I have a big problem with major story decisions of the misery arc, and a number of minor nit picks.
      So that is the greater context where I’m concerned. It means we have a terrific show, with one badly flawed arc. That is all.

  2. Martin Traynor says:

    The only comment I’ll make on Routh’s acting is that if Shaw is supposed to be dead inside (which I believe he is), then he nailed it. Heck, I think he acted pretty well here. I hated the character. Hated the arc. But the actor is a pretty good guy.

    I see where a lot of folks think Routh’s acting in this arc is terrible to non-existent. I will always contend that bad acting is the fault of the director, NOT the actor. And to be honest, I for one am super glad (no pun intended), that he and Yvonne had no on-screen chemistry and that he played Shaw so wooden. The character is wooden. The love of his life was stolen from him. It’s just a pity they didn’t make Shaw more pitiable, because he is a tragic character in every sense of the word; but it is what it is.

    If Shaw was more likable and he and Yvonne clicked better, then why choose Chuck (I mean as the audience, not Sarah)?

    Changing gears…I wanted to thank Ernie for a post from a few years ago (Summer Top Ten,linked to above) where he pointed out that Shaw hits the pause button on his plan to shoot Sarah at the TV station because he sees a reflection in the TV monitor that alerts him to the presence of others (Chuck and co.) I never saw that before and have been wondering all this time why he didn’t kill her there. Now I know. And know IS half the battle, after all.

    I’m just glad things (ALL things) are back to normal by the end of this episode. Sarah gets her brain back. Chuck gets his Sarah back. And Casey gets his job back.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with pretty much all of that Martin. I think Brandon Routh as Shaw could have worked just fine without his faux romance. We might have even cared about his story. But I think the story failed more than the performance. Not to say I’m a big Routh fan. But I think as problems go he is way down the list.

    • uplink2 says:

      While I can see what you are saying Martin, but if Shaw is supposed to be dead inside, the show it! Also this is the culmination of his five year quest to avenge the murder of his wife, whom he loved, and its like he’s reading a C++ manual instead of showing, emptiness, anger, triumph, regret, being torn by the news his current lover killed his wife, being at all moved by becoming a traitor to the cause he has dedicated his life to. And I don’t agree with your view of the actor director responsibility. A great Director can’t make a lousy actor great, but a lousy actor can certainly make a great director look lousy at times. But Martin Scorcese couldn’t have made him give a great performance in that moment. The talent isn’t there and the writing wasn’t either. I will agree that from what I have heard Routh is a really good guy. But does not in any way change my opinion of his performance here. My point is that this scene is the culmination of the entire arc. It is Shaw’s quintessential moment. It should show us why Shaw is doing what he is doing, what his motivations are and why he has now become a traitor. It should show us that he is on the verge of completing the quest that has consumed him for the past 5 years. But to me at least we see none of that in his performance. We also see no torment about killing the woman he just had sex with a day or two before. Poisoning her and throwing her into an icy river to drown. His performance just lacks anything. It’s so understated it’s non-existent and I just can’t accept that in what should be his most critical moment of his entire arc.

  3. joe says:

    Hum. I wonder if timing has a lot to do with both the threads here so far (one that posits this was a weak “finale”/The romance hasn’t been justified in the story line and Routh/Shaw was a poor choice/character).

    I went back and reread many of the comments (and wow, there were a lot of comments back then). The overwhelming reaction was that this episode was (if I can paraphrase several hundred comments) exactly what the fans wanted to see. At the time, Sarah saying “You saved me.” came almost as a relief. Chuck shooting Shaw brought cheers. Both reactions, I think, might have been due to the length of time it took to get to this point. 3 week delays for Olympics and things like that, vs. the kind of rapid reviewing I’ve done since leave different impressions. And, of course, it was a long season.

    If my opinion has changed over the years, it’s minor. The things that bugged me then don’t bother me so much now, and the good stuff seems to go by too quickly or not as effectively as the first time. Every emotion is a little subdued.

    That’s opposed to the S2 episodes. They only seem to get better with time, IMHO.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree completely about the S2 episodes Joe. S3 is a little more complicated, I do enjoy this episode, and I agree completely with calling it a relief. You know I actually feel more strongly now about the things I dislike. But I think the good is still terrific. Apart from maybe needing to take a break of constant viewing (no doubt!), the good still plays pretty well for me.

  4. Martin Traynor says:

    I think one of my biggest disappointments with the direction TPTB chose to go this season (S3) was that it killed the greatness of season 2 to a large extent. Season 1 was was far enough removed for me to still thoroughly enjoy it. But they so clearly were going in a direction in season 2, especially toward the end, that what they did in season 3 really felt like a kick in the area just below the gut.

    I still enjoy season 2 (except the two episodes with Cole), but it holds nowhere near the same magic it did BS (Before Shaw)…and that’s a shame.

    On another note, while I hated the Shaw character, I actually like Routh as Shaw, if that makes sense. Like I said, someone who may have had better chemistry with Yvonne would have been much less likable for me…

    • joe says:

      Another good observation, Martin. But you know, I always had the impression that they were looking to slow things (things, as in the Charah relationship) down a bit. I mean, really. If the fans had had their way at the end of S2, C&S would have run away together, eloped and had 2.5 kids in a Parisian suburb. Fedak wasn’t ready to write that story at the time, right?

      Remember the long hiatus after S2? It was supposed to last longer, then came the big order and the early(^h-ier) start for S3. Surely they were looking for ways to extend the story, and sadly, geometric shapes (remember that?) filled bill. Seems obvious now but I do wish they had chosen some other mechanism.

      Sigh. Maybe I just wanted them to change the show but keep it exactly the same.

  5. Okay I have to stop writing my fan-fic until the NBA Finals are over…it’s just impossible to write anything right now…so sorry everyone i’m on hiatus until this madness is over…is it too much to ask for no overtime…

    Anyway I love this episode; a reminder that the show can actually write well and it gets better from start to finish! Morgan has superb moments in this one too and the admission by Sarah when chuck finally asks the big question is sweet and honest and the beginning of the show we all wanted…maybe if he would have come right out and asked sooner-like maybe in 1×21-we would have been here much sooner…

    • atcDave says:

      There were a few other reminders during the arc before of the show does well, but you are so right Josh, Other Guy is a great example of how great the show can be.
      I still feel it’s dragged down somewhat by the arc it resolves, but for itself, Other Guy is a satisfying and fun episode.

      • The thing is extra wt/wt doesn’t need to be unbearable…wher drawing comparisons I look at Jim/Pam from the Office-I pick them because the chemistry between John and Jenna was just as good if not better (they get a major edge because it was always palpable; even after they got together and there’s been a healthy debate over how much of the post other guy Chuck and Sarah was just going through the motions; sighting author guy here) both relationships came to a head at the end of the respective shows 2nd season and then were backtracked come S3.

        This is where the office did a much better job than Chuck: Jim and Pam’s relationship was awkward and strained as they hid behind other relationships but it wasn’t unbearable and they remain friends throughout; the situation is eventually brought up by Pam in the next to last episode of season three (beach games) she when has the guts to deliver a heartfelt and honest speech in front of everyone about her mistakes and how much she simply needs him in her life; when the flashback of their subsequent private conversation is show in the following episode (during jim’s NYC job interview) you can feel that the past has been dealt with and Pam regrets turning him down and stilll wants to be with him..Jim decides not to take the job and returns to ask Pam out interrupting her speech to the film crew about being optimistic for the future…and her relationship with Jim.

        If you or anybody else here has seen the show then it should be obvious why I drew this comparison and say say that the writers for the office handled their decisions for one last round of wt/wt much more smoothly than Chuck’s writers and I think it’s because they appreciated John and Jenna’s chemistry. I’ll also add that their wasn’t anything unbearable about the season even though were dating other people for during it because they still choose to have Pam and Jim interact with each other compared to JS just driving Charah apart and then later not resolving anything.

  6. For the record, I love this episode, from beginning to end. I personally find myself responding quite emotionally upon every re-watch. Chuck’s drunken despair, resolved by Sarah finally confessing out loud to Chuck what had been in her heart for three years, that “Yes,” will always get me. The whole Paris scene with Chuck confronting and shooting Shaw, with that haunting music in the background, is incredibly powerful. Routh’s performance as Shaw in this scene, was perfect, I think. Chuck and Sarah in the hotel room at the end was in a sense the culmination of all that had come before it with respect to Chuck and Sarah. That it ends in Paris also bookends the season in a way, too, because it was early in S3 that we saw Chuck meet Hannah on a trip to Paris. We know this already, but by placing Chuck and Sarah in Paris, together, we understand that Chuck and Hannah in Paris was a false path.

    I know that there is only so much that they can pack into one episode, but if there is one thing lacking in this episode, or perhaps in the subsequent episode, it was that there was very little exploration of Chuck having shot (and supposedly killed) Shaw. His innocence with respect to killing, his general aversion to violence, and Sarah’s own point of view of what was going to happen to Chuck were he to succeed as a spy, were all important themes in the series and played an even more important role in this season. Yes, Chuck showed some worry in front of Sarah when he told her that Shaw was dead (at his hand), which alludes to Sarah’s concerns in this season, but as I think Marc (Authorguy) put it, Chuck should have been shown on his knees, grieving before God over what he had done. There was none of that.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with almost all of that Russ. A lot of terrific stuff here.
      definitely a few missed opportunities, but this episode in particular holds up well and has far more good than bad.

    • joe says:

      I’ll second – uh, third – that too, Russ.
      As for Chuck’s aversion to violence, I see the scene now as a prime indication of Chuck’s growth. After “killing” Shaw, his world is no longer so black and white but contains adult shades of gray. Although he forgave Sarah for Mauser much earlier, now he understands her position, right?

      For me, that expression of the theme shows the exploration you mention.

      I agree with much of what Marc is implying too. But somehow, getting down on his knees before God isn’t quite Chuck’s style. I mean, I would, but I can’t quite see Bartowski doing that!

      • True enough, Joe. Chuck’s spirituality was never that explicit, and the show tended to hint at or allude to, rather than fully explore, moral crises, but at this point in the series I still wish they would have delved into that realm a bit more. Of course, that would be hard to weave into the story what with the absolute joy expressed by the characters and the audience at their finally getting together.

      • atcDave says:

        Back five years ago, when we had these discussions, one thought was that Chuck and Sarah owed each other apologies for their behavior during the course of this season.
        As an entertainment issue I can see why they didn’t spend time on that. But as an emotionally invested fan, I felt it made light of some poor decisions made by both characters.
        I still think I might have felt better about the arc if the characters had faced the importance of their actions better. I don’t know.

      • Hmm, Dave. I wasn’t following this blog five years ago, or at least not closely. Apologies would have worked, I think. They wouldn’t have had to dwell on those words, and we know that they would have forgiven each other completely. It might have made the joy all the more complete as a result.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Russ exactly. I was satisfied they “got over it” and weren’t carrying a grudge. But I was! And I think apologies between them might have helped ME get over it.

    • anthropocene says:

      Sarah’s first kill was the “worst day of her life” —not so Chuck’s first kill. Certainly the circumstances were very different, but I agree that the issue should not have been so summarily dropped the moment Sarah said “Shut up and kiss me.”

      Some kind of reckoning that allowed for Sarah to counsel and reassure Chuck would have been nice and, I think, in character. Perhaps a brief comedic role-reversal, in which Chuck, obsessing over his non-response to shooting Shaw, fears he might actually be going cold-school—and Sarah, drawing on her greater experience with real cold-school types, has to reassure and convince him: no, you did it to save me, you’re still my Chuck and I love you, you’re (and we’re) going to be fine, you doofus! It would have made for more interesting pillow talk in “Honeymooners” than Sarah’s non-existent favorite band (something Chuck should already have known about her anyway).

  7. Ryan McPartlin tweeted a link to a post about Chuck from moviepilot.com. Take a look at this paragraph:

    “Daniel Shaw came into the show as the new leader of Team Bartowski in season 3 to help them take on the nefarious Ring organization. Through being a genuinely interesting character and extremely well acted by Routh he became a fan favorite character almost instantly.:

    Reactions?

    Here’s the link to the whole posting, which is effusive in its praise of the series: http://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/06/09/5-reasons-why-chuck-was-one-of-tv-s-best-shows-ever-and-how-it-can-continue-3291237?lt_source=external,manual,manual,manual

    • atcDave says:

      Oh my…

      • Even I, an unabashed fan of S3, have trouble describing Shaw as a fan favourite character. Nevertheless, it is wonderful to read the rest of the posting, so enthusiastic about the series. And I am really pleased that Ryan McPartlin is still so pumped about his experience with Chuck that he continues to tweet about it.

      • atcDave says:

        I am always pleased when we get good press. You know my enthusiasm is more restrained than yours at certain times. But I am in complete agreement with putting a few “best ever” labels on Chuck, especially it leads to more some day.

      • uplink2 says:

        I threw up in my mouth a little bit when I read that last night. What planet was this writer on in 2010? That is some incredibly blatant misreading of history. It’s so bad it has to be intentional. Seems like this was written by a press agent for Routh.

    • INeedToChangeMyNMe says:

      Gosh I’ve missed this site….,But oh, no one was gonna do a Master’s thesis for me!
      But as the younger generation would say, ROLF x10000!!!! Fan favourite? What sort of sick joke is that? Unless they mean the character some (or is it most?) fans love to hate, cause I know some people who would fit the bill.

      • atcDave says:

        You missed this site? What was your name? We love hearing from old friends!

        I wouldn’t even say love to hate though. That would be Volkoff or Ted Roark. That would mean we were all thrilled when he returned in Ring II or Santa Suit! I think Shaw only fits half of that condition…

  8. Martin Traynor says:

    Chuck not being too upset (except, ironically enough, how it affects the way Sarah sees him) after shooting Shaw never really bothered me. I understand that Chuck eschewed guns and killing, but I always took it that although he had the strongest feelings concerning those issues (above), his feelings for protecting Sarah were always going to outweigh anything he thought, believed or feared. How often did he not stay in the car because Sarah (or Casey, or anyone, for that matter) was in danger or putting themselves in danger for him?

    For the show not to explore the aftermath of it, and even for Chuck to reference it a couple of times with no remorse (like in Ring II when he tells Shaw he already killed him once) says to me that Chuck doesn’t equate what he did in any way to a capricious, ordered “spy killing.” he was protecting Sarah (the woman he loves), and that erases any guilt, doubt, or fear there could ever be.

    And I’d go further to say he would do that for just about anyone. He’s just that kind of character. A TRUE (American) hero. He’ll risk his life, but not those of potential victims…

    • Justin says:

      I agree with you. There should have been follow-up to Chuck killing Shaw, exploring how it affected him as a person since he’s usually against acts of violence like that. It would have been a perfect moment for him and Sarah to connect. Sarah would help Chuck get through the trauma of taking a life, using her own experience.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I certainly have no problem with the moral clarity of Chuck’s actions. I could imagine some emotional fallout related to taking a life. But no regret.
        I might have liked a little Charah bonding over the issue actually. I think this got blown over in part because the romantic climax was allowed to eclipse the issue. If (ahem), the romance had been fulfilled earlier in the story, more drama could have been mined from some of the spy story. But as written, all the other issues are swallowed up by the romance.

      • uplink2 says:

        I would have preferred that they had him actually kill Shaw instead of throwing out one of the key elements they said had to happen in season 3. But maybe that’s just me lol.

      • atcDave says:

        Well yeah, there’s that too!

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto Uplink. Bringing Shaw back was a terrible mistake, IMO. First, I think one resurrection per show is enough, and second, it took away the dramatic weight of Chucks kill. It just seemed like a cop out, rather than a good story line.

        I would have left Shaw dead and brought back Eve as the big bad — head of the Ring all those years.

      • atcDave says:

        Now THAT would have been interesting Thinkling!

      • uplink2 says:

        I love that idea Think. I agree that bringing him back really showed that their whole mantra in defense of the the spy elements that had to happen in season 3 “Chuck has to kill someone” was just spin to justify one more trip to the LI well. It’s just a cheat they employed because it was easier and cheaper to bring him back for the back 6 than it was to write a natural folllowup. So the big spy element of the front 13 was just given an Emily Latella.

  9. Martin Traynor says:

    I would have liked for Shaw to remain dead as well. And I could have watched and enjoyed some C/S bonding over his taking a life. Maybe at that point TPTB figured they’ve already delved into too much drama and decided to just go with fun for a bit. By the time they brought drama back in, the moment passed…?

  10. oldresorter says:

    Watched the complete ep, no FF’ing. This ep held up reasonably well. I might not have watched it complete since the night it aired. One observation about budget, the special forces with Chuck looked like the same group from the old age home who got rounded up in the stairwell in the ring 2 ep. Embarrassing really. A choppy episode overall. This ep was the beginning of smart Morgan and dumb everyone else. A bad move from my perspective.

    But, the final two minutes still were the best last two minutes of any of the many times the showrunners might have ended the series. And the drunken Chuck scene with Sarah was wonderful too, even if making almost no sense in the context of what had gone on the prior 12 eps. At that point, I didn’t care any longer. Going back to Paris, I wonder way back at the time of the pilot, if that hotel room scene with the Eiffel Tower in the background was the final the showrunners had in mind?

    • atcDave says:

      I sure hope it wasn’t an always intended end scene! So many television shows try to tell stories that can only have one end, and then if ratings are too strong, or too weak, it throughs off the pacing. And end scene is either too rushed or too belabored. Given so many issues specific to Chuck, that scene was too long in coming anyway. If they had tried at one point to draw it out until a season five, or season seven finale, well I never would endured that much wt/wt.

  11. noblz says:

    Finally back from travel. Always liked this episode. Not only the end of the hated misery arc but a pretty darned good episode.

    I really liked “drunk” Chuck on a mission, that was a hoot. The confrontation in Paris was also very good (after all I only recall Sarah crying actual tears 4 times Marlin, OG, Anniversary and Phase3, comes close a few times but those had actual tears). The DYLM scene was worth it no matter what.

    Many have posted that Chuck and Sarah should have worked out the “Chuck killed someone issue” but I wanted an emotional scene about “Shaw/Hannah, What the hell!” to settle that nonsense more. I can almost understand burying the killing thing given Chuck’s issues.

    Just GLAD to be back to episodes that look like Chuck as opposed to…whatever that other stuff was!

    • That “other stuff'” was when JS was in Gossip Girl habits…

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all of this, both of you guys!

      The “Shaw/Hannah” stuff is exactly where I wanted an apology. Specifically that they gave up/walked away from each other, caused hurt and much misunderstanding.
      But that all relates to the misery arc I dislike anyway. Other Guy itself is a fun episode with a couple of terrific scenes.

      • noblz says:

        My dream resolution scene is Chuck and Sarah sparring in the dojo (after all Sarah loves to pound on Casey when she’s upset), it gets out of hand, they clear the air and it ends passionately. You could throw in Casey walking in on them (during the passionately part), that would have been hilarious.

  12. joe says:

    This is terribly out of place (and off topic and out of context and out of bounds). But I must relay something Ryan McPartlin just tweeted.

    If you can’t see it, here’s the link he posted. I agree with it almost 99.44%, but you’ll see the one big exception.
    http://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/06/09/5-reasons-why-chuck-was-one-of-tv-s-best-shows-ever-and-how-it-can-continue-3291237?lt_source=external,manual,manual,manual

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