Episode of the Week: Chuck vs Phase Three (4.09)

NBC Synopsis: CHUCK’S SECRETS AND SANITY ARE THREATENED, LEADING SARAH TO SET OFF ON A ROGUE MISSION–RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN GUEST STARS–Chuck (Zachary Levi), Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Morgan (Joshua Gomez) venture into the jungles of Southeast Asia when The Belgian (guest star Richard Chamberlain) attempts to unravel the secrets of the Intersect. Meanwhile, Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) and Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) try to decipher a secret left behind by her father.

Chuck This Ranking: 4
Dave’s Ranking: 3

First Impressions: Chuck vs Phase 3 – First Impressions by Joe, Dave, Ernie, Faith and Thinkling

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs Phase Three (4.09) by Dave and Joe
Summertime Top Ten: Phase Three 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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53 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs Phase Three (4.09)

  1. CaptMediocre says:

    I always chuckle at how this is a top 5 episode for most fans, yet Chuck was hardly in it.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah it may be the least “Chuck” of any episode of the series. And the most Sarah. I am sure they could have done this more often.

  2. Martin Traynor says:

    It was mentioned in early posts about this episode that there were only 5 Sarah-centric episodes in the course of Chuck the series. Are they Baby (S5), Delorean and Cougars (S2), Phase 3 and CAT Squad (S4)?

    I know other episodes touched on her past, but I thought there were more than 5?

    • atcDave says:

      I would normally say Wedding Planner instead of CAT Squad. But no doubt a few sort of blur the distinction.

      • authorguy says:

        They both sucked, probably the worst two episodes of the series.
        The Sarah material in this episode is the only reason to watch it, especially the pit fight, but even that has its flaws. The scenes with Chuck are little more than filler. The bad guy’s plot is unclear and his technique to achieve it absurd. Then after this supposedly traumatic experience, far from having any kind of Hero’s Journey growth, he’s a little fuzzy but okay, without a dent in the fender. A total waste of time, except for Sarah’s rage.

      • atcDave says:

        Not even close…

  3. Martin Traynor says:

    Yeah, I’m a little torn between not having Chuck, “our Chuck,” experience any long-term or permanent effects from his ordeal with the Belgian/doctor boo, and there not being any real consequences or fallout, re: Chuck’s recovery or any recollection issues. I mean, the doctor made it sound like the Chuck we knew and loved left the building, or “chucked” out. It’s not really a complaint as much as an observation.

    • authorguy says:

      Considering that the showrunners were sacrificing the romantic relationship and every other team-related good thing about this show on the altar of the Hero’s Journey for Chuck himself, it’s a serious flaw in the show if the Hero’s Journey is never taken. Fear toxin, no consequences. Brain-melting Intersect, no consequences. Orion’s panel, and all the attempts to correct its effects, no consequences. Morgan and Sarah had more realistic after-effects from what happened to them, simply because they had some.

    • atcDave says:

      There was at least one fan fiction that looked at this; Sarah vs Phase Three. It was interesting and well done, but too dark for my taste. I’m glad the show never went that far.

      • authorguy says:

        When I handled this episode in nine2five season 2, Chuck was driven to recognize and accept his true spy nature in self-defense, and voluntarily enrolled for spy training in Prague after he was rescued, where he excelled.
        Wasn’t there a story where Chuck lost all his emotions to the Belgian and came back an Intersect Agent that had only the vaguest connection to Chuck, no past, no emotions? Or is that the one you’re talking about here?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah that’s the same one; although it does end on an up note, it’s just barely and not enough. Sort of like the series finale…

      • authorguy says:

        I never finished that one. The depressing ones get skipped unless there’s something exceptional about the story. I would love to see the ending of Chuck vs. A Man Named Stone, for instance, but a lot of the current crop of stories are just too awful, or worse, boring, to bother reading.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah there’s some dark stuff going now! I never see the appeal in it. The good news is there’s some fun stuff going now too.

      • authorguy says:

        I don’t understand why anyone would want to write that stuff. I certainly don’t. (I know ‘Not This Time’ came out a bit dark at one point but that was on the way to a very bright place, and I didn’t intend it. The story went there and I had to follow.)

      • authorguy says:

        Don’t forget Somewhere Over the Pacific, by BigDaddyDL, if I recall correctly. That was about the flight home from Thailand, with C&S collapsed and sleeping it off. Still not nearly long enough, but better than nothing. The show gave us the impression that Chuck bounced back from all these things that happen to him almost instantly.

      • atcDave says:

        A few other writers have posted little bits on the flight home from Thailand. Usually as borderline smut…

  4. Martin Traynor says:

    I’m not saying I wanted to see Chuck and/or Sarah suffer from his time with the Belgian, but I would not have objected to there being some healing that needed to be done. Especially if Sarah could have been there to help Chuck through it the way we ended up seeing Chuck (to some degree, and certainly not enough) being there for Sarah at the end.

    THAT (Sarah helping Chuck to remember some things, reenacting others) could have been a lot of fun!

    • atcDave says:

      I agree that could have been fun. There a few times when some sort of recovery would have been appropriate. And of course, I’ll always there should have been a big apology between both characters late in S3!

      • Martin Traynor says:

        Yeah, Dave, as far as apologies go, I can’t remember a single instance where either apologized to the other…for anything. I’m sure I’m wrong about that, but nothing comes to mind. I would think that the writers just wanted to move on, but then there are episodes (like Living Dead), where they revisit it for “humor’s” sake…and fail miserably.

        Has anyone written a scene(s) about that? I read something really sweet about Sarah trying to give Chuck his mom’s bracelet back and he says he gave it Sarah, not Sam. Great story. It’s called “Parting Gifts” by Course Jester – thanks for recommending it, by the way!
        https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5800418/1/Parting-Gifts

      • authorguy says:

        Chuck always seemed to be apologizing to Sarah, for not trusting, or for for trusting someone else when he shouldn’t have, or something. He never seemed to learn, though.
        Sarah, or anybody, helping Chuck would have undermined the Hero’s Journey he wasn’t taking, they would never have allowed that. The scene from Living Dead is less than amusing, but since I don’t believe Sarah slept with Shaw it doesn’t bother me as much as it might. The writers were always moving on, even when they had diamond under their feet. I have no idea what they thought they were doing.

      • atcDave says:

        That is one of the very best one shots!
        There were several attempted apologies/explanations for S3 behavior in fan fiction, and of course Kate McK examined several episodes in depth. At one point, I think t was for her treatment of Fake Name, Kate even says the only true fix is brain bleach. Ultimately I think forgetting it all is the best cure!

      • authorguy says:

        Head-in-the-sand, la-la-la-la I’m not listening rejectionism is no cure for anything, except happiness.
        The best ‘cure’ is figuring out what S3 could and did mean, and adjust our perceptions of the story to match what they showed us, rather than reject what they showed us because it isn’t what we wanted to see.

      • authorguy says:

        There should have been a lot more than an apology after Other Guy, anything but that ridiculous ‘hey, let’s screw for three days on a train’ scenario. Apologies, mourning, remorse, any one of those would have been a better follow-up.

      • atcDave says:

        Well, as I’ve said before, the legacy of the show is characters, setting, entertainment. For STORY fan fiction is much better.
        I don’t find that shocking, television is usually sort fast and sloppy from a story perspective. its produced to an exhausting schedule. So I enjoy it for what it is, and look elsewhere for “deeper” things.

      • authorguy says:

        I look for story, above all things. S3 had a great story, obscured for reasons that had nothing to do with the show. Finding the story is harder than it should be, sometimes, but that’s no reason to say it isn’t there. Maybe you can’t be bothered to look for it, but that’ is a totally different thing. A good story that makes you work too hard to discover it will still fail, and deservedly so, but that doesn’t make it a bad story. (Which I know sounds strange to most people.) I think great stories can be badly told, just compare Barb Wire to Casablanca. If Hollywood’s penchant for remakes tells us anything, it is that the same story can be art in one set of hands and crap in another.
        S4, on the other hand, is a genuinely bad story, salvageable only with extensive surgery, tolerable only with increasingly high and increasingly ineffective doses of fluff.
        S5 has a set of decent, strong stories that are simply not fun or enjoyable, so I can’t say they’re very Chuck-like.

      • atcDave says:

        You know I disagree with most of that.
        Story matters, but it’s only one of the elements that matter. I think good television show can be made with, or without a good story.
        And Chuck just wasn’t ever really about story. It succeeded as entertainment based on its other strengths.

      • authorguy says:

        All I can say is, thank god for the backspace and delete keys. I’m clearly not writing for you, Dave, much as I’d like to be.

  5. Martin Traynor says:

    They could have/should have? had an apology from Chuck to Sarah here, for him not listening to her and believing he was good enough, even without the intersect. This mess Chuck got himself into was really all his fault. Perhaps Sarah could have said or done something more to convince Chuck, but knowing Chuck as we do and seeing what we’ve seen (Prague, anyone), even when Chuck knows how Sarah feels, Chuck doesn’t really know, or at least he, for whatever reason, refuses to accept it. Not until he messed up in some way first, that is.

    “Sarah, I’m sorry…” Gee, that was easy-peasy, lemon-squeezee!

    • atcDave says:

      Chuck actually did apologize in Curse. But he so often seemed to run off, by that point it seemed insincere.
      By comparison, Sarah also apologized for the same crimes in Baby; and then SHOWED us on screen how she’d learned her lesson. That worked MUCH better.

  6. Martin Traynor says:

    Yes, well…that shoots my theory all to heck-fire. 🙂

  7. Martin Traynor says:

    Was watching Big Bang Theory tonight – did NOT like the season premiere – AT ALL – or where the show is heading, in regards to Leonard/Penny and his shipboard kiss/confession. Just doesn’t seem like something his character would do. Kind of like someone on this show we know and whether he would leave the woman he loved to be a spy (I think NOT).

    But bringing it back to this episode, at least there was no boat (was there?) for anyone to be kissing anyone else on and potentially ruining a future wedding…

    And back to the apologizing, yeah, I guess they did apologize to each other. I do remember Chuck seemingly apologizing every episode in the early seasons, and again in season 5, where they seem to respect each other more than earlier. Maybe I’m just thinking of season 3…

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah the whole S3 mess was never addressed. And in Bo (5.10) Chuck and Sarah both lectured Morgan on the wisdom of just letting the past go. I always saw that as a dig from the writers at us fans who couldn’t let it go. Sort of unappreciated meta humor.

      I always saw it as an explanation for why divorce rates are so high in Hollywood.

    • I didn’t mind that because TBBT biggest recurring theme is Leonard/Penny ALWAYS have conflict; i’m glad penny has enough growth to stay with leonard and deal with his faults…i think she was more upset that he still works with this girl…the rest of the episode was quite funny; particularly sheldon, stewart and Raj.

  8. Martin Traynor says:

    Anyone else nervous about the new direction Castle will be taking with Beckett as Captain and Castle with a new partner…? Not as far as relationship goes, but more the chemistry of the entire cast?

    • oldresorter says:

      I kind of like it – at least for now. IMO 8 seasons of the same show is getting to be too much, the Captain Beckett version of the show, IF it HAS legs, might breathe new life into the show. I tentatively like it, although I do worry it could fail, I would also worry that the ‘same’ old show could fail too.

  9. oldresorter says:

    Scorpion ended its first ep of season two with the same words that Quantum Leap used over and over again. Did Chuck use the expression too, if so, I can’t recall exactly when. I loved it’s use in Scorpion last night. There are only so many ways to drag out a will they, won’t they. IMO Scorpion is taking an interesting approach, somewhat working out many of the things we all blogged about in Chuck, straight out in the dialogue. It’s been working for me, at least so far. All I can say is … OH BOY!

    • I like what Castle is doing with Alexis so much that i think it makes up for Kate’s lack of time on screen with rick! Blindspot hit it really hard in ratings; hopefully it rebounds next week..

      I love Scorpion to the point that I hope Limitless tanks to increase the formers odds of renewal

      • atcDave says:

        I did like Alexis’ role on Castle this week, I hope they stick with this.
        But I definitely want more Beckett. That was disappointing. But it was just a season premier, we’ll see how things go the next couple weeks.

      • oldresorter says:

        The lady co star from Forever has a recurring role as the ‘Beckman-like’ role in Scorpion. Based on the first ep, she helps the show, the original man in charge (Robert Patricks boss) did not.

        I too liked Alexis’s role, she opens up lots of new stories (pairings) without causing much angst or issues. IMO you don’t have to worry about no Beckman,. Although it’s possible this first two parter was going to be written to get Kate off the show had she not ‘renewed’ her contract, with a few obvious changes in the two parter now that she is back. I didn’t read that anywhere, just making it up.

      • atcDave says:

        OR that sounds like reasonable speculation about Beckett’s role here. But I sure do hope her part gets more active in the meat of the season!

  10. oldresorter says:

    About Phase Three – I generally want Chuck and Sarah to both have admirable qualities in every ep. They don’t have to be perfect, but I’m always looking for something to really admire. Sarah’s over the top passion to find and save Chuck in this ep really won me over. But …I don’t like how defenseless, useless and powerless Chuck was in this ep. And I didn’t like the ep that set up the problem at all, so overall this ep rates as a top 20 for me these days, instead of maybe a top 5 or top 10.

  11. Wilf says:

    I guess I liked Phase Three so much because it was so Sarah-centric and I was really more interested in her character and its development than that of Chuck.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with that Wilf!

    • authorguy says:

      She had more hurdles to overcome, and entire lifetime being told never to trust anyone, that love is for suckers. Chuck’s journey was minor by comparison.

      • I hadn’t really thought about the relative distance of their respective journeys, but I think you are right, Marc. Sarah’s journey was much more profound. Which reminds me, I haven’t seen a new chapter of Arya’s Prayers’ “Becoming” recently. I do hope he is able to continue the story. Oh, and by the way, I see you have a new chapter up, Marc. I will get to it soon!

      • authorguy says:

        It’s Wednesday, my usual target day for releasing a chapter of season 3. There are so many good fanfics slowing down on new chapters, it’s just terrible. Not only Becoming, which is taking over as my default version of Sarah’s backstory, but also ygbsm’s A Good Man Goes To War, The Biggest Loser, Lost and Found, and anything by Anthropocene. Lots of good new stories, of course, but most of them are short, and have completed pretty successfully.
        The depth of the hole Sarah’d dug for herself, the thickness of the walls she’d built, is one of the reasons I value the Atroxeum idea so highly. They could have done some real good with that potion and her walls crumbling, but they never developed either story line, instead focusing on a guy who’d been pretty much repaired two seasons before. A real waste.

      • anthropocene says:

        Thank you for the shout-out, Marc. I’ve fallen off on writing, reading, and reviewing FF. I think I’ve misplaced my mojo.

      • atcDave says:

        Time to build models!

  12. noblz says:

    This is one of my favorites. For this, otherDave’s ranking is 2. This is a good episode with action, drama and comedy. The Casey-Sarah Big brother-little sister dynamic is in full swing.

    Casey: Walker, this place is full of warlords, scoundrels, assassins…scum of the earth, lets get out of here!
    Waitress: Ahhh, Mr Casey, your usual? (what a hoot).

    But to me the best part was how Yvonne pulled off 6-to-8 different Sarahs. Lets see…
    Playful in bed Sarah, “just fffflash…come on do it” (Chuck’s mind)
    Worried girlfriend spy “where do we look now Casey” ( real time)
    Wildcard enforcer “you have 2 hours!” (real time)
    Cold hearted b!tch Sarah leaving Chuck (Chuck’s mind)
    Giant blonde shemale Sarah (real time)
    Hysterical, crying girlfriend Sarah “I want to marry you, with or without the intersect” (real time)
    and finally calm, normal Sarah being teased by Chuck in the ending.

    This is to me, Yvonne’s best episode. I know there was a lot of talk about Wedding Planner, but this is tops for her as far as I am concerned.

    Good stuff.

  13. Martin Traynor says:

    My favorite thing about this episode is the sheer amount of passion for Chuck that Sarah displays, both in her interactions with others like Morgan and Casey, and her interactions with Chuck. It’s funny, but I think since they got together, we only see very small hints of that passion from then on. Nothing to the magnitude of this episode, though. She is a veritable tour de force here…

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