Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Bullet Train (5.11)

NBC Synopsis: A MISSION ABOARD A JAPANESE BULLET TRAIN SPIRALS OUT OF CONTROL, PUTTING THOSE CLOSEST TO CARMICHAEL INDUSTRIES IN DANGER – ANGUS MACFADYEN GUEST STARS — When a mission in Japan becomes a hostage situation, Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Chuck (Zachary Levi) must face the merciless Nicholas Quinn (guest star Angus Macfadyen, “Braveheart”) aboard a speeding Japanese bullet train. Meanwhile, the mission leaves Casey with an impossible decision.

Chuck This Ranking: 23
Dave’s Ranking: 30 lower

First Impressions: 5.11 Chuck vs The Bullet Train – First Impressions

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs The Bullet train (5.11) by Dave and Joe
Plans, Trains, and Chasing the Dream by Thinkling

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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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19 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Bullet Train (5.11)

  1. andereandre says:

    Didn’t rewatch. There was some really good stuff in this episode but I can’t stand this brain destroying thing. I feel the same about Chucks brain glitching at the end of season 3.
    I’d rather lose my legs than losing my brain, and I find this stuff hard to watch.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I mostly agree. Whatever good there is in this episode, and much of it is terrific, I just can’t sit through the end again.

  2. Martin Traynor says:

    Me three. Just much too painful on so many levels. To me, the only bright spot (that comes to mind, anyway), is how close they show Chuck and Casey to be…

    Sadly, it’s just not nearly enough to get me to watch again – at least not until I feel that reoccurring need to humble myself, delve deep into the inner hubris, and wrestle all hope from my existence to wallow in self pity and despisement for a moment…before emerging refreshed and ready to take on the world anew.

    See, I told you I cheer it up and bring the joy!

    By the way, thanks Dave and everyone for providing that very much needed (and Free) therapy in getting me through this debacle the first time.

    Healing comes and healing goes, how “Chuck This” does it, no one knows. But I’m glad you do!

  3. Well, I steeled myself to watch it. There is a lot of great stuff in this episode. Jeff and Lester are awesome. And the main storyline is full of tension and hope. Even at this point, at the end of the episode, when Quinn blames Chuck for Sarah’s memory loss and assigns Sarah to kill him, one can still wonder *how* Chuck and Sarah will get back to the promise that was so beautifully portrayed in the sketch Chuck drew in the bed compartment of the bullet train, not *whether* that promise will be fulfilled.

    I’ve generally tried to appreciate Chuck for what it is, and not insist that the writers necessarily tell the story that I want them to, and I could do that throughout almost the entire run of the show, but these last three episodes in the series continue to leave me bewildered, if not entirely bereft of hope for the characters. I’ll push myself through to the last two episodes, and I will grasp at the signs of hope that are there at the end, but oh how I wish they had finished this story differently.

    • atcDave says:

      I mostly just wish they’d finished the story!

      I do see lots of hope, even joy in the final scene. But it’s such a rough ride getting there. Tough way to end a fun show.

  4. oldresorter says:

    I reread my 1st impressions post:

    “The amnesia thing, in spite of being a crappy thing to do to fans and a lazy overused story, it might work. The parameters I will judge it on are:

    1 – How long does it last?
    2 – Does she get her memory completely back?
    3 – How much time does Sarah spend with Chuck, not cold killer Faux Sarah, but confused, Sarah struggling to get everything back?
    4 – How much bad does Faux Sarah do?
    5 – How ugly will be the thing or two we don’t know about be?
    6 – How rewarding is the pay off at the end?

    We’ll know soon enough.”

    I now know the answers, color me not impressed. Until the amneisa scene, this was a pretty good episode. Sure wasn’t the first time Chuck writers ruined what could have been a classic ep with some trumped up drama.

    I often think that had only the pay off been completely awesome, such that not a soul could say that ending was unhappy (which is different that saying ideal or perfect), that this 11th ep, the final two eps, the fifth season, and even the show in general would have been held in higher regard by the larger population. I still would not have liked the final two eps or the amnesia idea. But I must admit, the meh pay off at the end stunned me. I recall looking at the clock and wondering if the show might run over 5 minutes, even wondering if some magic might occur as the credits were rolling. Magic did not occur.

    But other than the amnesia thing, this was a pretty good ep. Might have been great with a honeymooners type end. reminds me alot of the proposal ep, also an 11th ep if I recall, totally ruined by the ending. Oh well. I guess I made my point, even as many don’t agree.

    • atcDave says:

      I pretty much exactly agree. If the end had been more overtly happy I likely would have felt better about the whole finale arc.

    • “I recall looking at the clock.” I didn’t look at the clock but I remember thinking, “Is that it?! This can’t be the end, can it? What does it mean?” The two words that describe my feelings about the finale are “bewildered” and “confused.” How grateful I was when Thinkling began publishing her “Sarah vs Finding Herself.” And then I discovered other post-finale Chuck stories, all of which make me very grateful. “While Fedak intended to do harm, the fanfiction writers intended it for good….” (Points for those who get the allusion.)

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I was pretty bitterly disappointed at the very end. I had to do some digging into things to get any peace with it. And that peace is always pretty tentative, it hinges on a lot of inference about what must come next.

        But no doubt the fan fiction response was heroic! We have several post finale stories that are very satisfying,

  5. garnetflint says:

    As Chuck was/is the only TV show that I have ever truly been invested in, the last three episodes were enough to leave me upset and disgruntled for..oh most of 2012 and 2013 ( yeah I need to get a life). I have settled down some, in part due to Thinkling’s post finale story, but I get upset when I think about these last three episodes. We have,for all intents and purposes, seen the last of Sarah Bartowski. At this point we don’t know that, and I certainly didn’t expect that, but it turns out that we get to revisit Sarah Walker from season 1 rather than the Sarah we all came to be rooting for.

    I could accept this one for what it is worth, if the finale paid off. I think that Chris tried and, and as a relatively new showrunner, came up a bit short of what he wanted to portray. Yes there is nice symmetry, yes we got to revisit lots of sites and some characters that were important, but in the end we were left at a POSSIBLE beginning, and while it is better than , “Nice to know you Chuck see you around someday” it is still not a satisfying ending. I think I will try to believe in the Magic Kiss theory. There is some evidence to support it and it beats having to think they might have made it.

    Perhaps this is all a bit much for a group of fictional character in a fictional TV show and I am not confusing TV with reality… but they were in their own way friends that our family invited into our house weekly (or several times a week) and we hoped to be left with the idea that in some TV universe somewhere they were living their “happy ever after” not a “maybe everafter”.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I also felt a bit of a cloud over me for a couple years after. It is a little embarrassing to admit the impact of these fictional characters, but it really did leave me bitter in a way about the show and show runner. And I think it’s left a longer term cynicism about how I relate to television.
      No doubt fan fiction has been an enduring bright spot though. THIS site has been another bright spot, especially how we all worked through the ending together and saw Thinkling’s process as she crafted her epilogue.

      • thinkling says:

        Good to know my own attempts at self-catharsis helped a few others along the way. 🙂 By now I’ve drunk my own kool-aid, so the final arc flows right into my own little happy ending, which, though not official, I believe is firmly rooted in canon.

        I do agree, Dave, the whole yo-yo experience with Chuck effected the way I view television. My bar is very low now when it comes to relationships, and I have no faith in show-runners to do relationships well. I mean, look what they did with Castle. It’s like they’re afraid of marriage and don’t know how to write a compelling married couple. They only know how to write and re-write ad nauseam the getting together process, and that fraught with so many obstacles that the journey has become tiresome and tedious before it reaches its (somewhat anti-climactic) destination. The one show that makes me smile in this regard is Madam Secretary.

      • atcDave says:

        I think a lot of people were helped by your writing Thinkling.

        And yeah, I agree with all of that about television. We’re back watching Castle again, but skipped what, nine episodes? A lot of shows we watch now are on a very short leash.
        Madam Secretary has been a pleasant exception to that. It is refreshing to see a healthy, happy marriage on television.

      • Justin says:

        I’ve been watching some episodes of Madam Secretary and the marriage between Elizabeth and Henry has been a delight to watch. They may have their differences about certain things but they never let it undermine the love or respect they have for each other. I also enjoy the rest of the show which skillfully navigates the medium between sentimentality and cynicism when it comes to politics.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah exactly Justin.

      • oldresorter says:

        In regard to Madam Secretary, one aspect I’ve noticed is that the secondary romantic lead gets the B or C plot most weeks. this gives him something to do. I’m almost sure that is what Stanic (Beckett) struggles with her role / use on Castle (I’ve read it somewhere), and why she wants to or lets say threatens to quit. She doesn’t want to be the fairy tale wife from the 50’s or 60’s sitcoms.

        Chuck IMO was ‘better’ when Chuck kind of led the B / C plots with the morons or Ellie, and Sarah / Casey had at least equal importance in the A plot – i.e. chuck didn’t always have to be the A plot hero, and Morgan was just another moron, rather than had to carry the B or C plots. It made the buymore or scenes with Ellie more important when Chuck the spy was less, and Chuck the moron was more.

        Of all the shows I watch on TV, IMO the show struggling the most with how to write the lead couple is Arrow. Fans like the coupling so much, that anything short of Ward and June Cleaver, seems unacceptable, yet that isn’t a very exciting story to tell in the year 2016. The character that gets lost in the translation is Felicity in this case, much like Sarah did or Stanic is fighting to keep Beckett from becoming.

        IMO the other solution, if the way Henry is written on Madam secretary being the first, the other solution is to make the wise cracking side kick non romantic – Sleepy Hollow or The Flash (sort of with Dr Snow) or the show I often refer to now cancelled The Listener.

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