Open Comment Thread

Hi. My name is Joe and I’m a Chuck addict.

“Hi, Joe.”

It’s been quite I while since I’ve posted anything here (Wow! WordPress has changed everything!). But the recent flurry of comments in an old thread (here) has been more than interesting and engaging.

So I was wondering – what would our ‘old’ friends like to discuss? A plot for a movie? How much we hate Shaw or Quinn? Sarah? My trigger is the idea that Bryce should have stayed at least through S3! Can you imagine if he had been intersected in “vs. The Ring”, been put in charge of the Intersect Project, and then, after a season of wooing Sarah and “going Volkoff”, was saved from Intersect Insanity by Stephen?

Not your idea of a great continuation? Please tell us yours! We’re guaranteed to forgive you your Chuck addiction!

~ joe

Advertisements

About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

702 Responses to Open Comment Thread

  1. An all-purpose Chuck post is a great idea.

    I’ll get things going by asking who would prefer a time jump or a direct continuation for a Chuck revival?

    I vote for the time jump, I just think it would better serve things.

    • I’m with you, Josh. A time jump works for me.

    • atcDave says:

      I vote for time jump, its been over 5 years and the age will show on the actors. But that’s with the big qualifier I expect Chuck and Sarah have been together that whole time. If they try to tell a story with them apart for five years I wouldn’t even watch; its been long enough I could do that now!

    • joe says:

      Yeah, I’m in the “time jump” camp too.
      But Dave, although I never wanted it to continue with ChuckandSarah being apart for more than a week, I’ve since come to think that TPTB (remember that acronym?) would never be able to resist telling the story of how they came together again after 3, 5 or even 10 years. It would be a great story, but hard to take – at least at first.

      … which is exactly what I’ve come to think about S3 and the finale.

      • atcDave says:

        Which may be exactly why I’ll have no part of it. I don’t really care about their “needs” on this, I care about mine. Fan fiction meets my needs now.

  2. JD says:

    I like the plot line of the roles reversed from the pilot that starts with a mysterious individual entering the Buymore looking for Chuck. Go to the beach scene where we find Chuck consoling Sarah as she struggles to find her memory. A gang of thugs approach in the distance and its on. In the malee Sarah hits her head and starts having Intersect like flashbacks. Does Sarah get her full memory back? Does she still have feelings for Chuck? Who was the mysterious figure at the Buymore?

  3. atcDave says:

    Hey thanks for putting this up Joe!
    I like the idea of a time jump with Chuck and Sarah. Let’s see them 5 (or more!) years later, trying to live a normal life with their investigative/security firm and two (or more…) kids. Then enter some big bad. Maybe a baddie from the past (maybe a new version of the Volkoff program? Or someone who started with Fulcrum?). It may be someone with an ax to grind with the Bartowskis? Or maybe someone that Beckman feels they are uniquely qualified to deal with, so she comes begging?
    At this point I really just envision a TV movie. Obviously a mini-series would be even better, then the threat/challenge level would need to be ramped up even higher.

    Saving the world, before the kid’s big soccer game…

    • atcDave says:

      I also would say, let’s mostly ignore the memory loss for a movie. Fedak always said Sarah had caught up with Chuck at the beach. I think the best way to show that is just see the happy couple. Maybe a quick line about how Sarah came home that night from the beach and never regretted it. That and maybe a joke about Sarah not remembering something and a retort that she’s remembered everything for a long time.
      With a mini-series, maybe a longer story about her recovery. But even so I wouldn’t what it to be too dramatic or consequential. It happened, its over.

      • Agree I don’t think there are many benefits to sticking around in the past. There is something appealing about Chuck and Sarah having to stop and save the world when they have kids; if they’re young, but old enough to know about the Intersect and its legacy which they would symbolically [or maybe literally] inherit. Did Chuck and Sarah tell them or decide against it to preserve their innocence? Or considering who their parents are, are they smart and resourceful enough to put things together on their own.

      • joe says:

        Dave, Fedak said that? I never heard! Please tell me that’s true.
        Because of what Ellie says, about how Morgan’s and probably Sarah’s emotions were not affected by the bad intersect code, I’m certain that Sarah’s laughter and tears as Chuck retells their story, confirmed by her telling Chuck to kiss her at the end, are a clue that “the talking about her feelings thing”, the stuff Sarah was not comfortable with at the start, were back.

        And that would be the most important part.

      • joe says:

        Josh, if enuf time passes, it’s possible that the real story could be primarily about C&S’s children, with Zac and Yvonne having cameo appearances. Or maybe the kids could be the ones to actually save C&S from some dastardly plot by the children of Shaw and Vivian. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Josh I fixed your typo. And yeah, seeing the Intersect in the kid’s lives could be an interesting story. But maybe not for the “first” movie!

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe CF said that in one of his finale interviews. It was THE key comment in helping find peace with the whole thing. Well, specifically he said “caught up emotionally”. But that was always the main issue to me.
        The memories returning could conceivably be played for laughs, if we assume “caught up emotionally” means the drama of it has already played out. And I think that could work fine; like Chuck saying “well the week Liam was born I slept on the couch, because that was also the week when Sarah remembered Hannah…”
        That way we get a glimpse into how things went without anymore melodrama.
        No doubt the passing of time is a great enemy on this though; because if some writer decides “they have to” deal with the drama of Sarah’s recovery even though Zac and Yvonne are clearly in their 40s, well, that would really piss me off. Gee, “Chuck and Sarah rekindle their love at Sarah’s CIA retirement party” is just not my idea of fun.
        A strange corollary of this though, is that I am MORE interested in CF writing it again. Because I think of all possible writers he would probably be the LEAST interested in revisiting the amnesia thing.

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks for the Liam reference, Dave.

        Interesting thread. I’ve been skimming. I vote for a time delay. The age of the actors would pretty much ruin a continuation at this point. And, like you, Chuck and Sarah need to have been together the whole time. I have no interest in, nor would I watch, a movie or mini-series that’s just another round of getting them together. The idea of starting with a threat to their happy normal life, and taking off from there is perfect. I think I would resurrect the conspirators who have just figured out the Chuck still has the Intersect. There are so many possibilities, and so many people to choose from to save: GB, Casey, Ellie, one of their kids … To go back to the angst well of wt/wt would be a huge waste of story and a complete lack of creativity.

        Speaking of entertainment setup. I ditched cable/satellite years ago. Now I record HD OTA TV with a Tablo and pay for other services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, even CBS sometimes) to stream on Roku. I sometimes cancel CBS or Hulu for a few months, if I don’t need their content or I don’t have time for them. (If Amazon didn’t have the free-shipping aspect and 5% off purchases, I wouldn’t subscribe. I don’t think their video selection is worth the subscription. You can always use it pay-per-view style.) My monthly entertainment bill is way less than it would be with cable/satellite, and I find pretty much anything I want to watch. I find far more variety and options with this setup than I would with traditional cable/satellite. I’ve also used Playon for years (since before there was Roku). It’s a media server that aggregates Internet content and streams it from your PC to your TV. It bookmarks any video on-line to stream later. It records any on-line content you have legal access to (including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, any network on-line content, or whatever video you’re streaming). And it removes the commercials, if you so choose. They’ve launched a new Playon Cloud service, whereby they record the aforementioned content on their servers, for you to stream or download to any device, anywhere, anytime. The PC app is a paid app, but the cloud service is paid by the recording (.15 to .25 each, depending on how you buy the credits). I doubt I’ll ever go back to traditional cable/satellite, though I have subscribed to some of the TV streaming services (Directv now, Hulu TV, YouTube TV, etc) for special months (like the Olympics). The streaming TV services don’t have contracts. You can subscribe and cancel at will. So many possibilities and so much flexibility.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes, exactly we’ll put about the wt/wt!

        I hadn’t heard of Playon. If not for sports that would be tempting. I usually say that DirecTV owns my soul as long as they have Sunday Ticket. Of course this last season sorely tested that, I’m a lot less keen on supporting the NFL anymore…
        But DirecTV is an excellent source of pay-per-view, and it transfers easily between TV and mobile device.

      • thinkling says:

        It’s almost become a matter of principle with me. I’m not willing to pay high package rates for appointment TV … 90% of which I care nothing about. I know my subscription subsidizes the more expensive packages, so phloughghg. I figure I would still want at least Netflix for all their great stuff. (Have you watched any of Father Brown Dave? Or Foyle’s War? Or Doctor Blake?) Plus being gone 6 months out of the year makes a year round geographically linked contract utterly unappealing. But I do get the appeal for sports fans. (Some of the streaming services offer sports packages for less money than cable/satellite … and no contract). I’m happy with the cheap price tag, variety, and flexibility of my cafeteria plan. Then some people just like traditional TV, but I guess those numbers will continue to drop with a shrinking older population.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve heard of those shows, and they are all on my someday list. For now we have no shortage of content!
        I do keep my eyes open for what’s going on, and expect at some point to either add or change services. And I keep hoping that one of these days that Bears’ games will be available ala carte.

  4. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Still me, I’m trying to subscribe to this thread, the last few times I have done it on newer threads it has not worked.
    Joe
    I know Zac has said many times he believed they are or would be just fine, I would hope Fedak feels the same. But, I agree Sarah was not subjected to Quinn’s actions long enough to turn off her emotions. I get the sense that she is fueled by anger and duty through most of 5-12 caused by his miss information, and Sarah was never emotionless even early on.

    • joe says:

      You seem to be subscribed, Josh.
      Yeah, We’re in agreement about Sarah’s emotional state. The way I see it, Morgan may have lost his memories when he was intersected, at least some of them. But he didn’t start to think Jar-Jar Binks was a great Star Wars character. In other words, he was the same ol’ Morgan.

      At the beginning, Sarah only had trouble talking about her feelings – I assume that was a bit of shorthand for her being lousy at communicating them. That’s the one thing I noticed (like a brick to the head) the most in my last viewing. Sarah really did change from not revealing her feelings to communicating them quite well over those years. What didn’t change were the feelings themselves.

      After re-seeing that last scene on the beach the last time, I’m absolutely sure she still loves Chuck in the end.

      • atcDave says:

        And I agree with that Joe!

      • Honestly, I don’t see how a thorough reading of the finale could produce any other opinion. There’s even a decent argument the kiss literally works: Sarah does the exact same thing to Chuck in Phase 3, after Chuck’s memories were wiped and the intersect was corrupted, Sarah kisses him and that restores his memories. Kelly Dean Jolley makes that case in his Chuck book (which I feel compelled to mention in every single conversation), and while I don’t agree with it, it’s at least plausible.

        For that matter, the construction of the final scene is telling. To the finale end where the pilot ended (on the beach), looking at the sunset as opposed to the sunrise is a pretty clear metaphor for the permanence of their relationship. It also introduces the context of the original beach conversation that Chuck himself parallels. The first conversation ultimately ends in their love story; I don’t see why this one would end any different. And then the song basically states the conclusion outright.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur I like that way of looking at it. I will always wish that had been my first reaction.

      • Fair enough, Dave. I do think that remains the best criticism of the finale – on the first watch, it’s not nearly as unambiguous as I would’ve liked. I probably would’ve preferred watching something like the ending of Parks and Recreation (which leans into the happy ending so hard it’s brave in its own way). There’s real pain and tragedy in the finale, and that pain is particularly hard for a show that tended to resolve things as neatly as Chuck usually did.

        But, the finale is what really keeps Chuck in my head six years later. It’s the episode that forced me to read Chuck instead of just passively watching it, it’s why I searched this blog out – I had to know what it meant, which meant thinking more deeply about the pilot, about Phase 3, about its music choices, and Jeffster, and about “I fell in love with you after fixing my phone and before you started disabling bombs.” The finale fucking hurt, and I get not liking that in an ending – especially for somebody like you, who was passionate about the show already. But the finale, and all its many layers, is what transformed Chuck from a show I really liked into my favorite show ever. I think I shared your initial reaction, and I don’t rewatch it much for the same reason. In retrospect, though, it’s what really made me fall in love with everything else about the show.

      • atcDave says:

        I think its consistent with what you said to say that finale provided the motive behind A LOT of post finale fiction, and it certainly fueled a lot of my desire for it. I might be why I still actively read it six years later (or it might not, I already had the ff bug!)
        But even so, I’ll always wish the ending had been more satisfying on initial viewing. And I’m sure that ending is why I finally cut off my own Chuck viewing several years ago. I’m still considering if I will actually try to watch most of the episodes in this next series I want to start in a couple weeks. I think I will, at least at first. I’ll have a new home theater and new TV; so the excuse will be I have to see Chuck on a bigger TV upconverted to 4K (hmmm, if they ever release the show in 4K might be another excuse…)

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with that Josh.

      • I remain more or less convinced that scrying the finale, and considering its internal relationships to other episodes, makes a compelling case for thinking the kiss works, but I don’t understand why they would have made such an emotional finale into a kind of cipher.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think that’s a fair assessment.
        To me the single biggest suggestion all is well is that Sarah said no to Beckman. Sarah “I’m only good at being a spy” said no to spying.
        Then add in her emotional openness, even eagerness, in the last seen; and I think its clear all is well in the most important sense.
        In my imagination I never think the “magic kiss” works in the “everything comes flooding back” sort of way. But I do imagine she remembers her love of her husband. It may be awkward for a period, but recovery is well underway.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll say the obvious, “Sarah vs Finding Herself” by Thinkling is the closest match to what I imagine. But I have a wide range of epilogues and S6 stories that work well for me.

      • We have the same view about the kiss Dave. In fact, Ellie’s theory about emotions sparking memories was so sound to me that it drove the early chapters of my post-finale story. Of course, I had much more to accomplish than carrying on with her recovery so I eventually jumped things ahead, but the point is that Sarah’s emotional connection to Chuck is tied to her physical memories so she will be okay.

        Lost years is the most Sara- like version of her recovery IMO, if only because personal hangups could at least initially get in her own way. Kind of like Season 1, which I always see as a baseline for every character.

      • atcDave says:

        Well you know I like to say “Finding Herself” is the normal end, that Chuck and Sarah SAID they wanted at the end of the show; while “Lost Years” is the superhero end we would have seen in an immediate post-series movie.

      • Agree with Dave on the Kiss. I understand Kelly’s point, and I think his phase 3 argument presents the strongest case for the kiss working literally. But Morgan’s path back from intersect brain damage is instructive. Fedak’s comments afterwards about wanting to see them find each other all over again are also telling.

        Futhermore, I think from a storytelling perspective it’s better that the kiss doesn’t magically regenerate her memories. The events of the finale are a real tragedy, and a horrible consequence for a life lived as a spy. That’s as it should be – the moments of pure joy in the show are all the more meaningful for the threat of the gallows hanging imminently over their heads. If they never bear any real consequences from that life, then the show would feel false.

        I’d rather think of the kiss not in the working/not working paradigm, but as a sign that Chuck and Sarah are working. My take of the beach, of Rivers and Roads, of the porn virus, is that Chuck and Sarah are inevitable, even destined. That their relationship, their bond with each other is so enduring it cannot be broken even by removing from Sarah the events that incited it in the first place.

      • Totally Agree! That Chuck and Sarah are a design of fate is the biggest takeaway from the finale. Quinn was right in the sense that without the Intersect they would not be, but the more you look at it, Chuck was destined for that too. Bryce told him as much when in some form or fashion whenever he showed up, and that was something Chuck, Sarah and Stephen all fought against. I am a big believer in fate, and that you can only delay it. Anything meant to happen will happen. A very helpful view of real life and its never-ending challenges too.

      • In line with what some have said here, I will add that I take the only two live options on the kiss to be that it works magically (and as I have said, I think that is far from an impossibility given the internal logic of the show) or it works non-magically, re-establishing the bond and the emotional momentum that will carry them back into their married life. Either way, it works.

      • atcDave says:

        Absolutely, either way works.

  5. My biggest fear with the time jump is that they would keep Sarah and chuck apart for the last 6 years (6 years! I’m so old). I read the finale as putting them on the path of being together again. It’s so much easier to write a story of Sarah and Chuck establishing a romance rather than being in one that they’d probably contrive a reason to keep them apart the whole time, and I’d be really sad.

    And it’s just been too long to start the day after the finale; the cast is visibly older. At this point, it’s probably for the best that there won’t be a movie.

  6. joe says:

    A request for help!!!

    I spent some time updating and enhancing my list of music from Chuck and I found a mystery!

    There was a very nice song by Gomez (I’m not sure if that’s a person or a group) called See The World I listed many moons ago under S1E1. The lyrics certainly fit the episode and if you course down about a dozen comments in the youtube link, you’ll see someone else heard that song there too. But I can’t find where it was actually used in Chuck. I can’t find it in E1 or, as someone else there commented, in S1E3 either.

    Does anyone remember that song being used? Was it only used in some long forgotten Youtube video?

    If you know where that song was used, please let me know too.

    • Sorry to be unhelpful, but if you could share your list, I’d be grateful.

      • joe says:

        Hum… I’d like to, Arthur, but I’m not quite sure how.

        You see, it’s in the form of nearly 100 xml files (one for each episode, complete with list of credits, story synopsis, some choice dialogue and the music complete with a short description of the scenes they’re in), and xml for the song lists by title and by artist, complete with title, artist and pointers to the over 400 music files I found, and the music files themselves, xsl files to translate the xml to html and the css to prettyfy all of it.
        All of that is viewable, but only on my machine!

        Yeah, it’s huge and not readily made into simple text. Worse, I’m worried that putting the music on line publicly would violate some Youtube rule or other.

        I could easily strip out just the song titles and artists for the first few episodes, but I’m not sure that would help! But if you think it would, gimme about 30 minutes to put the list up.

      • WOW. That’s an impressive labor of love, but out of my league, I’m afraid. Thanks for the offer.

    • Wilf says:

      Hi Joe. I love this new thread. There’s been so much great Chuck fan fiction of late that it seems the time is right for new discussion of this form.

      I seemed to remember that “see the world” (which has always been on my own personal Chuck playlist) was only included pre-production (if that’s the term). Looking on https://www.tunefind.com/show/chuck/season-1/2705#songs confirms that, as it describes See The World: “Sarah & Chuck discuss old relationships at dinner. (pre-air only)”.

      And I think time jump would be the only way forward for any reappearance of Chuck.

      • Tunefind is a godsend, I use it anytime I hear music on tv and like it

      • joe says:

        Ah, thanks, Wilf. That’s consistent with what I found.

        I used to run nearly daily with the Chuck playlist on my mp3 player, and that song was on it from the first. I’ve continually updated the list (even though my arthritic hip won’t let me run any more) as I identify tunes, but I was really, really surprised that I couldn’t locate See the World anywhere on my DVDs.

        Yet, I could see the scene, at least in my mind’s eye, where it was used.

        See? Good music will do that to ya!

        Josh, thanks for the tip on Tunefind. I was not aware of it.

  7. Dave, is there any way to get an RSS feed of the site’s comments? With the (totally justified) slowdown in posting, I’ve got no real way to keep up with the conversations that happen other than manually checking the site.

    Brainstorming idea; feel free to totally ignore: it’s cool seeing a couple of new Chuck fans. one way to keep the site flowing might be to invite new fans to write guest posts or start discussion threads? Something like a “send us your post” button at the top?

    One dynamic I’ve been interested to see is that the new viewers are able to watch the show while divorced from the experience of the show (waiting a week for each episode, wondering if it’ll be canceled, eating too much Subway, etc). It could be a nice way to allow the newer fans to be a part of the community and produce some new insights.

  8. joe says:

    Dave’s been mentioning a mini-series instead of a movie. That’s something I hadn’t considered. I suspect that since we’re in the 21st century (or so they say) something like a Hulu or Netflix series is probably more likely than a full movie or even a Rosanne-like re-do after 20 years.

    Even though I now have a blu-ray player and an alleged smart-phone (I still yell at the kids to get off my lawn, Dave), I haven’t found a reason to subscribe to on-line stuff – yet. Are there vehicles besides Amazon, Hulu and Netflix that might show something created by Zac, maybe, for us Chuck fans? I don’t think I’m up on what’s possible.

    I know, I know. If not today, maybe tomorrow. Should I look for a Chuck Channel on Youtube?

    • Mini-Series would be the best thing I think, longer than a movie but shorter than network TV, and would keep the writing more focused, preventing (hopefully) mistakes.

      Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and youtube are the big ones but you have crackle, sling etc. I also use Kodi which runs on other devices and is free, but to set that up app tech know-how is required. If you feel ambitious enough a quick youtube search can walk you through it. The available content is much bigger too

    • atcDave says:

      joe the technology is simple enough, even if you have an older TV you can get a Roku box or FireStick or something similar that provides a gateway to a large number of subscription or pay-per-view services (assuming you have wi-fi? Please tell me Joe that you don’t use a dial-up modem!) Personally, I mostly use Amazon because it offers pay-per-view (I don’t watch enough to justify a subscription to anything).

      But the bottom line is, there are now dozens, if not hundreds of companies now making original content. It really is good news for video junkies of all sorts. We could get into a rather different “quality” discussion, but the pure quantity of content is staggering. THAT is good news for future Chuck content.

      • joe says:

        Naw. I use tin cans and a string, Dave.

        I have Verizon (and yes, I have WiFi) but my sticking point is always the cost of subscriptions (so I’ll look into pay-per-view to see if it’s reasonable). I’m really unsure about how the tech will shake out – will they all become isolated behind their gateway boxes like Roku? Sometimes I’m convinced we’ll all have to subscribe to everything or be assigned by society to some virtual box of viewers labelled low, middle or high by the same PTB who insist that we’re either deplorables or desirables now. Bah to that!

        Heh. The real thing is that nothing seems quite so entertaining as it used to. At first I thought it was just me, but I’m not so sure ’bout that. The medium changed from silents to talkies to radio in my grandfather’s day and then to television and cable to Hulu et. al. in my lifetime. I wonder what’s coming next. I wonder where the talent is going to appear next.

        There I go getting all philosophical again.

      • atcDave says:

        Most modern TVs will have some sort of gateway built right in; so a smart TV, wi-fi and an Amazon account and that’s all you need.
        I am cranky about some of it, like I can’t watch the newest Star Trek series because I’m not ready to subscribe to CBS’ streaming service. But I expect at some point I will take the leap, once something I can’t resist, like a Chuck movie, ends up that way.

  9. joe says:

    AAAARRRRRGGGGG!!!!!
    I just found a one-letter typo in my post this morning, in the very last word, and it changes the meaning. Fixed now, but it destroyed my running joke forevermore.

    I beg pardons all around.

  10. MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

    Has anyone else seen Ready Player One or its trailers and had nostalgia, not for the 80s, but for Chuck music?

    Ready Player One trailers featured Rush’s Tom Sawyer and A-ha’s Take On Me, two songs that actually were featured in the show, not just a music for the audience.

    The movie had Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It (Chuck vs the First Kill – office battle). and Oingo Boingo’s Dead Man’s Party (Chuck vs the Couch Lock – Casey’s funeral abduction). Dead Man’s Party is one of 32 songs mentioned in the Ready Player One book.

    • I was going to see it regardless now I definitely will.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny, just now home from the theater! Yes, entertaining movie with a lot of Chuck humor. I particularly like the probably non-intentional joke about the hot chick avatar probably belonging to a 300 lb guy in Detroit, living in his mom’s basement, named Chuck…

  11. Joe
    If cost is your sticking point I really suggest Terrarium TV. You can download and install it on your computer or streaming device and you can stream pretty much anything for free. The only reason I still pay for subscriptions is that I am not always in the mood to take the time that is sometimes required to find a quality stream.

    Here’s the website where you can download/learn about it

    https://terrariumtvappdownloads.com

    and a friendly Youtube video to install it on a firestick

    Dave your gripes will be reduced to trying to find a buffer free stream, which can be annoying but you won’t pay a cent and the content never leaves if it is on the app.

  12. Neil Sandford says:

    I also you:
    https://www.what-song.com/
    That’s where i got all the track listings for Chuck

  13. uplink2 says:

    Hey guys, long time no post. So nice to see some activity. Been a tough last 2 years and reading Chuck fic helped and liked this post. Now I just need to read all the comments. lol But to Joe’s idea about Bryce staying into season 3, there was a blog site a number of years ago called Completely Comfortable, long since taken down, but it posted what the plans originally were for season 3 with Bryce before Bomer got his show. I also think it was the plan if the season got renewed to start in September 2009.
    From what I remember the WT/WT with Bryce as the triangle was supposed to end in sweeps around episode 8 and it never was as bad as they did with Shaw. The “stake date” was supposed to be a “real date” sort of. The blog gave a lot of great detail about their plans as Bryce was supposed to mentor Chuck and how his becoming a spy still bothered Sarah and it all created much more believable angst instead of the contrived mess they came up with once Bomer was unavailable.
    The posting was so detailed I always thought it was done by a real insider and I really wish I kept a copy as I’ve never been able to find it once the blog was taken down.
    Hope all is well with everyone and its so great that these characters are still alive in our hearts.

    • Bryce really would have been a lot more tolerable. I don’t think he would have come across as intentionally trying to split drive Chuck and Sarah apart… I would have understood her seeking refuge with Bryce, which is why I hate shaw so much…there is no precedent for their relationship; boy what was good for Matt Bomber was bad for CHUCK.

    • atcDave says:

      Hey Uplink great to see you drop in!
      That definitely would have worked better with Bomer. It sounds similar to the speculation posted by NV way back. Between his history with Chuck and Sarah, and his better chemistry with the cast, the tension would have been strong even with nothing overt.
      As I’ve observed before, I likely wouldn’t have enjoyed the tense season either way, but it’s a difference between character development and soul destroying silliness.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks Dave. Well I see it a couple of ways. I would have been ok with tension/stress/angst for C&S in early season 3 because of the very reasons they tried to do it. Sarah worried about Chuck changing, the stress on him when confronted with the needs/duties of the job he chose. etc. But the failure for me at least was how they did it. The ridiculous necessity of horribly OOC Chuck at the train station, and then the relationship trapezoid and the horribly crafted and developed Shaw character. The terrible writing i.e. Mask etc, the total lack of chemistry between Yvonne and Routh and on and on as I’ve said many times here. But we knew from the beginning that Bryce was a threat to Charah and more importantly that he was shown many times to be a great spy which Shaw never was once. They told us he was but showed us an incompetent boob. Plus it was dragged out way too long.

        You could have had Chuck actually talk to Sarah in Prague, her still be pissed and the whole can’t be together as she was still his handler, remember they showed us Sarah was a real agent but still had a handler, and have Bryce come in to train Chuck, him still recovering from his injuries or them being so bad he can’t go back in the field and Sarah feels sorry for him etc. But all of that possible relationship angst lasts just a couple of episodes and is done by early on in the season. Hell you could even have had Bryce turn as he get’s pissed they won’t let him back in the field.

        But alas none of that could happen once White Collar got cast.

      • atcDave says:

        The only thing that truly matters to me is absolutely, categorically no triangles after Colonel. Period.
        I would have accepted some tension, maybe even angst of Chuck’s own making from fears her can’t compete with Bryce. But no triangles.

      • I did not mean to push buttons Dave, everything you said makes a lot of sense.

        I think Colonel is the big sticking point and the fuel to the backlash. It’s one thing if you haven’t crossed the sexual line with the characters, but when your one condom away from crossing that line (I would end my friendship with Morgan on the spot btw) there is NO EXCUSE for a reset!

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I meant buttons pushed in a good way!
        But yeah, I agree Josh.

      • noblz says:

        Uplink, good to see you back. Remember our discussions of the Sarah/Shaw nonsense fondly.

        Your ideas here are good. Bring back Bryce to train Chuck. We know Sarah categorically turned Bryce down during the Ring. Maybe Bryce is the one to see both sides of the C&S dilemma. Maybe even have Bryce be the one to put Chuck “into the picture” with respect to Sarah’s feelings. Would have made for some great possibilities.

        otherDave

      • thinkling says:

        I like the Bryce-as-a-mentor idea, Noblz. But I think the real reason Sarah rejected Bryce and they killed him off was because Bomer had another contract. Unfortunately, the triangle/trapezoid was probably their non-negotiable, and if Bryce had stayed he would have been one of the dots in the detested trapezoid. I’ll never get why the show runners are so glued to wt/wt, because I don’t think real people are all that wild about it.

        For Chuck season 3 there was so much fertile soil to till without any more wt/wt. They could have developed GB’s idea of protecting the world from Chuck … had him do inner battle with the Intersect, with Sarah’s help … walk that fine line to help him become enough of an agent to not get bunkered (or worse), but not so much of an agent that he would lose himself. But, no, they had to go back to the well of tripe. At least they gave us seasons 4&5, which were truly great.

      • Hear, hear. So much fertile soil neglected to construct a ramshackle trapezoid.

        (For what it’s worth, and although I don’t know if anyone caught it (it didn’t matter if anyone did), my *Cables to Aces* is at heart a S3 rewrite. It starts earlier, but if you think about major plot points, you can see how it goes. I even bring Bryce in to be the new team leader. Of course, things go very, very differently, but rewriting S3 was the generative idea.)

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling ditto all!

      • It would be fun to see Bryce react to everything Chuck and Sarah have gone through in a revival of any sort…the scientist from tooth worked with tissue regeneration so Bryce could easily just be “on ice” again.

      • atcDave says:

        Kelly a big part of what worked for me in Cables was making Chuck the hacker and analyst early on, it was funny in canon how the Piranha was introduced so late! And I always thought analyst was a better fit than agent, even if sometimes the line was pretty fine.

        Josh I particularly like the idea of Bryce being honestly happy for Chuck and Sarah. Whatever tension he might have brought to the the story, in the end I think he would have given his blessing.

    • Wlima Greenstreet says:

      Uplink2: Thank you very much for remembering my short-lived blog. If you send me an email to wilmagreenstreet(at)protonmail.com I will send you a copy of the post to which you referred.

    • Mac says:

      Wouldn’t be the first time a plan got totally screwed up by hastily trying to make it fit into a changing landscape. If I had a dime for every time I’ve done that…

  14. Neil Sandford says:

    Uplink2

    I’ve enjoyed over the last few weeks reading your comments you originally posted as i have everyone else’s.

    Bomer being in s3 would have certainly had the chemistry, especially with Sarah which could have been more of a threat to Chuck than Shaw (would that have been a good or bad thing) unless the writers had a different approach to the story, you would still have had all the angst and the wt/wt.

    For me the failings of s3, was yes Routh wasn’t good casting, OOC Sarah, poor writing, that goes for ep17 as well, no proper resolution hardly any screen time of C/S together and the the angst (yet again) during the misery arc.

    It’s a season which is technically important for the rest of the series yet so easy to try and forget.

    The fanfics i have been reading are so much better and some are even to the point how i would have liked the season to be written.

    • For a long time, I thought Routh was a bad actor. His role as Ray Palmer/The Atom in DCTV has changed my mind about that. He was simply bad casting and I’m pleased that I don’t see one ounce of Shaw in his current role.

      Dave maybe you can explain why TV feels spooked by the couples curse and feels like relying on angst so often? I just don’t get it, if real life were like that, there would not be 7 billion people on earth because people would not work at being together!

      • atcDave says:

        I wish I could explain it with any certainty!

        Romantic malfunctions and misadventures have been a part of drama since it’s origins in Ancient Greece. No doubt romance touches a deep seated chord for most of us.
        The current story telling landscape is probably as vast as it’s ever been. Not only are books, television and movies being made in large numbers worldwide but with the internet we see an outlet for amateurs of every conceivable interest and niche.
        But in relative terms I think serialized television type stories are still fairly new and immature. And they are subject to odd market forces that effect length and timing of story points and resolutions. A major issue has been finding the right audience, and I think there have been many shows that either misjudged their audience or had to grow with an audience over time (Original fans of the Simpsons are in a different stage of life than when the show started!).
        Romance in particular will play differently depending on the sought after audience. Teens typically experience more instability and “drama”, while older adults may relate to different issues like raising a family, taking care of aging parents, mixing career and family. The things one group likes may completely disconnect for another. Obviously that’s never absolute and some younger viewers may crave stability while some older adults may miss a more “adventurous” past. And situational variations may be infinite; that is, a viewer may find themselves drawn to something outside of their “usual” preferences. No doubt those exceptions make any kind of audience pandering extremely problematic.

        But I do think a couple of current issues have worked against showing stable and mature relationships. One is the drive for younger, more “moldable” viewers. Advertisers are well aware that younger viewers are more easily influenced by commercials, which makes them more appealing targets. So there will be a built in business interest for writing for younger viewers.

        Then there’s the so-called “Moonlighting Curse”; which is essentially a horribly misunderstood mess. But many people, including many in the industry, “remember” how a successful comic/romantic pairing on a wildly successful show suffered a total ratings collapse right after the featured couple was “put together”. Similar things were observed on other shows about this time (early ‘80s). This is now regarded as an immutable truth by many.
        But of course it’s ridiculous and flat out wrong. And I don’t even mean that in a subjective sense. I mean objectively the “Curse” is provable nonsense.
        For starters, the pairing was immediately undone on the show. The couple went separate directions and rarely shared screen time for a full season, in part because the stars couldn’t stand each other. Second, so much of the show’s energy had come from bickering and competing between the “romantic” leads; you couldn’t put them together without loosing something of the show’s energy. (How different this is from Chuck! Chuck and Sarah were friendly and protected each other in every way imaginable. The show’s main romantic energy came from their warm and gooey sweet moments together!).
        And a big thing, that effected almost every single one of these “proof” situations; the show was running out of fresh and interesting ideas BEFORE the pairing ever happened and ratings were often already in decline. So even if the “big event” bolstered ratings briefly, the show went back into its decline shortly thereafter.
        This last point has been a continuing problem with television. I think of it as the “wt/wt Curse!” That part of the story gets dragged out too long, people get tired of it. They push it too far and make the protagonists look foolish and/or immoral. And the show runners put the older and dumber couple together after the rating decline has already begun. And no doubt, the misrepresented and misunderstood Moonlighting Curse is in large part responsible for this situation.

        Sorry for the essay! You seem to have pushed some buttons…

    • uplink2 says:

      Neil, thanks though sometimes I cringe when I read my past postings lol. I did have a tendency to get a little self righteous at times. I let my emotional attachment to these characters or at least how I viewed them to cloud my thoughts a bit. My dislike for early season 3 was pretty intense at times. Its funny I’ve found myself mellowing a bit about the ending of the series though I still think it as a lousy series finale but at least the performances were good and I get what they were trying to do but in many ways my dislike for season 3 has only grown with time because that dislike is rooted in so many things I written thousands of words on on this site alone lol.

      The one small area I have mellowed a bit on is my dislike for Routh. At times I almost feel sorry for him. He was miscast, given an incredibly poorly crafted and introduced character and his limitations as an actor only made it worse. Lets face it, he will never be seen walking across any stage to get an acting award. And if you look at his career trajectory it hasn’t ascended but kind of declined in fact from a lead in a major iconic film reboot to now a role as an ensemble actor in a mediocre rated franchise show on the number 5 network. So I guess his skill as an actor has settled into a level he is better suited for. And he is working. But in Chuck he wasn’t given much to work with and his weaknesses made it even worse. So I can’t put all the blame on him.

      • Neil Sandford says:

        uplink2

        I think firstly it is sad that Chuck is the only show i have ever watched where i will not watch either a season or certain episodes, i watch a fair amount of US & British tv and admittedly i very re-watch but if i do i can pick any series or episode not a problem but not with Chuck, and that is a shame.

        The concept is so original “He’s the secret, she’s the agent” great, the idea over the first two seasons with the wt/wt or angst ok, tollerable but starting to drag for me a little but then it should have stopped there.

        I really didn’t mind parts of 3×01, 3×02 but they should have built on the misunderstanding and healing process, kept the two main characters on screen together and worked together to help him become a spy the right way, his way and her transition into real life, that was the dynamism of the show and it showed it worked in s4 & s5.

        So many times we heard Chuck say things like “when i get this out of my head i want a real relationship” boring, how many times did we here it, but did we ever see Chuck asking what Sarah would like?

        Hannah was really a nothing to me apart from she was used for Chuck to realise how difficult being a spy is in real life, i was glad when she left

        Routh’s acting didn’t bother me so much as Sarah’s, she just flipped, was so annoying, i still believe Shaw was brought in to split the two up and buy FE mission accomplished, or so he thought, Chuck was a jerk at times but realised, to much air time with S/S, to much angst but it should never have got to that stage, fans obviously loved the underlying romance of C/S and they should have stuck with it, i know it was about the journey but don’t the creators want to please the fans instead of sticking a knife in and twisting it, you lose your fans, you lose the show, you lose your job.

        In s3, i can only watch about 5 episodes again, i can’t even watch LD with the interrogation, yet it has such an important scene at the end with C/S and her spy will.

        At the end of the day, great concept for a show, superb casting especially Yvonne (who always got the rough end of the deal from schwartz & Fedak imo) and four good seasons, not five, sad.

      • Unpopular opinion: Routh was excellent on Chuck. He plays the “stiff as a board” role perfectly: unpersonable, unknowable, and easily broken (as we find out). He plays the literal opposite of Chuck, which is why Sarah finds him appealing after the events of 3.01, and why he’s so unlikeable. His performance in Santa Claus remains the best of any Chuck villain except Volkoff. He’s exactly what the role requires. I despise Shaw in large part because of how effectively Routh makes me despise him.

        Uplink2 is referencing Legends of Tomorrow, which Fedak also produces, and also features a blonde assassin named Sarah! Routh’s performance is pretty hammy; he’s much better off playing a stiff-as-a-board type. I’ll grant that Routh is the best of an abjectly terrible cast on a terrible (if amusing and creative) show.

        This forum always amuses me on S3.0. I’ve always disliked it, but I’m probably its staunchest defender on the forum. All of its evil is part of why S4 is so rewarding, and it’s worth exploring how two people who love each other with the best of intentions can nonetheless be deeply cruel to each other. In a way, it’s part of why I’ve always been so optimistic on the finale: if they can get through S3, they can get through anything.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m always okay with a story of fighting to be together. But S3 was too much giving up and going different directions. Nothing I care to see.

      • Arthur
        I had not considered that POV on Routh, it does not soften my stance on S3 because as Dave says the gem of the show was the awkward but genuine interactions between Chuck and Sarah. The idea they were going for could have been written in a far less extreme way, without so much character assassination. The old saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it applies here.

        Neil
        The missed opportunities of CHUCK are sad and that is largely what drove my post-finale story-called Chuck and Sarah-it’s probably one of the larger scale stories that exist. Even small things like the list of excellent one-off villains and allies always bothered me with this show. Plot points that were introduced and never flushed out, or popped up too late, or things that never got dealt with on screen. I tend to think of my story as a fix all for everything the writers messed up on or did not get the chance to explore because of external issues. You can find it in one of Dave’s earlier fanfiction posts. It still floors me that I got a mention because It was my first fan-fic. (Thanks Dave!)

        Better yet, here’s the URL for quicker access: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10634971/1/Chuck-and-Sarah.

        I have been sparingly updating bits and pieces even though it’s finished; you seemed a little bummed out so I thought it would help:)

      • Neil Sandford says:

        Josh

        Cheers, I see you have done three stories and as I’m on a roll at the moment reading one after the other, I will start with one of yours tonight.

        I’m not bummed out, it’s easy for me to criticise the writers, they must have had there reasons why they wrote the stories, but it was the lack of follow up for us not to go uh! and although I really didn’t mind pink slip & three words, in places, they should have built the fall out and coming together from that not the drifting apart and for so long but spies have to do what Chuck learnt, so he had to learn the hard way and Sarah had to just watch and let him get on with it.

        I always wondered that Routh acted that way was because he was the opposite to Chuck and that’s why Sarah chose second best ( you remember the restaurant scene in AH the she said “this is nice”, I wish she would have said “this is perfect” in the restaurant scene in Balcony) I was surprised that Hannah really was nothing other than to show another side of Chuck, I always thought she was brought in by Shaw to help keep C/S apart, it all stems back to the look Shaw has at the end of mask, the red test order and at the apartment at the end of FE, when Sarah says not any more.

        Having said that there were a few good scenes during that arc and none other when Sarah leaves the restaurant in FE and looks back, great, great scene backed up with such a powerful and apt song and as I have already said, the spy will was a special moment and her hair was similar at the end of wookie.

        Still, what’s done is done, we can’t change it, the fanfics are great to keep it going and although a lot are fluffy you could say that s4 & 5 had a lot of fluff in it as Sarah’s character development was amazing, all we needed was one more season.

        I could go on and on but so much has already been said several years ago.

      • joe says:

        Arthur said “Unpopular opinion: Routh was excellent on Chuck.”

        Well, yes, Arthur. It’s not a majority opinion, to say the least. But if it means anything to you, I share it, especially after reading (most of) The Chuck Book. I’m not an actor, so I wouldn’t presume to criticize a professional’s ability. But IMHO most of us “wanted” Bryce. Therefore, we didn’t not want Shaw, no matter who played the part. I’ll expand on this later, but I’ve come to think that the Shaw character offers something different than Bryce. Worse/Better is a matter of personal taste, perhaps, but it’s certainly something different.

        What surprises me now is that TPTB still created something I enjoy out of that.

      • Joe, I agree on Shaw/Bryce. I think a S3 with Bryce in Shaw’s place would be even worse than what we got. With all that said, I think Dave’s point is definitive here: regardless of the plausibility of S3, it’s just not good to watch. Entertainment should be entertaining.

        The Chuck book also helped me put it in a different perspective. While it remains unpleasant for me, I no longer want to remove it from cannon the way I did before. Still, I’d say Prague remains the original sin: everything that happens after Prague makes sense, but Prague itself doesn’t. There’s just no way that Chuck would leave the train station without having a full conversation with Sarah (like they did in honeymooners). I understand his decision, but his execution of that decision is the antithesis of everything else Chuck does in the show.

        Josh, that’s totally valid. Routh being good at his role doesn’t change any criticisms you have for the role itself.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe your last sentence hits on the problem for many of us, we did NOT enjoy one significant part of the show.
        So although I’ve long maintained Routh is not really the problem with S3, he becomes the face of something, well, contemptible. I have no personal animosity towards the man. Seriously, JS merits far more scorn for me. But I find it hard to stomach Routh in any capacity at this point. Enough to say he is the reason we never watched Legends of Tomorrow, even though we watch Flash, and have watched Supergirl (S1 anyway).

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur I agree pretty strongly with all of that. Even to mention (again!), of the three couples I know who quit watching Chuck during S3, they ALL quit at Pink Slip. Original sin indeed! Never mind coming off the rails, they never got on the track.

  15. Neil Sandford says:

    You all have much better knowledge of the show than I do, many of you have rewatched a lot more than I have, only a few for me, now I will admit that when I first watched the show i would miss a lot in regards of how to read it, on rewatches, these blogs (hope thats right) with the reviews and comments helped my out a lot, I am, getting to the point, s3, dare we talk about it, I believe it was either Lizjames or faith explained why Sarah was dating Shaw once she let go of Chuck, but if you were watching it for the first time, I would think he is a threat, a few episodes ended with S/S, so if I’m right, serious angst, until the next episode and this is with two actors as most people say, didn’t have a lot of chemistry, now if the story line stayed the same, if and Bryce was in charge instead, even though Sarah, had rejected him at least twice as I’m not sure if she picked Chuck in Nemesis but just stuck with her assignment, how would you feel watching it then and how would Chuck feel, just a thought.

    The Chuck book I found fairly insightful, example: during Pink Slip she dances provocatively to show Chuck what he missed out on, otherwise she was covered up in scenes and theres a reason for that, however I have read it a couple of times and noticed a mistake, she actually uses the word Daniel twice, in the car at the end of AH and in castle during LD and the author didn’t mention whilst packing, again at the end of AH, the clock at 18:10, although that still could mean train or flight but the picture on view, would she have the photo on view if she was packing for good to go to D.C., maybe, this is Sarah we are talking about, who can bury her feelings and be cold but at the same time turns to mush when Chuck turns the charm on, would she really want a photo of them as a reminder what she could be giving up.

    Dave, I know you mentioned to the author with regards to the photo as I read his article and it almost convinced me she had decided on D.C. until Casey arrived but then I saw at the foot of the article what you had seen.

    • Yes, I missed the other mention of Shaw and the picture beside Sarah while she is packing (and many other things I am sure). But I am unsure the first miss invalidates anything that I said about Sarah and Shaw. The second miss is more important, but by itself is still just another piece of evidence for where Sarah is going, since, unless you think she put it there as she was packing, it would have been there the whole time she’s been involved with Shaw and didn’t prevent that, or make Sarah believe Chuck about the Red Test.

    • atcDave says:

      No doubt we saw a very confused and damaged Sarah through much of S3. I think whether Bryce had remained, or Shaw as we saw, the point was meant to be a sort of anti-Chuck. Sort of Sarah settling for an all professional life, as opposed to an emotionally satisfying one. But I don’t think even damaged Sarah could have been so callous as to put the picture of Chuck BACK up in her room (it had pointedly been missing earlier in the season) to run off to Shaw.
      But to me the biggest thing, even bigger than who she was packing for, is just that once she chose for Chuck she never even considered Shaw again. Never even bothered to break up with him as far as we know. She was with Chuck, end of story.
      Now the very fact we’re still discussing it shows how horribly handled much of it was. It’s like no one, from staff writers, to directors, to actors really bought into the whole mess. It was just a matter of killing time until 3.13. Making an arc of disposable and sub-standard episodes on purpose. At least that’s how it is for me. And seriously, if you’ve watched these episodes twice you’re twice the expert I am! I just can’t do it again.

      • I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have seen Chuck an unhealthy number of times from start to finish, easily more than 20. There was even a point 3 or 4 years ago where it was the only thing I watched and I would restart the series right after I finished it, I probably did that 10 times of the more than 20 that I have watched it. A severe depression is a big reason for this, for a big period watching it was the only thing that gave me any joy.

        I have since come out the other side, but I feel like I know the show and it’s characters so well that I don’t need to watch it; yet whenever I do, no matter how small it always new in some way…I started writing fan fiction because I retained all that CHUCK information and wanted to put it to good use.

        I think Chuck would have personal hang-ups with Bryce but more so professionally than anything else. I don’t think Bryce would train Chuck in the way Shaw did because he knows him personally and I would like to think he would tailor things so Chuck would be able to handle his transition easier. In other words, I don’t think he would have turned Chuck into an emotionless spy that Shaw did. I think Bryce would understand where Sarah’s head is at too because alma mater is a good indication that he feared the same thing Sarah does.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree Bryce and Chuck could have felt very different from what we saw, I also think Sarah and Bryce would have felt different. The main point of similarity between Bryce and Shaw is that I think they both would have served a similar role for Chuck and between Chuck and Sarah. At least as far as THIS group of writers would have handled it.
        Ideally, we would have had just a completely different story. But JS was determined to give us THIS one.

  16. Neil Sandford says:

    You’re right about her using Shaw, I think the only times she used Daniel was when she was nervous, if Sarah gets nervous, apart from on the balcony.

    The photo could be a red herring or could be a production error unless someone knows differently, I can’t believe she would have it on view with Shaw in the room in red test but of course you can’t see with that camera angle, so I’m going with the tid bit of a clue, which surprises me with the creators, like to keep the angst going for a long as possible.

    • noblz says:

      I think the picture was on purpose. Remember in Final Exam Sarah came within an inch of jumping Chuck during the stake-date and at the end Shaw asks “Do you still love him?” and she replies “Not any more.” During the Shaw/Sarah restaurant scene in AH they talk about “we should have done this along time ago” and other words indicating the start of a relationship that lasted half an episode.

      Uplink did a good one shot story about the picture in that scene. You should give it a read.

  17. Neil Sandford says:

    I can’t believe Chuck messed up at the start of Suburbs, Sarah always looked so devine in the OO uniform, I really missed seeing it in s4&5 and the couch scene, man, how frustrating, what I wouldn’t give to be in his position, who needs gaming!!!

    • atcDave says:

      They are both so awkward it the start of that episode it hurts!
      And remember the episode order was switched, so this should have been the follow on to Best Friend and that hand holding. Two people who clearly, desperately wanted to be together but thought it was hopeless.
      It’s all part of why I like to jump from Ring to Honeymooners. It’s a much better flow from the slow burn of S2 into the prefect resolution.

      • Neil Sandford says:

        I’m sure this was the first episode I watched in the UK and I’m sure the next episode the following week was beefcake, (2010 air date) which would be in the right order but the original date in the US, for you was changed for valentines day so if you watched the original air dates, Best Friend to Beefcake wouldn’t have made sense.

        I’m sure I learnt about this on this website.

        Dave, I think I read that you didn’t care much for beefcake, as I was new to the show at the time and had missed the first half of the season I had no idea of the chemistry and of course Cole was causing that good ole angst but out of interest Chuck broke up with Sarah at the start, was Cole getting captured also an excuse for Sarah to be back in Chuck’s life as girlfriend / sleep over as well as the legitimate reason for protecting him as he knew he was the intersect.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s good to hear the air order was fixed in the U.K. In the US, the episode order is even wrong on the disc sets! Crazy. The disconnect is jarring. But for those of us who were following what was going on through the NBC forums there was never a mystery about it, we knew exactly when and why these things happened. It was just annoying to be trapped by the wrong air dates.
        Beefcake has its moments! It is my least favorite of S2, but not so much for the love triangle aspect. Apart from one stolen kiss that is a complete nothing. It’s seeing Chuck at his winey/neurotic worst, a really grotesque Jeffster story, and Chuck not being trusted to hack a data chip that all really irked me. It just isn’t a fun episode to me. But the end does make me laugh out loud. Easily the highlight of the episode!

      • The S4 opening of Masquerade is for me, the single funniest scene in the entire series! Between the weirdness of what Morgan and Alex are doing, Sarah in a Cupid/angel costume and Casey’s reaction I bust a gut every single time!

      • atcDave says:

        That is a very funny sequence!
        And later in the episode is Sarah playing with action figures.

      • thinkling says:

        Yes, that opening scene is one of the funniest. Can’t watch it without laughing. One of the great thing about Chuck was its ability to pull off scenes like that as well as heart-warming and dramatic and spy stuff. They could turn on a dime and give you all of those things in one episode. Not many shows can do that.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah really from the very start; the Pilot had several laugh out loud moments, with some legitimate drama too. So often it was perfect mix.

      • noblz says:

        Another funny scene for me is from Suitcase. The extended scene where C&S break into Sofia’s hotel room. From Chuck’s eyes as Sofia undresses, Chuck asking “Can you see anything?” and Sarah’s “Are you serious?” , Sarah’s face as the guard explains that he loves her (Sofia) but the kicker was after the she-spy has Chuck at gunpoint and Sarah rushes in…

        Forget smart bullets or the gun to Chucks head, Sarah’s first words-“Is she naked?”

        Chuck plays dumb- “Who?”

        Sarah doesn’t say anything but her eyes narrow micrometrically.

        Chuck caves-“Yes, yes she is.” Sarah opens fire. That whole scene was a hoot to me.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree completely! I love that “who”? Very funny sequence.

    • Yvonne Strahovski is beautiful even when she is not trying to be, I am stunned particularly by her face so I was always mad when they put her on display with music in the background, it’s very rude so I was glad they more or less stopped doing that as time went on

    • thinkling says:

      Sorry, Neil, but I hated the OO uniform. Even commented about it at the time … how glad I was to see the end of Sarah’s cover outfits and how nice it was to see her in regular clothes. Just saying …

      • Agree here, the cover outfits were a bit ridiculous and do a disservice to what a beautiful woman Yvonne is, they take attention from her face.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh c’mon. Wienerlicious was beautiful and classy!

      • noblz says:

        I agree. The Wienerlicious outfit was kind of parody material. I did like her S2 Nerd Herd outfit better than S5. Of course in S5 she was a married woman after all.

  18. Neil Sandford says:

    All is quiet but I must have now read thirty five to forty ff stories and still going strong, some of them sooo good that may be they should have fired the JS and writers and brought the fans in to write the series or at least the naff episodes and they don’t have to be fluffy.

    • Wilf says:

      I recommend stories by WvonB – they have never disappointed me. Of course, there are many other wonderful Chuck fic writers.

      • Neil Sandford says:

        Thanks for the recommendation, I’ve started reading there first attempt, quarter of the way through, very good so far, a lot more of this single chapter to read but I will finish it tonight (who needs sleep!!!)

    • atcDave says:

      I would second that on wvonb; and add Zettel, Anthropocene, Quistie64, Angus McNab, MyNameIsJeffNImLost …. and many, many others to that list!

  19. Chlojack says:

    All five seasons of Chuck are streaming on Amazon prime.

  20. Fairway12 says:

    I just binged Chuck and it was confusing, if you ask me. So I came to this blog (thanks, Google) and started reading. To say I learned a lot is an understatement. And I am astonished how prescient some of your commenters were. This is from January 10, 2010, which I gather is the night Season 3 premiered. It called the entire season’s arc. I find that amazing…

    https://chuckthisblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/open-reactions-thread/
    “The entire two hours was cynical and manipulative. And, by the way, since this season is exactly what I predicted it would be–a flip of season 2 with Sarah wanting out of the spy world and Chuck wanting in and Sarah loving Chuck and Chuck not loving Sarah (enough)–watch for this: The Shaw character is either a rogue spy for The Ring or perhaps even its leader. It’s the logic of the flip. If Sarah has genuine feelings for Shaw, as she did for Bryce, then Shaw WILL be a rogue spy because Bryce was not. This is, sadly, writing by the numbers now. All you have to do is follow the dots…”

  21. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Many of us have gone over how much S3 failed this show. It was the exact wrong way to extend a wt/wt dynamic. Luckily it can be done right, look no Blue Bloods which finally wrapped theirs up last night after 4 years and the first thing I said was I wish CHUCK had done things this way. I don’t know if anyone here watches blue bloods but the difference in how the dynamic was handled form its creation and resolved yesterday was refreshing

    • atcDave says:

      I may have to check it out. I like Tom Selleck, but I ever got around to starting it.

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        Netflix will add season 8 soon, I highly recommend it, Dave, it is Tom Selleck’s best role and the show quickly became my favorite crime-solving drama with all due respect to Castle. The cast changes somewhat between the early and more recent years, but the show will be going into its 9th year and has spent the majority of that time on Fridays at 10

  22. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    At the end of every TV season, there are always a few network decisions that puzzle me, renewing instinct and canceling scorpion at CBS tops this year’s surprises

  23. TomB 33 says:

    Old time Chuck viewer here, watched all of seasons 1 and 2 as aired then lost touch somewhere in season 3. Had a child and life took precedence over watching TV.

    Anyway, recently started thinking about Chuck, wondered what ever happened to the characters and started to catch up. Part of this catching up has been reading this site which I’ve enjoyed quite a bit. Thank you for all you have thought about and shared about this wonderful show.

    To get to the point, a question for Dave about Pink Slip and the events of season 3, the idea of skipping from Colonel straight to Honeymooners – when Sarah asks Chuck to run with her and disappear from the spy life forever, Chuck would also be giving up his connections to his family and friends, everything He’s been fighting for to stay out of the bunker. Sure He’d asbe with Sarah, but wouldn’t it be uncharacteristicly selfish for him to leave Ellie (As his father had), particularly with no explanation?

    The reasons he gives Sarah in Three Words, while probably true on some level, don’t seem as strong as the connection to his loved ones as developed in the first 2 seasons. The fact that Sarah even asks for Chuck to abandon his friends and family underscores a major disconnect between them that needs to be adressed in their relationship.

    This has probably been discussed somewhere on the site but I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this issue as I haven’t seen it adressed.

    Thanks,
    Tom

    • atcDave says:

      Jumping straight from Colonel to Honeymooners is more a matter of avoiding a disliked arc than an honest attempt at story or character. That it works on any level (Chuck and Sarah doing exactly what had been discussed earlier) is mostly a source of amusement to me.
      For a more serious attempt at telling a story we discussed many alternatives and looked at more developed fan fiction for that period in a series of “Alternatives” posts (available under the “Categories” header at right). To me, the bottom line will always be that a fun show with appealing characters became something wholly different and unpleasant for most of a season. That growth and development needed to happen is not the question, it’s that such ugly and cliche devices were used to get there that is the problem.

      BTW, welcome to the site! It’s always good to hear from another fan.

  24. TomB 33 says:

    And on a sad note, Scott Hutchinson, the creative for e behind Frightened Rabbit died the other day, suicide, seemingly after suffering serious depression.

    His music added a lot to some very pivotal scenes in Chuck – The Twist, Keep Youself Warm and Backwards Walk…

    Depression is a he’ll of a disease…

  25. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    I have been thinking about this show again recently. Mainly wondering if the series would have been better served to make the wtwt stages of their relationship more fun, and less driven by angst. I just don’t think the writers ever attempted to create the sort of banter that exists on Castle between Rick and Beckett or Jamie and Eddie on Blue Bloods.

    I think I can count on one hand the number of episodes where Chuck and Sarah had the kind of funny and subtle flirtation that exists in nearly every episode of both of those other shows. It would have been nice if Chuck and Sarah had similar banter. Maybe if they would not have included Jill and Bryce that would have happened but it seems like the writers were determined to make Chuck battle scared and pining…a shame really as the other shows I mentioned prove that wt/wt does not have to be written in an angst-filled fashion and both have a genuine back and forth that I rather enjoy watching. I can’t help but wonder if Chuck’s writers did not have the ability to present something like that. There is zero subtly in Chuck and Sarah’s attraction and I think the fact that it was all or nothing is yet another mistake in the writing. I like Chuck, but I don’t know if I would watch it if it were airing currently because the writers always let things fester until it bubbled over and there is nothing “fun” about their personal relationship before season 4.

    Anyhow that is the end of my rant, I feel better.

    • atcDave says:

      Well, I think a lot of that type of banter is exactly what DID WORK so well on Chuck. That is, there was no taunting/teasing/rivalry. What we saw was more support, encouragement and warmth between the main characters. That made it easy to buy into how fast the relationship progressed. It made the main characters more likable, and easier to root for. On the occasion when they did tease or argue it was that much funnier and more interesting because it was uncommon.
      Now all that said, presenting Chuck and Sarah in such a way DRAMATICALLY shortened the timer on how long wt/wt would work. Once the obvious barriers were settled, or seemed close to settled at the end of S2 the only way to extend the process was by suddenly introducing new issues. New issues that felt like extreme manipulation to much of the audience.
      A show like Castle could, and did, draw things out further precisely because there was more teasing, taunting and tension between the characters from the very start. We all “got” that more growing was needed between the main characters and the timer ticked at a much slower pace.

      I’m glad for how Chuck and Sarah related to each other over those first two seasons (for the most part). It’s only the middle season that remains an outlier for its clumsily added on “issues”.

  26. Neil Sandford says:

    Hey Josh, interesting read and some of my comments next might not go down to well with some, especially about SW, a few months ago I discovered via this website FF and for the past four months thats all I’ve done is read Chuck FF, thats a lot of stories, some of which are AU, which I love, some of which are takes on episodes and end of seasons, a few have been absolutely outstanding to the point they have been better than the show itself, sorry I’m ranting on, my point is that when I look back at the show, it’s not that good compared to what it could have been, your right, I’ve watched Castle but not Blue Bloods, so I can only speak about Castle, Castle is a great character, nice and funny, Chuck could be similar but was very immature at times (yes he’s younger), Beckett, very attractive like Walker but a nicer character generally, may be because she’s a cop and not a spy has something to do with it, may be she has a sense of humour and Walker doesn’t is a factor and I also found Walker at times a bit of a b****, where as I never found Beckett to be, I don’t really know how shows work but I guess it’s all down to JS / CF, certainly the angst is and it really didn’t need to be, I agree, your right the banter was limited and the angst was rammed down your throat till it got stupid, at least with Castle banter or not, the pair had a majority screen time together, Chuck on the other hand, especially season 3, misery arc, how much screen time together did C/S get, as we all know, not a lot and that really was a huge mistake, you could also say that the attraction from SW to CB was visual, ok, she wasn’t one for words but wouldn’t it have been nice if she would have told him how she felt every so often but because of the situation it wasn’t possible but she still liked being close to him and to be patient, you could have had s few scenes in her hotel room which was not under surveillance.

    Or i wonder what the show would have been like if they had secretly been dating earlier in the series and having a few close calls with being found out.

    Any how, it was what it was, a great concept and could have been so much more but there’s no going back, with regards to rewatches, I don’t mind a lot of season 2, a couple of season 3 but I tend to watch from season 4.

    • atcDave says:

      I do think the way Castle kept the on-screen focus on the main charcters, even when there was tension, was an excellent move. I wish Chuck had done more of that from the very beginning. But again, only in S3 did become VERY problematic.

  27. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Neil, I literally agree with everything you said. it really comes down to writing and in terms of showing an entertaining, fun and mature relationship Chuck failed at all three for far too long, I realize it is unfair and possibly pointless to compare other shows couple’s but I can’t say enough about Blue Bloods and the job its writers have done with Jamie and Eddie (made even more impressive because prior to season 4 the pair did not exist on the show) pretty much everything we complain about with both Chuck and Castle (lack of screen, time, angst, lack of friendly banter, downright imaturity in recognizing their feelings and dealing with problems wether professional or personal, lack of open and honest comunication) is a non isssue with them.

    I picked Blue Bloods up late last year and was shocked that there are actually writers that can write a relationship so well, to the point that I’m sad to say that I just don’t like Chuck or Castle nearly as much as I used to because I simply stumbled upon a far better-written couple and recommend watching them, even if you jump right to season four because the difference really is shocking.

    • atcDave says:

      I think you’re getting too down and loosing track of what went well. There’s no doubt JS was not a good candidate for writing an adult relationship, but the friendship aspect was well handled from the start. Both characters encouraged and supported each other in the face of many difficulties. The obstacles facing Chuck and Sarah seemed real enough, adult enough; except for a ludicrous over use of love triangles, and I think that was the Achilles Heal of this show runner.

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        The issues may have been real but the handling of them was very poor at times and I realize the show was set in the world of secrets and lies but I wish that Chuck and Sarah would have been more honest with each other and themselves, even if scenes had to be set away from prying eyes of the government. The show would have lasted longer if the writers had been capable of that…love triangles did nothing more than make an already irritating lack of acceptance of how they felt even worse and it affected the friendship they built.

      • atcDave says:

        Absolutely they could have, should have given Chuck and Sarah even more down time together. That has a lot to do with the alternate title ides we have suggested (“Chuck and Sarah” or “Secret and Agent”).
        But let’s remember what the show did well it did extraordinarily well. And there were always more good moments bad. And the conflict of interest Sarah was faced with through S2 was real and profound. “Compromise” isn’t just a code for illicit affection, it’s the whole idea that the government expects her to be THEIR agent and represent THEIR interests over and above Chuck’s interests. She could quite rightly be immediately replaced if her employers believed she could no longer represent their interests. If Sarah believes that threat is real, and also believes she is his best qualified and capable protector, she is in a no win situation.
        And I thought the angst related to that conflict was perfectly played. Her hot/cold treatment of Chuck is a direct consequence of that conflict.

        Now all of that never means I can’t imagine certain aspects of the story being more to my liking. Like MORE Chuck/Sarah time, or more active fighting to CHANGE their circumstance. But again, the only aspect I think was actually poorly handled was all the triangles, at least four too many!

      • thinkling says:

        Hit the nail on the head, Dave. There were legitimate external circumstances that kept CS apart. (With Castle what kept them apart was internal). They did play that well. Doesn’t mean lots of us don’t like the idea of trying a secret relationship on the side, like lots of ff. But they played it well within the boundaries established in the story. And the burden was on Sarah to hold the line or lose what she did have with him … and the ability to protect him, as no other agent would do (like the one time she got replaced). Yeah.

        And then came S3, and while you can justify it (maybe), it was almost irreversibly destructive to both characters and their relationship. As we’ve discussed, there were much more appealing and engaging and intriguing ways to unfold the S3 storyline that would not have tarnished the characters. Sigh. But I don’t want to go there again. Where did I put that black box?

  28. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Dave

    That all makes sense, my big complaint is not so much with seasons 1 and 2, but season 3 is awful, the writers missed a chance to make Chuck and Sarah partners and grow that organically into something great. They could have been on an equal footing (granted Sarah was always a more experienced spy) it just saddens me because JS did more than just destroy these characters…he threw away the chemistry between Zac and Yvonne and now that I’ve seen what can happen when writers don’t run from the challenge of embracing that chemistry or feel the need to stifle it with love triangles…it is hard not to feel sad for CHUCK all over again.

    • atcDave says:

      Yes I agree completely about S3. It seriously and permanently ruined something beautiful. The parts I enjoy are only a product of trying to ignore the other.

  29. Ernie Davis says:

    I’m going to jump the gun here, having skimmed the current, but commented on these arguments before. Point being, I am addressing this in a general sense without necessarily addressing specifics.

    The banter is a tricky thing. Moonlighting, the most oft put forward example, was based on two very specific characters. One a for lack of a better phrase, control freak. Interested in order, the other, essentially a con-man who is oddly on the level. It made for a very specific interaction. The same was true of Castle and Beckett. They were both extremely worldly and cynical in their own way, and thus their interactions, and banter were chess games, battles for the upper hand.

    I always use Firefly as an example, because it had two good WT/WT examples. Mal/Inara and Kaylee/Simon. The contrast could not have been more striking, and thus their interactions, their “banter” was unique to each couple. In their own way, each of Kaylee and Simon was an innocent. She was taken aback by his sophistication, he by her … realness? Lack of pretense? Connection to the real world.

    Mal and Inara were the exact opposite. While Simon and Kaylee had the ability to instantly disarm each other through their sincerity, with Mal and Inara every interaction brought shields up. Hence, the banter, the chess game as opposed to the stepping back when it gets too real.

    Chuck and Sarah were more Simon and Kaylee, each sincere at their core, inexperienced and frightened by the connection they felt and the other’s ability to disarm them, yet their situation demanded that there be some shields up on occasion, hence the occasional line or so extolling the other’s virtues, but frequent retreats based on their formal relationship.

    • atcDave says:

      Extremely well put Ernie, thank you!

    • Charah says:

      I think I’m also partial to the “greenness” and outward simplicity of the Sarah and Chuck relationship and banter. As I’ve grown older I kinda tire of the prolonged teasing stuff since it feels more manufactured specifically to prolong a show. Perhaps it seems to me that way because I was never one for beating around the bush.

    • Charah says:

      I didn’t watch Firefly but I agree with the essence of your post, Ernie! Chuck and Sarah wear their hearts on their sleeves and if not for the asset/handler wrinkle they would have bypassed probably 2 seasons worth of wt/wt haha.

      Also, partial thanks to the show’s tumultous history? If they had more seasons in the long I’m guessing the wt/wt would have been wrung out for longer and perhaps Chuck and Sarah would have been written to be more witty-banter-one-upmanship (ugh).

      • atcDave says:

        Either JS or CF (its been a while, I don’t remember which!) actually said wt/wt would have continued longer if they’d known they still had so much show left.
        So two thoughts…
        1) professional writers really can be staggeringly dense
        2) I am very pleased they didn’t know how much show was left!

    • joe says:

      Ooof! WordPress just mangled my comment!
      Ernie, you put your finger on it. Those two relationships (two in the same show!) was one of the bigger reasons Firefly’s cancellation was such a crime against humanity!

      Dave, you said earlier…
      “And the conflict of interest Sarah was faced with through S2 was real and profound. “Compromise” isn’t just a code for illicit affection, it’s the whole idea that the government expects her to be THEIR agent and represent THEIR interests over and above Chuck’s interests.”

      Oh yeah. The last scene of “Alma Mater”, when Chuck and Sarah discover Bryce was not a nemesis but a hero really underscores that idea. Both Chuck and Sarah face difficult decisions, most often deciding who to hurt and who to avoid hurting. Each season the stakes get higher, though and we, the fans, get caught up in the price they pay.

      Even in S3, Nacho Sampler for instance, Chuck resorts to Johnny Walker, Black, because of that very same conflict.

      …but you said it much better, Dave.

      • atcDave says:

        Thanks Joe!

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        I thought more about this topic after I went to bed for the night and have more objective, less harsh thoughts on it at least generally speaking.

        I think how to present wt/wt and how long to present it depends on several things. Is the couple in question the driving force of the show? if the answer is yes, then you need to look at how the pair is set up within the context of the show itself and decide whether witty banter or heart on your sleeve is best to favor most often. Because of the kind of people, Chuck and Sarah were and their preset history heart on your sleeve is more favorable. If you have wackier or opposite leads like Castle and Beckett banter is the way to go. If the answer to the question is no and the couple is just one of multiple elements every week than the banter is more beneficial by default.

        Now for the how long should it last part, a difficult thing to decide, I generally think that if both characters are aware of an attraction but don’t cross the line (I consider the crossed line anything that raises the stakes from attraction to love) it can be a longer endeavor, but once you step over the line you can’t pull a CHUCK [did I just coin a new pun?] and backtrack.

        In the end, the ability to execute w/wt to a satisfying degree comes down to writing so Dave is right some writers are incredibly dense and that is why of the shows we have discussed Chuck was least successful with the dynamic.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with much of that Josh, until your last line!
        Every serial romance will have its own rhythm. Timing of milestones is undoubtedly tricky for a writer, because I think there is not only more than one right answer, but more than one wrong answer too! Ultimately the most common serial television error seems to be drawing things out too long. So many of us are most sensitive to that particular failing on Chuck because our investment was so sky high after two seasons. The particular failing was no worse than on dozens of other shows (including Castle) it just affects us here more because we were so massively invested in this particular story.
        I think that’s often true with story telling, any misstep is more pronounced on a show (or in a book) we care more about. I never mean to excuse the massive screw up we saw, I just want to keep it in proper context. We were outraged by one season because what came before was SO GOOD. Intoxicating even. And it was a mistake made by many writers, on many shows before. I’ve already seen it happen on other shows since too; Castle, the season after Chuck ended, had its own “season too far”. But it didn’t hurt as much because Rick and Kate were never Chuck and Sarah.

  30. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Dave

    Maybe I should have stopped short of saying they failed with the dynamic and say instead that they failed to know when to stop using it. I think my perspective on this aspect of TV is always getting, for lack of a better phrase, “one-uped” anytime I find the next couple that I find as engaging as Chuck and Sarah based on acting. They were so palpable and wrecked in such a way that had no believability at all, I can’t help but have a mental measuring stick for other shows…will they pull a CHUCK or can they play things out organically and recognize when it is time to end the cat and mouse game and stick to it. I think the other thing is a lot the other shows I have watched since Chuck, writers have not been so dense as to blatantly cross the line to the level that Chuck did and then take it back just as extremely after the fact, so I find other couples more enjoyable because I haven’t had to suffer through love triangles or a misery arc to see them together. I may look for some FF where Bryce, Jill, and others don’t function to compound things beyond what Chuck and Sarah already deal with. Alternatives posts here I come!

  31. Luke says:

    Hey, guys. I love your blog, I’ve been reading it for about a year now and I wanted to chime in. I actually saw the first two seasons while they were airing, but I assumed the show was over when there were no episodes that fall and I only got around to watching the whole thing last year.

    Regarding couples banter, I think if it’s a staple of the couple then it just takes away from the depth of the relationship. I’m not very familiar with the other shows mentioned (I’ve seen Moonlighting when I was a kid, and just a couple of scenes from Castle while skipping channels), but I’m more familiar with Cheers and other sitcoms. Sam and Diane were fun, but their relationship didn’t have enough dramatic punch for me to be invested.

    Josh says above that the attraction between Chuck and Sarah is not subtle, but I see that as a good thing. A couple is not worth it (at least not for me) to root for if there is no real love there
    and that’s also why they have to have legitimate reasons for not being together. People that really like each other come up with excuses to be together, but what we get in most movies and tv shows are people that come up with excuses to not be together when there’s nothing there to stop them. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen in real life, but that’s not love and if there is no love then I don’t care that much about them as a couple.

    As for the length of the wt/wt, I do think it took too long, but only by one episode. I saw the first two seasons as Sarah coming to a choice, so I was more than fine with Chuck having the opportunity to make the same choice in season 3. I don’t subscribe to the thinking that they weren’t ready for a relationship because that’s just rom-com nonsense, but I do think that Chuck needed to realize if he loves the real girl or if he is just infatuated with every nerd’s dream girl. By becoming a spy he gets closer to her level and also sees how the sausage is made which in turn brings her down a bit from that pedestal. I’m not saying that this was the only way, just that it works for me and I probably even prefer it.

    I know it’s not a popular opinion at all around theses parts, but Pink Slip and Three Words are my favorites of the season after Honeymooners. I quite like the next five and while I enjoy 8, 9 and 10, I can also feel Shaw’s stench. The big problems for me start with the train station in Final Exam. Chuck was supposed to choose Sarah in Beckman’s office when he realizes that he doesn’t want to be in Rome without her, but his first words after Sarah says “then you won’t be a spy” are about them being together which makes it seem like he had already made his decision. There goes down the drain the flow of the romantic arc and Sarah’s character along with it, who is either a “mean girl” turned CIA assassin or a dumb bimbo who doesn’t understand the meaning of his words. Honestly, I adore Sarah, but my thoughts during her scene with Shaw at the end, were “please go to DC, lets bring in a new girl for Chuck, this time a red head, and get on with the stupid show.” The thing is, after she hooked up with Shaw, the writers had no business of touching the issue of Chuck and Sarah again until they were ready to put them together, but they did it in this episode and judging from comments on here and on Sepinwall’s old blog a lot of people lost their patience with this episode. Anecdote: I was watching a few months ago with a friend that likes rom-coms and after Sarah told Chuck that he’s not the same guy anymore in AH, she said “I’m bored.”

    There’s also Shaw. Not a problem because he dates or sleeps with Sarah (she had a three year dry spell and I don’t want her to be a saint anyway), but because the writers made a big deal out their relationship with that kiss that Chuck had to witness so he can prove himself the biggest hero ever. That connection had to be explained in some way in which it doesn’t make Sarah look flakey, so, I guess that’s how we got the name reveal. It’s not a pleasant moment, I understand why people hate it, I let out a “b**” when I first saw it (I was kind of drunk, I started drinking after Nacho Sampler when I got strong vibes that these two won’t end up together eventually), but it is strangely what saves the Chuck and Sarah relationship for me and with it the rest of the show, because there’s not much else there in the last two seasons.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks for chiming in. It sounds like you have a lot of thoughts on Chuck. I have to agree that it was more Shaw I had tired of by American Hero (I liked Final Exam for the most part, even though Shaw was the ultimate wet blanket and Sarah’s character suffered as a consequence). Then I’ve always found Shaw a problematic character in general, and poorly executed at that.

      • Luke says:

        Hey, thanks for the reply. I tried to reply a couple of days ago, but somehow it didn’t go through. Does WP have a problem with vpns?

        I liked Final Exam too, but only for the first 30 minutes. Not having to wait between episodes probably helped a bit, but I had almost no complaints for the first ten episodes and even loved a few of them (I refute any notion that Pink Slip had any big or important contrivances). But, what we got from that exchange on (“then we would never…. no, probably not”) until the elevator shaft scene in Other Guy is my least favorite stretch of the show because the romantic plot is going in multiple circles while putting Sarah on the breaking wheel. Thank God for Morgan, Jeff and Lester, they were the only enjoyable parts of those episodes.

        As for Shaw I didn’t mind him until American Hero, because I had always assumed he was irrelevant. Eventually he was, but it was obvious only on rewatch because he was deemed irrelevant in a backward way by how his relationship with Sarah started. Which is why, given the time constraints and the end game for him (the guy that Sarah kisses in front of Chuck and then is desperate to save so that Chuck can have his hero moment), I don’t think he was executed that bad.

  32. Another interesting conversation derailed by Chuckwin’s law! I think Josh makes some interesting points, especially about banter. It’s fair to Sarah’s script, in particular, is not particularly witty. However, a lack of banter isn’t the same thing as unsubtle, and I want to push back on that account, because Chuck and Sarah’s interactions are almost invariably more subtle and layered than the romantic interactions on, say, Firefly (which admittedly, I like less than most).

    A good example of the extraordinary subtlety is in Chuck vs the Truth, wherein Sarah and Chuck must pretend to have sex. Chuck and Sarah in Season 1 are already caught in a triple lie: they are a couple actually in love with each other, who must pretend that they are pretending to be in love with each other, both to other people and to each other (what a weird sentence!). Now Lou has entered the picture, and Sarah has to accomplish a staggering number of simultaneous goals:

    Sarah goal 1: Convince Chuck’s family she is both in love and having sex with Chuck.
    Sarah goal 2: Convince Chuck, herself, and the CIA that she is not in love.
    Sarah goal 3: Flirt with Chuck. (There is MUCH subtle flirtation in this show.)
    Sarah goal 4: Maintain plausible deniability that she is not flirting with Chuck.
    Sarah goal 5: Keep Chuck from dating Lou
    Sarah goal 6: Keep Chuck happy and cooperative
    Sarah goal 7: Have a genuinely intimate (non-sexual) moment with the man she loves.

    Chuck’s goals are no less complicated:

    Chuck goal 1: Seduce Sarah
    Chuck goal 2: Have an intimate moment with the woman he loves.
    Chuck goal 3: Maintain plausible deniability that he is not seducing Sarah, in case he is rejected.
    Chuck goal 4: Maintain his cover with Sarah
    Chuck goal 5: Find out if Sarah is actually in love with him.
    Chuck goal 6: Make a decision between the dream of Sarah and the reality of Lou

    And in the midst of this, they are both purposely exposed: Sarah literally, in her nightgown. She chose to wear a seductive outfit, not just for their cover, and not even just for Chuck. She wants Chuck to want her, and will consistently push the boundaries of her professional limitations throughout the first two seasons. Chuck is figuratively exposed, showing his room, his music, and ultimately, his true self to her. They are both, beneath all of the pretending, trying to achieve real intimacy, a form of nakedness, with each other. And because of their many facades, they not only find it impossible, cannot help but hurt each other in the process. It’s a testament to the depth of their mutual affection that the hurt lasts for but a moment.

    Moments like these are the rule of their courtship, not the exception. The language itself is littered with these little subtleties: the shows use of “handler” for example, is returned to again and again. Sarah literally has her hands on him, in ways personal and professional, throughout the show. The show begins with Chuck offering to be Sarah’s handler, and it is both a true and false foreshadowing. While Sarah will be Chuck’s CIA handler, Chuck will indeed help her with her baggage: her relationship with her parents, her adopted sister, Bryce, her high school life, etc. And, of course, Chuck literally handles her baggage in vs the Cat Squad, as a punishment for helping her sort through the figuative baggage that is her relationship with her maids of honor.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, that was all very well put Arthur! Thanks for defining all those conflicts!

    • joe says:

      I should never think I understood everything that went on in the show! Arthur, you just showed me stuff I missed.

      Well, really, I think I sort of felt it. But I could never put all that to words.
      Good stuff!

    • Josh Zdanowicz says:

      That is fantastic stuff…I think again I picked the wrong choice of words when trying to dissect the specifics of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. It is not that it suffers from a lack of subtly, but there is always some form of romantic tension hanging over them. Let me explain further, their date in the pilot and even the brief moment before Chuck flashes during their “second first date” is lighthearted and natural, other scenes like that are when Sarah gives Chuck his degree, when she locates and takes him to his dad the first time and then meets him…their conversation in Delorean is probably my favorite example of the kind of authenticity that is too scarce before they actually get together. Even the end of best friend qualifies because it is just Chuck and Sarah being their authentic self? I think too often we were kind of hit over the head with the passion/tension and not enough of Chuck and Sarah discovering each other through the kind of conversations a real couple would have as they grew closer and come season 3 they kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater and then something was missing in the last two seasons of the show. Though I can’t quite put my finger on what…does that makes sense? All that being said it could just be that the passion and tension happen so often that it naturally makes the smaller moments less noticeable.

      • atcDave says:

        You know I completely agree that more low-key friendship/relationship building moments would have been much appreciated. What we got, really from beginning to (almost) end of the show was beautiful and special…. just never enough.

      • Luke says:

        If I can add a couple more moments of friendship: Sarah telling Chuck what are Lou’s favorite flowers the day after she sabotaged their date. Chuck supporting her in Cougars, Sarah warning Jill at the end of Fat Lady. Sarah actually helping him become a spy in S4 after her anger passes away, Sarah preparing dinner for him and Hannah.

        Josh, you say that the sexual tension was there too often. I say it was always there because that’s how it should be. Until two people get together or until one of them moves on there will always be sexual tension in their interactions. I find it very off-putting when a couple breaks up, then for several episodes or seasons they are dating other people while also being just friends and eventually get back together. Ross and Rachel, JD and Elliot come in mind

    • Thanks all, I meant for a sentence in the last paragraph “The show begins with Chuck offering to be Sarah’s handler…” should read “*baggage handler,” apologies for my late-night stupidity.

      Josh, I think everything you say here is correct, and I think you put your finger on exactly what is “missing” in the final two seasons: “some form of romantic tension hanging over them.” In S4-5, this is gone completely, and instead, they are allowed to be, as you put it, “lighthearted and natural” with each other.

      Where you and I seem to part ways is in thinking this is a weakness – I believe quite strongly that this is the single greatest aspect of the show! S4-5 are, to me, the absolute strongest of the show, and are indebted to the “romantic tension” of S1-2 for this.

      You are correct in noting that the moments of raw, honest “getting to know you” moments are far less frequent in S1-2 (though I think you overstate the infrequency – they’re in almost every episode). Instead, they tease them in short scenes – the ones in 1.01 and 2.01 that you mention are among my favorites. This is tragic, and it puts a form of pressure on the show – both we and Chuck and Sarah deeply want to see the burden of their asset/handler position removed so that they can have more of these moments.

      This tension builds until the end of S2, when we think it is finally released. Here, I think your (and Dave’s) point about the failure of S3.0 to pay off that release is insightful and correct.

      What makes S3.5-5 great is that they fully pay off the implied promise of S1-2 (and are indebted to them for it). That short scene in S2.01, which was so fleeting and tempting, becomes the entire last two seasons of the show. When Sarah emphatically tells Chuck in that episode that “anything you wanted, you can have,” that’s not just a cute moment, it’s a prophecy that Chuck will fulfill in 4.13, when he finally and completely joins his personal and spy life.

      The entirety of S4 is dedicated to finally providing those moments of raw honesty with each other: Sarah’s vows to Chuck at the end of Phase Three, “101 Ways to Say ‘I Do,'” their pre-wedding vows, their angst at Morgan moving out, Chuck’s Paris proposal… literally every episode of the season dedicates time to Chuck and Sarah finally enjoying the learning and discovery of each other.

      This payoff is exactly what makes Chuck so different from most other shows. Most shows either delay the getting-together until the final episode (e.g. How I Met Your Mother) or de-emphasize the couple entirely (Parks and Recreation). Chuck leans into their relationship, and uses every episode of S4-5 as a metaphor for different obstacles they face in becoming lifelong partners. Those obstacles range from trivial (First Fight) to enormous (Goodbye), but in every single episode, Chuck and Sarah overcome those obstacles by returning to the fundamental strength that is their mutual respect and trust in each other.

      This is why “I fell for you […] after you fixed my phone and before you starting diffusing bombs” is so profound, and, I think, why you cite the pilot date as one of your favorite moments – that date echoes throughout the show. It is lighthearted and natural, as you say, but it’s much more and much better than just that.

      In their first date (and in S2.01; you have great taste!) Chuck and Sarah both take the risk of confessing their greatest flaws to each other – Chuck’s lack of professional success, and Sarah’s lack of interpersonal connection. Immediately, each of them sees the worst of each other. And upon seeing it, they both smile. What each of them hates in themselves, the other fully accepts.

      That’s why Chuck often “lacks” banter and getting-to-know-you moments. They know and love each other immediately. The rest of the show is not about strengthening their bond – it’s about showing its strength.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur, wasn’t there a time when you and I argued over almost everything?
        Seriously, I agree 100%with everything you just said! Thank you.

      • Well, once I realized you were right about everything, things got easier! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Gee I wish everyone knew that!

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        I agree with all of that. that being said Blue Bloods “path to prosperity” has been much less messy, than Castle, Chuck and How I Met Your Mother combined. In other words, it has everything these three each did exceptionally well without making their disastrous mistakes, which circles back to how much consistently good writing matters.

      • atcDave says:

        I would also point out shows have different objectives with different sorts of pairings.
        I absolutely loved Grimm. There was one couple (Monroe and Rosalee) that met, dated, Married, had kids with little drama between them. Sure their world and life was nuts, but they were always fine. Of course they were also secondary characters. The main character started in a committed relationship, but that ended after she killed his mom (!). The last two seasons he was happily involved with the villain of the first four seasons…
        And it all worked just fine. The world was crazy, but the characters were mostly likable even with a variety of odd twists and turns. And really, never a triangle!

        On Chuck, we had Ellie and Devon who were (mostly) happy and together from beginning to end. They were “normal” (in that uncommon, perfect sort of way). Chuck and Sarah were meant for more drama from the very start. Some that was appropriate to the characters and circumstance. There was no way a down on his luck computer nerd and glamorous international Assassin were going to be happy together without some sort of growth and drama from both parties. So much of that, apart from one arc, was well crafted and entertaining. Really a joy to watch. You all know I have a variety of objections to how many different details were handled; but really this show just clicked. Many of the little gripes stood out because this show was always just on the cusp of being perfect. Obviously, I’m on record as being pretty annoyed with the one MAJOR exception to that.
        But I do always want to keep that in perspective. The writing was mostly, but never completely, wonderful.

      • thinkling says:

        Dave, you said what I was thinking last night when I skimmed this thread. On one level you can’t compare Castle and Chuck and Blue Bloods. It’s apples and oranges and pears.

        Castle: Beckett and Castle were the main characters, but there was nothing in their circumstances that would have prevented them from pursuing a relationship from day one. But there a million internal obstacles to a relationship: Rick’s immaturity (and Kate’s perception of it) and Kate’s baggage, for starters. So, the characters had to grow — a lot — before a relationship was even possible.

        Blue Bloods (and I’m a big fan, BTW): It’s such a different set up from Chuck. First, Eddie and Jaime aren’t THE main characters, and their relationship is not THE central relationship of the show. In fact, there isn’t A central relationship. It’s a procedural about a family of cops. That makes it less necessary for all the drama to be focused on them. They are also equals. Neither is the other’s handler, so, in theory, that’s one less obstacle. The similarity, of course, is that it’s the constraints of the job that keeps them apart (until they finally do their homework and discover that said constraints are perceived rather than actual). The most distinctive difference is that they were honest about their feelings and made a consensual choice to remain partners rather than pursue a romantic relationship, because they didn’t want to be reassigned to other partners. So, for a time, they willfully chose their partnership over a romance. It was well played throughout, never heavy handed, and the interloping relationships weren’t in your face. But the show isn’t about them.

        Chuck: While having a few similarities with Blue Bloods, Chuck is very different. Where Blue Bloods is a game of checkers, Chuck is game of chess. CS are the main characters (or became such shortly after Yvonne stole the hearts of viewers, which was pretty much from the beginning). Theirs is the central relationship, in every way. There is a complex mix of obstacles that keep them apart. There are internal things going on. Both are damaged. Both have baggage. There are also external obstacles — the constraints of the job. But here’s where it gets vastly more complex. If the CIA gets so much as a whiff of Sarah’s true feelings, she will be reassigned, and it won’t be across town. It will be around the world with a new cover for Sarah, a non-disclosure agreement (for Chuck), the breach of which would be a sudden and mysterious death, and no hope of contact … ever. It will also, in all likely hood, be the end of one or all of the following: Chuck’s normal life, his safety, or his actual life. So, the setup is much more complex, and the stakes are immensely higher.

        Sure there are areas it could have been maybe, as you say, Dave, a little more perfect, but overall it was really fantastic, with that one major exception where I think they totally missed the train.

      • thinkling says:

        Just to add a general observation about wt/wt. When the couple in question are the main characters and the central relationship, the whole thing is trickier to write.

        First, it’s a little harder to transition to the consummated phase of the relationship, especially the longer you wait. It seems easy for writers to write the romance and the wt/wt. But there seems to be a lack of skill to write a growing relationship. What does it look like and how do you make it interesting. Chuck did a good job of this, I thought, and I loved the together CS, but not as much as the married CS. So, kudos to that.

        We are conditioned by the romcom model, where the end game is getting the main characters together. The director’s notes must always say, “throw rice … role credits.” The longer a relationship continues, the more it plays into the conditioning that getting the couple together is the end game.

        So, several things work against a show that drags out the wt/wt:
        1. They almost always resort to tactics that damage the character of the main characters.
        2. If they do that and drag it out too long, I lose interest. I no longer care about the couple.
        3. Then the shelf-life of television comes into play. Often by the time they get the couple together, the show is approaching its natural shelf-life. So, the whole end-game conditioning plus the natural decline in interest in the show combine to bring the show to a premature end.

        The solution: know what the mature relationship will look like before you begin and avoid 1, 2, and 3. Don’t sully the characters. Don’t drag it out too long. Don’t play into the end-game conditioning. Get them together earlier in the show … and never at the end of the season. Get them together before a season ends and throw them into a new adventure that lets everyone know that the show is far from over.

        Chuck did okay, considering their egregious violation of #1. But I’m convince that had they played it a little differently, they could have gone on longer.

      • atcDave says:

        Really interesting thought about knowing what the couple should look like before the wt/wt (or the show!) even starts. If that were a part of Screenwriting 101 I think we’d see a lot more satisfying romances on television.
        I would mention that on Chuck, I suspect the pairing wasn’t supposed to happen until the end game. CF has even admitted they were quite surprised by the sort of screen chemistry they got from Zac and Yvonne. But of course it was obvious to the audience from quite early on (certainly by early S2) it was nuclear. Ideally, this sort of thing would be adapted to by the show runner MUCH more quickly than seems typical.

        Back to my Grimm comparison; the original main pairing simply did not work well on screen (lack of energy and chemistry, plus an S2 character arc that likely turned much of the audience against the female character). While the main recurring villian(ess?) brought a sort of loopy, manic fun to her role and quickly became a fan favorite. So the show runner flipped the characters (obviously can’t really know how much of this was “grand design” vs “adapting on the fly”. I suspect the latter). It worked surprisingly well. But it still took four seasons to figure it out. Perhaps this isn’t such a great example, it’s the sort of large scale reinvention that could have ruined the show if it hadn’t worked.
        We clearly saw the hazards of ill-conceived reinvention on Chuck!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Some interesting observations all. One thing I will note is that Arthur’s use of Chuck vs. the Truth to characterize the complications in Chuck and Sarah’s relationship and their conflicting and conflicted agendas. I’ve always pointed to this period of the show as when Yvonne and the writers landed on the same page about who Sarah was and what she wanted.

        Dave’s point about different WT/WT can serve a different purpose. Going back to Moonlighting Dave and Maddy were meant to be eternally at each other because of their basic natures. Getting them together so early was probably a mistake, but then that show had production problems as well as ratings dips that were driving a lot of story decisions they normally shouldn’t have.

        Back to Mal and Inara. Had Firefly run 6 seasons (and a movie) Mal and Inara should never get together as a happy couple. It wasn’t within either character to be able to do so. Kaylee and Simon pretty much had to get together by the end of the second season, which they essentially did in the movie.

        With Chuck and Sarah they had the timing about right IMAO. I don’t, as many do, read Barstow as the beginning of an actual relationship, just the first dawning on them that absent their current situation (the spy life and the different worlds they inhabit, not Barstow) they both want to, and likely would be together. Barstow was Honeymooners before Honeymooners, a brief break in their oppressive world before they have to go back and figure it all out. Since in Rom-Com it is a rule that the couple’s first attempt has to result in disaster until one of the couple, usually the woman (i.e. Chuck in this case) has to become more fully self-actualized and stand on her own so as not to just become an appendage to the man’s life, and the man has to come to appreciate the woman’t uniqueness and stop trying to force her to be who he wants as opposed to who she wants.

        But I digress. I figured about mid to end third season of 3 was the right timing. Unfortunately once again production considerations that shouldn’t have dictated story as it just became too tempting to finally get them together on the last shot of the last episode, employing that most ubiquitous of the rom-com tropes.

        There was also a bit of Thinkling’s #1, but that comes with the nature of TV.

        Just to extend the couples analysis a bit, look at Friday Night Lights. Mr&Mrs Coach are the living proof that it is definitely possible to write a mature and stable couple, and yet instill drama in to the relationship. It never goes stale, and yet you never entertain the thought that they will split up. But there are also some less well written couples on that show to be fair. They still hadn’t really figured out how to go from the WT/WT to the later. Chuck never really figured that out till early season 4 when they explicitly and successfully re-visited a lot of the season 3.1 issues in a more sympathetic and clearly understandable way. Without a Shaw or Hannah to complicate matters.

        So the question remains, has anyone ever really got this transition right on the first shot? Yes. Parks and Rec got it right three times. April and Andy, Leslie and Ben, Ron and Dianne. I’d also say that Brooklyn 99 pretty much nailed Jake and Amy.

        They did it in a few ways. The romance was never the primary, or even dominant story of the show. It was fit in to the existing dynamics of the show, quirky co-workers interacting quirkily. And both were complete comedies with ensemble casts to fill episodes with interactions that were not the primary couple. I don’t know if that is possible in a show with as much drama and occasional darkness as Chuck, but I appreciate Ellie and Awesome, Jeff and Lester, Big Mike and Morgan, and even Harry, Emmitt, Anna and all the other herders all the more for their efforts.

      • atcDave says:

        Interesting comment on Firefly Ernie. I suspect you are right, and that I would have gotten thoroughly tired of the show before S6! Or not, stability of other couples (like Zoe and Wash) may have made up for Mal/Inara frustrations. And I don’t *think* they provided enough of the show’s emotional energy to matter that much.

        There are a number of other good television couples out there (like the McCords on Madam Secretary), but that transition from wt/wt to stable is always a tricky target.
        I also should reiterate for the record; I never required a stable coupling for Charah after Barstow, but fighting to be together and for each other WAS required. Giving up and pursuing other partners is what broke it for me.

      • thinkling says:

        Ernie: The romance was never the primary, or even dominant story of the show.

        Bingo. That’s when the transition seems to be the hardest,because when you change the relationship, you change the whole story.

        I also thought of Madame Secretary, Dave. I really like the Elizabeth/Henry dynamic. There has been tension, because of the nature of their jobs, but I’ve never feared for their marriage. Add to that the family dynamic, and it adds multidimensional depth to the main story of the state dept. I’ve enjoyed the show a lot.

        Another show that did a good job was The Closer and then Major Crimes in its wake. Both had believable romances that became marriages without all the wt/wt folly. But again, the relationships were by no means the main story line.

        I guess ideally the relationship would be central to the show without being the primary focus of the story. Then it’s easier to grow the relationship (even transition it) and enrich the story without changing it entirely. I would say the McCords in Madam Secretary would be an example of that kind of dynamic. There’s no question as to the importance of Henry’s character and the whole marriage (and family) dynamic. It is central to the main character and the show. It occasionally surges into prominence in the story. But it’s not THE story.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave I agree, and implied, that a major problem was Shaw and Sarah, but then as you recall I was very skeptical about Shaw before 3.1 even started and wrote as much. I don’t totally agree that they had to be actively working together to be together after Barstow. I think a brief retrenchment after the devastating fallout of an emotionally immature Sarah tried to jump the gun and a native Chuck had to just say no, because he couldn’t say yes to that particular plan.

        That said, I think you are right that another PLI for Sarah was a poor choice, even though I think I understand they were trying to demonstrate that a post Chuck Sarah now needed someone in her life. I do think however Chuck needs one more PLI, and Hannah filled that role well.

        A lot of 3.1 was Chuck learning to walk in Sarah’s shoes, and learning what that must have cost her in their previous arrangement. Hannah was an integral part of that. Chuck had to wrestle with the fact that there was someone falling in love with him, and he could never have a future with her, or tell her why, or let her get to know who he really was. It covers an aspect of the S2 relationship that is under appreciated in my opinion. Sarah ALWAYS saw their relationship as temporary. She always assumed she would be leaving or he’d eventually get the bunker. And in fact, when ordered to, she did leave (until she realized there was something seriously wrong). Chuck actually let it get far worse than Sarah ever did, as far as letting the civilian believe they had a future, and the devastation he had to deliver Hannah was probably far worse than any of Sarah’s pushback or distancing.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling, I guess my take is that Charah (can we still use that?) was never the sine qua non of the show for me. There had to be a Chuck and Sarah relationship, and interaction between them, but the romance was the little bonus bubbling under the surface. Until it wasn’t. What had been one aspect of a relationship and the show was suddenly foregrounded. Like the Beefcake/Lethal Weapon arc was so popular they needed to do a whole season of it. But take out all the Chuck and Sarah interactions.

        I just have to add that this is the most civil and interesting Chuckwin’s Law thread ever.

      • atcDave says:

        Not trying to be uncivil (?), but I do know it’s been mentioned before that both loved it and hated it crowds for S3 often agreed on specific did/didn’t work details. It’s largely the matter of how we rate the importance of Charah to our enjoyment of the show that effects how we weight the importance of those details. Even enough to say I found Hannah decent/likable on her own merits; had she been in place of Lou it would have likely worked fine for me. As for Shaw, well, to the best of my knowledge we’ve had exactly one commenter here who claimed to *like* what that character brought to the show.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        And with the greatest of civility I’ll just say that once Shaw just became a villain I was fine with his place in the Chuck-verse. I was more confused by him than alienated before that, but found him problematic from conception. Shaw as a villain was fine, it was just the introduction and transition to villain that troubled me.

        Was he maybe supposed to be Sarah’s Jill? I still don’t know

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll agree with all of that Ernie!

      • Ernie dropping references to Firefly, Friday Night Lights, Community, Parks and Rec, and Brooklyn 99 in one post!!!

        I do think that S4-5 of Chuck handled the post-relationship better than any of those couples, other than maybe April/Andy. The other relationships (thankfully) did less wt/wt, but the shows lost a lot of momentum once the relationships were consummated (so to speak).

        Anecdotally, I remember finding out that my father watched Chuck. His words: “I watched it until the guy got the girl, and then I didn’t care about it anymore.” I’ve never quite forgiven him 😀

  33. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Dave

    Your last line pretty much sums up exactly how I feel…even six years later.

  34. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Thinkilng

    Nice to hear you are a big fan of Blue Bloods! You pretty much said perfectly everything I have been trying to say for the last several days in discussing it compared to Chuck. If not having “main characters” means I get to see any potential relationships on screen for longer, especially when actors that bring them to life have just as much natural chemistry as Zac and Yvonne then I will gladly take the implicit less in your face tactics, for the rest of my TV watching days. No misery arc is worth wasting that kind of chemistry.

    • Josh Zdanowicz says:

      Great stuff Ernie and Dave

      Ernie, I actually agree with your view on Barstow now. It is the moment they both fully accept that there is something between them more than just attraction. I am comfortable calling it love, but just because you love someone does not mean you are ready to take the jump to fully committed relationship. In TV (and life) there is always something holding us back. With Chuck and Castle, it was fear and personal insecurities, on Blue Bloods it was complacency and on The Office, it was some combination of all of these. Most of the time, on TV and in life a major event allows us to overcome the thing holding us back from making that commitment and the same thing is usually the catalyst, the realization that the rest of our lives with that person is worth future challenges. Cue near-death experience, at least in most TV dramas anyway.

      Dave

      A quick additional point about actor chemistry and on-screen relationships; it is not the ability to “act” as if your falling in love, but simply when two people can fully connect to their characters together. That was said by Jenna Fischer while discussing her chemistry with John Krasinski in an interview sometime after the office ended and I think it fits perfectly. Jim and Pam were never the most heated or passionate but they are still IMO the most palpable from start to finish in recent memory.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt heat and passion are only a part of the issue. We’ve observed before that after Honeymooners we actually saw little of it on Chuck. Things still worked quite well because Chuck and Sarah came across as two people who liked and trusted each other in a pretty natural and believable sort of way. Not that a little more heat on occasion would have been a bad thing…

  35. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Dave

    I think the fallout from the misery arc had Zac and Yvonne thinking too much when they came back for season 4. Almost like they became a bit disconnected, trying to force being a couple or at least the PDA and smaller intimacies that come with that. They got very good at talking like a couple though and the high stakes and perilous moments always had the same pop as we got in the first 3 years.

  36. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Luke

    Agree with you about both the other couples you mentioned. I am a bit specific about the kind of sexual tension that I can tolerate, love triangles are the most overused source of sexual tension in TV, Jill, and Bryce was acceptable because they felt like they served other purposes than just getting in the way. Everyone else just felt forced and made to…drag out angst. Chuck and Sarah had enough to deal with without throwing gas on the fire and it was about three love triangles too many. Shaw, in particular, was a mess because Routh could not properly convey his originally complex design, much of his writing would have benefited greatly from someone who was more skilled at conveying those layers, but like many here have said by the time we learn Sarah killed his wife and he wants revenge we were glad Chuck shot him. I do echo Ernie that once he went “full villain” Routh and by extension Shaw was extremely fun and second only to Volkoff in Chuck Villainy.

    I said somewhere above or below that CHUCK pretty much destroyed my tolerance for love triangles, so that might be why I have been so fond of Jamie and Eddie on Blue Bloods. The only guessing game the writers played with that couple is when they would officially pull the trigger (ironic pun because its a cop show and both characters have had close calls thanks to bullets) sure that is less explosive than CHUCK and other shows but I can’t state enough how nice a change of pace that is…ironically they are similar in personality (stubborn) and in Eddie’s case background-wise (her father is a less extreme Bernie Madoff) to Chuck and Sarah which may play another factor in why they currently top on my list of TV couples.

    Different shows obviously but if I’m going to strip it down to which group of writers executed wt/wt better (as in there was never a moment where I felt like as a viewer I was being toyed with) my answer is Blue Bloods, The beauty of TV is ever-changing tastes,heck there was a time when I felt Smallville and One Tree Hill were the peak of well-executed TV relationships and wt/wt, which these days seems utterly laughable, but I digress, thankful that I now know better.

    • Luke says:

      What I meant to say is that I can perceive sexual tension even in those moments of “just friendship” and I think it’s something natural. Love triangles are a more obvious tension, and I can understand why for some people are uncomfortable, but their angsty nature doesn’t bother me, I would go as far as to say that they are kind of necessary for character authenticity. But they do have to meet a few criteria: don’t damage the main relationship by becoming too serious, don’t take too much screen time and almost no screen time, unless the triangle has a purpose. And be entertaining.

      The first four, Lou, Bryce, Jill and Cole checked every box. Hannah too, but if there was a problem with her, it was that she came up late in the stages of the wt/wt, after things and feelings had become very serious, so her entertainment value was hindered a bit by the hurt she had caused to Sarah. But apparently, Sarah’s problem was more with how Chuck behaved, so I don’t think there was too much harm there.

      Shaw’s portrayal in Fake Name made him unlikable, so the entertaining part was gone. He was setup very well in Mask and Fake Name and the follow-up in the next two episodes was ok too, he barely had any screen time. The problems started when he became too important in this triangle and by that time it was already the longest one in duration.

      I wanted to write about why Cole had a purpose too, the most important one actually, and why it’s my favorite triangle, but I have to run, so I’ll probably do it next time

  37. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Yeah, I have to agree with you Dave I would much rather the couple stay unified and deal with any issues through communication then run into the arms of someone else, especially if the way they interact is a source of joy in watching the show. I don’t even mind when they bicker between themselves and it gets resolved near the end of an episode, but I never think triangles are good sources of entertainment…they are lazy writing, an excuse to manufacture drama and angst and JS seems incapable of not smothering his viewers with them.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Josh, my absolute least favorite plot cliche ever.
      Chuck would have been vastly better if they’d never gone there.
      I will concede Bryce and Jill were hard-coded in to the DNA; it would have taken a VERY daring writer to avoid THAT low hanging fruit. But oh would I have loved to see it. The show would have skipped strait from a 9 to an 11…

  38. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Exactly the opposite worlds Chuck and Sarah were from created enough drama, I really wish they would have just ran entirely with that thread WITHOUT sprinkling in other people, but if we get a Movie Matt Bomber is welcome back because it would be interesting for him to see how much Chuck has changed

    • atcDave says:

      Yes,exactly.
      Although a return of Jill could work just as well for that. And you know, she’s not dead (!).

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        True, There is a lot of guest characters that fit into a movie. Sadly, Mr Colt is no longer possible to bring back; RIP MCD he was fantastic “do you find me imposing? I was going for imposing.” Just a great line and a fun character!

  39. GeneralBeckman says:

    Hi all!

    First time poster here (but long time lurker!) Since this is an open thread I thought I’d mention that Yvonne just got an Emmy nod for Handmaids Tale. For the record, its about damn time !

    • Josh Zdanowicz says:

      I completely agree! Her role is a stark contrast to what we are used to, but it really shows her depth and versatility as an actor and as a huge fan of the show I am thrilled she is getting the recognition that is 12 years overdue!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Glad to hear it. We can also post that in the Yvonne News thread.

  40. Maybe everybody’s seen this, but Zach Levi is in Shazam, which appears to be a mix of Superman and Big. One of the more delightful trailers I’ve ever seen:

  41. Charah says:

    Maybe if Shazam is a hit, Zach’s may become more visible in the industry…and…maybe, just maybe there will be better odds for a Chuck reunion movie/episode/miniseries!

    A lot of maybes!

  42. Loki259 says:

    I already know I am going to get a lot of hate for this but can I just ask why does everyone hate Shaw so much? For me he was a very well done character because he wasn’t just some psycho, he was a good guy first whose wife was killed and he became motivated by revenge. There are definitely moments where I understood where he was coming from even after he found out.

    • atcDave says:

      It never mattered to me if I “understood” Shaw; it’s that he was a smug, condescending jerk.
      But the biggest thing by far is just it was too late for his involvement with Sarah. For too many of us, Season Two was the end of the plausible will they/won’t they game. There was no way to separate Chuck and Sarah without making both of them look like idiots. So gee, in most of Season Three Chuck and Sarah both looked like total idiots.

      So the main thing many viewers hold against Shaw is just that he helps make Sarah look like an idiot. Not just the too late for that story part, but the falling for a smug condescending jerk part.

      You’re always welcome to like the characters and stories if you want! But to many of us they totally messed up the one major arc. And that’s just part of the legacy of the show.

      • Loki259 says:

        I don’t really see the smug condescending part, but maybe that’s just me. At least he wasn’t as condescending as Bryce was to Chuck. I will give you that I hate that Sarah fell for him so quickly and even shared intimate details with him that she never shared with Chuck (stuff like her real name and the fact that she talked to him about Chuck changing instead of actually saying something to Chuck’s face). And yes I always hated that the writers made Chuck look like a total idiot for not going with Sarah on the run. It doesn’t matter if it would have worked (it very likely wouldn’t) but he didn’t know that. They could have had Chuck said yes, they go on a run and Casey brings them back, much like the plot of s3e14 and the show would be fine, it was fine for the entire 4th and 5th season with them together. But ok let’s accept that Chuck wanted to help people because as he said she taught him to put needs of others above his own, even though it’s hard for me to buy that he would change his tune like that after pining for her and talking about wanting normal life with her for the first two seasons. So what was Sarah to do when Chuck said no? She has every right to feel hurt, to have trust issues after having the childhood and life that she had. The one guy who she thought cared for her this entire time said no to the thing they both secretly wanted all this time. And then Shaw came along, the real American hero and won her over. Why do people have such a problem with that? He was helping Chuck with the spy stuff as much as he could even though he saw how much Chuck was pining for Sarah and he never did a thing or got jealous. So no I don’t think Sarah was an idiot at all nor that Shaw was helping her be one. When it comes to first half of season 3 the only idiot was Chuck and a cocky one at that. That is probably the only time in the whole show that i didn’t like him and I certainly understand why Sarah had a problem with him too.

      • Loki259 says:

        Sorry for long comment and no paragraphs, I am not much of a writer or know much about writing structure, I just plop my thoughts how they come to me.

      • Neil Sandford says:

        For me personally, I think the Shaw issue stemmed from two problems, the acting side the 2×4, fans calling him a plank of wood or cardboard cut out and the relationship side with Sarah, So Chuck refuses to run, hurts Sarah, they become friends only (although they’ll never be just friends) Chuck meets Hannah, Sarah dates Shaw, it’s the way it was all written, Sarah with Shaw came out of nowhere and that covered quite a few episodes and potentially the end of C/S, Chuck dating Hannah was very short in comparison.

        So I see more Sarah being ooc for many episodes plus dating Shaw, getting serious, leaving Burbank together, so my disappointment was more directed at Sarah than Shaw.

        Shaw and Hannah did not need to be in this series, I felt they were just extras and if season 3 had been written better they probably didn’t need to be in it.

        You could say apart from the train station, there is one scene where Chuck was a complete jerk, when he comes down into castle with doughnuts and Casey mentions him getting laid in front of Sarah, after what happened at the start, talk about rubbing it in, Sarah never rubbed it in nor did Shaw.

        So the way I see it is Shaw gets all the flak but the writers really screwed up Sarah’s and Chuck’s characters in s3, especially Sarah but because Sarah is getting serious with Shaw and a threat to C/S relationship the fans direct the anger at Shaw, it was all a Sham in the end, it’s all simply down to the writers, i mean who in there right mind would where earrings still, purchased from someone who tried to kill them, diamond or not.

        That’s my take, Shaw did make a good baddie at the end though.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah ultimately it’s the writers who screwed up. The characters were so wildly OOC I find hard to take any of it seriously.
        As I’ve Mentioned before, I know three families who quit watching the show in S3; and they ALL did so during or immediately after Pink Slip. None of them even saw Shaw. It truly wasn’t him at all. It was an ugly story choice for Chuck and Sarah that ruined things. “What was Sarah supposed to do” is completely beside the point. It’s ALL on the ugly story choices made for that main arc.
        Shaw is merely a symbol of the misbegotten season.

    • Loki, I actually agree with your take on Shaw. I’d just distinguish between Shaw the character and the story arc he represents. After his villain turn, I actually think he’s a very good character. The problem with Shaw is that the 3.0 arc where he’s introduced is just thoroughly unentertaining. It’s not that the characters are acting out of character, it’s just that Chuck and Sarah have a range of plausible decisions they could’ve made after season 2. In 3.0, they consistently choose poorly for themselves and each other, and in ways that are fairly miserable to watch. Even if those decisions are understandable, there are better-written directions the show could’ve taken while still staying true to each other.

      Throughout the entire rest of the show, when Chuck and Sarah are faced with difficult situations, they fight their hardest to make decisions that will benefit each other. In season 3.0, they are faced with an easy situation, and consistently make decisions that hurt each other. Those who love us most are often those who hurt us most, because we are imprefect, but Shaw’s introduction denigrates and overextends a will they/won’t they dynamic that had already been pushed as far as it should’ve gone.

      • atcDave says:

        Very well put.

      • Loki259 says:

        Arthur, I think you hit the nail on the head there. Chuck and Sarah kept making wrong decisions, especially Chuck who annoyed me the most with the big wrong decision at the train station. And people took it out on Shaw who I actually thought was a decent character all the way through.

        I don’t think the show would have lost anything if Chuck ran away with Sarah, in fact it would have been much better. Like I said before, I think Casey would have brought them back probably like he did in 3:14 and they would have been together as spies.

      • atcDave says:

        Loki I agree completely that the running away together in 3.01 could have worked very well. I’ve often laughed at how the full impact of the front arc seems to be they choose to run away together from Paris instead of Prague…
        Obviously for many story reasons that isn’t literally true; but partly for Chuck, and almost wholly for Sarah, it is true.
        It makes the front arc an epic circle.

      • joe says:

        Wow! I haven’t gotten to the end, yet. But this had become one heck of a great discussion. I agree with many things said here, but I’m just vain enough to think I can add something of value here.
        Arthur, I like your take on the S3 arc(s) and the idea that Chuck and Sarah kept making bad decisions (maybe too many!). But I can’t shake the idea that C&S have essentially switched places.
        I mean, in S3, Chuck’s determined to be “the spy” and Sarah wants to be the “normal” girl. The Chuck of S1 told Morgan that he didn’t ask her on a date because “Have you SEEN that girl?” And Sarah was the spy who essentially (and sometimes easily) lied to spare Chuck’s feelings every time he got close to asking her if they had a chance at a real relationship. Those are not the same people we saw at the train station in Prague. Sarah is frustrated in her attempt to be “normal” (and run away with Chuck) and Chuck is frustrated as a spy, and we’re frustrated as an audience! If that is S3’s mission, Mission Accomplished, I think.

        It’s like C&S are circling each other, but never getting any closer – at least, not until Paris and vs. The Honeymooners. I’m so glad we get to Paris much quicker on re-watches.

        And SHAAAAAWWWWWW!!!!!! As much as I wanted to hate him from the beginning (something to do with flicking that &$*^ cigarette lighter) he’s the reason they stopped circling each other. I’ll credit TPTB with that, and maybe ever good acting because I reacted as intended to those characters at the time.

      • atcDave says:

        Its funny Joe, even after all these years we still get traffic on these threads!

      • Luke says:

        Joe, I don’t see Shaw as the reason for Sarah and Chuck stopping the circling around each other. In fact, out of all the PLI’s, he’s the most irrelevant. You can take him completely out of the story (as a PLI) and nothing changes: Chuck still realizes when Beckman sends him to Rome, that spying without Sarah is not worth it, Sarah still moves to DC because she doesn’t believe him. In American Hero, you can skip from the Buy More Scene, when Chuck tells Casey and Morgan that he’s quitting, to the scene where Casey confesses to Sarah and the story is the same. I even made a cut of the episode exactly like that (and a few others) and nothing relevant is miised. Most useless episode ever.

      • Loki259 says:

        Exactly! Shaw was irrelevant and nothing changes even without him as far as Chuck and Sarah are concerned. Well said Luke

  43. Loki259 says:

    And yet I see some people saying season 3 is their favorite season which is just weird. I guess everyone likes the Chuck+Sarah payoff in the 2nd half of the season. For me though 4th season is much better, the show starts to take itself less serious and becomes more fun(Volkoff alone beats anything season 3 ever did).

    • atcDave says:

      My single favorite episode is from S3 (Honeymooners!) but it sort of stands as a lone beacon. Overall the back arc works okay for me (a few nits well recorded back in the day!).
      But I agree completely with saying S4 is my favorite; and yes absolutely, Volkoff was my favorite villain. And I think more fun, less serious sums it up nicely.

      But there clearly are a number of fans who just loved S3. I believe they are a pretty small group (I would guess not much over 30%). And no doubt we have got pretty heated here a few times when discussing the issue. it Is sometimes tough to remember that someone having a very contrary view is not necessarily (!) mentally or morally defective. I loved some of those arguments! I still go back and reread on occasion. It just makes me laugh how passionate all were (are?) about this show.
      It is interesting to me that those who most loved S3 were often less pleased with S4 and S5. But it may be they disliked the (mostly) lighter mood.

      • Loki259 says:

        It’s funny cause my favorite episode of the entire series is also from s3, Chuck vs the beard. Also it’s important to say I didn’t mean to offend people who loved season 3, I think it’s great that we all have different seasons we love best, it would be pretty boring if we all agreed on the best parts.

        Although sadly I think everyone still likes the 5th season the least. Some things never change..

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I vastly prefer s5 to S3! Defective ending included.
        One of our featured writers here (Thinkling) has never been shy about calling S5 her favorite season. So no doubt every season has its defenders.

      • thinkling says:

        Ha. I was reading through and about to jump to S5’s defense, but Dave beat me to it. Yes, S5 is my favorite, underwhelming ending and all. S4 was my favorite until S5. But I’m a big fan of character growth, mature relationships, and marriage. So, S5 hit all those notes for me.

        Yes, Dave, my favorite villain by far is Volkoff, but I still smile when I remember Von Hayes crammed into his Lamborghini.

      • Just piling on the S5 love-fest. I don’t want to get into the finale (I love it, other’s don’t), but all the things Thinkling said. I’ll always appreciate Chuck being brave enough to keep explore a successful relationship rather than throwing arbitrary roadblocks in their way.

      • atcDave says:

        Von Hayes may be the funniest villain. The Lamborghini and the whole money/thumb drive handoff. And just everything about his birthday party for himself. Very funny character.

      • Loki259 says:

        Wow I never thought so many of you would come to defend season 5. I always thought it was the weakest season because of a couple things:

        Morgan getting faulty version of Intersect is almost unwatchable for me. It just hurts to see one of my favorite characters in the show go “dark side” and be a giant douche and ruin his relationship not only with Alex who was great for him but also with Casey. They were just starting to become friends with Morgan finally breaking through that tough exterior and then he breaks up with Alex in a text. It was hilarious though when Casey told him Phantom menace was the best Star Wars movie to start with.

        And the whole conspiracy against Chuck thing was confusing for me, Decker was a villain I never cared for too much; the whole thing felt too serious almost which didn’t fit with the tone of the show.

        And lastly, with multiple rewatches now under my belt I am fine with the finale and optimistic about them being together and Sarah falling in love with Chuck again. But I am still finding it hard to forgive them stripping Sarah’s character of all development she went through last 5 seasons. Chuck taught her to be a real person, to allow herself to be happy with him and dream about normal life(the house, the kids, the safer life for them). And they took all of that away to set up the open ending which could have frankly been done better and given us more hope.

        Rant over, maybe I went too hard but those things are too much to handle for me sometimes, even if season 5 had some truly awesome moments (best example that comes to mind is Chuck as a hacker drinking Chardonnay and Verbanski/Casey love affair).

      • atcDave says:

        Well some of those I feel exactly opposite about. My only complaint with Morgansect was it meant too much Morgan in the front arc. Especially Bearded Bandit. And I thought Decker was an excellent villain. I only really object to Shaw coming back again (they should have said Quinn was the mastermind of the grand conspiracy, he was more adequate than Shaw).
        Business Trip, Hack Off and Baby are three of my all time favorite episodes. Especially Baby, I put it right up there with Honeymooners and Phase Three.
        Curse and Kept Man are both weak, but not terrible.
        The finale arc brings more complex feelings. Some really excellent stuff (I love Bullet Train until the end). But I agree entirely about the end. I have come to accept it as “happy”; that is, Chuck and Sarah will be fine. But I hate what they did to her and the ambiguity they left her with. Just a thoroughly unsatisfying end.

      • Loki259 says:

        I agree about Business trip and Baby. I did thoroughly enjoy those episodes, especially Business trip cause one of my problems with the later seasons of Chuck was always that Buy more was less and less a part of the show. One of the reasons I fell in love with this show was the Buy More, all the characters who work there and their crazy shenanigans and how Chuck was navigating through that craziness while having to be a spy. That is why I always liked early seasons more than the later ones cause they have more of that. And that is also why I always loved Business trip and it’s my favorite s5 episode.

      • atcDave says:

        I noticed how much you like Morgan too.
        No doubt Morgan and the Buy More have their moments. But for myself, and I think most commenters we see here, both were way overdone in the later seasons.
        I would have preferred more episodes with no Buy More at all. The only exception being IF they made a bigger thing of Chuck and Sarah owning the store in S5. That COULD have been a lot of fun; especially if they both found themselves trying to keep the thing running there while saving the world. Could have been so much fun for the Buy Morons to find out who their real bosses were…
        I was really disappointed when Morgan didn’t just stay in Hawaii. But even so I don’t “hate” the character. He had several fun moments, and his scenes with Sarah in the last two and a half seasons were often terrific. But the “bromance” did little for me; Chuck and Morgan was one of the least interesting dynamics on the show. His involvement with Alex and Casey was generally well played, even having to win her back.
        I was okay with Morgan as a moron, less enthused when Chuck took on that roll (like in Curse).

      • thinkling says:

        I guess it depends on what you like best about the show. Chuck hacking and drinking Chardonnay was cute, but nothing memorable to me. And I agree with Dave that Morgansect just meant too much Morgan. (As for the Buymore, I wouldn’t have been too bothered if it had remained in the rubble after S3.)

        I loved S5 not only for the things that I most enjoyed (the aforementioned growth, mature relationships, marriage), but I also liked the foreboding tone of S5. For me the tension was where it belonged … around Chuck and Sarah, but not between them. The threat was darker, the danger more personal. The stakes were higher, because they had more to lose. The happiness of their relationship, which was strong throughout, was set against the dangers of the spy world that threatened to destroy them. That, to my mind, is a much better use of conflict/tension than the S3 story line. The scene that sort of encapsulates S5 to me is the inter-cut scene at the end of Business Trip, showing the love and laughter, warmth and safety of the Bartowski home inter-cut with the cold reality of the spy world, as Casey, in order to protect the safety of that family, battles the Jane the Viper.

        Would I have done some things differently? Yes. The conspiracy plot was poorly developed, very disappointing. And of course the finale was less than satisfying (so much so that it compelled me to write and extended ending). But despite its shortcomings, it’s still my favorite season.

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto all that Dave.

        I had forgotten how much I enjoyed Sarah and Morgan’s scenes in the last 2 seasons. That was a more enjoyable dynamic to me than the bromance, which wore a bit thin over time.

      • Loki259 says:

        Yeah Dave I agree with you that I liked Morgan more when he was a moron. I am not sure the show would have been better if Morgan stayed in Hawaii though, Chuck needed “normal” people who weren’t involved with spying for the show to work. I don’t think it works with just spy stuff all the time, the show needs Morgan, Ellie, Awesome and some Buy more shenanigans.

        I love the episodes when they tie all that together, that’s when I think the show pops like when Big Mike stops the Leader and says I hate thieves or when they throw a revolution in Chuck vs the beard and Chuck tells Morgan everything and immediately feels relief. Or Generalissimo and Woodcomb episodes. Or the Jeffster performances, there are so many and I don’t think this show would be as good without all of that. I just love the idea of Chuck having to navigate normal life with spy life so much and if it was all spy life I don’t think I would have liked the show as much. But that’s just me, let’s just agree to disagree.

        I do agree stakes were higher in s5 and that moment when Casey kills all those killers and Viper in order to protect them all while they are all celebrating is amazing and beautiful. I also love Sarah’s commitment to protect the baby in the baby episode, even before Chuck when she was Langston Graham’s wild card enforcer, she still did the right thing and the whole relationship with her Mom was just touching. Season 5 definitely has its moments I will give you that.

      • atcDave says:

        I never saw Morgan or the Buy More as remotely “normal”. More about comic weirdness but sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t. Especially Jeffster, way too creepy weird for my taste.
        But I loved Ellie and Devon as “normal”. Well mostly, Ellie’s S4 arc was poorly conceived (not knowing what she already knew). But I have long felt the show would have been better if Ellie and Sarah got more of the Morgan and Buy More time.
        Or as our pipe dream always went back in the day; two new shows, “Buy Morons” as a half hour comedy and “Chuck and Sarah” as an hour long spy action comedy. The best of all worlds…

      • Loki259 says:

        I loved Jeffster a lot to be honest. Couldn’t imagine a show without them in the background serving as comic relief, but that’s just me. I don’t really think Ellie needed more time, not sure what more you could do with her and Devon.

      • atcDave says:

        Ellie is easy, I NEEDED to see more of her friendship with Sarah. I also would have liked Ellie as the team Intersect specialist in S4. Devon was my favorite minor character. Would have loved more of him.
        Jeffster I never would have missed. A few good moments, but I’m not really into the creepy thing.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree with all of that, Dave. Buymore and Jeffster had their moments, but they were very few and far between. Ellie as the Intersect specialist would have been awesome, and moments with Sarah would have benefited both of them.

  44. Luke says:

    The main reason why most people think Shaw sucks is because he comes off as an obstacle that Chuck has to overcome in order to be with Sarah.

    The relationship between Chuck and Sarah was so fascinating and endearing because, like Sarah likes to say, they sold it to the viewer. First, it was the acting and their chemistry, those are obvious.

    Second, it was in your face all the time. A lot of people, including Alan Sepinwall iirc, complained about the wt/wt not advancing and saying that the writers should put it on ice until they’re ready to put Chuck and Sarah together. From what I understand, he wasn’t bothered by the romantic scenes, he even liked them and he didn’t think they distracted from the episodes. His point of contention seems to have been that the wt/wt was a plot that kept repeating itself without advancing. but he looked at it the wrong way. That plot couldn’t advance until Sarah made a decision and those kind of scenes were not plot points, they were characterization points that were meant to sell and grow the romance in a realistic way. If the writers had done what Alan said, then Sarah and Chuck would have been “just friends” following Break-Up, with very few meaningful scenes between them and then hooked up at the end of S2. The problem would have been that not showing them in love for a long stretch would have induced the sensation that they aren’t that much in love and that’s a problem with almost every wt/wt shown on tv. Sure, you can buy it since it happens on the screen, but will you care? Not very much, I know I never do. This is also one of the problems of the finale, but that’s another discussion.

    And third, they didn’t use OLI’s as obstacles for Chuck and Sarah’s romance. My biggest problem with your run of the mill wt/wt is that they always use another love interest to get a reaction from the other half of the wt/wt when they want to advance it. I find that insulting for one of the parties and frankly, unrealistic or at least juvenile. We love people for who they are, not because they’re better than someone else and we don’t need to date other people to realize how important they are to us. The only one that came closest to being an obstacle was Bryce, but he was an ex, he appeared early in the story and only a couple of months after he was presumed dead. It was normal for Sarah to be ambivalent here. Lou, Jill and Hannah, all happened very soon after Chuck had come to believe that things were over between him and Sarah and it was always made clear that they were second choices. Cole was the same, he came at a moment when Chuck forced Sarah to question the viability of their future. She always had that question in the back of her head, but like a true introvert, she pretended that it didn’t exist. The obstacle was always only one: Sarah’s job.

    So, you have this conflict that keeps building up between a palpable romance that keeps growing and a very believable obstacle. And when that conflict starts to resolve itself, it becomes epic. It was epic when Sarah said no to Cole, because she was subconsciously saying no to the spy life. It was even more epic when she ran away with Chuck because she was doing the same thing, but consciously. And it was epic again on the beach because it was not an impulsive decision, it was something she knew that she wanted.

    And then we come to season 3. I didn’t have any problems with the wt/wt continuing as long as it made sense, I even wanted it. And it made sense to me, I think Chuck choosing the spy life was the only way to make it believable. I love the first two episodes and I don’t find anything contrived about them. But, the writers were faced with two problems created by their own doing: first, Chuck and Sarah couldn’t get back together until Chuck chose her over spying; and second, it had to be at least as epic as the ending of season 2. But, Chuck giving up spying for her couldn’t be as epic because for him, it was more like a dream, for her it was her life. Also, his conflict would have been building up for only 13 episodes, while Sarah’s lasted 35 episodes. So, Chuck had to give up something more than just spying, he had to give her up. They decided to do it by Chuck rescuing Sarah’s boyfriend while believing she prefers Shaw to him. Unfortunately, the execution was not up to par, Sarah seems to have real romantic feelings for Shaw (she doesn’t, but you have to dig through the rabble to see it), which makes her look like a superficial flake that falls in love at the drop of a hat, and in turn, that makes her feelings for Chuck not that “epic” anymore. On a related note: thanks, Mr Fedak for making her exactly that when you told us that she fell for a possible enemy two days after her boyfriend had died. On top of that, Shaw was not a well written character: he was interesting for the first two episodes, but then became stiff, creepy and incompetent. For me, he sucked as a villain too, he had only one good scene, the one in Paris.

    So, anybody has any ideas about what something else Chuck could have given up, so we would have been spared of Shaw?

    • atcDave says:

      I’m no fan of any of this who has to give up what talk. Its more like an engineering problem or a court brief than a romance.
      The reasonable external obstacles were resolved by 2.22 (Sarah had chosen Chuck over career). I think the most natural thing is to end the wt/wt at that point. Chuck is a part of a dangerous world he never wanted is sacrifice enough. Sarah getting into a real relationship is her new adventure. Growth proceeds from there. We could have had the silly/funny relationship steps we saw late S3/early S4 play out against the backdrop of Chuck’s agent training. I always liked the idea of paralleling his growth into Sarah’s world with her growth into Chuck’s world.
      I think that would have played better for far more viewers than any further made-for-television sort of delays. It would have had the bonus of preserving the really special romance we’d seen unfold in late S2 without making it all irrelevant as canon did.

      • Luke says:

        Dave, my reply wasn’t meant to make you or anybody else a fan, it was just a long winded explanation about why Shaw is hated and how it got to that point. It sounds like an engineering problem because it is one.

        I understand that you and many others reject the season 3 story from the start, but not paying off on the resolution of the first two seasons’ conflict was the writers’ prerogative and others, including me bought into it. Once they headed down that path, they couldn’t end it until Chuck became a spy. If he had decided a couple weeks into the season to go back to Sarah, he would have looked like a flake. If he had quit and went back to Sarah when things got tougher, he would have been a loser and Sarah would have been his second choice. For me, that kind of character damage would have been a lot bigger than Chuck and Sarah dating other people while believing they were done.

        The writers also knew that they had to conclude it in a way that matched that level of intensity, otherwise it would have felt like it wasn’t worth it. Chuck believing that Sarah prefers Shaw and then risking his life to save him, probably looked great on the story board, but it failed because they didn’t make it clear enough that Shaw was never a romantic option for Sarah. Eventually, he wasn’t, so I’m not too bothered by it now, but I shouldn’t have had to spend an enormous amount of time to analyze every detail so that I can come up to that conclusion.

      • atcDave says:

        Luke I do think as simple a thing as removing the “love polygon” would have made a huge difference in the reception of the season. Even if we started with the big misunderstanding and had them estranged until 3.13, simply removing that element would have made a difference between “loathed” and “not a favorite”. Which sounds like a pretty big improvement to me.
        But the only way to make the season “liked” would be to fully honor the epic season two finale arc and have the young awkward couple actually trying to figure out how to be together right from 3.01. (Basically make the season premier look more like Honeymooners).
        The polls we ran right after the season look like 70% rejected it to one degree or another which is a staggering collapse after the enthusiasm with the end of S2.

    • Loki259 says:

      First, why do people act like Sarah was a flake as you say because she fell for Shaw? I am frankly bothered by all the Sarah hate here. When I was watching the first half of season 3 I don’t think I ever had a problem with Sarah’s choices. So let’s dissect this and why I think Sarah is getting too much hate:

      For 2 seasons Chuck wanted to be with Sarah but she couldn’t because they needed the wt/wt and it made sense cause she was a cold spy, all her life she had trust issues because of her father and she was taught to ignore her own emotions to serve duty like a spy. I mean she was with Bryce early but not really, he was kind of a safe relationship for her I believe cause she knew he would never want all the real things(marriage, kids, house etc.) It was more of a spies with benefits relationship I believe.

      But back to the real point: After all of her life of having trust issues and being told to ignore emotions and act like a spy, comes Chuck and she develops real feelings for him but because she is a spy they can’t really be together. To bring it back to Bryce, maybe she didn’t want to be with Chuck and also be spies cause that’s what she had with Bryce, she wanted more meaningful relationship and to differentiate Bryce from Chuck. But she never stopped caring for him and helping him with everything he needed (not just on missions but emotionally: talking, being there for him with his family). Another big thing people don’t talk about enough is when she chose to risk being committed of treason and losing everything she worked for to help Chuck find his father. Do you realize what kind of sacrifice she was making for him?

      Which brings me to Pink slip and the choice that will live in infamy for all Chuck fans everywhere. She was finally done hiding her feelings, she was done wearing a spy mask and she let it all out: she told him how she felt, that they could run and finally be together. She did that partly because she knew they would change him and that thought was more than she could handle. And you’re right, it was epic because she was giving up her life, it was beautiful. So after all the wt/wt she is finally ready to stop being a spy and be with him and he says no. This is where I was so mad at the writers because they almost ruined Chuck for me (the character, not the show). Yeah they explained it but it still didn’t make sense for me and it wasn’t in line with his character and everything we expected from him. They created a problem they couldn’t fix and like you said they tried to make Chuck’s sacrifice be equally as epic as Sarah’s but they couldn’t because it’s impossible.

      So my question is why in the name of all that is holy did they not have them run together? But more importantly why did people hate Sarah for it? Everyone hates Sarah for what she does with Shaw but it was completely understandable in my book. For the first time in her life she allowed herself to be vulnerable, to have real feelings and Chuck basically said: Nah, i got to go save the world. Do you realize the impact that had to have on her? People are underselling her being hurt and betrayed by him so much, especially when we now know everything about her father and their strained relationship. Sarah was just doing with Shaw what she was doing with bryce, something that would never really go anywhere serious because she needed something safe, something not serious and someone to talk to about Chuck and how much he is changing. And it’s not like Sarah had actual feelings for Shaw, people bring up her moving to DC. But it wasn’t about Shaw, it was about her HAVING TO WORK WITH THE PERSON WHO HURT HER SO DEEPLY. I need people to understand that it was too much to her to keep working with Chuck especially when he changed so much and her being constantly reminded of him saying no to her at the train station.

      So please for the love of God, stop hating Sarah Walker so much because she really doesn’t deserve it. The writers do for shooting themselves in the foot with the whole Chuck saying no arc they created.

      • atcDave says:

        I absolutely hate how Sarah was written in S3. Its not the character, its the show runner. And she does look like an idiot.

      • Loki259 says:

        But why? Everyone always says how much they hate s3 Sarah but I don’t get it. I don’t think she was an idiot at all and I think my previous post covered her reasons for doing the things she does, even if I did go on too much, I apologize for the long post. But I will always defend s3 Sarah, she gets way too much hate. s3 Chuck is way way worse than s3 Sarah in my book.

      • Loki259 says:

        I do agree with you about the idea of having their relationship set against the backdrop of his agent training in season 3. That sounds so much better than what they did.

      • atcDave says:

        Well for starters she knew as early as 3.02 EXACTLY why Chuck had stood her up in Prague; so the continued estrangement was itself false. I would say her fault, but it’s too stupid for that, it’s the writers’ fault.
        So she’s anguished over Chuck changing, and has plenty of opportunities to help him cope, but instead chooses to buddy up to the guy trying to force him to change.
        She apparently wants a real relationship now, but because she’s Too stubborn to talk to Chuck, again she turns to the guy who’s trying to change him. A guy who consistently behaves in ways she objects to from Chuck (like punching a cuffed prisoner over a dumb insult).
        Later, when Shaw tries to blow up Chuck she begs for his patience (what happened to our woman of action? Take the phone and break it! Or knee him where it hurts. Or shoot him).
        When Chuck does almost kill a villain in Tic Tac only Sarah can talk him down, yet she concludes Chuck no longer needs her.
        And the final insult; after Shaw manipulates her into manipulating Chuck into his Red Test, she turns to Shaw for consolation. That is beyond messed up. And it’s the nail in the coffin of S3.
        They took the most popular character on the show and showed her as a stubborn and stupid woman for 12 episodes. Zombie Sarah. Absolutely heartbreaking.

      • Loki259 says:

        Let’s go over this point by point:

        Just because she knew why he stood her up doesn’t make it ok, she can’t get over it in a second, it takes time. You have to remember this is a woman with some deep seated trust issues that stem from her childhood.

        Yeah ok I’ll give you this one, she could have helped him cope with the changes.

        Why do you say she wants a real relationship? I covered all this in previous post: she doesn’t want to actually be with Shaw, she was hurt by Chuck and she needed something safe. Shaw to her was like Bryce, yes they were together but it was casual and it wasn’t going to lead anywhere like it eventually did with Chuck (marriage, babies etc.)

        When did Shaw want to blow up Chuck? You mean when he wanted to blow up Buy more I am kinda confused, which scene are you referencing?

        Ok you’re right, he still needed her. But she thought he was turning into a super spy that could handle things on his own and I think she couldn’t handle it, that is why she eventually said to Beckman I need to leave.

        Ok that last point I will agree is messed up. To be fair she was put in a difficult position: if he passes, he’s not the man she fell for. If he doesn’t, they can’t be together cause he is not a spy. But turning to Shaw, the guy who set up that situation is horrible from her.

        In conclusion yeah some of your points make a lot of sense. But you are acting like she was a total idiot and you kinda expect her to be perfect all the time, but she was deeply hurt by Chuck. Like I said this is a woman with trust issues who is bad at communicating and all her life all she knew was the spy life and never getting close to people. Chuck changed all that and put her into totally new territory of being vulnerable. I think you should cut her some slack. Chuck was way worse, acting super cocky about being a spy and almost totally ignoring Sarah. And then she is magically going to come flying into his arms after he becomes this arrogant spy, which Sarah never really wanted him to be? He could have said something too, he was always the guy that initiated the conversation between them before.

      • atcDave says:

        No please stop with points!
        We’ve been over this a million times since the nights S3 first ran. This is not something you can “prove” to me or anyone else. This is how we each saw things. Apparently your affection for Sarah was undamaged by that arc. Mine was crushed. There are so many better ways the story and characters could have been served. I really do not need or want to get into this again.
        For the fully developed arguments on this look at the “Season Three Alternatives” category form the “category search tab” on the right side of the page.

      • Wilf says:

        Hi. I have to say that although I utterly hated the first half of Season 3, it did not damage my view of Sarah or Chuck at all. I just thought, what an unendurable and, seemingly, at the time, unending, set of 12 miserable and pointless episodes, but it never went further than that for me. Now, on the other hand, the Series finale … well the less said about that, the better!

      • For what it’s worth, Loki, I think you’re totally right about Sarah. I wouldn’t even grant the concessions you did. Furthermore, I actually think S3.0 was quite valuable in their relationship. By the end of S2, Sarah was finally ready to take a leap of faith. But she’d been a spy for years at that point, and she’d had two years to take stock of the costs and benefits of spy life vs a normal life.

        Chuck at that point had nothing of the sort – his choice wasn’t between being an elite spy or having a normal life. Until intersect 2.0, his choice was between a normal life and being a permanent hostage. Of course he ached for a more normal life – it wasn’t a sacrifice for him. It was an enormous sacrifice for Sarah.

        When Chuck gets intersect 2.0, he becomes Sarah’s peer in ability, and is finally faced with the same temptation she has – a life of thrills, excitement, and (lest we forget) the ability to literally save the world. These simultaneous selfish and selfless impulses are real, and it’s not until Chuck goes through them that he can actually see, understand, and make the true sacrifice Sarah was ready to make for him.

        This all makes 3.02 hurt even more. At first, Sarah thought she was just rejected by Chuck. But the truth was, when Chuck was faced with a life that offered him a complete fulfillment of his potential – when he was finally confronted with the same sacrifice that she was finally brave enough to make – he makes the exact opposite choice that she did. Sarah is no fool. She knows exactly what Chuck’s decision means. And it crushes her. It would crush me.

        Worse, she can completely empathize with that choice! I actually think you’re too hard on Chuck here – he is beset by enormous demands throughout the show, and suddenly granted with immense power. Where most people obtain that power gradually through training, it just flips on for him.

        After having zero agency over his life for years, he finally has a real measure of power. He has been a slave to the CIA, even to Sarah, and his moral compass is briefly uncalibrated for his new situation. Chuck loses his footing in season 3. Who wouldn’t in his situation? The burden he is faced with (and has been faced with) is enormous.

        I still find S3.0 brutal and unwatchable. I also wish they hadn’t brought Shaw into it – his insertion into their personal drama makes the whole thing uglier than it needed to be. But I also think S3.0 is completely valid and consistent with their characters, and I think something like it was necessary for them to really be on equal footing with each other. More importantly, they both learn from these mistakes. When they are again faced with this dilemna (honeymooners), they are both prone to old habits (aren’t we all). But they’ve learned to trust in each other first. They will continue to do so for the rest of the show.

        (waits for Dave to yell at me)

      • atcDave says:

        No, no yelling Arthur.
        It was funny back when we were doing the “Alternatives” posts how passionately we could argue on just how and why S3 was broken. I do think ultimately it’s an entertainment failure. That I find Chuck and Sarah to be total jerks through it all is a reflection of not liking the product.
        I’d Also mention that all of us have a bit of inner jerk, I never mean to say “Chuck and Sarah should never be jerks like normal people sometimes are”. But when a show’s primary strength was likable characters that were fun to root for, that then proceeds to show the worst in those characters for most of 12 episodes; I can only call it a failure.

        I can’t believe how quickly I get sucked back into all of this again. Dang…

      • Luke says:

        I didn’t have a problem with Sarah dating someone else, but she comes off as having real feelings for Shaw when she loses her head over him killing himself to avenge another woman. I know it’s a trope, but in reality, a woman who gave up an important part of her life to be with someone, doesn’t just fall in love with another dude a couple of months later. And if by some miracle it does happen, then there’s zero chance she will ever go back to the previous guy. None. Unless she’s an emotional flake or she has mental issues that she should take care of through therapy.

        As for hating her, it only happened once, when she told Chuck that they can’t be together unless he kills the mole (worst dialog exchange in the entire show). I make sure I don’t know in how many episodes actors are, because I’m spoiler phobic. At the end of Tic Tac, the way the story unfolded made me wonder if Yvonne was leaving the show. At the end of Final Exam, I was hoping she’ll be gone.

      • atcDave says:

        Luke a lot of the more casual viewers I know (those who were also spoiler free!) thought exactly the same thing, that Yvonne was done with the show. That’s really the only way that story could have been told. If Charah was real people they never would have made it as a couple. Which goes back to why I just reject that arc…

      • Loki259 says:

        Luke I think you summed up what I think the problem is. To some Sarah comes off as having real feelings for Shaw, but I said multiple times I don’t think that is the case. But I don’t want to argue this anymore, it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, we all have different opinions about this that probably won’t change.

        I still 100% agree that those 12 episodes were bad and unnecessary and something much better could have been written instead of that.

      • atcDave says:

        Most of us agree with that Loki!

  45. Ernie Davis says:

    Always interesting to see the site come alive again for some lively season 3 discussion. I’m not even going to pretend to have read everything, but here’s my brief take.

    From the beginning Shaw was a flawed character executed poorly exacerbated by the fact that the entire season was written with all storylines closing in on their climax for the last episode. This created several problems, not the least of which was that stories were stalled or padded out beyond their natural timelines or conclusions to achieve that goal. Shaw as a villain, his primary purpose in season 3 as the final “Big Bad”, meant that he couldn’t be used in the part of the role he was good at until episode 12. Until then we were left with a pretty weak character whose execution was problematic to begin with. The only real purpose he filled before that was as someone Sarah could say “I’m worried about Chuck” to, leading to a pretty contrived romance. Shaw wasn’t really necessary as, but also had the function of pushing Chuck out of Sarah’s comfort zone, which makes the character and the romance once again problematic. Beckman was the already established character whose purpose was an authority figure to push Chuck and frustrate Sarah’s desires. And I think she was better at it.

    Now in a minor defense of season 3, I get what they were going for as a show. Chuck and Sarah came of as juvenile and immature in early season 3 because that was the story. They were both still kind of juvenile and immature and they had no idea what they were getting themselves in to. If they tried to be together with each having their own issues to overcome the spy world would eat them alive. A story that was done much better in both season 4 and 5, but one that I’ll argue season 3 laid the foundation for.

    • atcDave says:

      You know I actually agree with most of that Ernie. As before, I think so much of the difference in like/dislike is more in how we weight the things we see than in the things themselves.

      It is funny how even after all this time Chuckwin’s Law holds true. Except I seem to have less patience than ever…

    • Loki259 says:

      I actually took the time to read most of the discussion in this thread, I went through pretty much all of it. And I never realized how much ground you covered, especially on season 3, wt/wt dynamics and love triangles. I was never skipping episodes though, I always took good with the bad and I agree with your point Ernie, it did kinda lay the foundation for s4 and s5. Over time they got better at working as a couple and they grew as characters.

      I still concede that Chuck and Sarah should have ran away, and then Casey brings them back. GB feels like something has to be done so she benches Sarah and sends Shaw to help turn Chuck into a better spy. Chuck would then have to navigate being tested as a spy by a guy he doesn’t really know and trusts and Sarah would be there to help him as a girlfriend and a fellow spy. I am even thinking if Eve Shaw being alive would have worked. Both Eve and Daniel would be working for the Ring and he would be double agent in CIA and season 3 finale would be set up as Chuck and Sarah having to become perfect spy couple to defeat the baddie Shaw couple. It would also make the Turner’s episode more relevant which I always thought was a very underrated episode.

      And another funny subplot would be Morgan hires Hannah outright for Buy More, is in love with her, but she only has eyes for Chuck who is now with Sarah. Could have been a nice bit of a comic relief and it wouldn’t be annoying as actual love triangles we got.

      Forgive me if this is a bad idea but I was pretty sleep deprived and in full Chuck mode from reading all the comments in this whole thread.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually think that’s an excellent idea Loki and it would have worked very well for me.

  46. Loki259 says:

    Also just one more thing that I find weird: Why are people so bothered by Sarah leaving for DC in s3 (which does bother me too even though I kinda get her reasoning), but nobody ever mentions how she was totally fine leaving in s2 with the whole 49-B situation.

    I mean I know she had to leave because of orders, but she was going to walk away from him without telling him how she felt. The only reason everything ended well was because the search for his father she was running got a result which she wasn’t even expecting and then he needed to be kidnapped for her to come back and help them find him. But the point is she was going to leave without fighting for them, she was already in the car on the way to the airport before other stuff happened.

    I gotta say that always bothered me as much as leaving for DC in s3 did.

    • atcDave says:

      I admit I never liked that moment; but she was never going to leave. She started the search and clearly meant to get the results to Chuck. She told herself she was obeying orders, just after one last thing…
      Like I said, never leaving.
      Just like delivering Chuck for the bunker at the end of First Kill. Her resolve to obey orders collapsed the moment Chuck opened his mouth.

      • Loki259 says:

        I don’t agree with that. I went back and rewatched and couple of important things I want to mention:

        1. Sarah was going to leave and when the results came, she turned her car around and went back. The only reason she went back was to leave a letter on his pillow. Then she discovered that his phone was on his bed and found it suspicious thus prompting her to go to Castle and check if everything is ok and then had to save him. I think you can draw a pretty definite conclusion that she was going to leave even after getting the results and only coincidence stopped her. If you’re a true romantic you can argue it was all fate but still seems like sloppy writing that kinda lessened her character and how strong their connection was.

        2. The bunker thing was much more in tune of what I expected from her. She was conflicted but still disobeyed orders for him as soon as he opened his mouth like you said. I liked that, but it clashed with what they did before. You got to remember this was pretty close. In s2e18 she was going to leave without fighting for them and s2e20 she committed treason and risked her whole life just to help him find his father. What changed?

        The reason why her actions is season 3 don’t bother me as much is because she thought he changed. Her leaving was never because of Shaw, he was just a guy, if she left Chuck, she was always going to settle for a guy she didn’t love. Shaw is irrelevant. No, she left because she thought he changed, she couldn’t see him like this and she was still hurt he rejected her for a chance at being a spy. I was recently reading Kelly Dean Jolley’s thoughts on this and I loved his thoughts that Chuck had a plan that he didn’t fully formulate or even understand and didn’t share with Sarah and that is why her actions were kinda understandable. She had no idea Chuck’s plan was for him to become a spy on his own terms, without the guns and deception. She genuinely thought he was changing and that just reminded her of a guy on the train station who said no to her.

        But her actions in season 2 on the other hand bother me a bit more cause he was “her” Chuck. He was that guy, unchanged, the clumsy but loveable guy she fell for. She had already turned down Bryce couple of times and said no to Cole Barker countless times a few episodes earlier. Chuck was her choice and she knew it. That is why I don’t understand her not fighting for him in s2e18, the broken heart episode.

      • atcDave says:

        I think you’re putting too much emphasis on actions that didn’t lead to anything.
        It’s like if I tell you I won’t eat any more chocolate cake, and I put away my fork it creates an appearance of eating no more cake. But if you put some in front of me you’ll see where my resolve truly stands.
        Chuck is Sarah’s chocolate cake. No matter what she says or starts to do, she’s not really going to say no. Except for the one arc where she and Chuck were written as jerks to each other.
        Maybe that misery arc equates to my I’ll-fated attempt at a diet; we know it’s doomed, because truly no one can come between me and that chocolate cake…

      • Loki259 says:

        But the stakes were so much higher. If she said she didn’t want chocolate cake, in her case Chuck, she was going to lose him forever. She didn’t know things were going to magically work out, making those choices meant a big risk of losing him forever.

      • atcDave says:

        No of course, she’s wrestling with what many young people wrestle with, career vs love.
        I’m just saying the preliminaries and preparations mean little, it’s the follow through that matters. And when it mattered, Sarah chose Chuck over career several times. Covertly sometimes, so no one knew her choices except the audience. But she never almost left, she came through for him every time.

        Except for the misery arc. And this has more to do with your comment below.
        But we truly don’t have to regard her S3 at all if we don’t want; because she’s a fictional character created by a number of different writers. Sarah Walker on the show is no more real than Sarah Walker of 4000 different fan fiction stories. We can accept or reject whatever mash of stories and fictional universes we wish. For myself I have no interest and see no value in the misery arc. I’d rather look at the latest by David Carner.
        The only difference is show had visual aids.
        Chuck and Sarah of S3 bother me a lot because they did the one thing I could never accept from the first two seasons, they gave up on each other. They got over it, and the remainder of the show was handled in a more satisfactory way.
        But I really can never see this as anything other than a production decision. Bitterly dissapointing because I had credited the show with being something fresh and original and ready to take chances. Right until they gave us a season of following television cliche and orthodoxy. My bitterest disappointment was with the show runners. The characters are not real people, they dance as directed. The writers delivered a dreadful product. What the characters were thinking doesn’t really even enter into it for me.

    • thinkling says:

      I think Dave is right, but even if she were leaving, I see a huge difference in the two. DC was Sarah’s choice, perhaps even her request. 49-B was under orders at a time when she really had no other option, except to be fired. But like Dave said, she came back, in defiance of orders. In the 49-B situation, she showed loyalty to Chuck; in the DC situation, she showed no loyalty to him.

      • Loki259 says:

        So you’re saying in season 2 basically she chose a job over a guy she was clearly in love with. Granted, the job that was huge part of her life but still. I will give you that she showed no loyalty to Chuck in season 3, she could have said something and stayed and try to figure it out. Even if I did kinda understand where she’s coming from, it was still the wrong thing to do and she should have done better.

        All I am saying is if you are going to judge her for s3, you have to do it for s2 as well. I realize I am about to kill the argument I was building earlier against her being emotional flake, but she was the more I think about it. Both those situations in season 2 when she was faced with dilemma, her first instinct was to choose job over love. And then something would happen conveniently and she would quickly change her mind.

        I blame all of that on poor writing, I think in both seasons there were moments where they should have made her less of a flake and more of a stronger character.

      • thinkling says:

        No. You completely ignore the established context of the story (her duties as a CIA agent and the danger in both doing her duty and failing to do it). She was ordered to leave. She would have been fired if she didn’t. (Most people, even in normal jobs, don’t consider showing up for work optional.) You’re placing far too little weight in the job and following orders. Her leaving in S2 was not her choice. She was under orders from the United States government. It wasn’t a sales job at Penney’s. When you sign up for the military or the CIA, orders are orders. Let’s say she refused. She would have been fired. Her knowledge of all things CIA, especially the Intersect would have made her dangerous in the eyes of the CIA. She would have been ordered to stay away from Chuck. (Had she refused that, she would have gone to jail.) Furthermore, Chuck was never going to be released from the CIA. Remember First Date. They would have killed him, rather than let him go to live a normal life. Sarah had to weigh what would happen to Chuck. Her staying would have made things very complicated, if not outright dangerous, for him. Encouraging any form of rebellion in him would have brought him grave consequences. So what kind of options did Sarah have (rhetorical question)? Anything she did would have put both of them in CIA cross-hairs. Contrast that with First Kill, when she did defy orders. The consequences were that they were on the run for treason. That time she did disobey orders, because Chuck was going to be bunkered, so in both cases she did what was best for Chuck, at personal cost to herself.

        Part of Sarah’s conflict, which Yvonne showed brilliantly, was that she was constantly doing a balancing act between orders and her feelings for Chuck. The CIA saw him as property — the asset. She saw him as a person, one she cared about, so she shielded him from the harsh reality. In the 49-B she was busted … viewed as compromised in the sight of the CIA. That’s a huge consequence. She didn’t choose to go. She did not leave of her own free will. To think she did is to deny the established context of Sarah’s reality, where as a CIA agent, you can’t disobey orders, and you can’t just quit, without severe consequences (court martial, jail, bunker, black site). I cannot fathom how you say she left of her own free will. She simply did not.

        The 49-B is in diametric contrast with the DC decision, which was 100% a choice of her own free will. It was an option, not an order. So, no. I don’t have to judge her for the B-49 like I do for the DC debacle.

      • atcDave says:

        And ultimately it’s those choices she made that make the arc so unpalatable. It’s the one time she gave up on Chuck and the one time she made such selfish choices.

      • thinkling says:

        Right, Dave. The misery arc is just totally messed up. To me the writers betrayed their own story and beloved characters for the sake of middle school TV trope. I should have been Chuck and Sarah against the world and the CIA and the Intersect… not Chuck and Sarah against each other. Such a waste of drama, when there was a rich and dangerous story to be told.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes, bullseye.

      • Loki259 says:

        One more thing, I just saw your comment Thinkling. I concede some of the points you made make a lot of sense and to be fair though, I didn’t even mean to spend that much time on season 2 Sarah, for the most part I respect the decisions she made even if execution could have been little better. The part that bothered me most I guess was her leaving in broken heart episode without saying anything. The only reason she came back was coincidence but I might just choose to believe it was fate rewarding them. The post I made about season 3 Chuck was more important and it better proves the point I wanted to make about me not understanding why s3 Sarah gets so much hate.

      • thinkling says:

        S3 is just fruit of the poisonous tree and should, therefore, be thrown out. I blame the writers for very poor story decisions. (IMHO, of course, because some people were okay with the story as told, but I considered it a great waste of potential.) Somebody should write a S3 AU where Chuck and Sarah rebel against the writers, jump off the page, and take their lives back …

      • atcDave says:

        There is one out there called “Chuck vs The Producers” but that is more about a certain amnesia arc. CF is plenty terrified of a POed Sarah Bartowski…

        But there certainly have been a lot of better treatments of this period. Like Crumby’s “Rogue Spy” for a complete rewrite; or Kate McK’s “Chuck vs the Fight” for an episode to episode rework.

    • Loki259 says:

      Oh I agree wholeheartedly about the writers delivering a bad product, the cliches and Chuck and Sarah giving up on each other and not acting in tune with their characters. It just bothers me that most of the discussion I saw is attacking s3 Sarah and only her.

      There are some decisions in season 2 from Sarah that are questionable, but to be honest the thing that bothers me most is Chuck in season 3. I can’t believe I am just getting to that now but here we are.

      In my opinion he was written much worse than Sarah, his choices were much more uncharacteristic. Even if Kelly Dean Jolley’s thoughts on this helped me understand his big choice a little bit, there is still his execution which was horrifying, he told her nothing on that train station except: “I can’t, I am sorry”. He made no effort to communicate to her in any way why he was doing it. And one of the worst parts is he knew making that choice risked losing her forever. He was going to stay in Prague for 6 months training and let’s face it there was a huge chance of Sarah being reassigned god knows where and she had no reason to wait for him because he didn’t give her one.

      And also the cause effect of all her poor choices in season 3 was his actions (the horrible decision and execution in Prague and his changing in many bad ways while training to be a spy) that help me understand why she acted the way she did. But he made that stupid choice after all those times in season 2 where she put herself on the line to help him and proving him over and over again how much she loved him.

      And another point that people are skipping over which is very important: She literally said she knew what was going to happen to him if he chose the spy life. She knew from her experience it would change him and how it was going to negatively affect him and his life, she wanted to shield and protect him for that. And he still made the bonehead decision.

      And of course who can forget his lying to her two times about being fine when doctor warned him about his mental deterioration and how he should talk about it with his partner. Oh and lying about Shaw being alive just kills me. He was such horrible communicator in s3.

      In conclusion I think s3 ruined Chuck’s character more than Sarah’s.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay I do have some specific thoughts on why Sarah gets trashed on more, it’s simple, it took her longer to figure it out.
        We had a lot of these discussions and debates all the way back to real time when it first ran. Chuck absolutely and completely got a lot of hate in the early part of the season. I’ve always said Chuck made the worse decisions and was the bigger jerk. But bigger jerk is a weak defense for Sarah’s qualities. But Chuck figured things out, more or less, by the end of Fake Name. While Sarah was stubborn until the end of American Hero.
        So if Chuck wins the jerk quality award Sarah gets the jerk quantity award. Even worse, she basically does nothing until Chuck wins her back. It would have been nice to see them fight for each other instead of Sarah being reduced to trophy for the arc. But that all goes back to the horrible writing argument.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave, I agree with that. I’ve always said that, throughout, Sarah was more faithful to Chuck than the other way around. As to fighting for each other, that was one of the biggest rubs of S3. They had always fought for each other, and then … poof … they weren’t fighting for each other any more. Then what happened? Well, then we didn’t have anybody to root for any more, and it just wasn’t fun any more.

      • joe says:

        Loki, I’m having a hard time swallowing the idea that the writers delivered a bad product (but I certainly respect your opinion on the subject). Maybe I missed it (I’ve only had 2 glasses of wine tonight), but how are you measuring that? I know Dave’s criteria – he asks himself if he was entertained. It’s a bit subjective, but it’s a valid criteria to measure their quality. If I may ask, what’s yours? You’ve mentioned character consistency. But does that allow for growth and change? – or am I misreading?

        I sort of agree with the idea that certain segments, episodes and even arcs can be done away with and the ending (or maybe even the audience experience) doesn’t change one wit. But that doesn’t mean they were badly conceived, does it? And I’ve always thought that Shaw could have been replaced with Bryce with little change to the story (but we might have enjoyed it more).

        Huh. There’s a scene at the end of vs. The Couch Lock (whoooo-boy. I always want to think it’s called “vs.The A-Team”, but it’s not) where Casey enters the cave in Afghanistan to rescue Chuck and Sarah from his former team mates. Going in, he knocks his hat off at the entrance to the cave. I don’t think that was intentional, serves no purpose and I think the scene should have been re-done. Not doing so was a little unprofessional, so I assume someone was under a severe time (or budget?) constraints. THAT was, to me, a thing that tends to create a bad product (but I’ll give ’em one for free).

        I can’t say your wrong about the fans dumping on Sarah in S3 either. But you know, at one point a lot of fans were wondering why the show wasn’t called “Chuck and Sarah” instead of Chuck. Overall, she was definitely the more popular character. Maybe the opposite of love isn’t hate after all. It’s indifference. The fans were never indifferent about Sarah Walker.

        One short, personal story, then I’m sleep-bound. I rewatched every episode this past winter-to-spring, and then listened to all the music from every episode that I had collected as I drove home from work. I was done by April. But you know, by June I wanted to do it all over again starting with the Pilot. I guess that means that I was really, really entertained with the story and presentation just the way it was (and yes, I’m addicted too). I went in almost dreading the so-called misery arc, but after seeing it, I realized it wasn’t so bad and even had some good points. Some necessary points.

        Thanks for starting this great discussion and for your amazing contributions!

    • Luke says:

      I agree with Dave and thinkling about Sarah leaving in Broken Heart. Her alternatives were to run with Chuck like in First Kill, but he wasn’t in any danger, or to quit CIA and be his girlfriend. The problems were that she wasn’t ready to quit yet, even if she had started on that path in Lethal Weapon, and the CIA wouldn’t have let her nowhere near Chuck. She would have been a trained operative that doesn’t work for them, basically an enemy from their pov.

      But I don’t agree with them on her decision to leave for DC. Unlike Chuck, she knows how to do a break up. If you really believe that things are over, then you should break contact completely. There’s no such thing as staying just friends. She stayed and helped him become a spy, but once that was done there would have been no reason for her to stay. And she didn’t say “I’m moving here,” she said “I’m thinking of moving here.” That’s because she wasn’t sure yet if it was over between them, but she became sure at the end of the next episode and only then she decided to move. I have no problems with it.

      It looks like I’m the only one that wasn’t bothered by any of those moments.

      • thinkling says:

        I think my disagreement of Sarah leaving for DC goes back farther than that moment. It’s the final domino in a lengthy chain of dominoes caused by … well a poor decision in the writers room. (See fruit of the poisonous tree comment above.)

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling, it was the last act of them giving up on each other.
        Remember my S3 mantra “fatally flawed at conception”.

      • thinkling says:

        When you’re right you’re right. 😉

      • Loki259 says:

        Joe, my criteria for whether or not a season or part of a season is a bad product is also enjoyment. While I can’t in good conscience say I have enjoyed first 12 episodes of season 3, i have never skipped them because I think they have some good parts and I am just not a fan of skipping anything, I always take good with the bad.

        Dave, my apologies. I didn’t know Chuck got a lot of criticism as a character on this blog, must have missed that. To tell you the truth I only read this thread and couple of others and saw that only s3 Sarah got so much hate and that bothered me.

        Let me just take one more shot at trying to explain Sarah and Chuck and why what Chuck did bothered me so much than Sarah and why Sarah’s choices can be partly excused.

        Chuck was always the best communicator between the two, he was the guy who wore his heart on his sleeve and almost never left anything unsaid. For two seasons I loved his character and identified with him in a lot of ways. And then in season 3 they totally murdered him and he took so many steps back as character.

        The big part of that is the decision. Look I think at this point we can all agree Chuck should have ran away with Sarah. But for the sake of argument let’s say him saying no to Sarah made sense. His execution was atrocious, he didn’t give her any explanation and he risked losing her forever, he didn’t give her any reason to wait for him. Then after he failed his training, he just gave up, didn’t even try to find her and found her by accident in the Buy More when he was buying cheese puffs. Yikes.

        To his credit he did give her explanation which Carina eventually forwarded to Sarah. Then for the rest of the season he never fought for her, he was so focused on being a spy that he completely ignored her. His plan was I am going to become a spy and then she is magically going to fall into my arms.

        And to Sarah’s defense once more: you are ignoring the emotional toll this took on her. Why would she fight for him when he clearly didn’t want to fight for her first? He made a bunch of bad decisions, he violated her trust after saying he will run away with her and then changing his mind. I will repeat one more time: this is a woman with severe trust issues because of her father and her childhood. He broke all that first and then still acted like being a spy is more important than her for the rest of the season. That is why she wanted to leave, she was sick of a guy who would treat her like this, she thought he changed and she couldn’t handle it anymore. Shaw was irrelevant, she was leaving because of Chuck.

        I mean maybe she could have handled it better but I certainly understand most of her thought process. His thought process? I have no clue what he was thinking.

  47. Luke says:

    Loki, we can’t all agree that Chuck should have run with her, because I and many others don’t. First, a meta reason: there would have been no show with Chuck and Sarah on the run or it would have been a very different show, with Casey hunting them and no reason for the Buy More’s or the Awesomes’ existence in the show.

    Second, his decision was in line with his character and similar previous decisions: the end of Break-Up and the end of Ring. It happened again in Goodbye. In Ring, because Sarah didn’t manage to tell him that she was going to quit the CIA, he believes that they will never be together, she is going to either be his handler or be reassigned. Also, when he re-intersected, he didn’t know that he was going to get super-powers and have a chance to be a spy and therefore be with her. He was sacrificing his chance at a normal life because he believed that it was the right thing to do. There’s a montage of flashbacks right before he re-intersects, of him doubting himself and others telling him that he is a hero. That’s the classic moment when the hero embraces his calling, the one that he had previously rejected.

    In the first flashback from Pink Slip, when Casey tells him that he will go to training, he asks “Training for what?” He had just kicked the asses of a bunch of spies, but he was still not seeing himself as a spy, he still had no confidence in himself to become one. That’s why, when Sarah tells him to run away together, he accepts, albeit with hesitation, because he would have liked to be a spy for more reasons than just to be with her. Fast forward three weeks, his training gave him confidence, some probable propaganda strengthened his resolve, so of course he said no.

    You say he didn’t give her any explanation, he actually tried, but he was probably taken aback by her reaction and, most importantly, there was no time. The train was leaving and Sarah had to be on that train, with or without Chuck, because it was part of the escape route and she had no business being there. I don’t know if that was realistic, but the logistics were never realistic in the show and I never had a problem with that, so I wasn’t going to start now. And he did try to find her after that. I can think of only two situations when you would repeat “pick up, pick up” while calling someone: it’s either something urgent or they have ignored your calls. So, he probably tried to call her during those months and explain himself, but she ghosted him.

    As for not fighting for her, he did for the first two episodes, to the point of harassing her, until he understood why she didn’t want to be with him anymore. There are a few instances of betrayal in the first two seasons: Bryce and Sarah had feelings for each other, but they didn’t trust each other completely; Jill loved Chuck and she still betrayed him for the job; Casey said in Sensei that people will let you down eventually, in this business; Sarah almost betrayed Chuck at the end of First Kill. Then, you have Carina using Karl’s feelings against him. When Chuck talks down Karl, he starts speaking fast, but as soon as he says “in your line of work, it’s a liability,” he stops, looks towards Sarah and then continues, but slower. That’s when he understands that she doesn’t want to have real feelings for a spy and he probably thinks he shouldn’t either, because she was already giving him reasons to believe that she will move on. So, he decides to stop pressuring her and move on, and when Sarah offers him the chance to explain himself, he doesn’t take it.

    Looking at Sarah, she stopped being angry and hurt when she heard his confession, but she also became conflicted: she understood him and she realized that she had a part in it, but she was still afraid of letting him get close, she was stuck. You can say that she should have known that Chuck would never betray her, but… she’s the most distrusting character in the entire show and he had already made his first priority clear: spying. Their different levels of emotional involvement are visible during the two parallel conversations at the Generalissimo’s gala: Chuck looks resigned, while Sarah looks conflicted, she can’t even tell a lie to Ellie anymore. (“All right, ladies. Yeah, I’m talking to you too, Bartowski” :)) Chuck made a last attempt when he asked about their cover, but she didn’t budge and from then on, he was gone. His actions in that episode and the next one, and his pledge that friends and family will be the most important things for him, actually gave Sarah hope that he won’t change and eventually things will work out. She looked nervously excited and she turned and looked at him during dinner, but Chuck looked relaxed and he wasn’t even looking directly at her, he was looking around the table. Sarah was hopeful, but Chuck had moved on.

    That’s when Shaw came in. People believe that he seduced Sarah, but the person that he did seduce was Chuck, in First Class. That’s when Chuck started to become a a douche, to Morgan, to Sarah, to Hannah, a little to Ellie too. I don’t have a problem with that phase, because it was by design. Still, I wanted to punch him in the face when he threw a jealousy fit at Sarah, in the museum, two minutes after making out with Hannah. While Sarah did nothing.

    Okay, this comment was meant to be a defense of Chuck, it got a bit long there.

    • Loki259 says:

      You could have still had a show even if they ran, it could be resolved quickly like it was in Chuck vs the honeymooners. You would have one episode of conflicted Chuck and Sarah wondering if they really want to keep running and quit the spy life and then Casey brings them back. The show after that would continue normally with them in Burbank trying to figure out how to be spies and a couple all the while he has to train to be a spy with 2.0. It would eliminate the love triangle thing we got and you would still have Buy more and Ellie and Awesome from the 2nd episode onward.

      About his decision being in line with his character, I am not sure I 100% agree because one of the recurring themes in season 2 was Chuck’s unhappiness with the spy life, he only really got through it because of her. She was always the one who got the best of him and who made all the spy dangers worth it. It seems unlikely he would easily accept being a spy without her, he must have known he needed her. But I will give you that sacrificing his normal life in order to help others and save the world is something Chuck would do. And about him believing he and Sarah wouldn’t be together if he leads a normal life away from the spy business, again not true. She was explicitly picking him over spy life in Prague, that was the moment she went all in and didn’t care if they were spies or not, she just wanted to be with him.

      But everything considered I can make my peace with him uploading 2.0. and choosing not to run away with her. The problem was the execution and him not explaining. You say he couldn’t explain cause train was leaving. So why didn’t he bother trying to find her after to explain? The explanation was crucial, the risk of not explaining was that he risked losing her forever and she could be reassigned far away from him. If your plan is to become a spy so that you could help people but also more importantly so that you could be with the person you love because she is also a spy and also to make yourself equal to Sarah, which I believe he believed he needed to do to really have a chance to be with her, then you have to communicate that to her. You can’t just keep her in the dark and expect everything to magically fall into place.

      You also say he fought for her to the point of harassing her and then he stopped because he understood why she didn’t want to be with him anymore. So you are essentially saying he gave up even though she was the woman he loved. She just needed time and I believe she would have forgiven him but the thing that messed that up was him changing (burning Manoosh, lying easily to his sister etc.) Changing the person he was when Sarah fell in love with him is probably not the best idea to win her back. I am not saying he needs to be perfect but he was so clueless about what he needed to do in season 3. He stopped fighting so quickly for her and become so obsessed by being the perfect spy that he completely changed his person and become arrogant. You said it at the end of your post, he was kind of a douche to everyone around him.

      • thinkling says:

        I didn’t need them to run in Prague. In fact, my ideal would have been for them to have an honest conversation, with Chuck giving his Three Words speech early on and Sarah expressing her fears for him. Then they would have decided to stay and get through it together. It would have been Sarah Chuck against many threats. They could have gotten together as a couple about the same time. That wasn’t the main thing to me. The main thing was to have them together as best friends and partners to take on Chuck’s challenge to master the Intersect, without losing himself or getting bunkered or “disappeared.” I really don’t see running as the answer in episode 1, but what happened was horrendous. After watching, I thought, “people don’t come back from that.” They made the ultimate coupling, if not impossible, implausible and less satisfying.

      • thinkling says:

        *Not that I wasn’t happy they got together. It’s just that after you drag the couple through the muck of cruelty and bed-hopping, it’s just not as celebratory.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes Thinkling I agree exactly. Prague is the sort of moment real couples can’t come back from, it broke the implausibility meter. I continue to like the show and pairing only by ignoring the incident.
        I think running away together (Honeymooners one arc early) would have worked well. But what you describe would have worked well too. Many things could have worked. Except what they did.

      • Luke says:

        Running away and coming back would have been too similar to Colonel and with only two episodes in between too repetitive. If you want to change something so that they are together from the start, then Sarah not being afraid of a real relationship would have been more plausible. I wouldn’t have had a problem with that direction for her character, just like I don’t have a problem with the one the writers took. It’s one of those cases where both ways work for me.

        “And about him believing he and Sarah wouldn’t be together if he leads a normal life away from the spy business, again not true. She was explicitly picking him over spy life in Prague” – I was talking about when he re-intersected, he found out about Sarah’s intentions only later, in Castle, when she asked him to run away. As far as he was concerned, she was about to leave, so when he re-intersected he probably assumed she was going to be his handler again. I doubt he did it for that purpose, in fact I think that was also a sacrifice, because, as he said at the end of Lethal Weapon, it was tough being around her everyday.

        “So why didn’t he bother trying to find her after to explain?” – He did, I already said that he probably called her multiple times and she ignored him. And he assumed she was gone from Castle, there was no need for them to still use that base without the Intersect. Plus, from the moment he decided to not run away with her, Sarah was always going to be a second choice, until he was to become a spy.

        “So you are essentially saying he gave up even though she was the woman he loved.” No, I’m saying he understood the situation and his priorities, instead of becoming a creep that was also screwing up missions because he couldn’t get over her. Sarah had given him every reason to believe that she was moving on: she ignored him for months, she cut him off at the end of Pink Slip and told him to keep his feelings to himself, she acted cold at the club and during the mission at Karl’s mansion; she asked for a transfer after he explained himself (he didn’t know that she didn’t hear his confession) and then, when he tried to talk to her, she was still having none of it and told him to bury his feelings. Eventually, he understands her reasons and , just for good measure, he gets a demo from Carina, of what happens in this business to suckers that fall in love. And a verbal confirmation from Sarah: “Spies don’t fall in love” At this point, he realized that he couldn’t have both, so he stuck with his initial decision. I don’t know what you want him to have done. Tell her that he understands her and that he won’t change or ever betray her? Her answer would have been “Sure, Chuck, I believe that you believe that, but if I ask you to choose again, what will you choose?” Again, his number one priority was spying.

        Here’s a scene that shows what his priorities were: initially, when Sarah begged him not to go to Paris, I thought he was clueless as usual, but he knew what he was doing. He looked long at her, he realized that she was scared and that he was rejecting her advice, but he still went, because he believed that he had to in order to become a spy. He was breaking some eggs, like they say.

      • Loki259 says:

        Yes Thinkling what you said would have worked well, in the scenario of not running, explaining each other’s thoughts and trying to get through it together sounds like a great solution.

        Luke all I am saying is I think the situation was fixable if he was just more communicative. Basically the whole 12 episode thing they wrote was always flawed, but I still maintain it was fixable. I think she was hurt by his decision but she was even more hurt that he completely gave up on that train station and didn’t explain.

        Even if you don’t go for the perfect scenario like Thinkling suggested where she totally understands and they communicate all thoughts and fears and decide to work through it and be together, you could still have the beginning of the season like this:

        He says no at the train station and explains why, they have a great conversation about him needing to be a spy and help people and how he is going to do it his own way, and not change. But she still needs time to forgive him, she’s unsure if it’s going to work. He keeps working at being a spy but he makes her know he is doing it for them and keeps proving that he won’t change. You could have the Manoosh episode where Chuck can’t burn him and Casey ends up doing it. The big moment would then come in the fake name episode where he needs to assume alias but he can’t do it because it’s not him, makes mistake and almost gets himself killed and she has to save him. She realizes at that moment that he will never be a cruel type of spy, he will always be her Chuck and she forgives him, thus ending up together. And then maybe you bring Shaw from 3.08 to 3.13 because GB is disappointed at Chuck for failing and you would have the same storyline of Shaw pushing Chuck to be a perfect spy, but this time Sarah is helping him through it. Shaw still ends up having the same role as far as Chuck’s training is concerned, minus the love triangle thing.

      • Loki259 says:

        I mean I understand that would make him look kinda inadequate as a spy, that he wouldn’t grow much as a spy even after all that training. And it makes sense cause intersect 2.0. only helps with kung fu and othe specific skills, when it’s time to burn an asset or assume an alias, he still wouldn’t do it cause he is too much a of a good guy. I would have liked him not changing and still remaining the guy who was bad at lying and deception instead of the douche they gave us.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, it’s like Dave said above: there are a lot of things (almost anything, in fact) that would have worked better than what they did. For these things fan fiction heals all. Check out some of Dave’s fan fiction posts for a dose of SAD (Season3 Affective Disorder) antidote.

      • Loki259 says:

        I will say one thing that’s kinda positive about early season 3, it’s a source of a lot of discussion and it’s been really great to hear some new points of view. Kinda nice to see people didn’t forget this show and still care about it a lot.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Loki I agree with your comment what a jerk Chuck became with the lying. To me, that was the second major malfunction that only gets overlooked sometimes because of how grievous the Charah malfunction was.
        I hated seeing it continue in the back half of S3, but was pleased at how Sarah confronted him, and it ended at the very start of S4.

      • Loki259 says:

        It’s actually funny, going through some old discussions on this blog I think I saw that some people found Chuck lying to Sarah about his mental deterioration was considerate.

        And about it stopping at the start of season 4, I assume you mean her saying how they agreed no more lies and secrets when in Volkoff base when she found out he was searching for his mom. But it actually continued, she kept a big secret about how she was going to go undercover to save his mom from Volkoff. And he didn’t tell her anything about his plan to help her with that and take down Volkoff, remember how surprised she was on the Contessa?

        But you’re probably right, it gets overlooked because it wasn’t nearly as bad as first half of season 3.

      • atcDave says:

        The best I can say about Chuck lying about his mental condition would be that at the end of “Tooth” I can imagine he decided it wasn’t the right time to come clean. But clearly it dragged on too long after that to Chuck’s discredit.
        The rest of it is mostly little stuff, mission stuff. The only more questionable action is Sarah never coming clean about Ryker and Molly; but even then, innocent lives are at stake and I can easily see Sarah deciding to keep that story under wraps. Even if she completely trusts Chuck (and I believe she does) the simple act of telling the story, anywhere, brings a certain risk of expose. After all, look at what actually happened; Ryker DID hear her coming clean and DID track down her mom. Of course the team fixed the problem; but telling the story DID add risk.

      • Luke says:

        “I think she was hurt by his decision but she was even more hurt that he completely gave up on that train station and didn’t explain.”

        Loki, you’re going back and misinterpreting the Prague scene again. He didn’t give up, he didn’t get a chance to explain himself because he didn’t have the time. Did you not see the conductor giving the ready signal to the mechanic? That meant the train was leaving in a matter of seconds. Sarah waiting for the next train was not an option. Chuck getting on the train, getting off two stops later and taking another one back was not an option.

        The Prague scene in itself had no bearing on Sarah’s actions following Three Words. She didn’t need time to forgive him, she did it on the spot, when she saw the tape that Carina gave her. What she did afterwards had nothing to do with being hurt, but with Chuck’s behavior from then on. That conversation that everyone wanted them to have? They basically had it in Three Words. He got her side of the story when he talked down Karl, she got his side when she saw the tape. From there, he took his own path and she took hers. Hers was more like following him from a distance to observe and she eventually, veered left when she didn’t like what she was seeing from First Class through Fake Name.

        I don’t have problems with him in those episodes either, because that was the intended story, it didn’t drag on for too long and my standards for awful behavior are much lower than what he did. But I understand that his behavior wasn’t many people’s cup of tea, so I won’t object if they want to complain about him in those four episodes.

        And I don’t agree that it was a bad product for 12 episodes. I actually like the first 10 and two thirds, though I would like 8, 9 and 10 more if Shaw wasn’t such a wet rag.

      • atcDave says:

        Luke you are always allowed to like S3 if you want, l believe nearly a third of viewers agree with you.
        But experience here always looks like about 2/3s would disagree. Good/bad is such a subjective matter on these things!

      • Loki259 says:

        Luke, so the whole reason he couldn’t explain is because the train was leaving and she wasn’t supposed to be there? They could have easily written that scene as Sarah being able to stay and talk with him about it. I mean this show got away with much bigger plot holes and logical inconsistencies. I think everyone would be fine with a minor spy plot hole to give us more satisfying relationship path from Chuck and Sarah.

        And also if you like season 3, good for you. It’s nice that somebody got to enjoy those early episodes. And honestly some of them are really good and I enjoyed some of them a lot. If you take away the misery of Chuck and Sarah not being able to be together and love triangles and so on, they’re actually quite fun, especially the ones that don’t focus on the bad relationship stuff and provide a break from that, sort of a spy comic relief if you will. I mean the whole Angel de la Muerte episode was just fantastic, Awesome freaking out about being a spy, Chuck baring his soul to Morgan while Buy morons organize revolution, Chuck having to hilariously handle his mission on a plane. I still bust a gut when Zach perfectly delivers that line after getting punched by Hugo: “Isn’t poisoning me enough?” or “Is this your first mission? Maybe.”

  48. Stevie B. says:

    Please excuse my jumping in here…..

    Chuck is a recent discovery for me. It popped on my Roku as a recommendation on my Amazon Prime Video profile. I vaguely remember hearing of it when it was originally broadcast, and thinking that the premise sounded dumb. When I saw it show up on Amazon, I still thought it sounded dumb. Apparently, it was recently available on Netflix. I did not even notice it? And then to give it a go?

    Having been through the complete series once and having gone through it all again, only pausing now on the cusp of S05 again. I would really like to share this with my wife of 30 years. How should I do it? How have y’all done it? She already thinks I’ve lost my marbles; so there’s that complication to overcome as well.

    Now some background….
    I decided to start watching because I figured it might be something to enjoy without demanding strict attention. And it fulfilled this role quite nicely until S03. The characters felt right and true.. They are liked each other. The whole family aspect of it was what kept it on my play list. As far as my limited attention revealed, Eilie was clearly the emotional center; and somehow, Devon, the throwaway character was, em…. awesome! This is probably when it started to dawn that there was more going on here than I had managed to absorb.

    It is interesting to me that, at least in this thread, there is not much discussion of Ellie and Awesome. Likely as a late comer, I have missed countless discussions along these lines. But in my mind, it is they who anchor much of S01, S02, and even S03. They are the couple who are the ultimate model to Chuck and Sarah. They are the one with the warm hearth and welcoming home. They are the ones providing a welcome counterpoint (thanks Professor Jolley) to the anxiety and tension boiling off from Sarah and Chuck. I hereby nominate them as the best supporting characters ever!

    So the first time through, I continued on watching and made it to the end, The Goodbye. Out of nowhere, or as it seemed to me, I was devastated. I could not understand how casually streaming a show, like dozens previously, could trigger such emotional turmoil. My wife truly does think I’m completely bonkers at this point!

    Now I’ve watched it again up to S05 (tread lightly here my friends). And I still don’t understand my vulnerability to these characters. There is something epic happening just out of reach. It’s like Greek tragedy, mixed it with some Kabuki. This show (how shallow a term!) has forms and a grammar. It has epicycles instead of episodes. There is music to drive it home. And it operates with a subliminal rhythm. Even with the generous guidance of Professor Jolley. It exceeds my grasp, while rewarding my reach.

    Clearly, others have differing experiences, but I’m here to say that any other ending would not have awoken these emotions inside me. Think how this high wire act played out. A small misstep to either side and the whole thing falls to cliche. Somehow, the needle has been threaded, and a profound tapestry has woven. The Finale is perfect and I am content.

    Now, about that S03… I reckon it remains controversial and somewhat scorned. Not to me! This is when it started to seep into my mind that something serious was happening here. S03 is what first started hooking me. Something like S03 had to happen for Chuck and Sarah — arising inexorably from their flaws.

    Chuck’s self disgust is much commented. No one seems to have noticed (again sorry for the late coming) that Sarah suffers her own brand of self disgust. Shaw is the manifestation of that in human form.

    She opens herself to Chuck — not yet completely it must be noted — and Chuck seemingly rejects her in Prague. In her mind, Chuck has rejected her intimacy, just like her father rejects her intimacy.
    Prague is the trigger, but events conspire that set them both on this spiral of self disgust. Chuck washes out of spy school and lands in a pile cheese puffs. Sarah already down, due to Chuck’s rejection is then forced to make Chuck into something that she now hates in herself, and never, never wanted for him. Shaw is a surrender, not a reversal to form. Sarah, now awakened to the prospect of real love and real life, has given it all up. She has surrendered.
    Chuck does not sublimate his self loathing. He wallows in it. Chuck does have a built in support system that Sarah lacks. He has Morgan. He has Ellie. He has Awesome. Sarah is alone. She doesn’t wallow in the self disgust. She sublimates it once more. Buries it deep as deep as she can. Yet, it is there.

    Chuck understands this at some level. He finally rouses himself with Morgan’s help, and starts breaking through to the shrouded Sarah once more. Casey’s puts the ball over the goal line by telling Sarah that he was the one who killed the mole. This give’s Sarah the strength to set aside her self loathing once and for all. She is not the agent of Chuck’s corruption after all. The mental shackles are broken. Her mind is free to follow where her heart has always led. To Chuck!
    Was there ever a more joyous scene in a broadcast TV show? The struggle makes a victory worth something. Without struggle, a victory is no prize. S03 Is why S04 is good. Sarah and Chuck did not fall into to love. They had to suffer for it. And they have to keep fighting for it. Even the beloved S04 was not just a vacation at the beach.

    This is not a romantic comedy or a screwball comedy. True, there are some elements of those. It is more like a greek epic poem. It is rhythmic. Fate. Destiny. Love. Hubris. Nemesis. Catharsis. ALL THERE! The comedy pieces are bolted onto this, not the other way around.

    • atcDave says:

      A few general thoughts; I would start by saying action/comedy is generally my favorite genre, so it was a given I would enjoy this.
      In more specific terms; it worked immediately because Chuck was someone I could relate to and even hope to be (at least in terms of dealing with such a massive upheaval in life). It also worked immediately because I adored Sarah as a perfect hero suddenly dealing her own upheaval (very unprofessionally falling for her asset).
      And it worked because Ellie and Devon were such a strong emotional center and source of strength.
      Add in goofy friends and insane over-the-top villains and it was just fun and enjoyable all the way through.

      Obviously S3 struck many of us very differently. We’ve observed before that a big source of that difference is watching in real time vs power watching through the whole series (in real time it was a whole year for the 13 episodes from Ring to Other Guy). I think most of us liked the idea they had to fight for it, to be together; its just that to many of us that fight seemed completely fulfilled by the end of S2. But chances are good if you do a power watch with your wife she’ll see it more as you do. Just don’t be completely shocked if Shaw tics her off beyond all reason!

      As far as introducing a new viewer goes, I’ve done it several times. The most enthusiastic response I ever got was from running First Date (2.01) as the introductory episode. But a number of episodes could work. If any speak directly to your wife’s specific interests you might want to try it.
      But if you watch television regularly together just start at the beginning and watch several episodes a week. She will probably be hooked pretty quickly!
      If you need to sell it at all to get her started I’d say “spy themed action/comedy, very appealing main characters, good cast, heavy on ’80s pop culture”. Modify as need for your particular partner! Only go for Jolley or fan fiction if she’s really smitten.

      Thanks for such a lengthy first comment, it was fun to read!

      • Stevie B. says:

        I can see how having only S03 for a whole year would kill the feels. This makes me more thankful that they created it.

    • Welcome, Stevie! It’s great to see a new Chuck fan, six years later. This is a really astute take on the strengths of the show. For further reading along these lines, I’d recommend The Chuck Book: https://kellydeanjolley.com/the-chuck-book/

      I asked my (now) wife to watch the show when we first started dating, so maybe my experience can help. I told her that I wanted to do an “art exchange,” where I read/listed/watched five of her favorite works of art, and she did the same for me. I let her pick the first thing we watched (Amelie), and I tried to give it my full attention and let her talk to me about what it meant to her. When it came time to watch Chuck, I had modeled the way I wanted her to watch the show, and she ended up both understanding the strengths of the show and getting to know me a bit better.

      She’s not at all an action comedy fan, but my reaching out had made her feel more generous and open-minded when doing the same. We’re currently meandering through a dual re-watch of Chuck and Sex and the City, and quite enjoying both.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Yes. Yes. I had found Professor Jolley’s book before I found this blog. I’d read it through twice and parts many times more than that. Just like I’ve probably watched key scenes on YouTube dozens of times.

        I think I understand is take and I truly appreciate his efforts but something was ringing completely true with my thoughts.

        If I can everyone’s indulgence, I will try to limit any deeper replies to the main thread, so as not taking on the job of keeping a dozen thread going.

  49. joe says:

    Hi, Steve. Even years later, we’re glad to see you aboard this train.
    Yeah, I could regale you with metric tonnes of stories about getting involved with the characters, the stories and the music of Chuck. I use to spend hours doing my “lunch-time walkies” with my mp3 player filled with Band of Horses and Arcade Fire music, thinking over the previous Monday night’s episode. Good times! Put me in a good mood. Made the work day tolerable (and who could ask for more?)

    Getting Mrs. Joe to understand my addiction was a bit more difficult. The strategy was to not be annoying about it (of course!), buy the DVDs/Blu-Rays and watch them occasionally. Mrs. Joe will never catch up (in this lifetime, anyway) to all my re-watches, but she’s seen every episode a few times, loves the character and would watch anything with Zac or Yvonne in it. We’ve both seen Dexter (and the season of 24 with her in it) a couple of times because of Yvonne too.

    You’re right about Chuck’s self-disgust at the beginning of S3. But I’ll admit right away that I didn’t notice it! I sorta took it as his “reverting to form”, the way we first met him at the birthday party in the pilot – directionless, Loser (with a capital L). It was Sarah who recognized him before he did.

    And that’s what I found most devastating about the finale, too. This time around, we see (in my case, I see despite myself) that Sarah was a pretty despicable character before Chuck too. She wasn’t directionless or untalented, but she was emotionless. Graham’s cold-school, wild card assassin. It’s Sarah who’s (forcibly) reverted to form and it became obvious she had become a much better person because of Chuck. Funny – I spent the better part of five seasons thinking she was ALWAYS that better person.

    It took me a couple of viewings to realize that Sarah’s going to make that trip again because Chuck is there, at the beach, with her. That movie we all hope to see may not start with that premise, but I’d bet dollars to donuts it’ll end there.

    I like your thoughts on S3 preparing us for S4. I really enjoy the build-up to vs. The Honeymooners, myself.

    Hum… I may have to start another re-watch now. 😉

    • Stevie B. says:

      Apologies ahead of time for another long post…

      For Sarah and Chuck, their strengths aren’t enough to alloy their iron and carbon into an even stronger steel. First, their character flaws, the impurities, have to be burned away and purified. Both can see past the other’s flaws, but each can’t feel worthy of love. To love, they must find themselves worthy of love. Each must overmaster their self loathing.

      Honestly, I didn’t really understand my thoughts about this until I started writing that first comment. But it’s is still ringing truer to me than Prof. Jolley’s thoughts about Sarah’s opaqueness. Maybe, I extend his thesis by suggesting that self loathing is her motivation? E.g. she isn’t shielding and protecting herself, she believes that she isn’t worth knowing.

      It’s clear to me that both her’s and chuck’s ‘Red Tests’, along with the relationship Shaw, are all manifestations of Sarah’s self loathing in S03. There’s also a hint of it in S02E10 DeLorean. When Sarah believes that it is her fault how things are with her Dad. Then we finally see some of her past.

      We have a little girl, now women, who was raised to be a tool her whole life. Then straight from the arms of her manipulative father and into the arms of the CIA. She has never had a chance to grow up. She has never had a chance to develop her own mind. It is a tragedy! The only reason she can pass as human in S01E01 is that she is faking it, just like the CIA taught her.. She is a monster. We don’t know that then, but in the fullness of time we do. This, to me, is the saddest part of Chuck. Heartrending.

      So, S01E01. Let’s reorient a the pivotal scene. Monster/spygirl stalks her next asset. She flirts with him. He responds. He is a man after all. Clearly she’s deployed this weapon before, and she is good at it. She has acquired the target and is bringing him in. She has done this a 100 times in a 100 places to 100 different men. Then something unexpected happens. The target disappears from the radarscope.

      Chuck has turned to help a little girl! He drops everything to help an innocent in need. He doesn’t see an interruption . He sees a fully formed person who needs encouragement and he provides it to her. Joyously! Everything is put aside to help this complete stranger, even this hot women coming on to him. This is Chuck’s superpower. Does anyone think Sarah has ever had someone drop everything to comfort her in her whole, entire life? To put her first?

      Sarah is watching this. How does this effect the monster/spygirl programming? How does this effect a women who has never felt unconditional love her entire life? Why does Sarah leave the store when Chuck is distracted making his way back to her? Jolley’s I/it and I/thou duality is useful here. Chuck cannot stay an asset in her mind and she had not game planned a scenario like this. So, retreat, regroup, and prepare plan B.

      Another one not so much commented about: S01E08 The Truth. Sarah is already starting to change, so a complete recasting isn’t called for. But think to when Chuck took the only vial of antidote, and ran to give it to Ellie. No hesitation. No consideration for himself. None. Zero. Has Sarah ever seen such self sacrifice before? Maybe as an intellectual concept, exploiting various assets on missions. What was it like to see that real love up close an in person?

      It is important to understand her self loathing. She has just gotten a few glimpses that there is another way to exist in the world. But, he own self loathing is blocking her. She has to believe she is worthy of love, before she can truly partake of it. The self loathing will have to be burned away.

      Of course, this is also true for Chuck. This is another one of those ‘symmetries’ hiding in plain sight.

      We can see what happens when Sarah’s and Chuck’s self loathing come into contact. We get Prague. They are not opposites, they are identical in this key aspect. Sarah, the self loathing emotional cripple meet Chuck, the self loathing self doubter. How can this mobius strip of loathing be cut?

      Everything crystallizes in S03. That is where Chuck the show is transmogrified from a RomCom into… something else. Our Sarah and Chuck begin the coupling dance strength on strength. As the wise man says, Awesome!

      • “Self-loathing” is an accurate description of them both, but I don’t quite agree that its “burning away” is what allows them to come together. Here, I’d offer Phase 3 as a counter-example. When Chuck is captured in Phase 3, Sarah reverts back to her old self, and still hates it. After losing the intersect, Chuck again doubts that he is worthy of Sarah without it. Both make the same mistake again in season 5. Our demons are not so easily banished.

        I’d rather say that they realize they recognize in each other the solution to their respective dilemmas. In Season 3.0, Chuck’s rejection of Sarah in Prague forces them each to attempt to overcome their weaknesses individually – Chuck attempts to become a fully-fledged spy, and Sarah attempts to have a functional relationship with Shaw. They both find achieving their goals independently a hollow solace. Ther are two reasons for this:

        First, as with addiction, overcoming our deepest flaws is a consistent struggle that never truly ends. We “overcome” our flaws in some moments better than others, and sometimes we slip back into old ingrained behaviors. Chuck will never shake all of the dilemmas that come with being a spy, and Sarah’s default is not to trust others (as seen in The Baby). But in each other, they’ve each found a person who accepts and loves them, not in spite of their flaws, but inclusive of them. This makes those moments of backsliding easier to accept and recover from, see Sarah’s pep talk to Chuck at the end of 5.02, or Chuck’s refusal to leave Sarah alone in The Baby.

        Second, they each idolize the other’s fundamental strengths in the areas where they are weak. Sarah’s competence isn’t just a contradiction to Chuck’s incompetence, it’s a goal to which he aspires. Chuck’s ability to trust and be vulnerable with his loved ones is a beacon for Sarah to follow in her own journey. They are each other’s north star, and while that doesn’t burn away self-loathing, they provide each other with the hope that they can surpass their own doubts.

    • Luke says:

      Joe, introverts are not despicable or monsters because they show no emotion. They are just very selective about the stuff they get invested in and are even more selective about the people they share their emotions to.

  50. Stevie B. says:

    You are bringing some truth. Chuck the show, is a fractal. The closer you look, the more that is seen.

    Shaw plays at multiple levels. But he is also our way to see Sarah’s self loathing. She buries it so deep and for so long, you can’t tell that it’s there. Chuck can see it by now, I think. We can’t see it except through Shaw. Chuck has is cheese puffs. Sarah has Shaw. I think it is surrender to her self loathing. You think she is grasping for a relationship and he think it is grasping for something. Prof. Jolley feels that it’s a retreat to form. When thinking about the best analogy/metaphore here, consider this: No woman with self regard could be wooed by this Shaw. Prof. Jolley gets this exactly right. Shaw is a broken and empty vessel, he offers nothing. Unless nothing is what is being sought.

    And you are 100% correct. I was further thinking about that burning away metaphor, and you see it’s flaw as I do. But with these issues out of the way, even temporarily, it allows Sarah and Chuck to finally meet for the first time strength to strength, with no reservations.

    Let’s extend the Shaw as a metaphor for Sarah’s self loathing a bit further…

    Casey leaves Sarah’s room, and she knows for the first time that Chuck was telling her the truth when he said that he was still the same Chuck. He has not completed his Red Test, thus mirroring the ‘worst day of my life’. She has not corrupted Chuck. This releases a huge burden from her. And she resolves to redeem her Champion, to whom she gave her colors in Prague.

    Then who shows up? Shaw! He gives some pretense to get her to go with him on a ‘mission’. And what does Sarah find out? That during her Red Test, that ‘Worst day in my life’, she has killed Shaw’s wife! Her buried self loathing has returned in a new hideous form!

    Now we get to S03E13 drunken Guitar Band scene. She has just learned that her worst day was even worse than she could imagine. She reaches out to Chuck, and finds him wallowing once more. Somehow, she sets all that aside and accepts chuck, fully and completely. Like all the key scenes, this one resonates at multiple frequencies. Chuck is redeemed. But Sarah has yet to be…

    Shaw creates another pretext to kidnap Sarah and kill her. But he doesn’t just want to kill her, does he? He forces her to relive that worst day again. He wants to torment her. He wants her to suffer visibly, the way she already loathes herself. He has drugged her so she is immobile. The visible manifestation of being pressed down by self loathing. (Is it really possible that I’m first to catch on that Shaw is a metaphor for her self loathing? I credit Videodrome!)

    Then Sarah’s champion has arrived. Chuck fights Shaw and is disarmed. Shaw states that he doesn’t want to hurt Chuck. (how can he hurt Chuck when he is a manifestation of Sarah?) And warns him to stay away. (Sarah is not worthy of love) Chuck recovers his weapon. And shoots Shaw before he can dump Sarah into the river (drowned in a sea of self loathing) by being quicker to shoot (he will gladly sacrifice his innocence for Sarah, who is now a worthy and whole person).

    So, Sarah’s self loathing is burned away and now she is finally redeemed.

    We know later that this isn’t permanent. But be sure that when/if Shaw reappears, there is something unwholesome going on in Sarah’s head.

    • Stevie B. says:

      I do wish there were an ‘edit’ feature. Alas.

    • atcDave says:

      The problem with so much of this is it’s dehumanizing. You reduce people to the level of symbols and archetypes. Chuck works for precisely the opposite reason, the characters felt all too real. Chuck and Sarah learned and grew, but they remained fully themselves; with the same strengths and weaknesses from beginning to end. Chuck was never a complete incompetent and Sarah was never emotionless. Just the opposite, we are told from the start that both have strengths on both counts; Chuck is good at his job, even if it’s well below what he’ll ultimately achieve. And Sarah not only is immediately drawn to Chuck but we learn she was conscientious in her work through Carina, she always considered herself one of the good guys, and even went against rules to follow her own conscience with Molly.
      Again, both characters had to grow, and did. But we so often make far to much of supposed failings and weaknesses. Even to say, both were very admirable characters from the pilot. THAT is why it worked. ALL major deconstruction is a product purely of S3 and deserves to stay there. Then they did indeed reduce the characters to characature. And for so many of us, the grotesque manipulation of that season diminished both show and characters.
      Obviously you are always allowed to like it and make more of it; but I think for most of us S3 is a failure and an anomaly.

      • Dave, I think you hit the nail on the head. I would say, however, that they can, and should be, both. Stories should work both literally and as allegory. S3.0 works as allegory (I know, most disagree), but the literal story about these two people fell short. The rest of the show works tremendously on both levels.

        On strengths and weaknesses, I think you’re both right. Sarah and Chuck perceive themselves as weak in their personal and professional lives, respectively. And relative to the other, they are much weaker in those areas. That’s different from them being actually weak in those areas – they’re both actually above average in those areas. The best people are often hardest on themselves, and C&S are no exception.

        Finally, Sarah’s (perceived/relative) weakness isn’t in emotion or morals, it’s in trust, vulnerability, and self-expression.

        Stevie’s Shaw-as-metaphor argument is really thought-provoking, and it’s an interesting way to think about Shaw’s shift from aiming to destroy Sarah, to aiming to destroy her by destroying Chuck. I think it’s probably correct, more or less. But it’s not exhaustive (nor does it have to be). Shaw may be a stand-in for Sarah’s self-doubt (which I prefer to self-loathing), but he’s also a deeply broken man, a flawed love interest for Sarah, the perfect expression of the downside to Chuck becoming a spy, etc, etc.

        Considering the literary purpose of a character doesn’t mean you have to ignore everything else about it, and pointing out that the character has positive aspects isn’t the same as saying he has no negatives.

      • Stevie B. says:

        I hope this reply is acceptable. I will try to limit my use of those format, as it can get out of control….

        atcDave: “The problem with so much of this is it’s dehumanizing. You reduce people to the level of symbols and archetypes.”

        I don’t think so. I’m just mostly following my muse with respect to S03 that given their character flaws some form of conflict is inevitable. It is up to them how they choose to respond. FWIW, I agree with most, and maybe all, of your and Prof. Jolley’s assessments of Sarah’s and Chuck’s strengths.

        I’m really just disagreeing in the margins, of how their weaknesses lead inevitability to something like S03. Too me, S03 is what make the characters all too real.

        atcDave: “Chuck works for precisely the opposite reason, the characters felt all too real. Chuck and Sarah learned and grew, but they remained fully themselves; with the same strengths and weaknesses from beginning to end.”

        Except that you want to ignore the parts of the story that you do not like! Or which doesn’t match your conception/archetypes of the characters you have in mind. You are free to disagree about S03. But before your do, remember Sarah’s dead eyes from the ‘Chuck, I’m cold” scene in SO5E12. Those who wish to excise the S03 ‘arc of despond’ really do have problems when describing what’s going on here.

        atcDave: “Chuck was never a complete incompetent and Sarah was never emotionless. Just the opposite, we are told from the start that both have strengths on both counts; Chuck is good at his job, even if i’s well below what he’ll ultimately achieve. And Sarah not only is immediately drawn to Chuck but we learn she was conscientious in her work through Carina, she always considered herself one of the good guys, and even went against rules to follow her own conscience with Molly.”

        I agree with much of this. It is obvious that both Sarah and Chuck have many admirable qualities. Where have I disputed that? I refer you to Prof. Jolley’s book for an excellent discussion of those. Please don’t read my silence on their positive qualities as rejecting that they exist. There are many!

        atcDave: “Again, both characters had to grow, and did. But we so often make far to much of supposed failings and weaknesses. Even to say, both were very admirable characters from the pilot. THAT is why it worked.”

        Well, I might say “Appearances can be deceiving!” But I will insist that S03 cannot be understood without understanding Sarah’s and Chuck’s flaws. It’s a complete impossibility.

        atcDave: “ALL major deconstruction is a product purely of S3 and deserves to stay there. Then they did indeed reduce the characters to characature. And for so many of us, the grotesque manipulation of that season diminished both show and characters. Obviously you are always allowed to like it and make more of it; but I think for most of us S3 is a failure and an anomaly.”

        I understand why folks don’t like it. I really do! But in my mind, throwing out S03, makes the risk of caricature more likely, not less. It is S03 that breaks the mold! If understanding S03 requires me to reinterpret S01 and S02, then that’s what I must do. I don’t think this will diminish Sarah’s and Chuck’s story at all.

        And please help me! Since I did watch S03 and absorbed it. How will ignoring it now help me understand my strong reaction to the finale?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree with most of that Arthur. Although I do think the allegory argument is a little dangerous in television; first simply because the show has to work on a weekly basis or it looses its audience and gets canceled. And we actually saw this with Chuck; ratings slipped badly throughout S3 and I think that season took a year or two off the total life of the show.
        Secondly, I seriously do not believe it was ever the intent. Looking back to real time, when Colonel first aired, Chris Fedak (co-show runner) called it a complete game changer. He later said “he misused the term” but I don’t quite buy it. I STRONGLY suspect he thought it was a complete game changer and was eager to move on to the next phase of the show (something like S3.5). But Josh Schwartz (the boss show runner through S3) had other ideas and planned a reset to draw out wt/wt longer. Because as a guy who writes teen soaps that is how he’s always written television. The grand design was nothing more than JS signature style. That it works for many viewers is a testament to his quality as a writer; but that it fails so many more says something about not understanding the audience.

        This may all be a major case of working better in overview than it did in real time. But even so, I think there’s about a million ways this story could have been better told. I think almost as bad as the cliched love triangles, the whole idea of the protagonists giving up on each for such a long period of the story robbed the show of its single greatest asset.

      • atcDave says:

        Stevie don’t worry so much about your tone! We have a long tradition of disagreements and arguments here, its all part of the fun. Even when we strongly disagree we can treat each other with respect and it all usually works well. Arthur will know we’ve butted heads pretty hard on occasion!

        As far as what S3 adds; to me that’s the key problem, it adds problems and angst that simply aren’t there in the other 4 and 1/3 seasons of the show. So its pretty easy for me to just dismiss it as an aberration. I don’t know those S3 characters.
        Sarah trying to be a fake wife in 5.12 kind of affirms my view of Sarah; because she was REALLY BAD at it. She even resisted letting Chuck see her change or touch her. She wanted nothing to do with the whole scenario. I can only image she never allowed a seduction to go so far and was off balance to find things had spiraled way past her ability to control. I’ll further say I’m quite sure if Quinn hadn’t been chattering in her ear all night she would have figured out things with Chuck were not at all what Quinn was trying to convince her of.

        As far as what to do with what’s on screen now that we’ve seen it? Well it will always be at least a little problematic since it is canon, it is a part of the Chuck experience we all shared.
        But it is fiction. Its not actually Canon (in the important sense of the word!). And I’ve seen SO MANY better treatments of this part of the show in fan fiction. There are a huge number of variations on how to make Chuck a spy, and how to make Sarah a normal girl. And most of them are so much more satisfying to me that what was on the show.
        I wrote “Alternatives” posts for ever part of the show dealing with all the “might have beens” we can think of. Much isn’t “necessary”; that is, even when the show was strong we can kick around different ways things might have gone. But obviously those areas that caused viewers grief are more likely to be revisited. As it is, S3 rewrights and epilogues seem to be the most dominant things written about.
        Go over to the “topic search” header at right and pull down the “Alternatives” tab to see what I”m talking about.

      • Luke says:

        Dave, you’re blaming Schwartz for the misery arc because he has a bad rap for The O.C., but that was a drama about rich white kids, there weren’t a lot of stories to tell there and the first season burned through two or three seasons worth of plot lines. Chuck, the show, was Fedak’s baby, my guess is that Schwartz let him take the story where he wanted.

        We got the misery arc because they wanted to end the show with Chuck getting the girl, but that wasn’t the only time that they did that. It also happened in Ring and in Goodbye, the other two episodes that were expected to be the series finale.

        The arc’s biggest problems come from Shaw and he was probably Fedak’s creation. He was the only one calling Shaw awesome and Sarah’s ideal romantic partner in every interview, while Schwartz wasn’t saying anything about him and while the other writers were portraying the opposite of that. One of them even called him “stiff as a board.” On Chuck vs the Podcast, right before season 4, Mo Ryan jokingly mentioned that Fedak was cringing when seeing her at parties and he was still believing that the arc worked well.

        Chuck having to “steal” the girl from a super spy happened before, even if it didn’t make sense. Bryce didn’t do anything for the plot in Ring (came, got caught with the others at the wedding, died) and he was already done as a romantic rival since Break-Up, but he was still brought back just for a bit of angst and to have Sarah saying no to him.

        The first half of Other Guy is a hot mess because Fedak wanted a little more angst, even though, just like in Ring, it made no sense, the romantic conflict was clearly solved at the end of AH. He didn’t seem to be too adverse to angst. He stayed away from it after that, but maybe that’s because he didn’t want to lose viewers, he had no problems turning it back on and to the max at the end.

      • atcDave says:

        Fedak really wasn’t the primary until late S3 early S4. Immediately after S2 he was quoted as calling Colonel a “complete game changer”, and when pushed about details he quickly said “well this is still Josh’s [Schwartz] show”.
        So no. I completely blame JS for the worst of the misery arc. Fedak may indeed have conceived of Shaw, but JS concocted the multiple love triangles. And seriously, without the triangles Shaw might have worked just fine. And yes, Fedak was convinced to the end that Shaw worked fine.
        As far as endings, well of course. The complaints with the misery arc have NEVER been how it ended, just everything else about it. Had they spent 12 episodes of Chuck and Sarah fighting for each other, possibly including Chuck trying to convince Sarah that he can do it while Sarah is cautioning Chuck about the pitfalls and moral compromises, it all likely would have been just fine.
        Shaw may be the symbol of the failure; but really it was Chuck and Sarah giving up on each other that doomed the season.

      • atcDave says:

        I would also say I had no problem with most of the angst written by Fedak. Certainly through S4 and S5 it all struck me as pretty legitimate. I’m no big fan of the finale, but even so the story feels more true than the S3 silliness.

      • Luke says:

        Dave, are you referring to the interview he did with Sepinwall after Ring? The no details part was a joke and this is still a JS show was in response to a music related question. JS was developing Gossip Girl at the same time, with the same partner he had on The OC. He didn’t need Chuck, he was helping his college buddy. I find it hard to believe that he insisted on having final say on a show that was one of his friends’ idea. I could see it in the first two seasons when the ratings still mattered, but not when they were writing the final season.

        Maybe I’m wrong, but I think you misunderstood why I brought up the endings. While my biggest problems with the misery arc do come from how its final act, my actual point was that everything that happened during that arc had to happen because of the ending and Shaw was part of that ending. When I said he was Fedak’s creation, I didn’t mean he came up with the character and that was it, he created him with the purpose of Sarah choosing Chuck over him. Maybe that wasn’t the idea from the start and it was changed because it wouldn’t have been dramatic enough otherwise, but it was Fedak’s idea. It’s exactly like in Ring: Sarah is leaving with Bryce/Shaw, Chuck does something that shows her how great he is, Sarah stays.

        If you want the story between Chuck and Sarah to still feel honest, then you can’t just go from the beach in Ring to Sarah seemingly incapable of choosing between Chuck and another guy without a lot of story in between. Maybe Prague, Hannah, The Mask, the name reveal, even the idiotic red test were all JS ideas, but they had to happen. Blaming Schwartz for the misery arc is like blaming the doctor for amputating the leg while giving a pass to the guy that drove over it.

      • atcDave says:

        I think it was well established through S3 that JS was really the boss, and that changed when he had other commitments. In all interviews CF was very deferential towards JS. But ultimately that’s beside the point.

        Absolutely none of those things “had” to happen. It’s fiction. Nothing is set. And Sarah was not choosing between two men in Ring, Bryce already lost that battle several times over. Sarah was choosing between love and career/duty. S3 could have been written hundreds of different ways, most would have been vastly more satisfying than what was delivered.
        Absolutely ANY story element could have been written differently. And to me, those variations are FAR more interesting than canon at this point.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Joss Schwartz was under contract with WB for the first three years of Chuck because while Chris Fedak was a known talent as a writer he had never run a show before. The first three years were basically his apprenticeship under Schwartz with him taking on the role as show runner in season 4. Since then he’s acted as show runner (or a show runner since he has an executive producer credit) on 3 shows. Legends of Tomorrow, Forever, and Deception. That’s enough for me to distinguish between a Josh Schwartz show and a Chris Fedak show. Season 3 was a Josh Schwartz show primarily. Angst is his go to emotion. Besides you can look at the Comic Con panel where he describes the beginning of season 3 inducing groans throughout the audience, then tries to recover with “but it’s really great”.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes, thank you Ernie. Sums up perfectly.

      • Josh Z says:

        The end of an era officially became official very recently today, tbbt will end after it completes season 12, comedy won’t ever be the same…

      • Luke says:

        “I think it was well established through S3 that JS was really the boss, and that changed when he had other commitments.” – Established by whom, exactly? I read interviews and listened to podcasts and the only places that suggested that JS was the one calling the shots were the comment sections on different blogs, including this one. At the time, it was a good guess, given his track record, but it was just opinion and people didn’t care or forgot to try to change it after they got a bigger picture.

        “In all interviews CF was very deferential towards JS.” – In that interview after The Mask, JS was trying to explain that Sarah can date Shaw, but not Chuck because they still had a handler-asset kind of relationship, when Fedak jumped in with his “Shaw is ideal for Sarah” non-sense. And he liked to repeat that in other interviews too, it doesn’t seem that deferential to me. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any important interview given by Schwartz in which he was alone, it was always Fedak or Fedak with Schwartz. If he was the boss, then he didn’t seem too interested in defending or explaining his own creative decisions, he was content to let Fedak do it. Doesn’t make sense to me.

        “And Sarah was not choosing between two men in Ring” – Of course she wasn’t, we had context and, like you said, she had already done it in Nemesis, which was another Fedak episode. But she was leaving with another man, which made Chuck jealous, and decided to stay only after another feat of greatness from Chuck. If you show that episode to a newbie, he will think that Sarah was choosing between Bryce and Chuck and that’s the main reason why Bryce was brought back, to add more dramatic oomph, even if it didn’t make sense. Same things apply to Shaw and American Hero. And guess what? Sarah was still not choosing between two men, she was choosing between trusting or not trusting Chuck, but that was only because of the previous episodes. You say it’s fiction and none of that had to happen. Well, if you have or know a better story that ends with Sarah “choosing” between Chuck and Shaw, I’d like to know it. You had to have a break-up (Prague and basically the first two episodes), you had to have a reason for Sarah hooking up with Shaw (Chuck being a jerk outside of the job, so Hannah) and you had to give Sarah a non-romantic connection to Shaw (Mask and the name reveal). You probably found it too long and unnecessary, but a lot of complaints were actually about how Shaw and Sarah felt rushed.

        In summary, just in case that I’m failing to make myself clear: what happened in the misery arc was a setup for the final act of the show, where Sarah chooses Chuck over a super spy, and the final act was Fedak’s idea. If it was too painful, that’s because break-ups are painful irl too and, like you said, Dave, they appealed to viewers because they behaved like real people.

      • Luke says:

        Ernie, why you are saying that Fedak was a known talent, IMDb doesn’t list any writing or producing credits prior to Chuck. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, but he was only an e.p. on LoT and Forever, I doubt he had the power to make important creative decisions. I saw both The O.C. and Deception. In fact I saw The OC because of the comments on this blog and, while my memory may be a bit fuzzy, I’m still comfortable in saying that S3 was mostly Fedak’s own doing.

        The main arguments are that Schwartz likes angst and triangles, while Fedak doesn’t. Well, Deception had two triangles. One is secondary and starts very early between the assistant chick, the brother and the FBI dude (Sucre from Prison Break) The other one involves the two leads and starts later, when the FBI chick’s ex (the bad guy from Ag of SHIELD) comes into town, they reconnect and the main guy gets jealous. What’s the argument for Fedak here, that he spent very little time on the triangles? Ok, but they served no point and I didn’t care about them because I didn’t care about the main relationship, it was also barely developed.

        As for angst, in S3 we had two people that were never actually together or even had sex, going on different paths. In S5 we had two people that were married and planning on starting a family, being broken apart in a brutal way and one of them didn’t even remember their relationship. Chuck vs Sarah and Goodbye make the misery arc look like child’s play. Even Fedak said somewhere (S5 disc?) that they were going for something even more tragic than both or one of them dying.

        And I see even more similarities between S3 and the next two, which make me believe that Fedak had a lot of saying in what was going on.

        The female characters were written pretty well in the first two seasons, considering that only Sarah was a lead, but the third season started to treat them like second class citizens, mostly for the benefit of the male characters. Sarah was a plot device in the misery arc, Ellie was clueless (her best scene in S3 was probably written by Schwartz), Anna was brought back for an episode just to be dissed by the idiot because he wasn’t an idiot anymore, Ellie was clueless again in S4, just to justify Chuck talking to Morgan instead of her, Alex was treated horribly by Morgan in S5, but she eventually took him back because why not, Sarah ended as the plot device of the entire show. Fedak not caring too much about Sarah is evident from him writing eight or nine episodes in which Chuck saved her. He wrote about four in which she saved him, but they were all before he knew kung-fu.

        Another similarity of style: up until Sarah kissed Shaw in Fake Name, it was clear that she was still in love with Chuck and, in fact, everything she had done was because she felt distanced from him. But from that moment, her feelings became ambiguous: we don’t know who she was looking at when Rafe held a gun to her head, we don’t know what she did after, we don’t know if she was going to let Shaw blow up Castle, we don’t know her reaction after Chuck saved Shaw, we don’t know if she was going to the airport or to Union Station. All of that was done on purpose, to build up the suspense about her final decision, but the problem is that, if the viewers are not sure about her feelings, then they will start to subconsciously question if those feelings still exist. I don’t remember ever wondering about someone’s feelings on The OC, but this technique was used again in Goodbye: Sarah completely indifferent towards Chuck the whole episode and at the end… ta-da (sorry, Deception pun), I’m in love or something. It’s no wonder that many hated it and were depressed or felt that it lacked at the end. It actually didn’t need anything after the kiss, it needed more before the final scene and less words before the kiss. Actually, no words.

        Speaking of which, when I first finished the show, I texted a friend: “Awful. Worst ending that I’ve seen.” His serious answer: “Why? He got the girl.” WTF do I care about Chuck getting the girl once again, I was invested in the relationship, not in its eventual outcome. I can accept tragedy in endings as long as it feels earned, but this one came after a self contained four episodes arc and managed to ruin the journey, just for the purpose of an ending that was a choice between cheesy or tragic. Fedak basically told me that what had happened before didn’t matter anymore and he almost said something similar with Shaw: the first two seasons didn’t matter anymore, she was in love or kind of in love with Shaw, but Chuck will get her eventually. Thankfully, it didn’t play out like that because of episodes like Pink Slip, Three Words, Mask and Fake Name. Sure, the last one was very unpleasant, but it was a necessary evil.

      • Luke says:

        “tbbt will end after it completes season 12, comedy won’t ever be the same…”

        So, it will be better?!!! Sorry, couldn’t resist:)

        I think I started watching TBBT when season 3 started, because there was no Chuck on TV anymore (I actually thought that Chuck was over because of that). I liked it a the time, but it eventually became stupid, the humor comes from laughing at how socially awkward they are. Chuck very rarely did this with its leads, it made fun mostly of the secondary characters. As for Penny and Leonard, I lost interest when they broke up. I always do when that happens and I almost did with Chuck and Sarah too.

      • atcDave says:

        Luke we just aren’t on the same wavelength at all, and that’s fine. For 4+ seasons Chuck was the best thing on television. For the misery arc it became the sort of thing I don’t want to watch. That’s the tragedy of it. No explanation or understanding can ever make that better.

      • Loki259 says:

        I was about to write the same comment about comedy being better with TBBT ending. That show got so horrible it’s unrecognizable to me. I used to enjoy the early seasons so it makes me very sad to see where they took it.

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        IMO TBBT worst episodes are still better than 90% of comedy these days. It is shocking how much the genre is hurting at the moment, a completely fresh comedy has not premiered in ages and the sitcom is on life support right now. The only successes seem to spawn from an already established show i.e revival or spinoff…it makes me sad

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Luke, it is fairly well known in Hollywood that there are numerous writers who contribute to projects that never make the credits just like a politician’s or celebrity’s ghost writer contributes the bulk of the writing but doesn’t always get credited. People in the industry know who they are though.

      • Luke says:

        Dave, it wasn’t meant to make you like it, I was just pointing out that you were blaming JS because of triangles, when Fedak was the one that created the show’s worst triangle.

        As for wavelength, I don’t think we’re that far off actually. I don’t care for triangles either, because they are usually obstacles and that makes me lose interest in the couple. Which is fine, I’m never super invested in a couple, this was the exception. I liked the triangles in the first two seasons of Chuck because they weren’t used as obstacles between Chuck and Sarah, Bryce in Nemesis being the exception, sometimes they even moved the plot and they were also a source of humor. But I didn’t like them in S3, mostly Shaw because, on the surface, he was an obstacle for Chuck, he was the opposite of fun and he took the most screen time. Fake Name, Tic Tac and Beard are not as good as they should be because of hm and the next three episodes are mostly awful.

        The difference between us is that I can’t ignore parts of the story. I don’t have to enjoy them, but they have to make sense to me, otherwise I quit that story and if the show doens’t have anything else, then I quit the show.

        Ernie, I don’t understand what you were trying to say with your last comment.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I remain convinced you are wrong about who the true villain of S3 is Luke.
        More agreement than I expected on some of the details, but we do have a big disconnect on how we view the product. I don’t hold any writer or show in high enough regard to care about what they’re trying to do once they fail me as entertainers. Especially not when I’ve seen so many others handle the period better.
        But of course, you are clearly allowed to try to make sense of it all!

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        We agree here Dave, if a show forgets to entertain me I will ditch it without a second thought. Many of those shows I currently watch are far from perfect but I find them highly entertaining. Legends of Tomorrow is a prime example of this. Season 1 was inconsistent but since then the show has turned into something consistently fun and enjoyable while still managing to raise the stakes, I particular like that characters rotate in and out regularly keeps things fresh. The heavy time travel is somewhat convoluted but I really love how much fun the show is each week

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Luke, it is relatively simple. In Hollywood, both the TV but mostly the movie industry, there are professional writers paid to work on scripts who are not credited as a writer on the movie or TV show. They are often called Script doctors. Conversely some writers get a credit even though their original script has been extensively re-written. Some of this is obscure Writer’s Guild rules, some is about power or reputation. This has been covered in numerous blogs, podcasts and articles about Hollywood.

        There are also writers who sell screenplays and pilot scripts for hundreds of thousands of dollars that are never produced, or never aired, or never picked up. Those don’t show up in IMDB. Josh Schwartz has several, including one he sold for $550,000 as a sophomore at USC. Some people in Hollywood can make very comfortable livings as a writer for a long time without ever getting a show in theaters or on the air. Chris Fedak was one such writer before getting Chuck. Nobody gets Executive Producer as their first job in Hollywood. First credit, perhaps, but not first job.

        Fun fact, Josh Schwartz told a story in an interview once that Chris Fedak, while in school, predicted there would be a hit gladiator movie and a bunch of people playing off that. This was in the late ’90’s. Gladiator was released in 2000.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie a very high profile example of what you’re talking about is Carrie Fisher. We saw several stories in the months after her death about all the scripts she co-wrote or re-wrote to make things work better on screen. She was well known and well regarded In Hollywood; but never credited as such, and certainly not how the vast majority of us will remember her!

      • Luke says:

        Ernie, I’m sorry, I had forgotten about the “known talent” part, so I kept wondering what the script doctors had to do with the rest of my comment. I kind of knew about them because of Carrie Fisher, like Dave mentioned, but I didn’t know details. More so than Fedak, it explains how Schwartz managed to be a show runner at 26 with almost no writing credits. 500k sounds like a lot, but all you have to do is watch The OC pilot and you know that he was good.

  51. Stevie B. says:

    Thanks for the Grace Dave! I really wanted to start that first post as an introduction, and well, the muse took over. A lot of things bothering about other explanations gelled for me while I was writing.

    For example, I had never consciously thought about that Shaw metaphor before that moment. And I share your concerns about ‘ruining’ S01 and S02, but I think there is nothing in S03 that forces that. There is more than enough room for Sarah and Chuck to be themselves. And there is evidence, as you know, that Sarah has started to change before stepping into that Buy More. A unified theory of S03 will have to accommodate that as well!

    Finding the finale to be ultimately satisfying, I really don’t feel the interest in pursuing the fan fiction, at least not yet. And I might eventually find the meta information about how S03 was produced interesting as when. But for now, I reckon my focus will be on the ‘cannon’ as it stands.

    Arthur,
    I’m not sure that the Shaw metaphor works past his ‘death’. Your thoughts would be most welcome on this!

    I also disagree with your preference for the term ‘self doubt’. It just isn’t visceral enough when trying to understand her through the Shaw metaphor. The two terms aren’t describing the same thing.

    • atcDave says:

      FWIW, and you may know this, but Kelly Dean Jolley writes fan fiction under the name “Zettel”.

      • atcDave says:

        I would also add, even if you never are interested in fan fiction, maybe read the “Complete Alternatives” post from under the “Alternatives” tab. I said a lot about the role of such variations both in terms of Chuck and the broader context.

  52. Stevie B. says:

    Another bit of an epiphany about S03E13…

    Sara sublimates all her emotions, all the time. So, how do we get to see her feelings without resorting to some inner dialog narrative? The introduction of Shaw! After Prague, Sarah is definitely angry. That is the one emotion she can easily access.

    However, from the moment she learns that she has inadvertently convinced Chuck to be a spy, knowing full well what that means, her self loathing builds. We can see this in Shaw. The closer Chuck gets to being a spy, the more unhinged he becomes. Showing us Sarah’s inner turmoil and loathing.

    Later in Paris, Sarah is forced to relive her Red Test, ‘the worst day in her life’. The revulsion she feels is directed at herself. But Sarah hides her feelings, how do we know? The Shaw Metaphor becomes explicit! When he has drugged Sarah and she is paralyzed, she can’t speak but it doesn’t matter. Sarah’s feelings about herself have merged with Shaw’s! When he is speaking to Chuck, Sarah is also speaking. Shaw has become the Greek Chorus, relating Sarah’s feelings, her self loathing.

    Let me show you by revising something I previously wrote here…

    Then Sarah’s champion has arrived. Chuck fights Shaw and is disarmed. Shaw states that he doesn’t want to hurt Chuck. (Sarah: Loving me harms you.) And warns him to stay away. (Sarah: I am not worthy of your love) Chuck recovers his weapon. Shaw is preparing to dump Sarah into the river (Sarah: I deserve to die). Chuck ‘kills’ Shaw by being quicker to shoot. (Chuck: I know *you*, Sarah. You are worth any sacrifice.)

    • Stevie B. says:

      Now watch this scene:

      Sarah: “You saved me!”

      Is this the reaction of a spy whose life has been endangered and saved many times? NO! Her champion has redeemed her! Not just her life. He has saved HER!

  53. Stevie B. says:

    Yes Dave, but Sarah sill walls herself from love. She has not yet accepted that she is worthy of it.

    S03 is not about Chuck loving Sarah, or Sarah loving Chuck. This is well established. It is about Chuck and Sarah each believing they are worthy of that love. Until they do, then neither can trust being loved. It feels ephemeral and fake, because they can’t love themselves.

    S03 is about how they redeem each other from their worst secrets and failings. It’s not really about the truth of their love, it is about them feeling that they deserve it. When we reach the end of S03E13, their love now encompasses their whole beings, all the good and all the bad. They are fully known to each other, and their love has transcended.

    Just live the catharsis with Sarah: “You saved me?” Then live her joy as she realises that YES! she has been saved, not just bodily but spiritually. Then live that joy with her in S03E14 The Honeymooners. This is a spiritual awakening. She can finally accept the grace of Chuck’s unconditional love.

    You, and perhaps others here, talk about the wt/wt, teen romance aspect of S03. Well, to be blunt, I reject that completely. This is a profound story line with a very mature perspective of love and redemption. It is an ancient story, powerfully reimagined. S01 and S02 deal a lot with the wt/wt question at the teenage level. S03 transcends that by raising those stakes to an epic level.

    I would have never believed this was possible in an episodic TV show, especially one billed as a romantic comedy. But there it is. Looking ahead, this is why S05E12 and S05E13 are so completely jarring. Sarah, has seemingly lost grace. We all fear she once again walls herself from love, losing everything for which she has yearned and strived these previous 5 years.

    Is it possible, that the rejection of S03 is driven by admiration for Sarah, a rejection that she has some pretty awful ‘baggage’? It’s hard for me to understand this in any other way. Any thoughts about this?

    • atcDave says:

      I think it’s a rejection of how both Chuck and Sarah are written. I will not accept these grotesque characters. They are no one one I can admire or root for them. Not to say real people can’t come through the flames and be better for it; but I have zero interest in seeing the down and out part of it. S3 fails not for believability or realism; but as entertainment. I will not watch something so dark for so long.
      Going back to when 2.22 first ran I remember a co-worker making the comment “time for new writers, this bunch is obviously just going to do the same thing all over”. At the time I credited it as pessimism, but I came to see it as prescient. They essentially just repeated what they’d been doing while dialing stupidity derived angst up to 11. I was beyond ready for something NEW. But what was delivered looked like an attempt at taking a fresh, original show and making it look like everything else on television.
      Now for all that, 3.13 itself is a fine episode. It is the step back out of the cesspool (just as Ring is that step down into it). I would be a much more enthusiastic Chuck fan today if 3.01 had looked more like Honeymooners. Obviously not to say that would have been a perfect drop fit; I mean they wound up running away together from Paris not Prague. So clearly important things had happened…

      For many years now I have found the fan fiction experience to be far more satisfying than the show itself. And so much of it is better written too…

  54. Stevie B. says:

    Well, I think S03 transforms the Chuck and Sarah to be more believably human. I can see having a continuation from S02E22 straight to S03E14 as an attractive story though. It’s is just not epic. It is the romantic comedy version.

    In this reality, your life would be better, because I wouldn’t be here!
    :-p

    But there was some ominous foreshadowing all the way back at the end of S01E01. What are your thoughts on this?

    • atcDave says:

      Well I’d say they did indeed have challenges ahead, and they would have to fight for it. But S3 was more about giving up than fighting for anything.
      As I said, a complete entertainment failure.

      The real and believable part actually strikes me opposite to how it seems to strike you. It all came across as so ludicrously manipulated it felt more fake to me, not more real. Episode 3.01 was sort of an “oh shoot, I didn’t mean to watch Smallville again” than anything related to reality. In short it broke, shattered my immersion in the world and it became a failed product, not anything real. I can really only consider what was happening in the writer’s room at that point, the characters themselves have too many puppet strings showing.

      As far as Chuck flashing on Sarah’s ring in the Pilot, it certainly provided insight into how tough and fearsome she could be. But it was not very illuminating about greater character issues. And Chuck would do well to remember his lioness protector has very sharp claws. But she also proved worthy of his trust pretty quickly. As soon as Helicopter he should know what side she is on; and by the end of First Kill (2.20) it should obvious to Chuck she now has greater loyalty to Chuck than her employer (the viewers should have known this by Marlin (1.13)).

      • Stevie B. says:

        I understand exactly how you feel. It would have been the more expected way for a modern episodic TV story to play out. And that is a good story! I too felt the attraction of that before hitting S03. I can see rejecting S03 for those reasons.

        But do that, and that final arc in S05 would lose impact and resonance with the rest of the story… at least for me. It’s the difference between a good story vs. an exceptional story, a idealized Sarah vs. a flawed yet admirable Sarah.. Of course many do not appreciate that final arc either. While here I am, trying to decipher the unexpected emotional turmoil it wrought in me.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Chuck and Sarah both were plenty flawed before S3 hit! Chuck was a slacker and underachiever, Sarah was emotionally repressed and scared of relationships. Both were admirable yet flawed, and made the other greater by being together. S3 crossed the line from flawed to not really likable any more.

        As far as an S3 impact on the finale goes I really see little or none. The burning issue in the end is not really “what does Sarah remember” to me. But rather will the relationship and marriage survive. That I have a resounding YES comes largely from earlier information. Starting with Sarah in Crown Victoria claiming she’s nothing but a spy, its all she’s good at; then jump to 5.13 Sarah telling General Beckman she doesn’t want her job back but rather wants to “find herself”. Well, I think that can only mean finding Chuck.
        But the biggest thing is just what happy, open, relaxed version of herself she is in that last scene on the beach. Open to the point of tears and joyous laughter. That’s all later Sarah; not remotely the cautious, guarded woman of the first two seasons. That’s Sarah Bartowski not Agent Walker.
        Then add in the Morgansect arc; and consider how Morgan of 5.03 had regained his priorities and maturity (and yes, its always a little odd to mention “Morgan” and “maturity” in the same sentence!) even without all the detailed memories.
        It just all leads me to think Sarah and Charah are fine when the final credits roll. Even if it takes a few days to get completely back to normal. I think Morgan and Alex were more damaged by the Intersect than Chuck and Sarah were.
        S3 basically forms no part of that whole wrap up for me.

      • If I could split the difference, I halfway agree with you both. Stevie, I think you’re right that something like S3 was necessary for them both. Until S3, Chuck didn’t really understand what he was asking Sarah to give up for him. It’s only after vs the Other Guy that they’re truly on equal footing.

        Furthermore, I find it utterly believable that C&S behave so poorly to each other. Perhaps Dave is more perfect than me, but I’ve hurt the people I love, escalated fights that should’ve have been escalated, been in relationships I haven’t been, and fallen short of my own ideals. That C&S also do so and make it through is exactly what makes this show so powerful.

        However, in real time, we’d spent 2 years watching this show tease their eventual relationship, set it up, and then yank the rug under us AGAIN. And worse, they did by having C&S hurt each other, the one thing they’d steadily refused to do throughout the show. And at that time, we had no way of knowing that S4 and S5 were coming – even the show-writers didn’t, which is why every mid-season finale seems like it could be a series finale.

        Looking back, I can rationalize the points your making (even though I don’t completely agree with them still), but it doesn’t change the fact that it was – and still is – hard and painful to watch. Even if you could convince me that S3 had to happen exactly as it did (and I am not convinced of that), I care enough about the show that it still hurts 8 years after the fact. Heck, I love the show so much that I’m still commenting 6 years after the finale, and even I stopped watching the show during that period.

        One of the primary goals of a show is to make you want to watch it. In real time, S3.0 failed miserably at that task for me and most of the comments here.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur I do always stop just short of saying skip from 2.22 straight to 3.14; and hedge just a little with “almost” a drop fit or something similar. And its precisely because of what you said. Something did change in there for Chuck. I’m not 100% sold that it “had to”; but Chuck did enter the S3.5 episodes with just a bit more accomplishment, a bit more poise to his credit. I think there were other options aside from just Chuck getting through training; but IF they had gone from Ring to Charah on the run together for an arc it would have been different in many details from Honeymooners. I don’t buy that they couldn’t have been a couple already as it happened; in fact I think it would have played BETTER if they’d grown more alike and good for each other while they were together. Like real adults in a real relationship do (something I fear Hollywood does not know how to write). I sort of dislike that Chuck essentially had to prove himself BEFORE he could be with Sarah (like the poor man who doesn’t find his mate until AFTER he strikes it rich… there is always a bit of uncertainty there that would not have been if they’d joined BEFORE the wealth).
        Its funny since I’m the one usually accused of being painfully old-fashioned around here, yet I’m not sold on the idea Chuck had to prove anything to anyone, including Sarah or himself. Why do we care that HE needs to be professionally successful (or “on even footing) first? Let Chuck be the sensitive nurturer and Sarah be the no-nonsense professional. Works for me.

        But for all that, you are completely right about the real time aspect of it being the most problematic. In the big picture, now, its maybe easy to say “one harder arc middle of the series, sounds fair…”
        But at the time, we had been told we had thirteen S3 episodes then show over. It was only NBC’s rather desperate lack of quality programming (Rockford Files and Wonder Woman reboots both getting the ax unaired) at the time that led to a back order and beyond. So a dark and difficult S3 arc really felt like wasting borrowed time. I doubt I ever would have LIKED said episodes; but that context made me furious.

      • I agree with all of that, Dave. To clarify my point before, I don’t think it’s that Chuck has to prove himself – even if he did, he spent the last two years proving himself. This is one reason why S3.0 was so infuriating! And as we find out in 3×13, he gave Sarah got all the proof she needed shortly after he fixed her phone.

        Instead, I’d say that Chuck needed to completely understand the sacrifice Sarah was willing to make for him. For Chuck in 2×21, quitting the spy life is great! He gets to quit being in danger all the time, stop being a hostage, get his freedom, and get the girl. For Sarah, she has to give up not just a career, but a passion that she has mastered in a way that few people master anything. And more, she has to stop ‘saving the world.’ From a utilitarian perspective, Sarah’s choice to give up spying to be with Chuck could even be considered immoral, depending on your stance on the CIA’s activities.

        Chuck cannot completely understand what that means – he has no real context for it. And then, when he receives the Intersect 2.0, the entire weight of that context – what took Sarah two years to untangle – is dropped on his head in an instant. And he makes the wrong choice. This hurts himself and Sarah deeply, and they both make poor and damaging choices in the aftermath. In retrospect, I appreciate that it makes them both a little more human, but man, did it suck when it happened.

      • atcDave says:

        I can see some sense in that, except I never quite saw it as being about what Sarah was giving up. It was more about a “good spy” realizing she was working for a corrupt and unworthy employer. And by running, Chuck giving up all his friends and family is almost directly parallel to Sarah giving up career. It still could have been a wonky power dynamic, and I never envisioned running off together as a permanent part of the story. Although it might have been more fun than the misery arc.
        But ultimately “did it suck” is the most pertinent part. Surely something less sucky could have been crafted? At the very least the love triangles were gratuitous.

  55. Stevie B. says:

    Sorry again. Time mark link did not work. Please jump ahead to 3:36, where Chuck flashes on Sarah.

  56. Stevie B. says:

    Dave, I don’t know why my ‘Reply’ links disappear in the thread sometimes….

    I really can’t argue with you about the outcome of the finale arc. I’m as optimistic has anyone about that.

    But here’s a question for you, how did it hit you? A week later, I couldn’t sleep thinking about it and actually woke my wife by crying in our bed. And dude, I’m on the spectrum.

    • atcDave says:

      Hah!
      Yeah it hit me pretty hard. It was not remotely the ending I would have wanted, I’m very much an epilogue-happily ever after sort. And such things are dreadfully out of style these days. My first reaction was beyond POed, I really felt the end was a slap at fans (S3 so damaged my respect for these show runners I was willing to give them zero benefit of the doubt). So reference your previous comment S3 actually damaged my initial reaction to the end pretty severely.
      I mellowed pretty fast, partly after sifting through what we’d seen and partly from post-series interviews from CF. But then the next day I was confronted by an irate co-worker who was basically where I was at first. So I had to articulate why I though all was well, while sharing his frustration with what WASN’T shown on screen. And that quickly became SOP for this website for the next six months. Seemed like a one or more bitter and disappointed fans popped up every day and the five us who didn’t just walk away disgusted were consoling and explaining constantly.
      I know that isn’t quite what you were asking, but seriously this site dominated a lot of my post series experience. For myself, I was mostly disappointed it was all over. From fighting for renewal at the end of S2 to launching this website that summer Chuck became my dominant hobby for three years. Then suddenly there was nothing new to look forward to and it left a bit of a void.
      Emotionally I remain less than thrilled with the end, but in time it became less of a burden. Even, by the time the extended cut came out, I found myself liking that final beach scene quite a bit. I’ll always wish there had been more, but so much of the show has become just a happy memory now. Both the show and the community.
      And of course for me, the characters continue to live and grow in a multitude of different ways thanks to fan fiction. Whether its Chuck and Sarah taking their seven children on an adventure across Europe or a completely different Chuck and Sarah meeting when Chuck pulls the badly injured agent out of the ocean…

      Oh about the reply button, this site isn’t really set up to be a forum so it is a little goofy sometimes. But replies only go two levels deep. If there is no “Reply” under the comment you want to respond to just scroll up until you see one. We’ve had many monster threads that entail A LOT of scrolling! But there’s no real harm in just starting it like a new thread either. We can all follow along.

      • atcDave says:

        I suppose I should add about the finale; my wife and I watched it together that night and she thought it was great. We are often of similar taste (well,except I enjoy a lot more explosions), and her reaction to S3 was even stronger than mine (she would have simply quit the show if I hadn’t convinced her to give them some time). But that meant I figured pretty quickly it was MY malfunction that missed what they wanted me to see. My verdict now is somewhere in the middle, I’m not quite sure why it angered me that first night. But so many viewers were upset and unhappy with it, I still believe it needed just. a. little. bit. more. (last line as screen fades “take me home Chuck” and a million disgruntled Chuck fans would have been much happier).
        But I’ve mostly made my peace with it. The end is okay if not a favorite.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Thanks for the background Dave!
        I was struggling to put things into any kind of context as well. So, had I been watching the original run, I could have been one of those lost souls. 🙂

        Thankfully, I did come across Prof. Jolley’s book where is has constructed an awesome framework as a basis for discussion, even if I disagree with 10% of it. Major kudos for that!

        I am playing a normie around the house now, so my wife can simmer down. She seriously thought I could be having a breakdown. And she is correct to believe that it is totally out of character, hence my curiosity about my own reaction. Something resonated. Still unexplained.

      • atcDave says:

        Chuck fans all got pretty crazy excited about stuff. Still not sure why it became a virtual “addiction” for so long. But congrats, you just caught the bug a little late!

      • Loki259 says:

        Just wanted to add that it’s been that way for me too when I first watched the show. This is probably the only show that totally took me over and turned me into an emotional mess. To this day, I watched the whole series like 10 times and I cried like a baby every time at the beach scene in the final episode. It’s just something I don’t think I can fully explain to myself

      • atcDave says:

        You’re definitely one of us Loki!

      • Stevie B. says:

        My best theory is that the repetition, rhythms, symmetry reversals and shorter story arcs somehow resonate with our innate storytelling as cultural absorption instinct. Seriously, it looks modern, but it’s forms are ancient. It can bypass our defenses because we have evolved over millennia to absorb the stories of our tribe.

        I’ve never really been much interested in literary analysis, but this is another place that makes me wish I had a more classically liberal education in the Great Books. As it is, I do not have the framework and the tools to analyze this properly.

        The thing is, I’m suspicious that Chuck is actually operating at a ‘pre-literary’ level.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh believe me we’ve spent a lot of time comparing modern and classic stories and motifs. Ultimately such comparisons are of small value, since really, everything compares to everything else. Human nature hasn’t particularly changed. So story telling hasn’t changed all that much either. All such “Heroes’ Journey” discussions ultimately come back to “nothing under the sun is new”.
        Perhaps the only really new thing is a 43 minute format that ebbs and flows with front and back orders…

      • Stevie B. says:

        Or it could be that the finale arc was just exceptional well crafted.
        I am so lost now! 😀

      • atcDave says:

        Well I would agree with well crafted with just my four required extra words (take me home Chuck)! As it stands, I can only call it a near miss.

      • Loki259 says:

        I just want to add that since the finale aired, I have come to appreciate it more and more as time passes by. And I am not even sure if I would change anything even if I could. It’s just so beautifully crafted, and I have started to consider it as a test of sorts: If you are a true Charah believer or not. It’s something so beautiful but also painful, something that will stand the test of time and we will never stop thinking about. If we got the more cheesier happy ending, maybe it would have been more forgettable.

      • atcDave says:

        Totally disagree. The end was out of step with most of the rest of the show and played more like an attempt at padding the resume than an honest story. “Gee I’m so artsy and clever…”

      • Loki259 says:

        I am not sure I agree with it not being in line with the rest of the show. Every season had an obstacle Chuck and Sarah had to overcome, season 5 being no different. They just raised the stakes this time, and this time it was on Chuck to save Sarah even though she could have killed him or his sister. I thought it was quite moving what he had to go through to save his wife. My big gripe with it is they could have given us more, for example that thing you said about “take me home Chuck”. Just some extra comfort that Sarah Bartowski is back would have been nice. But like I said before, I am 100% certain they end up together. It just might take a little time.

      • atcDave says:

        Every other season, even S3, had a very nice resolution. There was a resolution to the current story and a hook for what came next. So we get to the series’ finale and there’s only a vague resolution.
        In essence they failed to deliver. I’m also satisfied Chuck and Sarah went home together and have been happy ever since. But I wasn’t sure that first night it aired, I was disappointed and angry. And far too many fans came away upset. I just can’t call that good story telling. It’s a betrayal of their duty to their audience. And that’s now the legacy of the show; I can’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone without a lot of reservations (S3 reservations are far bigger than finale reservations, but still, they are there and I can’t call it a good thing.

      • I’m completely with Loki on this one. I never would’ve sought out this forum if the end of the show had been the formulaic comedy ending. I certainly wouldn’t be pondering it six years after the fact if Sarah had said “Take me home, Chuck.” The finale is what transforms Chuck from a great show to my absolute favorite.

        I forgot about shows like New Girl and 30 Rock the moment they ending, because their endings were easy, comforting, and lazy. Chuck’s ending made me seriously ponder the nature of the show, scan for every little detail in it, to understand what it all meant.

      • atcDave says:

        I never understand why it’s one extreme or the other? Why can’t a happy end be an awesome end? Seriously, in modern television the artsy/angsty/incomplete ending has become the cliche, the complete ending is the oddity.
        But really I watch a show for the show, not the ending. The ending only matters because it can uniquely ruin all that came before, as the Chuck ending nearly did for me.
        I’ve currently been re-watching Grimm, which certainly had a good ending; but it’s the meat of the show, the stories, characters and setting that keep me coming back.
        I actually haven’t watched Chuck now in four years. Mainly because I wore it out (!), but my tepid feelings for the end hardly help.

      • Stevie B. says:

        I’m a complete misfit. It was S03 that transformed the show for me. The ending is the perfect icing on the cake.

        A lot of the artsy ambiguous endings, don’t really fit their show. So they are jarring, just to be jarring. Or so inartfully grafted on that it doesn’t fit the show. These are the ones that make you angry, but then doesn’t really matter because it’s gone in 15 minutes. If you want to see a bad/pat/happy ending, just watch Falling Skies. It’s like. “That’s a wrap. Let’s go home.”

        Chuck’s ending is perfect. Chuck’s ending made me FEEL, a gamut of emotions starting with anger and then finally ending on serenity and wonder. Serenity and wonder, simultaneously. I am still amazed how perfect it is.

        I feel sorry that everyone didn’t share this experience.

  57. Stevie B. says:

    My strongest negative reaction was to the Morgan Intersect arc at the start of S05. None of it hit me as authentic. And there was even no redemption by at least being funny.

    • atcDave says:

      I know a lot fans felt that way. It was no favorite of mine, but don’t hate it either.

    • This is interesting to me, Stevie. You’re willing to overlook the pain of S3 because of what it implies for the ending, but isn’t the Morgansect a more clear analog to what happens to Sarah? He receives a memory-loss inducing intersect, loses his memories, and manages to find himself again through Chuck’s unwavering faith in him.

      As an aside, Morgan texting Alex “dumpd” to break up with her might be the hardest I’ve ever laughed at the show.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Your analogy is not apt. I have no reason to overlook S03, because that is the 1st time I had the sense that something deeper was happening and started paying closer attention.

        Your points about the Morgansect arc have merit. Maybe it just hit me the wrong way. I’m still holding off on watching S05 again. So, I can see how it looks the 2nd time.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Arthur has it exactly right. The Morgansect was a deliberate and required bit of exposition. When Sarah was lost we had to know she could, and would come back. Morgan losing himself was never as severe as Sarah, he still knew who he and Chuck were, even as he was treating his lifelong best friend and others in the most douchy manner imaginable. At the Hilo pad he was ready to go down in flames rather than lose, but all Chuck needed to do was reconnect as a friend to remind him who he was, and he was back almost immediately. Now granted he spent a few episodes working to repair relationships, but ultimately Morgan came back and pretty quickly.

      This gives the context for Sarah, and the rest of the team’s actions toward her. Even as she threatens Ellie, they will not give up on her. They know she can come back. We start to see that process in the dream home as Sarah “flashes” on her life with Chuck, without context, angering and frustrating her with emotions she doesn’t understand and can’t control, until the one memory if them carving their initials. She sees it clearly in full context of what it meant and how she felt about it, otherwise Chuck is dead, so I will suffer no argument on that point. Sarah is clearly on her way back, and is shown to be coming back. That’s why the ending was a lot more clearly hopeful to me than many. And we owe it all to the Morgansect.

      Granted it was a lot of Morgan for some, but I have a relatively high tolerance for the bearded ewok.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Love me some Morgan. Excellent post! I withdraw my objection to the Morgansect arc until further notice.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah that’s exactly why I’ve come to appreciate the arc now more than ever. It is very informative!

      • Stevie B. says:

        So, I watched the Morgansec episodes last night for my 2nd time. They were fun episodes! And way better than I had remembered.

        I also realized why I had the negative reaction the first time through. In the first Morgansect episode, S05E01, Sarah and Morgan have to go undercover as GF/BF. They dance and and Sarah is her usual sexy self. And then afterwards, they have little moment where they bond over the mission success so far. The dance and is what brought me negative emotions. Sarah belongs to Chuck, dammit! Another interesting unexpected emotion.

        And this raises another thought for me. I enjoy watching and seeing Sarah. What man wouldn’t? Her dancing and fights scenes I could watch over and over. There is the one scene (an outtake maybe?) where Lester shows up at the Winerlicious to ask her out, and she hops straight onto the counter and starts teasing him. wOw! But here is the kicker, I feel negligible desire to be with her!

        It’s like she has colonized the daughter or sister zone in my brain. Or maybe, Chuck is in there permanently established as my friend, and so she’s his mate, and that’s that. It is a weird unexpected revelation.

        Oh, the best scene in Morgansec arc? It’s where Sarah is Casey’s wingman in a mission to arrange a ‘random’ meeting with Gertrude Verbanski in the street! Awesome!

        Worst parts:
        1) lame Sarah vs. Verbanski fight. What? No money left for fight choreography?
        2) no other Sarah fights. I mean, come on!

      • atcDave says:

        Budget was seriously an issue in the later seasons, huge cuts after S2. Sometimes it shows. I’m pretty sure some of the visual effects made a point of being campy; hey, if you got no money, make it look intentional!
        I find Bearded Bandit the least appealing of the bunch, just WAY too much Morgan for me. But overall there’s some good stuff, I mostly like Sarah and Morgan bonding. And I love Sarah becoming his defender in 5.03; she’s a natural in that role and I really like that it doesn’t just stop with Chuck.
        Of course the biggie is just how informative it is for post-series Sarah.

      • thinkling says:

        Random Morgan thoughts.

        Bingo on the need for Morgansect. It was absolutely necessary, as Ernie explained. Just like the carving scene in Baby with Sarah saying I would like to always remember this moment, so what’s the first thing she remembers? The carving scene. S5 was brilliant that way. The whole season became the denouement alluded to in the kiss on the beach. Morgansect had its moments to be sure, so I didn’t hate it.

        My tolerance for early Morgan was pretty low, but they gave him some substantial growth later in the series, and my tolerance grew a bit. Devin taught him to tuck and tame the mane, and leadership at the Buymore helped bring him along, but what really helped Morgan’s character was Casey mentoring him. He grew up and I didn’t have to merely tolerate him. I started to like him. Even so, I often wanted a smaller dose than they gave us, and I still wanted more Ellie. I think her character was underused, and Morgan was over used.

        I didn’t like the Sarah/Morgan dance scene, but otherwise, I really, really liked the friendship that developed between Sarah and Morgan: Phase 3, the proposal sub-mission, the collectibles talk, letting him move in after Frosted Tips. It was all good … except the dance, which was a ridiculous and disturbing image.

      • atcDave says:

        Ah gee; I liked that Morgan flashed so he would know to just stand there while Sarah danced around him. Best use of the Intersect ever…

      • Stevie B. says:

        thinkling,
        I know what you mean about the low tolerance for early Morgan. After he was in on the ‘secret’ his development was no longer locked in amber. That is another positive for S03, BTW.

        My lack of tolerance also extends to much of the ‘Buy More’ stuff also. Like Jeffster stealing the ‘Push mix’? Come on man! And basically planning to steal the G7 phones! Again, Come on!

        That is probably an emergent property of the show’s chimeric structure. Some parts fit better than others..

      • Stevie B. says:

        Here’s the scene I was talking about. “What about that movie ?!?!” LOL

      • atcDave says:

        In my experience Morgan and the Buy Morons are most popular with casual viewers. So many discussions I had with friends and co-workers started with what antics were going on at the Buy More.
        I think those of us who got really bit by the show where drawn to the weightier parts of it; especially Charah, but also the mythology, characters and larger universe.

        I did feel like the Buy More and Morgan (mostly Buy More, but partly Morgan) got too much screen time in later seasons and I would have preferred more for Sarah, Ellie and Devon (especially the Sarah/Ellie friendship). But all things considered the show was hugely entertaining and this criticism is fairly minor.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Big Mike is an admirable person in many ways. He is one Buy More guy that I always liked to see more of. His open heartedness fit with the show very well.

        And Anna Wu was great. Too bad she left. There are a lot of unexplored possibilities with that character.

      • atcDave says:

        Anna was very funny, especially in S1. But Morgan got a better girl. Not as funny but better. Anna could have been funny as a stalker ex; but all things considered I’m glad they didn’t spend time there.
        Big Mike was a man of a very few outstanding qualities. I think he was well used as a comic relief. Especially as the Subway pitchman. Best product placement ever.

      • Loki259 says:

        I guess I just have to accept I am probably the only person here who loved Morgan and Buy More.

        Let me just explain quickly why: Dave I think you want this show to be a little too perfect. I can hardly blame you for that, but decent part why this show is so liked and clicked for some of us is the real life feel to the characters. Devon and Ellie always felt too perfect for me, and while it’s true characters like that exist in real life, to me they were kinda boring.

        Early seasons Morgan and Buy morons were there to be a break from that. They had many flaws and that’s why I liked them, there was never a dull moment with them, they provided a nice comedic backdrop for all the serious spy stuff and they were a needed contrast to Chuck’s spy friends and Ellie and Devon. If the whole show had been perfect well adjusted grown ups like Ellie and Devon, it would have been so boring. Like Ellie once said: “If everything is so awesome, and there is no un-awesome, then awesome by definition is mediocre.”

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not really anti- Buy More or anti-Morgan. At least not compared to many fans. I just think, ideally, they both represent things Chuck grew out of. But Morgan was a good friend to Chuck, and I thought he mostly served that role well throughout the show. But from the very start I would have been happy with a little less Morgan.
        In terms of Ellie and Devon, well of course they were pretty idealized. But that was the point, they were the ideal Chuck and Sarah were compared to. I think expanding their part; especially later in the show as Sarah works through what it means to be normal would have been terrific. But that all plays to the fact I wanted more Sarah even more than more Ellie. I just think that was the obvious vehicle for it. Especially since I think the bromance, Chuck and Morgan was the least interesting screen time of the show. If it had been contrasted with Sarah and Ellie it might have worked very well. And this all plays into something many of us have mentioned before; we would have preferred a slightly different show called “Chuck and Sarah” to just making Chuck the focus (or “The Secret and the Agent”, my favorite alt-title). So let’s just say this comment is aimed square at the foundation of the show.
        If Morgan time had been reduced 30%, and it had been given to the grown ups (like double date nights or just Sarah/Ellie time) I think it would have worked out VERY well.

      • The show did a good job pivoting from Chuck and Morgan to Casey and Morgan, especially in S4. I was always tickled that Morgan and Casey were a bizarro version of Chuck and Sarah: a normal, clueless guy tutored by a hardened, skilled agent in the ways of spying, while the normal guy teaches the spy how to lead a normal life. That’s the best bromance of the show, as much as I do like Chuck and Morgan together.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes! Morgan and Casey were excellent together!

      • Loki259 says:

        I can certainly agree with that, loved Morgan and Casey in season 4

      • joe says:

        Loki said: “I guess I just have to accept I am probably the only person here who loved Morgan and Buy More. ”
        Naw. First, let me apologize for being so quiet on this amazing thread. Been busy. You know – life.

        Just last night I was thinking that one of my favorite scenes occurs in S2, at the end of vs. Best Friend. It’s all Buy-More, Morgan, Anna, Jeffster (playing the great Toto song “Africa”) and Chuck and Sarah holding hands for the first time.

        It’s odd. I don’t relate to Chuck like most. I never saw myself as part nerd, part genius, all hero. Besides, I’m older. Some will remember that I relate more to Stephen.

        But Chuck and Sarah holding hands – now that I relate to. Hearing a great song in a way that leaves memories – that’s something I REALLY relate to. It’s those moments that I can only think of as “less intense” that I enjoy. Sarah adjusting Chuck’s tie, Casey drinking Johnny Walker (black) whilst listening to Neil Diamond, Morgan interrupting a barely dressed Sarah at the ‘fridge in the middle of the night… And Chuck desperately holding on to Sarah’s wrist as Shaw threatens to drag her down with him. Those are moments in the show that set it apart for me.

        Oops. File this under “random thoughts.”

      • Stevie B. says:

        I love this scene. This is S01E14 where Sarah and Casey had thought Chuck was blown up driving away with a bomb. It’s one of the clips I keep handy.

        If the time mark in the link doesn’t work, go to 1:33

      • atcDave says:

        That is a terrific scene!

      • Luke says:

        Ha. I actually find the Morgansect arc somewhat funny, but that’s the only good thing I have to say about it. It was a three episode arc centered around the show’s fourth lead and it made Chuck and Sarah supporting characters. It gave me the sensation that their story was done, so, by the time it was finished, I had lost a lot of interest. That’s probably why I liked S5 better on my second watch. Still my least favorite though.

        In retrospect, that wasn’t even the biggest problem with the arc. I’ll disagree with most and say that not only it wasn’t necessary, but it actually ruined the final arc. The only thing that it managed to establish was that Sarah probably never gets her memories back. Drop that arc and those three or four memories would probably be enough to convince me. Keep the kiss and drop the dumb magic kiss talk and I’m actually certain that she had regained important parts of her memories.

        I loved Morgan in the first three seasons, but the S4 and S5 version is the show’s worst character, even worse than Shaw.

      • Josh Z says:

        While it’s clear that the writers wanted to have chuck play the role of handler now that he was a veteran spy, I could have done without him in jerk mode. Disagree about season 4 he and 5, its not about how you start but finish and Morgan finishes in a great place

      • Luke says:

        I’m assuming “jerk mode” is about Morgan? I have a very high tolerance for how I judge, if not real people, then at least fictional characters, so, with the exception of “DMPD’d,” I wasn’t bothered by Morgan’s behavior. In fact, I was amused, even by that text message.

        Morgan finishing the seasons in great places did nothing for me. IN sitcoms, dramatic or emotional moments and character arcs fall flat because the characters are unrealistic caricatures that I feel no connection with. The great thing about Chuck was that it had both dramatic characters and sitcom characters and, for the most part, the writers managed to keep them like that and separate from each other, so I was able to care about the leads while laughing my ass off at the secondary characters. Morgan was a clown, a sitcom character with zero development during the first two seasons and, all of a sudden, I was supposed to care about his arc?

        The only thing I want from these clownish characters is to make me laugh. Everything on top of that is gravy, but if I don’t laugh, then they fail. Morgan in the last two seasons was the opposite of funny. The direction for the character was a big part of this, but the new writers that came during the fourth season were awful, too, Wootton being the only exception and it’s not like he’s one of my favorites.

        As a spy, Morgan was annoying, his only shtick was “oh, I can’t handle a gun.” It was funny at first, also because he sounded expert like, but then it got old fast, the only thing missing was the Benny Hill music. He went from a funny sitcom character to a crappy sitcom character, while dragging Casey down with him and his boring relationship with Alex made it even worse.

        A common complain that came from both shippers and non-shippers for S3 was that Shaw kept the team apart. Well, Morgan did the same, he kept Casey away from Chuck and Sarah, but he did it for two seasons, not six or eight episodes like Shaw. For me, Chuck with Sarah and Casey with Morgan were the most boring spy pairs. He was also the reason why Ellie was kept in the dark again, to justify Chuck talking with him instead of her. The more serious characters were affected by the increased role of a clown.

        The Buy More was great in the first two seasons because it had enough characters to write some stories: a lazy and cranky boss, an evil ass man, three morons, a girl. It was good in the third season too, but in the last two seasons it fell off a cliff because the writers were bad and there were only two characters to write stories for, Jeff and Lester. The boss was boring and gone to play spy for a lot of the time and the ass man was the former boss, but on quaaludes and spouting off fortune cookie and hallmark cards nonsense. I understand that the budget was tight, but that’s why Morgan should have been made a Buy Moron again, with only some spy consulting here and there. Also, keep Alex as Casey’s daughter, but drop her as Morgan’s LI and give that screen time to a new ass man, preferably Anna Wu, determined to torture Morgan.

        And the final reason why he was a terrible character is because he was imposing on intimate Chuck and Sarah moments. I hated him the most when he told Sarah to be a girlfriend, not a spy. First, it was bullshit, her actions were those of a girlfriend since Lethal Weapon, that’s just one of the idiotic things that Kristin Newman invented. But, most importantly, Sarah could and should have realized alone what she needed to do without the advice of an imbecile who, at some point, had written up a ridiculous prenup just to discourage his gf from moving in together. I wanted to blame KN for this, but I remembered that there’s a similar deleted scene in Tooth and Morgan being all-wise happens again in Goodbye, so the answer was obvious.

      • Josh Z says:

        I agree with your opinion about the Buy More in season 4 but disagree on almost everything else. The Morgan/Casey dynamic was always funny. I personally hated Morgan in the early seasons he wasn’t his own person at all, more like a nat who’s comic relief is so forced it makes me cringe. The gun bit is nothing more than a running gag, I love this particular comedic element. Alex was great, though I don’t get why they wasted time breaking them up but I digress. As far as how Morgan affected Chuck and Sarah, I think you’re being overly harsh in that regard. Heck I have a friend that is my age and already married with three kids so trust me taking a back seat to your best friends wife and family is a very difficult adjustment… I emphasized in those moments. I agree Ellie should have been read in completely after she saw chuck punch a person lol but I don’t think Morgan is the reason she wasn’t, besides I rather like that she more or less discovered the Intersect on her own, before finally finding out it was in Chuck’s head. I think many of your gripes expose the time constraints that make TV a hard medium to create at times especially for Chuck which was essentially three genres in a 42 minute show

      • atcDave says:

        I think Morgan was a “least favorite” among many more serious fans. But he was a clear favorite with most of the more casual fans I’ve known. Presumably it has something to do with just wanting to have fun vs looking for something a little more.
        But I would dispute the idea he didn’t grow at all in the first two seasons, he grew A LOT in S2. To me, he went from purely annoying to merely being eccentric (!). But I know show runners were bragging about significant changes made with the longer than expected break between S1 and S2, and Morgan was among the chief beneficiaries. They all felt he was better developed and more relatable, and I mostly agree.

        As far as Morgansect and it’s impact for Sarah; I would say first he clearly was remembering stuff. That’s how Chuck reconnected with him at the end of Frosted Tips, the memories were there and were accessible.
        But For Morgan and Sarah booth, at least to me, recalling specific memories was only a secondary issue. It was really about Morgan (and Sarah) regaining essential parts of their character and life. So Morgan was back to being best friends with Chuck, and wanting to repair things with Alex even before he remembered all the details.
        Likewise Sarah, was back to her later, more open and honest self on the beach. That happy, tearful, laughing, loving Sarah we saw on the beach was her S4/S5 self; not Graham’s enforcer.
        And no, it wasn’t as well or clearly shown as it could have been. But it was there.

      • Luke says:

        Well, Dave, I don’t think I’m a casual fan and I loved Morgan in the first three seasons, with the S1 version being my favorite. His immaturity, his lack of inhibition, of boundaries and of self awareness made me crack up. Those “qualities” were toned down in S2, but they were still there, which is why I don’t see any development until the final episodes. He picked up the new ass man by recreating the fight from Mad Max 3; he, twice, instigated his coworkers to not work; he bought a barely functioning car; he stalked and confronted Anna, then he tried to repulse her, so that she wouldn’t move in with him; he tried to kidnap Chuck, just to get invited to the bachelor party; he ratted Chuck out for “going all corporate” because he was upset. The only things that changed were his haircut, his harassment of Ellie and his weird competition with Sarah for Chuck’s affection. They were amusing in the first season, but it made sense that they were gone from S2, Ellie was engaged and Sarah and Chuck were together for a year already, he got used to it.

        I’m very much a journey before destination type of viewer, so the memories were my main concern. Maybe the only concern, I can’t tell if I cared too much about Chuck and Sarah staying together. Morgan was remembering things, but there were also things that he didn’t remember and Ellie had already mentioned that was how it was going to be. Chuck brought him back, but he did it by helping him remember and it happened quickly. Sarah was subjected to long stories three times and went to familiar places and through familiar situations with him, but she still didn’t remember him, she only had three foggy memories that she didn’t even knew what they were exactly: the carving, the virus and the beach. I don’t see Sarah in the final scene as S4 or S5 Sarah. She was laughing and crying in the first few episodes too, the only thing that it means here is that she doesn’t feel awkward around him anymore, most likely because he promised to not pressure her anymore. Her body language is still closed off: she doesn’t touch him, her arms are crossed, her body is never turned towards him, only towards the ocean.

        One thing that makes no sense about the Morgansect: Sarah forgot everything and everybody, so she naturally didn’t trust them. Morgan lost some memories and he became a douche to his friends, even though he still knew them? What was the logic of this, that he wasn’t a douche because of some experiences from his childhood that he had with Chuck? Let’s say I go with it, even if it sounds dumb, but then, he goes back to being good when he remembers something awful that he did as a kid.

      • Josh Z says:

        Luke, I think you’re missing the point of the beach completely. It’s not about Sarah’s memories coming back that is the hope but not the point, not really. What makes it perfect wether you see it or not is that Sarah has accepted Chuck into her corner again, she asked him to kiss her and their was need and want in her inflection so the memories and if they come back are irrelevant because she accepted Chuck all over again, it doesn’t mean it’s sunshine and roses but that is the method to the writers madness

      • Luke says:

        Josh, Casey and Chuck had a great dynamic in the first seasons because Casey was forced to work with him, but he came to appreciate his value while still being annoyed by his personality and finding ways to tease him about it. They tried to do that again with Casey and Morgan and it worked to some degree in the last third of S3, but that went out the window in S4. Nobody was forcing Casey to work with Morgan anymore, Morgan had almost no value as a spy, except courage (lame), and he knew it. In S3, he at least still fancied himself some type of James Bond. Constantly being annoyed by a moron that you don’t have to work with and constantly calling him a moron is not funny. Put a laugh track over it and you’re in, pardon me, TBBT territory.

        Alex was great as Casey’s daughter, as Morgan’s gf she was boring and their relationship made Casey even more lame.

        You misunderstood my problems with how Morgan affected Chuck and Sarah. It’s not about him not giving them privacy (that would have been funny, actually), it’s about him being part of important moments that should be only between them. That’s why I hated him in that scene in Phase Three. There was a scene from Tooth, in which Morgan told Sarah to not let Chuck rot in the psych ward. It was supposed to happen before she went to the shrink’s house, but luckily it was cut, so Sarah went without needing to be convinced to not give up on Chuck, she figured it by herself.

        And I was never on board with Morgan dishing out advice left and right like he, all of a sudden, had the answers to everything. Him, the imbecile clown that did all the things that I have mentioned above in my reply to Dave.

      • atcDave says:

        Eh, journey matters, its why we watch; but its meaningless without a good end. Both matter; a lousy journey and I’ll quit before the end, the end can uniquely ruin the entire experience.
        But I just read the end completely different. Sarah was ready and eager to reclaim her life, the whole story hangs on her doing that in the end, memories or not.
        Morgan grew more in S3 than in any other, but he was already starting in S2, he became significantly less annoying! But he was truly never “wise”. A fool to the end, who’s greatest strength was in loyalty to his friends. Ultimately, I thought he always got too much screen time; but never quite to the level of hating him.
        And I never meant to suggest ONLY casual fans liked him, such judgements are always doomed! But it seems obvious he got a whole lot less love on the various fan sites, and in fan fiction, than he did among the more casual viewers I knew.

      • atcDave says:

        I think you’re exactly right about the end Josh. Whatever Sarah did or did not remember; the intensely private and closed off woman had let Chuck back into her life.

      • Luke says:

        Josh,

        It’s not about me missing the point of the beach, but you are missing my point: I don’t care for it. Saying that the memories are not important is just a narrow opinion, no different than saying that Lost was about the characters, not about the mysteries. It’s nobody’s place to determine what is important for a viewer, not even the author’s. If he thinks something is not important (like Sarah’s development) then he shouldn’t spend a lot of time on it. And If he really wanted to do it, then he should have paid attention to how Sopranos and Inception did it. SPOILERS for those two: the point of Sopranos’ ending was that it didn’t matter if Tony died because he put his business in order and he was with his family, but it was only implied (albeit strongly) that he might die; in Inception, Cobb doesn’t care if it’s a dream or reality, but the possibility of being only a dream is only vaguely implied and the last couple of frames suggest that it actually may be real. In Chuck, Sarah’s memories are taken away and then only implied that they might come back and very poorly done.

        No memories equals garbage ending for me, for more reasons than one:

        1. It’s personal. No, I don’t have a family history of amnesia, but I have happy memories of all my relationships and I would like to still have them when I’m about to kick the bucket. And I also have good memory.

        2. In general, shitting on one of the main characters of a show to prop up another one is awful writing. This is one of the reasons why Final Exam is the worst episode, it did exactly that, but not even for the benefit of a character or of an important plot point. It took a dump on Sarah for the sake of a “cool” idea that didn’t even make sense.

        3. In this particular case, Sarah stops being a character, she just becomes the plot device of the entire show, she’s nothing more than a trophy wife/girlfriend. If your favorite character was Chuck and you only cared about his adventures, then congrats, you got three fantastic first seasons and an awesome finale. If it was Sarah and the writer’s intentions were good enough for you, then I guess you’re in the clear.

        4. Chuck and Sarah finishing the series together was of a low priority for me, I cared more about the relationship itself than about its eventual outcome. I don’t care about them starting a new relationship from scratch, its’ a story that I have no investment in.

        5. For me, the show was about the characters and their development, not about the dumb spy stories. A major part of that journey leads nowhere eventually. Right after finishing, one of my first thoughts was “Great. This means Thailand never happened.” (it was my favorite episode at the time, now it’s out of my top 20. It’s still good, but poorly written.) Likewise, during rewatch, there were too many moments that I couldn’t fully enjoy because my brain kept whispering “she won’t remember this.”

      • Luke says:

        Dave,

        Bad ending can be very subjective. If we disregard taste or personal preferences, Chuck and Sarah or one of them dying while saving the world from the big baddie behind the conspiracy is a good ending, at least in theory. But if they are killed randomly, let’s say by a drunk driver like it happened in the middle of S2 of Designated Survivor, then that’s just lazy writing. Or like the original finale of Prison Break. What we got in Chuck was closer to the latter, but that’s not what ruins the rest of the show for me.

        Like you said, journey matters, but my point was that the ending of a series is not that important for me, at least not anymore. All I need from it is to not ruin the rest of the show, everything on top of that is just gravy. I think that a bad ending can ruin a plot driven show more easily, but it’s difficult to do it with a character driven one. The only way I can think of is with a “it didn’t actually happen” type of ending like what we got here.

        Just because Morgan became less annoying doesn’t mean that he was developing. He stopped imposing on Chuck’s private moments and he stopped acting like there was something between him and Ellie. Those were natural developments after Chuck having a gf for a year and after Ellie being engaged, otherwise he would have been really creepy and that’s negative development. The character had no progress until he betrayed BIg Mike in First Kill and he was cartoonish, which is why I didn’t care about any arc of him. It was similar with S4 of The OC, which everyone says it was good because it went back to basics, but I think it was the worst because they replaced one of the two girls with a girl that had only had a few appearances in S3 in which she was a cartoonish character that people were making fun of. Didn’t care about her story at all.

        Clowns will always be clowns, and if the heroes are put together with them, then they will become clowns. Chuck, Sarah and Casey were heroes, Morgan and the rest were clowns. Occasionally they would collide and those were great moments of humor, but in the last two seasons, Morgan was constantly put together with the heroes and that made Casey somewhat of a clown.

        I don’t know if he was all-wise, but he was giving advice to everyone and it was taken seriously most of the time, unlike in the first two seasons when his advises were stupid (also funny) and mostly ignored. And if they weren’t ignored they led to bad consequences. “Does the eight grade lunchroom ring any bells?… What would you do for a Klondike bar?”

      • atcDave says:

        Luke there are so many fans who shared those sentiments exactly. I’m comfortable with saying the end was poorly conceived, at least to say it ended a beat too soon. I’ve often said my own fix is four last words, “take me home Chuck” as the screen fades to black. I’m quite sure all my grief would have been fixed by that.
        But no doubt there are many thousands of viewers who needed more yet. I certainly would have preferred more; ideally like a whole epilogue episode of Chuck and Sarah healing and moving on with their life and family together. I can’t imagine what brain cramp led to the show runner thinking that end was enough.
        I miss epilogues so much; show me why the fight, why the growth, why the whole show mattered. Show me the protagonists living in this new world they made. And geez, show Sarah remembering her journey!
        I’ve found some peace with it all by seeing that Sarah was certainly fine; but it was just sloppy and rude not to show it. Style over substance, and shallow banal style at that…

      • Luke says:

        Dave,

        I, too, really wanted something like that for a while. My version was “I love you” because that would have indicated where she was mentally and probably some memory recovery. But it would have been cheesy and I realized that it ended exactly like it should have. The problem was that there was almost nothing or not enough before it. All we got were irrelevant or too foggy memories and an ice queen with a blank stare from start almost to the end. And the reason for this was because “Chris really wanted to find a way, even until the last moments of the last episode, to keep that sense of will they, won’t they.”

        Speaking of epilogues, your boy, Schwartz threw a big, long and totally unnecessary flash forward at the end of The O.C. that was as happy as they can get.

        I don’t understand why show creators feel the need to leave important questions unanswered until the last minute. Movies have epilogues after climaxes, why do tv shows have to end abruptly? Breaking Bad did it right, it had the big climax, then two more episodes which kept answering somewhat minor questions to keep the viewer interested.

  58. Stevie, I had the exact same reaction to the finale! I’m not on the spectrum (that I know of), but many people think I am, and I never cry about anything. The finale of Chuck had me bawling, haha.

    That said, I thought and think it was beautiful, and the best episode of Chuck. I’ll never forget them fade to black on the line “rivers ’till I reach you.” To me, that was exactly the “take me home, Chuck” that I needed. I don’t really see how anybody could be anything less than certain about the optimistic intent of the ending.

  59. A separate thought that Stevie inspired – I’ve noticed that a lot of the people in this forum seem to be of a fairly analytical bent (more thinkers than feelers in Myers-Briggs parlance). I don’t mean this as a judgement of either category, just that I notice a lot of people here saying things like “I never cried except for Chuck.” Analytical personalities tend to be inclusive of, but not limited to people on the spectrum – or computer programs like Ernie (a joke meant with love).

    I wonder if this is in part because of how consistently (and wonderfully) symmetrical Chuck is. It’s so much more focused on symmetry than I realized when first watching it, and the way previous actions echo through future consequences is what still gives it emotional weight for me. A non-comprehensive list, I’d love it if people replied with their own examples!

    The pilot ends at the beach at sunrise, the finale ends on the beach at sunset (with C&S switching sides).

    In the pilot, Sarah begins to see his merit when he puts his desire for her aside to help somebody else (the ballet dancer: “after fixing my phone,” the camera pans to Sarah tilting her head as Chuck moves under a literal new light). In the finale, she begins to see his merit when he puts his desire for her aside to help somebody else (the bomb at the orchestra). This triggers her “flash” of the Irene Demova virus.

    Chuck asks Sarah four times is she loves him, and in 3×13, she answers “Yes, yes, yes, yes.”

    Chuck is unfilled professionally with strong personal relationships, Sarah has weak personal relationships, and is professionally fulfilled.

    Related: Sarah and Casey mentor Chuck in his spy life, while he mentors both of them in the normal life.

    Sarah is Chuck’s handler, and finds excuses to literally put her hands on him (fixing his tie, straightening his shirt, even slapping him) in most episodes. Their first meeting isn’t by sight, it’s by their hands touching.

    Chuck offers to be Sarah’s “baggage handler” in the pilot and fulfills that promise both literally and figuratively in 4×15 (figuratively in many other episodes).

    Chuck loses his memories in 4×09, and Sarah brings him back with a kiss, a clue to the finale?

    Morgan loses his memories via intersect and is brought back by Chuck, a foreshadowing of the finale’s conclusion.

    The Grettas and Shaw are determined, but lack the moral grounding to properly use the intersect. Steven Bartowski has the moral grounding, but not the determination to use the intersect. Chuck intersects the two traits that allow one to use the intersect successfully.

    Chuck is based on a gender reversal of the damsel-in-distress story. In all of the episodes that the writers thought may be series finales (3×13, 4×13, 5×13), the show reverses it’s own reversal, having Chuck finally save Sarah.

    Sarah asks Chuck to meet her at a train station and Chuck rejects her. Their relationship is only repaired after Chuck asks her to meet him at a train station, and she doesn’t arrive.

    Chuck and Sarah’s relationship begins in a train (Honeymooners) and ends in a train (Bullet Train).
    Chuck and Sarah’s relationship begins in 3×13 when she says “Shut up and kiss me.” It begins anew in the finale when she says the same.

    The intersect is modeled after the One Ring, and it behaves similarly. When others receive the ring/intersect, they are corrupted by its influence (he calls Morgan Gollum in S5).

    The pilot and the finale begin with Chuck trying to escape a dilemma, Ellie giving him a pep talk, and him meeting Sarah.

    In his quest to save the world, Steven Bartowski turns the harmless Hartley into the villain Volkoff. In his own quest, Chuck does the same to Vivian.

    Throughout the show, Chuck will fail to achieve his dreams without Sarah, and only succeed after he meets/reconciles with/begins dating/marries her. Examples:
    In S01, Chuck has failed to become Charles Carmichael, the rich, successful entrepreneur. After marrying Sarah, he immediately becomes just that and established Carmichael Industries.
    He fails to graduate from Stanford and only succeeds after meeting and thanks to Sarah.
    In 3×01, Chuck fails to control the intersect and only succeeds when Sarah re-enters his life.
    Also in 3×01, he fails to become a spy, only succeeding after he and Sarah reconcile.
    In First Class, he fails to see the Eiffel Tower until he and Sarah reconcile
    In 3×09, he fails to complete his red test and succeeds by killing Shaw after he and Sarah reconcile.
    In 3×16, he fails his psych exam until Sarah comes to rescue him. The same pattern occurs with the Intersect in 3×19, as Sarah gives him the watch.
    Similar patterns occur in 5×02, 5×06, and 1×02.

    • atcDave says:

      I do think a lot of the analyzing and list making is normal for a Chuck fan! As Stevie mentions, they aimed the show right at us. Of course it came back to bite them when we weren’t so happy.

    • Loki259 says:

      Some of these I never noticed, very nice post, great job

  60. Stevie B. says:

    Great list.
    I’m an electrical/electronics engineer by training, doing embedded software these days. So analytic seems to fit me, except that my thinking and process is more associative then linearly structured. This is a blessing and a curse in my field. These kinds of lists are very helpful to me.

    As to your question as to why there are more ‘analytic’ types visiting, well, start with the series description. Nerd gets computer in his brain and meets a spy. This is very specific market targeting. You are seeing the tail end results. Heck, even I almost didn’t watch it because it sounded dumb.

    Even excepting all that, what were the odds that the subject matter would be examined respectfully, instead of an endless run of nerd jokes? Post breakout of ‘Big Bang Theory’, this may be different now.

  61. Loki259 says:

    Has anyone seen Limitless (tv show from 2015-2016) and what do you think about it? I saw it a while back and thought about it recently about how similar it is to Chuck. Basically the story is about a guy who becomes asset because of something he can do and he has a female agent handling him who as a person reminds me a lot of Sarah. The guy is also kind of an underachiever like Chuck. There is also a serious type of character like Casey. And now that I think about it there is a strong Ellie parallel with a member of his family. Don’t worry I haven’t spoiled much if you are planning to see it, we learn all this pretty quickly in the show.

    • Loki259 says:

      It’s more of a drama and less of a comedy then Chuck, though by not much.

    • Stevie B. says:

      I did watch that. It was derived from the Limitless movie. Instead of an Intersect, there are these pills that raise IQ.

      This was before Chuck for me. But now that you mention it, there are some parallels! I liked the show ok, and was sorry to see it cancelled. It is worth checking out, but there was no strong spark for me.

    • atcDave says:

      We discussed it quite regularly back when it was running. It was a very entertaining show, but lacked the strong hook of Chuck. Mainly because Brian was no Chuck; vaguely a “good guy” but not as strong or as principled as Chuck.
      But also the romance was odd. The male/female leads were mostly buddies, and the age difference was enough I don’t think it would have changed much if the show ran longer. Brian was in love with a recurring character which was intriguing in its own way, but that relationship was too tertiary to the plot to get much traction.

      The other show from that time got a lot of “Chuck” related buzz was Forever. It was produced by Chris Fedak and show runner was Matt Miller, so no doubt it had a familiar vibe. It also only ran one season, but it ended quite well for a one-season show. It’s the only other show that ever hooked me enough to lead to some fan fiction. Highly recommended.

      • Loki259 says:

        Yeah I was very surprised that they never went for the romance between Brian and the detective. To me that was always missing from the show, I kept waiting for something to happen. I did like Brian though, he wasn’t principled as Chuck but he was really likeable and I loved his relationship with his father.

        I have never heard about Forever but I am going to check it out, the premise sounds interesting.

        But to be honest the show that is mostly filling my Chuck void these days is Lucifer. The police procedural part is kinda meh, but the relationships between characters (not just the main ones) are really great to watch.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the casting on Limitless was wrong for a romance with the leads. I don’t know, maybe it could work; but that never struck me as a need. The show was very entertaining, but I needed Brian to grow up.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave. I never really wanted a romance on limitless. Like you, I didn’t see it. And sometimes its nice to watch a show with a strong male/female friendship and partnership without the romance drama — especially the way TV tends to write romance these days. I find myself relieved when I watch a show that avoids all that tension, but still has healthy friendships. It’s like when a romance starts up, I go Oh no, another relationship for them to screw up. And I immediately begin to detach myself from that aspect of the show. It’s like you can’t whole-heartedly invest in a relationship.

        I liked Forever way more than Limitless, mostly, I think, because of the actors (superior casting imo) and character interaction/development. I was really sorry it was canceled. It was very similar (in story line) to a show a few years back called New Amsterdam, but Forever was much better on all levels.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes, I agree with all of that!
        Although I was a little worried where things would go if they had gotten another season of Forever. Again, due to not fully trusting how television romance is written. As it stands, it ended with a very intriguing moment (“that’s a long story”) and I love imagining how that went! But you know, if the show had been renewed we probably we have had a whole season of putting it off…

      • thinkling says:

        Exactly!! I would have been filled with excitement for a new season and dread for what they would probably do to a really wonderful relationship. It’s maddening.

    • Stevie B. says:

      I agree with Dave that Forever was the better show. Limitless lost the plot, IIRC.

    • Loki259 says:

      What about Deception? I just came across that, is that any good

      • atcDave says:

        Well I know it was a Chris Fedak show and it only ran 13 episodes before being canceled. I never saw it, but it may be fun to watch.

      • noblz says:

        There was another that was even closer to Chuck and it was “Intelligence”, also canceled after 13 episodes probably because I liked it.
        It had a guy with unique capabilities (essentially wi-fi in his head through a chip). Guy gets assigned attractive Secret Service bodyguard and it even has a redhead boss lady (Marge Helgenberger). In total construct this was closer to Chuck than some of the others IMO.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I vaguely remember that one. Did it have any sort of full story in 13 episodes?

      • Loki259 says:

        Seriously why are all these intriguing shows getting canceled after 1 season, while CSI keeps producing million useless and boring spinoffs that go on forever. I don’t understand this

      • atcDave says:

        Popularity is hard to figure. How does a thing like Scorpian survive for four seasons?
        I few things I can see. Too much of television tries to be dark and “sophisticated”. But I think cable and streaming services own that market. CBS pulls in large audiences by respecting its older and more conservative audience. NBC wants to be HBO but is spectacularly ill equipped to do that. They need to look more realistically at their viewers. In particular, more stuff that is light hearted, fun and edifying.
        I am certain the reason all these simple singing/dancing things work is because they are fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. That is a recurring theme I hear from family/friends who watch them. They want to laugh and have fun after a day of work, not wonder who’s getting eaten by zombies.
        Also, for many of us, we may like a more involved plot and story, but Hollywood moralizing is offensive and clueless. So any television show has to be approached carefully.
        It seems funny to me how with more sources (networks, cable channels, streaming services) we less quality programming. I think in part it’s because they all think they don’t need to reach the mainstream, just find their own little niche. Then they all fight over the same little niche.
        And the mainstream has given up on even paying attention. They’ll just watch singing shows, HGTV and Hallmark Channel.

      • thinkling says:

        I liked Intelligence, and you’re right, it was very Chuck like.

        As for popularity, I don’t get why some of these really good shows get canceled, but there are some long running procedurals that I really enjoy, like NCIS (original and LA, but not NO). Sometimes it’s nice to watch a show that’s not serialized. Give me a nice weekly story, but the main thing for me is the casting and characters. If the cast has chemistry and the characters are interesting and likable and noble (people I can root for), and if they grow, then I’m in. NCIS has that cast chemistry thing in spades.

        I agree with Dave. I don’t like the bent toward dark drama. I also find Hollywood moralizing to be offensive and clueless. If a show has an agenda to push, particularly if it’s in my face, I’m gone. Just give me good characters and an interesting story without a PC agenda.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah cast chemistry is huge. Really, I think, more important even than story. Chuck was a rare thing that got so much of that right.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, and cast depth, too. It’s nice to have a full cast of fully developed characters. I hate it when half the characters feel more like props than characters.

      • atcDave says:

        And again, how did Scorpion last four seasons?!
        When we watched we were laughing at them not with them; but I guess that’s all ratings!

        So follow up question, what really horrible shows do we watch and not quite know why? And I’m not looking for shameful confessions…

      • Loki259 says:

        The show I am most embarrassed about is Arrow. I loved season 1, season 2 was good, and then it became pointless and repetitive. And yet I kept watching for way too long, even watched until season 5 until I couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t think I have ever seen a show that had so much potential turn into something so horrible and boring.

        I also watched Flash, Supergirl, and LoT. I know I am going to be judged for that, but they are my guilty pleasures

      • noblz says:

        atcDave
        Intelligence was definitely ended as if they expected to be picked up for a second season at least. It was a second half of the season (Feb-May) so they clearly finished filming before the decisions were made. The final scene was an evil agent meeting with the surprise evil guy to be told “there was a lot more to do”.

      • thinkling says:

        Good point, Dave. I watched Scorpion for a while, but you’re right it was an eye-roller most of the time. I quit at the end of S4. There are a few shows I stay up to date with, but the others build up, and I watch when I’ve run out of better shows to watch. So, I confess, in any show with a central relationship, like Scorpion, I read ahead before I commit to watch another season. If I see that they are going to take the relationship or the plot somewhere I don’t like, I bail. I put up with S4, because they were finally going to let Walter and Paige get together. But when I read where S5 was headed, there wasn’t any chance at all I would continue. Same with Castle, I never finished, because I just couldn’t stomach the final season’s messing with the marriage. So, I’ve taken to “cheating” to decide if I’ll continue a show or not.

        I’ve also watched the superhero shows and wonder why. When I’ve run out of more engaging content, I peruse my recorded shows to see which one might fill the gap until something better comes along. Most of the hero shows start out fine, but then they have to go darker and darker. That’s when I stop watching. Blindspot is another I have picked up again. We’ll see how it goes. I know where it’s headed for S3, so forewarned, I’ll watch a while longer.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s funny how we’re all pretty similar on this! Even the things that embarrass us! Flash is the last of my CW shows, and that may be about done.
        Thinkling you know Scorpion was finally cancelled, so no S5 will be made. I almost wonder if that season ending twist forced the network decision. For which I would thank them.
        Dave you didn’t really motivate me to check out Intelligence!
        I started Blindspot, then dumped it. But it’s one I’ve been thinking about getting back to.
        Castle did finish okay. It’s just the first few episodes of the last season that went off the rails. It’s one of those dumb “Beckett leaves Castle to protect him from something very bad coming her way” until they decide they can face it better together. So, moronic set up. But it doesn’t play out bad. Even so, I wish they’d never made the last season. The behind the scenes stuff almost did more damage than on screen.

      • thinkling says:

        Ah, I guess it was S3 of Scorpion that I watched and dumped it from reading ahead in S4. Maybe I’ll give castle a try. I think the Castle writers were the worst for season finales, and they don’t deserve to be forgiven for the wedding debacle. It was a bent to the writing staff that really irked me when it came to the relationship. I mean you can practically hear them laughing with diabolical glee as we watch Kate look over the edge at Rick’s crashed car on the rocks below, or the interrupted engagement, or Kate standing at his door wanting back into his life, not to mention the king eye-roller of Kate getting shot. Well, they get the trophy for awful season finales and wasted opportunities.

        Yeah, I watch an occasional Flash or Supergirl, but nothing consistent.

        I really enjoy a number of British shows: Foyle’s War (one of my all-time favorites), Father Brown, Endeavor, The Coroner, DCI Banks, Bletchley Circle (original and San Francisco), and The Doctor Blake Mysteries (Australian).

      • atcDave says:

        Castle was the best show with the worst finales! Comically bad.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I watch a couple of the WB hero shows, LoT and Arrow. Legends has actually gotten pretty good and done some clever stuff with the current cast. As far as network stuff I watch it’s mostly comedies like Brooklyn 99 or TBBT. I was still watching Timeless and Blindspot and This Is Us though, so maybe not all comedies.

        The behind the scenes stuff on Castle almost ruined it for me. I really didn’t want to believe what I heard about that set and the main cast. I can still watch the earlier seasons and enjoy them, but I can’t watch the last few without thinking that like Moonlighting, there was a real world reason the two leads were kept apart by the writers.

        Lately I’ve been binging on Burn Notice. It has a nice balance between silly and serious. Just finished Person of Interest a few weeks ago.

        There is a lot of good TV out there now, I just can’t seem to get excited about anything lately.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I really enjoyed Timeless, fun show. Strangely none of the angst ever bothered much. I’m torn on if I want a follow up movie or not? I know its been discussed, but I sort of like how things ended.
        I do agree about Castle, at least to say they should have ended a season earlier.
        Burn Notice was interesting. I loved the first few seasons (three or four?). But it got progressively darker and I hated the last season. I think that’s when USA ended their “Blue Skies” philosophy and its like the show runner was eager to race for the bottom. I think it would have worked better if Michael had figured out much sooner he no longer wanted the spy’s life and was happy with what he was doing around Miami.
        I do keep thinking of trying Blindspot again, I like most of what I’ve heard about it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        NBC actually greelighted (greenlit?) a two hour finale for Timeless to air around Christmas.

        Interesting about Burn Notice. I’m presently in season 4.

        I never did finish this season of Blindspot, but I heard the finale was a “game changer” which makes me nervous.

      • thinkling says:

        I loved timeless. The relationship stuff never really bothered me. The ending was kind of bizarre, since they broke all their own rules,but I would like a movie to finish the story.

        I watched burn notice until it veered dark. Then I quit.

        I read ahead on blindspot. I’m glad I’m forewarned. Being forewarned, I’ll keep watching

      • atcDave says:

        Ohhhh, so Thinkling likes the Blindspot game changer? This sounds intriguing.
        Ernie it’s good to hear that the Timeless movie is happening. No matter what I ever say about “ending in a good spot” I almost always decide more is better! And then sometimes regret it…
        and I know your take on “darkness” is quite different from mine; Burn Notice may work fine for you. But I’ve rarely seen a show go from SO GOOD to SO BAD!

      • thinkling says:

        I won’t say I like the game changer, but knowing what’s coming I will watch with a certain emotional detachment, which is possible because I wasn’t all that emotionally invested to begin with.

        SPOILER :

        From what I understand, they take a page out of the chuck book.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling, on Blindspot, I kinda heard it was something like that. I’ll probably catch up before next season.

        With Timeless it almost seems they left too much to wrap up in two hours, but I look forward to it.

      • thinkling says:

        Timeless finale was a nice setup for another season. They were pretty fearless. So, yeah, a two hour wrap-up will be a challenge

      • atcDave says:

        Ooof maybe I’ll still pass on Blindspot.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I thought Timeless was a lot better this year than last and they were clearly getting bolder. The finale did set up some great possibilities for a new season, so I am looking forward to it. Just too bad it’s only going to be two hours.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m a little surprised with its ratings that we’re even getting the movie!
        But yeah fun show. I would maybe prefer more history and less grand conspiracy; but they did a really nice job weaving things together and keeping it interesting.

      • thinkling says:

        Yes, Dave, with Timeless, the history was by far my favorite part. (That’s why I think you’d like Foyle’s War) And the actress did such a great job as the historian in complete awe of seeing history as it was being made. So fun. After the first season, I told my sister-in-law (a history teacher) she had to check it out. A couple of weeks later, I asked if she’d had time to watch any of Timeless, and she said yep she had watched all of them. It’s a must-see for history buffs.

        With Blindspot, I’ll keep watching a) because I’m not as invested in the relationship, and b) because memory loss has been part of the show all along. I’m not keen on it, but bracing myself, I’ll see what they do with it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        The lead actress on Timeless, Abigail Spencer, is a favorite of mine. She had a run on Mad Men and on a little known show called Rectify. She plays the sister of a death row inmate who is released largely due to her decades of work on his behalf. It is one of the best dramas I have ever seen, and her work is incomparable. But it can be a tough show to watch.

      • thinkling says:

        I noticed Rectify several times, Ernie, and thought it looked interesting. In what way is it tough to watch?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It is not a happy show. Just about everyone is suffering in some way for the decisions they made when Daniel was sentenced to death row and after.

        Daniel has no ability to define himself and has no idea how to fit in or what is expected of him. His sister (played by Abagail Spencer) put her life on hold, moving back from a promising job in Atlanta to work for 19 years to exonerate him, and is now paying the price of a dead-end job and no future prospects as a result of her 19 year crusade.

        I never did finish it, though I probably will some day. Let’s just say, amazing as the drama is and the performances are, not many of the characters have many good days. You never get to see more than that glimmer of hope for very long.

  62. Luke says:

    Sup. A lot of comments to sip through. I’m not replying directly to a comment right now, because it’s a more general response.

    Stevie, I agree with you that season 3 made Sarah look more human by making her more flawed, but I’m not sure it did so with Chuck. Putting the greater good ahead of his personal desires made him look more like a superhero than a flawed human being. Yes, he did have the douche arc from First Class through Fake Name, but that was more of a teaching experience than a lasting trait of the character.

    Like Dave said, Chuck and Sarah appealed to viewers because they behaved like real people, your analysis is too rooted in symbolism and literature and tv tropes, which is why I disagree with, I think, the rest of it.

    Not only I don’t agree with the idea that they had to go through something like this to be ready for their relationship, but I despise it. This is just a TV trope that has no basis in reality and its sole purpose is to artificially prolong the wt/wt. You love each other, you don’t have mental issues, you’re not much younger than 25 and both have a stable material situation, then congrats, you’re ready for an adult relationship. Ideally, you would also have the experience of one or two long term relationships under your belt , but in lieu of that, you don’t start dating other people, you learn the ropes together. I for one, am thankful that the writers didn’t resort to this trope and came up with more palpable reasons for this conflict. The simple reason why it happened was because the producers wanted to and they felt they could do it. At the start of the third season, they had two options: put them together or break them apart. A return to the status quo of “we love each other and we will make googly eyes at each other until our situation changes” would have meant stalling and the story needed to progress, in one direction or the other.

    I also don’t agree with the theory that self-loathing and believing that they were not worthy of each other were the reasons that they stayed apart. Something like this wasn’t explored throughout the season, there was only one line that would hint at it. Yes, they both have a degree of it, but that’s the result of their situations. Self-loathing is not the cause of self-destructive behavior, it’s just an effect of it. When people are distressed, they seek comfort. That’s why trauma victims are given blankets, kids are actually given toys. Chuck didn’t start working at Buy More because he hated himself and thought that he didn’t deserve more. Getting expelled and dumped at the same time was traumatic and he found comfort in living with his protective sister and in being the king of Buy More. It was a comfort zone that he wasn’t ready to leave until he got over Jill and Stanford and he hated himself for it, but when he was ready and had the opportunity to do something great with his life (remember, he had dreams of being a billionaire), he took it. It may have been a selfish motive, but he also didn’t want to run from the responsibility that his new power gave him, so he had that going for him.

    I don’t buy that Chuck didn’t feel worthy of Sarah or that he felt she didn’t love him enough because he wasn’t a spy and that’s why he decided to become one. His words at the end of Lethal Weapon are those of a man who is confident in himself, in her feelings for him and who understands what are the obstacles between them and what he needs to do to remove them. They could also be the words of a delusional man, but he’s not Jeff. Now, he underestimated how much the job meant to Sarah and finding that out gave him doubts, but those were dispelled when she asked him to run away. I concede that there is a possibility that he may have thought that if he had run with her, she would have seen him as weak and stopped loving him, but it seemed to be of a low priority for him. His explanations never start with it and his further actions don’t agree with it: When he understood that Sarah basically went all Ron Burgundy on him and gave him a me or the job ultimatum, he chose the job. He also started dating other chick, which would have made no sense, if he wanted to be spy so he could be with Sarah.

    As for Sarah, she was never a monster. A monster wouldn’t have saved Molly, wouldn’t have fought to keep Chuck out of a bunker and wouldn’t have hesitated to kill him in that house. Those are things that someone like early Casey or the 49-B would have done. She also doesn’t blame herself for the failed relationship with her father, she actually blames him because she knows he is a criminal. My guess is that’s the reason why she’s attracted to guys like Bryce, Cole or Chuck. They have her father’s good parts (fun, charming) and the opposite of his bad parts (they try to help people). If she needed redeeming was for the scams she did with him and that’s why her career is important to her, it gave her a purpose. It also gave her the opportunity for adventures, which was also the good part of her criminal career. This is what drives the conflict of the second season. Sarah understands that Chuck needs a real life, but she also knows that she can’t give it to him as long as she’s a spy. You can trace this by going from “I’m just his cover girlfriend. Chuck is entitled to a real one” to “I wanna be a real person again. With you. This is what you want, right?” I don’t see how a person that makes that kind of sacrifice for someone else would feel unworthy of their love. It just doesn’t compute for me.

    Shaw… Maybe I’m wrong, but my understanding is that you believe that she got into a relationship with him because she thought that she didn’t deserve more. So, the guy she was in love with, begged her to take him back, but she didn’t like him anymore because he had become just like her and then she decided to punish herself by going for a cardboard cut-out of Superman? Normal people do this? I say she didn’t want to be with Chuck anymore because she didn’t trust him anymore. Killing the mole was the equivalent of going to the dark side, he had become a spy like every other, someone that would have chosen the job over her, just like Bryce had done before. As for why she was with Shaw? Talking about a difficult loss and being understood is comforting and he was a guy that also lost someone and wasn’t afraid to admit it. Shaw was to Sarah a comfort object, her attraction to him was only sexual and it was driven by the fact that she didn’t get lucky in about three years. If she did something with Giles, it was for work, so I guess it didn’t count. Just like Chuck was ready to leave the Buy More only when he got over Jill, she would have dumped Shaw when she would have gotten over Chuck.

    You say that without this arc, it would have been just a romantic comedy. The third season is definitely heavier, but that’s because of the second season. Without it, it’s just another story of a geek stealing a hot girl from a jock, ending with the lovely rom-com trope of “I don’t know who to choose.” One thing that the misery arc accomplished was to ruin the Chuck and Sarah relationship for a part of the viewers (it almost did it for me too) and if you don’t care about them, then there’s no reason to watch the last two seasons, because everything else blows. I would say that the fourth season is good because of the second season and in spite of the third one. And I actually prefer S3 to S4, because everything else is so much better (except Shaw compared to Volkoff) and my displeasure with Charah runs only from Final Exam through Other Guy.

    • Loki259 says:

      I agree with you, I don’t believe self-loathing played a big part in them staying away from each other. And the part about Chuck not feeling worthy of Sarah and that is why he choose to become a spy so he could be her equal is not really why he made the choice he did. He did because as he later explained: she taught him to put other people’s needs above his own.

      That was the moment that it took me out of it. Chuck from the first two seasons was the guy who constantly complained about the spy life and how one day he is going to get rid of Intersect and they can live a normal life, the guy who always expressed his feelings to Sarah and talked about their future together. That guy would have chosen Sarah, it’s as simple as that. He wouldn’t choose some sense of duty as a spy, a life that he always rejected, the life that he was thrown into and he didn’t even get a say in. He would have chosen her, the person who was always there for him and got him through it all, sacrificed so much to help him because she loves him. He would have taken the leap, despite the doubts, like he did in Honeymooners.

      The character of Chuck who always felt real, didn’t feel that way anymore. It felt like the writers didn’t want to stay true to the characters, but they wanted to create some conflict and angst between them for the sake of drama.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually liked how Chuck chose the greater good at the end of Ring. But we were already at the point where Chuck and Sarah’s poor communication skills were even annoying the professional critics; if Sarah leaving the spy life to be with Chuck, while Chuck became a spy (partly) for Sarah had been played for laughs, it might have worked. But squeezing more angst from that rock, no way.

      • Stevie B. says:

        sorry about the typos… now continuing a thought.

        What were Sarah’s objections to Chuck becoming a spy? Lying, killing, and other dastardly deeds? Why such a strong reaction against something which she already is?

        Aren’t the self-loathing aspect of that obvious?

      • atcDave says:

        I think self-loathing is way too strong. It is possible to want better, expect better, without hating oneself.
        I think protecting another’s innocence is also common and admirable, just like any parent who worries about their kids growing up too fast.
        I think for Sarah we see such a balancing act; admiring Chuck and wanting to protect him to the extent she both puts him on a pedestal and sees him as a child. People are often complex like that, we’re not simple binary problems.
        I’d say it’s also common in many adult relationships that It takes time and wisdom to see another person in all their complexity. And all too many of our Sarah analysis discusses over simplify her even worse than she ever over simplified Chuck.
        Sarah was an admirable heroic character who had done many great and terrible things in her career. She seemed to take great pride in her own good and great shame in her own bad. So she sees Chuck as someone with great strengths that are very different from hers, and by her own admission, falls for him immediately. She maybe takes an unrealistic view about preserving some of Chuck’s traits, but I don’t believe we need to say she hated herself for it.
        Just like any burgoining relationship she needs time see Chuck in his full humanity and needs to love him for his strengths, weaknesses and quirks. It takes time to take it all in, and Sarah is particularly inexperienced with such relationships so she may over-react to some ups and downs. No problem, by S3.5 we see her taking a pretty healthy approach to learning and growing.

        The real S3 objection is not that Chuck or Sarah made unrealistic or out-of-character decisions, although I have played that game on occasion. But really that such a key period of growth was handled in such a profoundly unentertaning way. Key growth that could have been so satisfying to see happen for a couple instead happened to two individuals. Even worse, show runners were never very interested in Sarah’s growth that meant much of her process seemed to spring up out of nowhere. Hence we end up in all these silly arguments..

      • Stevie B. says:

        I agree with some of that Dave. But I’m dealing with the story as it is laid down. I don’t think she went straight to self-loathing it was a process.

        Here’s one possible evolution Sarah’s emotions in S03…

        1. Chuck seemingly rejects her after opening herself to him.
        2. She’s angry and hurt. We see this.
        3. Then she finds out that Chuck waits to be a spy because of her unintentional encouragement. This is where her anger leaves her, and is starting to be replaced by a seed of self-loathing for setting Chuck on the one path that she never wanted him to take,
        4. This grows the whole time that Chuck is getting closer to be a spy. And she is forced to train him thus making it worse.
        5. Sarah gives up on Chuck because it is too painful to contemplate, so she tries to bury all those emotions and seeks a transfer to DC with Shaw.
        6. Chuck is giving outward signs of becoming more like her, lying, burning an asset, Fake Name, etc.
        7. Sarah observes all this, and it is worse and worse for her seeing Chuck going down this path, and apparently succeeding. Becoming more like her, or at least who she was.
        8. Chuck and Sarah meet for the Final Examine. Chuck finally, finally commits to her again. He kisses her and she responds despite herself. Appearances aside, she is NOT Shaw’s.
        9. Chuck passes the Final Exam, and thinks he’s done.
        10. Shaw decides this is time for Chuck’s Red Test. Now this sets Sarah on a tailspin. Her Red Test is the “worst day of her life”. And now it is Chuck’s turn, and she is proctoring him. No chance of self-loathing here, right?
        11. Chuck passes the Red Test, with, unbeknownst to her, Casey’s help.
        12. This is the worst possible outcome for her. She loves Chuck, and basically turned him into the killer that she never wanted. But still, no self-loathing, right?
        13. Chuck tells her the Red Test really didn’t happen the way she thinks, and to let him have this one secret. But can she trust him still, since he has learned to lie so well? Is it possible that he is still Chuck?
        14. Chuck commits to her again with the famous “I love you” X4 speech. Kisses her again and she responds again. Still, not Shaw’s.
        15. Chuck asks her to run away with her. Don’t answer now, meet me at the station.
        16. She’s packing in her room. Who is she gonna meet Chuck or Shaw? (Hint: it’s never about Shaw.)
        17. Casey shows up and tells her that he killed the mole! At least this quilt is lifted from her. Chuck is still Chuck. She throws her gun on the bed, clearly now running away with Chuck.
        18. Then Shaw takes her away, and shows her that she killed his wife for her Red Test. But still, no self-loathing, right?
        ( I know I have said no meta, but I think they took it too far with this last bit. Probably to make it clear that Sarah was suffering, especially to those who still weren’t catching on. So, turn the knob to 11!)
        19. Chuck knows all this, and still saves her, body and soul, in Paris.
        20 Sarah asks in wonder: “You saved me?” Then catharsis and joy. This is not the response of a spy whose life is saved by a colleague. It is the response of someone whose worst is known and is loved. That is the wonder. This is Chuck’s gift to her.

      • Loki259 says:

        100% agree Dave. She wanted to protect Chuck and shield him from that life as much as she could, which was a little naive, but admirable nonetheless. Don’t think she hated herself for that

      • Stevie B. says:

        The only thing I can’t quite figure out is what was Chuck waiting for? His depth of self loathing, and maybe despair, was the weeks in cheese ball hell. He roused himself from that upon hearing that Sarah was back in Burbank. Way to go Chuck!

        After Carina shared his taped spy school explanation and expression of love with Sarah, he did not attempt a rapprochement until the Final Exam. Clearly, Sarah was still open to him, had he kept trying..

        Is this back to his self confidence issues? It took being about to reconnect with Morgan to snap him out of it.

        Once again the fault was not in their love, it was within themselves.

      • atcDave says:

        Fault was in the screenplay.

      • Stevie B. says:

        meta

      • atcDave says:

        Commercial television is always meta first.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Likely the truth. But understanding the meta info around Chuck is not my goal.

      • Stevie B. says:

        And if that makes me a poor fit for this forum, so be it. I do not wish to intrude.

      • atcDave says:

        No hey carry on. But for S3 I only do meta.

      • atcDave says:

        And BTW, meta is completely appropriate because it was what was on screen that broke me of any interest in what was on screen.

    • Stevie B. says:

      Luke,
      I understand why people don’t like S03. Really, I do. I’m not trying to reverse engineer Sarah and Chuck into something they are not.

      I’m trying to understand why the series as a whole resonated so stronger with me, in ways I did not realize until the finale. So, all these meta discussions, about the writers, the show runners, the fanfic, are not helpful to me. I want to be absorbed into their story as it stands. My bond is with the story, not the production. I have less than zero interest in the business of making the show.

      From my POV, it never felt like a wt/wt situation to me. It was always gonna be Sarah with Chuck. It was fated. And in classic literature, fate and character drive everything. It’s another tool to bring to our analysis. You are free to grapple with Chuck using any tools you like. But Chuck, has the feel of an epic, in the classical sense, to me. Otherwise, the resonance would not be there. And I think, in my clearly unskilled hands, that the series can reward us when looking at it from a classical epic framework.

      Chuck is a story of redemption and grace at it’s heart. Let’s recall Sarah’s wedding vows. Chuck is the gift, she wants to deserve. She doesn’t yet understand that she doesn’t have to deserve it. That is the grace Sarah and Chuck grant to each other. The love is not what is separating them. It is believing in it and trusting it, despite all the obstacles. The flaws aren’t in the love. The flaws are in themselves. S03 is how that redemption in grace is resolved.

      So, about Sarah. You object my recasting her as monster/spygirl. Well, I object to the notion that Sarah first walks into the Buy More as a well adjusted adult who just happens to be a spy, but maybe a bit introverted. The question is, how are these various natures weighted within her?

      It is useful to watch that first episode and understand that Sarah could be that same stone cold assassin as Casey, and likely something even worse. Casey actually had a loving relationship and a fiance in his past! This is not an insult to Sarah. She has been damaged by the people she trusted most.

      I want to watch those first episodes again with this one question in mind, is it NOW when Sarah would refuse an order to kill Chuck. Consider this. Chuck arrives to pick up Sarah for their ‘first date’. Sarah answer’s the door while receiving the order to kill him if he runs. Would she have done it? The answer isn’t obvious. Clearly, Langston Graham expects that she would. Is this the so called ‘protector’ that walks toward Chuck that first time in the Buy More?

      Part of Sarah’s journey is a moral awakening. This burden is one of Chuck’s gifts to her. She she no longer sees spying as completely moral. She can now see her moral moral lapses, maybe for the 1st time. This explains her strong reaction about Chuck becoming a spy. S03 about her grappling with this and her guilt over leading Chuck into the ‘Spy Like’, even if inadvertently at first, and then explicitly by training him.

      • I am quite sympathetic to almost all of this, Stevie B.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Thank you Professor.

        My views are still evolving, but the one thing I’d clarify in this particullar post is that Sarah accepts the grace of Chuck’s love at the time of her vows. She affirms that she still strives to be worthy of it.

        This is cutting close to the bone of Christian thought, but there it is.

      • Luke says:

        I missed this, I guess better late than never.

        “Chuck is a story of redemption and grace at it’s heart.” – Seeking love is seeking acceptance, so I guess every love story is a redemption story, but I don’t see anything different with this one.

        “It is useful to watch that first episode and understand that Sarah could be that same stone cold assassin as Casey, and likely something even worse.” – But she’s not. Just like Casey and Chuck, she decided to become a spy so that she could serve the greater good and, I’m assuming, to right the wrongs that she had done with her father. That’s why she saved the baby and why she saved Chuck. She reads people, she realized that he was a good guy and she decided to defend him. You think a monster would say “And what about his family? His friends?” That’s why she hesitated at her red test, why she hesitated to kill Mauser in Santa Claus and why she hesitated to kill Chuck in the house, in the penultimate episode.

        Casey was a monster because he was in this business a lot longer than her and he had become a burnout. Unlike Sarah, both he and Chuck sacrificed something important in order to become spies. Once you make a hard choice, your investment in your new choice increases exponentially and you’re more open to compromises and then you become comfortable with them. This is illustrated with Chuck starting with First Class, when he does a lot of things that he doesn’t want to do because he believes he has to do them in order to become a spy: he doesn’t want to upset Sarah, but he still goes to Paris; he doesn’t want to lie to Ellie, he still does it; he doesn’t like Sarah seducing Manoosh, but gets over it quickly; he doesn’t want to burn Manoosh, but he does it because he has to; he doesn’t like the scotch, but he still downs the glass alone, instead of reaching out to Sarah; he pulls out Casey’s tooth. These seemed fine because he had good reasons, but he eventually became too comfortable and started acting like a jerk even when the job didn’t really require it: he ignored or didn’t realize that Morgan had the hots for Hannah; he had no problems with Hannah helping with the mission; he threw a jealousy tantrum a couple of minutes after making out with Hannah, even if Sarah didn’t do anything; he invited Hannah to family dinner, just to get Ellie out of his hair and then, accepted to meet her parents, even if he wasn’t really in love with her. The next steps would have been full-on jerk, burnout and eventually killer.

        Sarah’s objections were to Chuck becoming someone like that, someone that she could never trust and that she could never have a real relationship with.

      • Stevie B. says:

        As an aside…
        If you subscribe to the comments with an RSS reader like Feedly, then it’s easier to keep track if there’s something to which you wish to reply.

        When you approach Chuck as just another love story, my thoughts concerning ‘grace and redemption’ will be lost to you, If you can’t see that Sarah has a dark side, then these puzzle pieces will just not fit together for you.

        You assert that Sarah chose to be a spy. Maybe your eyes are better than mine. Don’t just say it. Convince me. Where did you see this? I saw a feral young woman running through the woods, who when cornered, took the only way out Langston Graham offered.

        It’s also not clear to me how you think Sarah developed into this well adjusted adult. Was it while her dad taught her that people were either grifters or marks to be exploited? Or was it while he trained and exploited her as a tool to help him run his scams? Or maybe while she sat abandoned by him for months at a time? I don’t see a well adjusted adult coming out of that. Explain it to me.

        Maybe it’s standard CIA procedure to civilize feral young women before training them to be spies? Like enrolling them in Mrs. Garrett’s CIA School for Wayward Girls perhaps? Hopefully with a large staff of psychologists and therapists. Or do they train them to be spies and then civilize them? How do you visualize Sarah’s development in the CIA?

        Maybe it’s more likely that Langston Graham saw an intelligent, feral girl as something he could mold into his own tool? I don’t know… into something like a ‘wildcard enforcer’?

        I really am at a loss as to how you see Sarah progressing from the feral girl in the woods to CIA super spy and swell gal. You seemingly believe that this is who shows up that first time at the Buy More. I can see why we might believe that is possible until “The Cougars” and “The DeLorean”. But after those episodes? No way.

      • Josh Z says:

        I agree here, Luke’s interpretation seems to be over looking or completely missing very human details concerning Sarah’s backstory, it’s false to assume becoming a CIA agent made her a fully fledged adult, the most it did was give her something to strive for. A fan fic of mine that is in progress plays with the idea that Sarah has chosen to separate her what Graham molded her into from everything she is with Chuck. I came up with the idea because I was intrIgued by a Sarah that is more self aware and emotionally affected by her past from the start than what we saw in canon. I’m having fun writing it honestly because I always got the sense that she was made in other people’s image and I wanted to explore something where she is a lot more savvy with Chuck’s predicament and I make Chuck a lot more capable too. If only school was done and I could write anytime I wanted, but I digress…

      • atcDave says:

        Stevie you’re making way to much of the extremes. We don’t know where Sarah’s “moral center” came from exactly. We know she did have a mother and at least one grandmother who had some role in her upbringing; we know that as early as 1.04 Carina acknowledged Sarah was “different” from most spies (she would go against orders and good sense to return for a trapped partner) and we know in Baby she would go against a superior’s orders to protect an innocent child. Further, we know she considered herself one of the good guys and was horrified when first ordered to kill.
        None of this means she was a sweet litttle angel. But somehow, against the odds, she was ready, willing and able to fight for the right things.
        That always makes her an appealing, heroic character in my book.

      • Josh Z says:

        Excellent points Dave! The way they flushed out Sarah as a person was one of the strongest aspects of the show which is why it is a shame that they flushed it down the toilet in the end…

      • Stevie B. says:

        Dave,
        I don’t assert that Sarah is all bad. I think she is very admirable based on the upbringing she had to overcome.

        But you will have to explain to me the feminine parental influence that you see in ‘The Cougars’ and ‘The DeLotean’.

      • atcDave says:

        She was a daddy’s girl and always chased after his adventures.
        But at the start of the show she clearly had a moral center — from somewhere.
        this doesn’t normally occur in vacuum. It wasn’t from her dad. It was unlikely from Graham.
        Guessing her mom or grandmother as a source is a pure SWAG. It was that or some other undisclosed source.
        And for the record, it seems unlikely Jack Burton had anything like “legal custody”. We know she chased after him. We saw two incidents and more were implied. This doesn’t remotely account for the vast majority of her childhood or say anything about who her other influences were.
        I stand by my pure guess of other family.

      • Josh Z says:

        Dave, personally I tend to believe she gained much of her moral center when she rescued Mollly and Chuck evolved it. Besides even in early seasons she is almost always conflicted about his situation and I tend to think she is always irritated by the way he gets treated. It’s not to the same level of danger as Molly but as we see she eventually has her breaking point which creates several episodes where she uses her moral center and puts Chuck’s needs first…

      • Stevie B. says:

        Christmas in the Burton household was running a Salvation Army scam.

        You brought it up. So tell me where is the feminine parental influence that you see in “The Cougars” or “The DeLorean”, or in any other reference to her past. You can wave your hands all you want, but it’s a wishful tinking that Sarah has no dark aide.

      • atcDave says:

        No one ever said she had no dark side!
        But like most humans she was far more complex than just that. And she took pride in her good side, she claimed in “Other Guy” to always wanting to be one of the good guys.
        We know from “Wedding Planner” that she was living with a grandmother and running scams with her father to her grandmother’s displeasure. We also know that before rescuing Molly she had been in enough contact with her mom that Emma knew her professional name when her father did not. We also know Emma tried to give her a normal childhood that Sarah kept running away from.
        We can’t dismiss that with a hand wave either.
        Ultimately we don’t have enough information to know all the influences on Sarah’s life. The show was never mostly about her. But most of us have dozens or hundreds of people who shape us to one degree or another. And in Sarah’s case there’s about 25 years of her life that’s MOSTLY unaccounted for. They only gave us enough to guess at what all shaped her. Somehow; between a roguish father, a loving mother and a dutiful grandmother she became the person we saw.

      • Stevie B. says:

        I don’t even know how to process this. How is it an improvement for Sarah’s moral development that she sought out her father’s influence? Do you remember the string of aliases that Langston Graham recounted? Seems like a lot of paternal influence and zero maternal.

        And if now agree that Sarah has a dark side? Is this something that Langston Graham could use? Or is it something like not paying parking tickets?

      • atcDave says:

        She was dark enough to be turned into a killer, and light enough to feel remorse for it.
        That part is tragic, and that’s part of what Chuck rescues her from.

        And yes, she outwardly rejected her female role models. At least as a child she did. Yet again, she seemed to have developed enough sense of right and wrong to feel shame for those Salvation Army con jobs and was sickened by her first kill.
        That strikes me as a fairly normal, functioning psyche. She was probably at great danger of becoming a burn out, like Casey was at the start.

      • Luke says:

        I’m not approaching it as just another love story. I only said that the redemption part is not that different than the redemption that you can find in any other love story.

        I assert that Sarah chose to be a spy because I believe that everything is a choice. Playing Fornite for 12 hours a day instead of going to class and eventually flunking out is a choice. Chuck living with his sister and working in the Buy More for five years because it was comfy was his choice. Sarah not being able to leave with Bryce at the end of Nemesis was a choice. If she really wanted to be with him, she would have left. She may have been coerced to join the CIA, but not quitting after that long was also a choice. A choice that was giving her a purpose, something that she mentioned several times. Beyond that, I think I said that she didn’t have to choose between CIA and something important, like Casey and Chuck had to.

        Feral is a bit much, it’s not like she was living in a crack house or dumpster diving for food. All I saw was a scared girl, low on confidence and with deep trust issues. I don’t know and I don’t think I would be that interested in how the CIA transformed her, but I would guess it was something like in Nikita. Whatever they did, they only took care of her confidence because those trust issues were still there. Which is why I don’t consider her a well adjusted adult, but I guess it’s a subjective term, so my well adjusted adults may be different than yours. It’s those issues that made her a loner and why she rejected Chuck after he wanted to become a spy.

        What I did say was that she wasn’t a monster like Casey. Casey’s first scene was shooting a guy in the chest and then saying “don’t move.” Then he bragged about it, ordered his guys to kill another CIA agent, wanted to kill Chuck when he found out that he had secrets in his head, and eventually decided to put him in a bunker when he realized he was valuable. Maybe Sarah was a wild card enforcer, but the evidence points to that being more of a myth. She didn’t have any qualms about killing bad guys in self defense and, judging by her eyes, she probably even enjoyed it, but she always had problems with doing it when it didn’t feel like the right thing to do.

      • Stevie B. says:

        I am unwilling to discount Sarah’s backstory as shown in favor of that which is not shown. What would be the point of showing irrelevant backstory?

        I am still waiting for you to show me any maternal influence in her backstory. It looks like all her high school years were with her father. Which means she was raised to be a grifter. And if you are right, she actively sought out her father to be raised as grifter.

        So, no. I don’t think your narrative fits what we’ve been shown.

        This is another case where you wish to replace canon with your preferred story. Why not throw ‘The Cougars’, ‘The DeLorean’, ‘The Wedding Planner’ and maybe even ‘Santa Claus’ on the same compost heap with S0301 thru S03E13. Sarah will be the protector that you always wanted. And I’m okay with that.

      • atcDave says:

        Stevie I think you’re being very unreasonable on this. Again, you ARE ignoring her backstory to fit YOUR version of the character. I just explained the maternal influence, and then you say it isn’t there.
        The difference being I know when I’m doing it! I can keep track of the stories I’ve read and how they align with canon. They are ALL fiction, and it is beyond silly to be this worked up over it. Not only was every season written by about nine different people, they did it in far less time than we’ve spent arguing about it. So you are free to pick and choose which versions of Sarah Walker you want to “believe in”; just don’t be so adamant about claiming “no maternal influence” then deny what we actually saw in canon!
        Most fan fiction has MUCH tighter continuity than any weekly TV show ever has!

      • Stevie B. says:

        Luke: “I’m not approaching it as just another love story. I only said that the redemption part is not that different than the redemption that you can find in any other love story.”

        Except that it is very different. It’s probably my poor writing skills that prevents my point being clearer.

        Luke: “Feral is a bit much”

        I remember seeing Sarah running through the woods with clearly unkempt hair and ratty clothes, digging up a stash of money, and throwing a knife at Langston Graham. I would think that the analogy would be obvious. Visualize the feral kid in Mad Max: The Road Warrior. Is that the same hairstyle? LOL

      • atcDave says:

        As hyperbole “feral” works!
        But I think its only one scene…

      • Stevie B. says:

        Dave,
        I am not worked up. Maybe you could simmer down?

        Of course Sarah has a mother and grandmother. We never see her living with her mother. We see a morning and a night where she is staying with her grandmother.

        So now, high school Sarah. Show me the feminine influences on Sarah. Is it the clothes? Is it the hair? What is it? Surely a strong motherly or grand motherly influence would still show in high school, right? Where is it?

        It’s not there! The long list of aliases tells us Sarah has been on the run with her father for years. Why? I’m not sure of any answer that would indicate an improvement to her moral development. But go ahead take a shot at it.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Dave,
        Maybe I seem worked up because my perspective is different than yours. See the top my post that Luke responded to. You just stepped out into meta. I care nothing of the meta.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Dave: As hyperbole “feral” works!
        But I think its only one scene…

      • Stevie B. says:

        Sorry. Fat fingered my tablet.

        Which is one more scene than any showing a loving maternal relationship. I think feral is an accurate representation of my thoughts about Sarah’s moral development in high school.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Luke, Before turning in, I want to say that I appreciate your last post. It’s very possible that I originally misunderstood your points.

        At some point, I’ll want talk about Casey some more.

        Good night all!

      • thinkling says:

        Dave, I agree with your take on Sarah.

        My very brief 2c: Since it was obvious from the Pilot that she had a moral center, means it was nurtured by someone. Obviously not Graham. Obviously not her dad. We know she lived with her grandmother for a time. We saw the room set up, so obviously she actually lived there. We know she had a mother and trusted her enough to go to her to protect Molly. We know enough about Emma’s moral character from her conversation with Sarah and her subsequent raising of Molly. There had been some relationship there, at some point in time. We saw the pictures. We know she went to school. So right there you have several spheres of influence: school, mom, grandma. It’s all right there on screen.

        Then, I think there’s a good bit of inconsistency with Sarah’s back story. They obviously didn’t have it set before the show,because Sarah didn’t start out in their minds as the larger than life character she became. As Sarah took on greater weight, they added back story for her, but they weren’t always consistent with what they made up. They made it up to suit their current narrative, and the things they made up weren’t consistent with each other. However, the female pieces are in play. They were on screen, and they’re fair game when citing influence on Sarah’s character. People in real life cite childhood experiences, even from a very young age, as having a lasting influence on them. So, we can’t dismiss Emma as a potential influence.

        It’s quite possible that Sarah lived with her mom and grandma, while she was young and began living with her dad during high school. She could easily have spent the early school years with mom and grandma and just the summers on (con) adventures with dad. (This would be a fairly typical scenario for a broken family situation.) When she snuck out of the house with her piggy bank to go with her dad, we saw him return her to her grandma’s and tuck her safely into her bed, and then take off. We know that he disappeared from her life for long periods. Remember: leaving is what he was good at.

        Stevie, you do seem worked up and adamantly selective. BTW, we never saw her spend a night and morning with her dad, either, but we can all assume that she did, just as we can also legitimately assume she spent some nights and mornings with her mom and grandma. I mean presumably when her dad tucked her back into bed, she woke up there the next morning. These are all logical assumptions from what was on screen.

        Feral? Oh puh-lease! You make Sarah out to be sub-human, in contradiction to all we see about her on screen. Bad hair and braces do not equal feral. Feral girls don’t carry musical instruments. Neither would a feral girl be tame enough to even go to school or to teach cons, for that matter. Feral is the last thing I saw in the Cougar flash back. I saw a somewhat awkward adolescent, shy because of frequent moves, and very frightened at having lost the person who gave her security (no matter how dubious his character). She was running through the woods to get to her getaway box and prepare to run away. None of that adds up to feral. She pulled a knife on a stranger … a really big, menacing stranger. Who wouldn’t have? Did Graham take advantage of her situation? Yeah, probably. Did he kidnap her and keep her chained to a bed in the Langley basement and force her to become an agent? I highly doubt it. Of course she ultimately chose to become and agent.

      • atcDave says:

        Thank you Thinkling! That was all very well put.

        And yes Stevie, I went meta because it’s always appropriate when dealing with fiction. What an artist meant to show vs how things come across is a key part of understanding the show and characters. Just like when looking at history we consider politics and culture; or when looking at a manufactured thing we consider concept, execution and physical limitations. It gives a very limited view to exclude a key component.

      • Josh Z says:

        I agree Chuck is very meta. Honestly, I think thought is the point behind all human life, we experience because we think to do so, thought is more than what it seems at face value… I always appreciated chuck because it keeps my mind engaged.

      • atcDave says:

        Josh I do agree with saying Sarah’s experience with Molly rocked her world, and made her more ready to be Chuck’s protector.
        But I would also say there was already a conscious morality about her that led to events with Molly falling out the way they did.

      • Stevie B. says:

        thinking: “Since it was obvious from the Pilot that she had a moral center, means it was nurtured by someone.”

        This is not obvious at all. What this shows is that you see what you want to see and then you are arguing backwards from your conclusion and looking for things to justify it. And I can perfectly understand this! When Sarah’s backstort started appearing, it ‘flipped the script’ of what was going on.

        Isn’t it plausible, that Sarah and Chuck shared some cosmic spark in “The Intersect” which stirred something in her. This I think is closer to the truth than it is to say she came into the Buy More as an actively moral being. This is the view that I’m evolving toward. And as Josh Z has mentioned, there’s something about rescuing and caring for baby Molly that may have been that first spark.

        I never said that Sarah was completely devoid of a moral center. It’s more likely that she was separated from it, not connected to it. Or it was simply dormant, leading the unexamined life, as it were.

        You, Dave, and Luke assume that Sarah saved Molly and protected Chuck because she was already operating under a fully realized morality. A better argument is that Chuck, and likely Molly too, facilitated an evolution in Sarah’s morality… maybe the beginning of Sarah’s reconnection with her moral center. This is a scenario that fits all the available facts.

        I accept that Sarah was the wild card enforcer. I accept that she was unfriendly, unforgiving and unquestioning about her orders. I accept that Sarah would have followed Graham’s order and killed Chuck had he ran. This is info that is given to us explicitly. Why do you reject it?

        And why is a fully moral Sarah walking into the Buy More more noble than one who is lost through no fault of her own, while not even realizing it? Chuck is the gift that she never though she wanted or needed.

      • atcDave says:

        Stevie you are drawing conclusions none of us ever said. Sarah was clearly not as fully mature and wise in her morality as she became. She was the enforcer and a fearsome individual.
        But this is all becoming circular now. I’ll never buy into the worst interpretations of her, and it’s obvious you won’t accept anything else.

      • Luke says:

        “It’s probably my poor writing skills that prevents my point being clearer.” – I think I understand you, but let’s see if I got it right: Sarah hates herself because of her failed relationship with her dad and because she thinks she’s an awful person; the love of someone pure is redeeming her and that’s why she doesn’t want Chuck to become a spy, because then she wouldn’t be loved by someone pure.

        About the feral image. She was running through the woods because that’s where the emergency stash was buried. In fact she was living in a house with her dad, driving a car and listening to freaking Chumbawamba. She threw a knife because someone was sneaking in behind her, she even surrendered after that.

        If we consider only the Pilot, then there’s only a hint of a moral center, but I don’t understand why the rest doesn’t matter? It’s in the very next episode that she told Chuck to not accuse her of betraying everything that she believes in.

        “I accept that Sarah was the wild card enforcer. I accept that she was unfriendly, unforgiving and unquestioning about her orders. I accept that Sarah would have followed Graham’s order and killed Chuck had he ran.” – That’s her reputation, but it looks like it’s only that, a reputation. She actually questions her orders and she becomes unforgiving only after assessing the target as a bad actor. When Ryker told her to kill those Hungarians, she hesitated until he told her that they killed the owners of the house. Then she went into a killing frenzy. She didn’t return the baby. She didn’t want to kill Shaw’s wife. She didn’t want to blow up the Intersect room like Quinn ordered her to do it, but after she realized that Chuck betrayed her, she went full psycho.

        “A better argument is that Chuck, and likely Molly too, facilitated an evolution in Sarah’s morality” – The problem is that she’s a little too old for this. The argument was where she got her moral center from. Well, I don’t know, but the moral center is pretty much developed by the age of 14, so whatever she got from Graham, CIA and Chuck, it was just a better perspective.

        “And why is a fully moral Sarah walking into the Buy More more noble than one who is lost through no fault of her own, while not even realizing it?” – I don’t think she’s more noble, but I just don’t see her that way.

      • atcDave says:

        Luke I think we agree on most significant details here, your interpretations seem pretty solid to me.

      • Stevie B. says:

        The version of Sarah that I’m perceiving is quite remarkable, the most compelling character in popular entertainment, I’ve said in another forum. I want to understand all her textures. It is her that draws me into this story, more so than the other characters, including Chuck.

        I don’t understand what gives you the impression that I advocate for the darkest possible interpretation. It’s probably my fault for thinking in public.

      • atcDave says:

        Sarah Walker is definitely an intriguing character. On the old NBC forums she always polled as the popular character on the show, by a wide margin (usually around 60% of fans tagged her as most interesting on the show, twice as good as Chuck himself).
        And there’s no doubt she is the most discussed and analyzed character here; really, for going on ten years.

      • Stevie B. says:

        thinking: “I think I understand you, but let’s see if I got it right: Sarah hates herself because of her failed relationship with her dad and because she thinks she’s an awful person; the love of someone pure is redeeming her and that’s why she doesn’t want Chuck to become a spy, because then she wouldn’t be loved by someone pure.”

        No. This is way too simplistic
        .
        For whatever reason — I think it might be how Chuck helps the little ballerina — Sarah has a shift in perspective, and becomes aligned with Chuck, drawn to him. This could be how she relates to the little girl somewhat, and the obvious selflessness of Chuck and the selfishness of her father.

        I don’t think it would change the story much if this perspective shift had happened at any point between the cell phone fixing and the bomb diffusing. It’s just important to see that Sarah now has some loyalty to Chuck that she didn’t before. As we all know, this is when Sarah herself has said she has fallen for Chuck.

        So, now even if she is the wildcard enforcer, or an assassin, it doesn’t change her protective behavior very much. She manages to keep her interest in Chuck aligned with the interests of the CIA, with the big downside that they can’t actually explore a ‘real’ relationship.

        So at this point, we are not arguing about what Sarah does. We are arguing about her mental landscape while she does it. I think this argument is important because, if Sarah already has a well functioning moral philosophy, then this is just a love story. But if Sarah still has a damaged morality, only improved for the purposes of the CIA for example, then if changes this story into something more.

        Her attachment or love of Chuck opens her to him, in ways that she can start seeing a morality beyond that of the CIA. She sees his love, loyalty, and self sacrifice for his family and friends. Over time, she comes to see that not everything that spies do is completely moral, and likely somethings are straight up immoral. Only when she starts perceiving this, does some self-doubt start creeping in.

        So, maybe they can run away and leave the spy life behind. Sounds like a great idea!

        But then Chuck has changed somewhat, and bought into some of the CIA higher morality business that Sarah herself taught Chuck. So, he decides not to run away. Now, to Sarah this is taken as betrayal. Do you remember her pummeling the punching bag during ‘The DeLorean’ after she that her father had betrayed her? That’s how she felt with Chuck at this time. She even uses him as something of a punching bag.

        So, even given all the progress within her, she is again alone. Her anger has caused it. Then Carina shows her Chuck’s confession tape, and she realizes that she is the cause of Chuck deciding to be a spy. When she had felt like running away from the spy life was the best option!

        This is where the self loathing starts coming in. And this really cements her isolation. And the closer Chuck gets to being a spy, the worse it gets. I believe we can see this in her relationship with Shaw, metaphor or not. There is no way that a Sarah free of self loathing would ever agree to be with him. And the further Chuck gets toward becoming a spy, the closer she gets to Shaw.

        So, now during this ‘Slough of Despond’ (thanks Professor!), it is Casey (of all people) who delivers the news that maybe Chuck really hasn’t become a CIA type spy! So, this relives some of her guilt, but she is still a spy. But then chuck, now in full knowledge of red tests and all the other spy immorality that Sarah feels guilty of, still loves her (grace) and risks his life (and her rejection for using a gun) to save her (redemption).

        I have just now typed this off the cuff, but that’s the rough cut of it.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Please note that I misattributed a quote in my previous post to thinking when it really was Luke who said it. Apologies.

        Now, here’s a clip we can all enjoy:

      • Luke says:

        @Stevie,

        “I don’t understand what gives you the impression that I advocate for the darkest possible interpretation.” – probably because you use extreme terms like monster and feral. If your view is moderate, then moderate words could be more appropriate. Remember, “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Sorry for the bad reference, what I meant was that, on the interwebz, people can’t see gestures and hear voice inflections.

        “For whatever reason — I think it might be how Chuck helps the little ballerina — Sarah has a shift in perspective, and becomes aligned with Chuck, drawn to him.” – But how do you know this? Don’t you think It’s a big shift in someone’s values, for it to happen in one minute or one day?

        “As we all know, this is when Sarah herself has said she has fallen for Chuck.” – Yeah, well, it was a cheesy line written by someone who’s writing mantra seems to be “Carpe diem.” Sarah was grieving for her boyfriend of at least two years, dead for less than 48 hours, she had no emotional capacity to actually fall in love. I’ll just take it as the moment that Chuck caught her attention. I had those moments too. Still, I didn’t start doing cartwheels, or incessantly thinking about the girl, or changed my political or moral opinions to align with hers.

        “She manages to keep her interest in Chuck aligned with the interests of the CIA, with the big downside that they can’t actually explore a ‘real’ relationship.” – I don’t agree with this. Her interest in Chuck (boyfriend) was in direct opposition with the CIA’s interests (asset). She didn’t pursue a real relationship, one without the CIA’s knowledge, because that would have meant putting their own personal interests above those of the CIA’s. For example, if they were together for real in Suburbs, she couldn’t have asked Chuck to “exploit” Sylvia’s romantic interest in him. He wasn’t ok with the request even without anything between them, imagine his reaction if they were actually together. Also, without that barrier between them, she, herself, would have probably been opposed to it.

        “then this is just a love story” – And I have no problem with that because there aren’t many good ones shown on tv. Every story has a conflict at its core, most of romances that are on tv have are built around some ridiculous conflicts.

        “This is where the self loathing starts coming in. ” – I thought that your view was that she was always a self-loathing person. If not, I agree, but that self-loathing is only a consequence and not the driver of her actions, therefore irrelevant. What are you trying to say with Shaw, that she was punishing herself by dating a jerk like him? People don’t date other people as punishment, they do it to feel good. After a big break-up there’s a big void left by the feelings of love and closeness. The second one is very difficult to deal with for an introvert because they don’t experience them very often and they don’t just latch onto anyone, not even in despair. Shaw fills that void. Sarah can relate to him because he has also lost someone and he is not afraid to admit it and It is because of his display of vulnerability, that Sarah trusts him with her intimate thoughts. At its core, their relationship is just a platonic one, the reason why it’s not only platonic is because, if you put a boyfriend/girlfriend label on it, it makes it feel even closer. And hormones, let’s not forget about them.

        “But then chuck, now in full knowledge of red tests and all the other spy immorality that Sarah feels guilty of, still loves her” – But he already knew about her killing ways, he even saw her killing Mauser in cold blood and he still loved her. This wasn’t a new development. In fact, I would say that he should have loved her even more because he came to realize how she had treated him with kids gloves in the first two years.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Luke:
        Thanks for your thoughtful response…..

        “probably because you use extreme terms like monster and feral. If your view is moderate, then moderate words could be more appropriate. ” — I recall proposing ‘monster’ as something to consider within Sarah, never something that describes her totality. I still think someone who is Langston Graham’s tool can be a monster in some circumstances. The tool doesn’t get to decide its use, after all.

        And with ‘feral’, that was more my visceral reaction to the imagery in that scene juxtaposed with the ‘Medium Rare with extra pickles” conversation with Chuck.. I suggest you watch that again. And I still think that Sarah’s morality in that period is pretty ‘feral’ or retrograde. Consider. She apparently chose a life with her father, grifting and stealing, while staying one step ahead of the law. And ultimately, throwing a knife (did she miss on purpose?), at what is apparently a law enforcement officer. But you are correct that ‘feral’ doesn’t describe her whole being.

        I thought the resulting conversations were helpful, at least to me. Thanks to you, Dave, thinking, and Josh.

        “But how do you know this? Don’t you think It’s a big shift in someone’s values, for it to happen in one minute or one day?” — There is an thread over time on little girls — the ballerina, Sarah as a child, the eggnog yogurt poster in Orange Orange, Clara, baby Molly. And though we don’t see her as a child, we find out that Casey has daughter, Alex. This leads me to think that young girls are important to the story — to Sarah. And if I were to guess, Sarah’s first child will be a girl.

        “Sarah was grieving for her boyfriend of at least two years, dead for less than 48 hours, she had no emotional capacity to actually fall in love. I’ll just take it as the moment that Chuck caught her attention.” — That assumes quite a bit about Sarah’s relationship with Bryce and frankly, her capacity for attachment at that point. I’m not saying you’re wrong, outright. I’d like to see other’s thoughts about that.

        I would not go all the way and say it was ‘love at first sight’. But, I’m sticking to the almost instant connection concept. You can apparently accept the idea of a human Intersect, but the idea of ‘love at first sight’ gives you pause? That’s your line in the sand?

        “I don’t agree with this. Her interest in Chuck (boyfriend) was in direct opposition with the CIA’s interests (asset). ” — I’m wasn’t thinking of it this way. I meant common interests in the sense of not killing Chuck, or sending him underground to a detention facility. Sarah’s immediate interests in Chuck are keeping him alive and accessible. But you are also correct, that eventually, the CIA’s interests and Sarah’s interests diverge by a large margin.

        “And I have no problem with that because there aren’t many good ones shown on tv. Every story has a conflict at its core, most of romances that are on tv have are built around some ridiculous conflicts” — I amend my statement: “Then this is just another dumb love story”.

        “I thought that your view was that she was always a self-loathing person. If not, I agree, but that self-loathing is only a consequence and not the driver of her actions, therefore irrelevant” — I think it’s obvious to deduce that Sarah has some portion of her character defined by self doubt and self loathing, just based on the glimpses that we are shown of her relationship with her father. We could go a step further and note that she seeks approval from her superiors by pursuing hyper competence. She lacks ang strong interval validation of her worth. It’s similar to Chuck. She just sublimates it differently.

        It’s Chuck’s seeming rejection and then his spy training, that emphasizes this aspect within her.

        “What are you trying to say with Shaw” — My thoughts about Shaw — are complicated. I’m just gonna share something from a conversation with Professor Jolley that comes the closest (but not congruent!) so far to how I’m feeling: (apologies if my sharing this is out of order!)

        KellyDeanJolley:
        “Yes, Shaw is utterly unappealing. In the book I term him ‘retrograde’ but he’s worse than that. It’s not just that he’s not Chuck; he is so deeply disturbed. Initially, in S3, Sarah seems to be the first to pick up on that, or at least the one who picks up on it most clearly, and yet by mid-season, she’s with him in DC. At some level, the choice is clearly self-destructive, part of a deeper pattern of self-loathing that Sarah is enacting. Or so it seems to me. (Your metaphor idea is a good one, I think.) She chooses him, not because (as Chuck thinks) he’s a superspy. She chooses him because she divines that he will take her down with him. That’s never her clear, conscious thought, but it is there, bubbling away deep inside her, I think.)”

        “But he already knew about her killing ways, he even saw her killing Mauser in cold blood and he still loved her. ” — Here’s this difference. Chuck experienced has now experienced his red test first hand. He had the gun ready and aimed at the mole, with his finger on the trigger — life and death in his hands. He thinks his failed. Does he think he is more moral for having done so?

      • Stevie B. says:

        Here is the feral vs. medium rare with extra pickles scene:

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        Please note the thread of recent comments is quite lengthy so this reply in response to all of the recent participants, I’ve actually got two tabs open, one for scrolling through comments and the other is my reply, which for simplicity is threaded to the most recent comment…I’ll do my best to cover all my bases

        Arthur
        I love your comparison of Chuck, Sarah, and Casey through a moral lens, it really puts into focus the effect they all have on each other. In Sarah’s case, the end of best friend is perhaps my favorite character moment for her. She assumed to have lost Chuck earlier in the episode after his monologue about what it means to truly care about someone fell on deaf ears [given her background this is understandable, no one in her past has cared about her on the level Chuck cares about everyone] because she has a different definition of the action itself, which gives her the perception that she is a tool to be used by others and she doesn’t entertain the idea that it is perfectly within her right to be more than that, even as she voices the source of her frustration. Her reaction to Chuck’s confirmation that he cares about her is so perfect. It is validation that she is more than a name, rank serial number or bait for a con and something she needed to hear, because it is the beginning of her defining her own sense of morality something more typically than what the government or her father taught her. Casey experiences a moral shift that grows in a positive way throughout the first three seasons, fast-tracked by Alex. Both backslide at times but the point is they learn to define morality for themselves and not by government filters.

        Luke

        I will tackle the Morgan bit first because we’re at opposite ends on this and it’s not even close. I cannot stand the notion surrounding comedy that neglecting character development to tell more jokes is somehow preferred. Fraiser is a champion for how to do comedy and still develop everyone. Morgan was established first and foremost as Chuck’s immature best friend who needed to grow up and that is the path he followed. Saying aspects of his development were supposed to happen is about as relevant as saying the sun is “supposed” to shine or something else redundant. The details of Morgan’s evolution are irrelevant because he learns to grow when all is said and done. Chuck is a character-driven show, and Morgan is one of the characters so he needs development, if it were a half-hour sitcom you might have a better argument for expecting him to remain clownish butt I just can’t get on board with that. That way of thinking is from viewers who expect clowns to always be clowns…if it helps I have the same issue with TBBT fans that complain “their not acting like nerds anymore” how do you think it stayed on air for 12 seasons when all is said and done DEVELOPMENT…if I want to watch laugh at something funny every other line of dialogue Friends or The office will do, or TBBT first five or so years.

        I’m nowhere near as stubborn about the finale which I have said was done very well when you look strictly at what the writers intended with it which was, nostalgia culminating in the nerd winning the girl all over again, but I’ve never denied it wasn’t popular and anybody who needs closure will see it as poorly written and a slap in the face. That being said, I don’t necessarily like when people disregard its inspirational or philosophical value or suggest TPTB wrote the finale to crap on the show or its fans as though they grew to hate both. As a highly intelligent but also physically disabled person who hopes but does not expect to fall in love because of the baggage that comes with my condition, it is not in my compacity to hate the finale, I want more but I don’t need more because what I take from it is bigger than that,,,I believe in trying to create my own epic because of this show when before I felt unworthy of trying to get the girl, if that sheds any light for you. It appears we have different but no less personal reasons for our position on the finale.

        Dave and Stevie
        I was mostly a streaming viewer [I did not see the series start to finish until its Netflix stint] but I don’t think my opinion the first time through was more than “she is the best-looking spy I have ever seen” future run-throughs i thought very highly of her character that never changed, though I always scold TPTB for S3.0…yvonne certainly did a fantastic job making me feel Sarah’s misery!

        Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to my schoolwork…

      • Luke says:

        Stevie,

        All I saw was a socially awkward girl who didn’t know how to take care of herself, which was normal since she was raised by her father. We know that she is good with knives, so I think the correct assumption is that it was a shot across the bow.

        “She apparently chose a life with her father, grifting and stealing, while staying one step ahead of the law” – I don’t see it that way, she chose a life of adventure when she was a child that didn’t know any better. By the time she realized what she was actually doing, it was too late, she was a wanted criminal. The happy child that we saw in Delorean and Wedding Planner had become a closed off teenager in Cougars. By contrast, her dad was always upbeat, it didn’t seem that being a criminal had gotten to him.

        “That assumes quite a bit about Sarah’s relationship with Bryce” – Well, I saw her look at their photos at the end of the pilot, cry at his funeral, admit to Carina that it was hard since he died, cry after seeing his convo with the Stanford professor, not deny when Bryce said that she was still in love with him, and being torn between Chuck and him in Nemesis. She always kept some kind of barrier between them because of her nature and their jobs. It probably wasn’t true love, but, to paraphrase Roan Montgomery, it was spy love. They weren’t just friends and partners with benefits, that’s what she was with Shaw.

        “You can apparently accept the idea of a human Intersect, but the idea of ‘love at first sight’ gives you pause? That’s your line in the sand?” The first one is a sci-fi concept, it’s like a superpower, I can wrap my mind around it. But, in drama, feelings have to be realistic, you can’t invent something weird that I can’t relate to and still expect me to care. With that said, I’m not opposed to the idea of love at first sight, I just find it very rare in real life and, given Sarah’s situation, I find it impossible here. I’m not denying that there was a connection, that is obvious, but not something enough to transform Sarah from bad to good and to dictate her actions during this early period.

        “I amend my statement: “Then this is just another dumb love story”.” – When I said that there aren’t many love stories, I meant that they are all dumb. The conflict of a love story is that the two protagonists can’t be together and what we get in the large majority of stories are bullshit reasons for keeping them apart. Reasons that, if it were real life, they would be the end of that story.

        “she seeks approval from her superiors by pursuing hyper competence” – You don’t know that for sure. She mentioned several times that her job is important to her, it seems normal that she would like to be competent at something important to her.

        I think I was right about your thoughts on Shaw and I don’t agree. He’s a rebound and the point of a rebound relationship is to help you feel better while getting over someone. When that pain is gone, that’s when the rebound will also be over. Something very similar is actually said in The OC, another Josh Schwartz show.

        “Does he think he is more moral for having done so?” – I can’t say for sure, but it looks like he’s more preoccupied with being a failure: “But all that means that I’m still not a real spy.”

      • Luke says:

        Josh,

        I would point to you that the best and most popular sitcom stayed on the air for nine seasons and went out on top while having zero character development and, like they said, it was about nothing. I also saw a season and something of IASIP, I didn’t like it, but it’s popular and, supposedly, consistently funny and that one also doesn’t have character development.

        “Chuck is a character-driven show, and Morgan is one of the characters so he needs development” – No, he needed no development because he was a secondary character with no development for two seasons. The show had three leads, do the development there. Even so, I wasn’t opposed to his development, I was just indifferent to it. My problem with him was that he was interacting too much with the heroes, while still being a clown, an unfunny one, and that made the others, mostly Casey, clowns. And I don’t care about drama around clowns, I can count on one hand the number of times that sitcoms made me emotional. You want to develop him in the spy universe? Fine, just stop making him a clown and don’t give him cliche story lines like “I’m scared of your father.” You want to keep him a clown? Then develop him in the Buy More, and bring him only occasionally in the spy world. like it was done in S3.

        As for the finale, I don’t think that TPTB did it on purpose, I think it was negligence or maybe incompetence. I have my reservations about the finale being well done, because that notion is very dependent on the writer’s intention and I’m still not sure what it was. I actually like the idea of the nerd getting the girl, but we already got that, I didn’t need a rehash of it at the cost of everything that happened before. If the message was that they were fated, well, I’m too pragmatic to be inspired by it. And even if I was, I don’t see them staying together, so it still wouldn’t have done anything for me. The finale didn’t give me anything of value, it just took a lot away. Actually, I loved the Jeffster part, so it wasn’t a complete waste.

      • Joshua Zdanowicz says:

        I hate to completely debunk your “Morgan is a secondary character” argument but Joshua Gomez is in the opening title sequence from the Pilot so he is a main character, and honestly I find it hilarious that he has no skills to offer as a team member…the climax of Couch Lock is extremely funny because it literally calls attention to that very fact as he jumps in to save the day. As for his development you clearly have a different criteria for what/who warrents it which is fine.

        The only thing I ever found funny about Sienfield is “no soup for you”, come to think of it that is the only thing that’s gotten a laugh from me concerning that show, it’s also ironic that for a show about nothing the finale is entirely plot driven.

        My rule with finales is as long as it makes sense I don’t care how it ends and Chuck’s finale makes sense, the big sticking point is that “is that it doesn’t actually end it just stops, I would actually compare Chuck’s fade out to the Gilmore girls reboot, in fact they’re are strikingly similar. Spoiler alert, it ends with rori telling her Lorelei that she is pregnant and the viewer is left to interpret the future without seeing it, the obvious difference here is no amnesia lol but it’s the same type of moment.

      • atcDave says:

        Josh I think Morgan definitely has one very useful superpower; he’s brave beyond the bounds of all reason. Its consistent, and well played for laughs several times.
        Now if everyone else could just figure out how to use a weak moron with no skills or knowledge they’d be good.
        And yes, that’s an extreme exaggeration!

      • Luke says:

        Sarah Lancaster was in the main title sequence of the Pilot and she was a secondary character. The other three Buy Morons were in the title sequence of the second season, didn’t mean they were main characters. Morgan wasn’t even in all the episodes.

        This wasn’t Friends, Seinfeld, HIMYM where all the characters had about the same weight. I’m not saying that Howard and Raj were secondary characters, but TBBT revolved around Sheldon, Leonard and Penny. Morgan had less weight than those two. He had a bigger part in the Pilot, he was Chuck’s sidekick, but he was replaced as the third lead by Casey from the next episode. For the first two seasons, he was written totally inconsequential to the story. His level of importance was closer to that of the Buy Morons than to that of the three leads.

        His lack of skills may be funny, but it is a sitcom type of humor, it’s stupid and unrealistic and that’s fine. I just don’t want it constantly near the three leads where most of the drama was. I’m repeating myself, but: clowns in the Buy More, heroes in the Castle, otherwise the whole show is a sitcom. And not a good one.

        The finale of Seinfeld wasn’t plot driven at all, it was just a recap of how awful and self-centered they were. It wasn’t the best of the episodes, it was a glorified clip show, but I liked the idea that they ended up in prison just for being jerks. I know why people hate other finales, but I still don’t understand why some hate that one.

        My only rule with the finales is to not ruin what happened to that point. I’ve never seen Gilmore Girls, so I didn’t get your point.

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        The characters might not have the same weight but again that is irrelevant to how the show was presented for all five seasons. It is almost like you are penalizing the show for being three genres [action, comedy-drama] I can’t think of many shows that attempt it but being a multi-genre show is what makes Chuck unique. To me, Morgan joining the spy world was meant to lighten up the extremely heavy drama Chuck Sarah and Casey create…I think Dave’s assessment of Morgan as part of the team is much fairer and accurate than yours. Your position on this reminds me quite a bit of flash fans who loathe that iris is part of the team despite having no power or skill to offer. The other thing I disagree with is the assumption that he became just some idiot giving advice left and right. He was observant of the issues between characters in the show and became a sounding board for them all at various points. I never thought it was over the top more like see something say something, it isn’t like he was shouting advice everywhere. Most of the time he was just reminding people of things they were in denial about and I don’t see anything wrong with that. If this were Jeff and Lester then you’d be making a better argument. The first season Morgan was an annoyance, second season he was funny, but I prefer his later years, minus the Bo episode,

        Dave is there an easier way to keep track of new comments on a thread after I subscribe scrolling through my mail is a bit annoying…especially because not every new comment comes through all the time

      • Stevie B. says:

        Luke,
        Again an interesting response. I learned some things!

        “I don’t see it that way, she chose a life of adventure when she was a child that didn’t know any better. By the time she realized what she was actually doing, it was too late, she was a wanted criminal. The happy child that we saw in Delorean and Wedding Planner had become a closed off teenager in Cougars. ” — I think you’re right about originally seeking adventure. That’s pretty explicitly shown. But the result of that was leaving her father with a huge role in her emotional and moral development… as a criminal ..by a lousy father.

        ” By contrast, her dad was always upbeat, it didn’t seem that being a criminal had gotten to him.” — And that’s because he doesn’t see anything morally wrong with being a criminal. And that is what he has taught and modeled for Sarah.

        I’ll even stipulate that there could be other more benign explanations for some of what we see in Sarah’s past. But given what we have seen, it’s difficult to believe Sarah was a well adjusted and morally centered person that day in the woods. The day she was recruited into the CIA. And I think that is enough for my point to stand.

        “Well, I saw her look at their photos at the end of the pilot, cry at his funeral, admit to Carina that it was hard since he died, cry after seeing his convo with the Stanford professor… etc.” — Your points about Sarah and Bryce are well made, and I concede that I gave it a short shrift. After considering it, I don’t think it changes my thoughts too much…

        “But, in drama, feelings have to be realistic, you can’t invent something weird that I can’t relate to and still expect me to care. With that said, I’m not opposed to the idea of love at first sight, I just find it very rare in real life and, given Sarah’s situation, I find it impossible here.” — This is a very reasonable argument. And I’m just gonna agree that Sarah had a stronger connection to Bryce than I acknowledged before. I don’t think this has to preclude an almost instant connection to Chuck though.

        You bring up Carina. She tells Chuck that Sarah wants him in “The Wookie”. That would be around Day 28 of Project Bartowski. And by Day 56, Sarah is stealing a kiss from Chuck. I take this as evidence of the plausibility that something very significant happened between them that first day. Realistic or not, it fits into the Chuck universe.

        “When I said that there aren’t many love stories, I meant that they are all dumb. The conflict of a love story is that the two protagonists can’t be together and what we get in the large majority of stories are bullshit reasons for keeping them apart. Reasons that, if it were real life, they would be the end of that story.” — I agree that most of these reasons to keep the lover’s apart are BS. I think that you’ll agree that Chuck was set up from the beginning and through S1 and S2 to keep them apart for very plausible reasons. That’s one thing I think that we both like about the show.

        Our disagreement on this subject starts with S3. And we disagree (please correct me if I’m wrong!) because you see it as just the advent of some BS reasons to keep Sarah and Chuck apart. You see this as return to form as dumb love story.

        And I diverge from that because I see deeper things going on than that, which I’ve been trying to explain.

        “He’s a rebound and the point of a rebound relationship is to help you feel better while getting over someone. When that pain is gone, that’s when the rebound will also be over. ” If Shaw were in any way a sympathetic character, then I’d have some sympathy for this argument. Except that Shaw is unhinged form the beginning. Seeking comfort in his arms would like snuggling with something reptilian. There is nothing comforting there. Just coldness.

        Therefore, I take it as obvious that Sarah is seeking something other than comfort with Shaw. I do not believe that I can be dissuaded from this opinion, hence the fulcrum (ahem) of our differences. Folks who see Shaw as a viable romantic interest or rebound fling, will never see it the way that I see it. It’s seems unlikely that this chasm is bridgeable.

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        Stevie, I both agree and disagree with your position on S3. While I agree that there are deeper issues going on for Sarah where Shaw is concerned and even though I can totally understand the intent the fact remains the whole thing is the worst writing I have ever seen in perhaps any compactly one can actually write something, it took a fun show and made it miserable which is I think Lukes point, far too long and filled with chaos

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Josh ultimately that is exactly the bottom line. It doesn’t matter if there was something important or deep going on; it was lousy entertainment, which is sort of critical for a commercial product…

      • Stevie B. says:

        Josh,
        I use feedly. Joe posted the feed links for articles and comments. Just go to feedly.com and setup an account and add the feeds. It will take you directly to the comment when you select it. Then I just search backwards for the most recent Reply link.

        Feedly only seems to poll Chuck This every 2 to 3 hours, so it has a lag. There may be better RSS readers to try, but I’ve used Feedly for years.

      • Luke says:

        @ Stevie

        “But the result of that was leaving her father with a huge role in her emotional and moral development… as a criminal … he doesn’t see anything morally wrong with being a criminal. And that is what he has taught and modeled for Sarah.” – But you’re only assuming that his “teachings” have stuck with her. I already said that she wasn’t a happy teenager and we know from Delorean that she didn’t approve of his “career.” What if her career was important to her because she was seeking redemption for all the bad stuff that she had done with him? Why is she attracted to men that offer adventure like him, but they do it for the opposite reasons, to help people? Isn’t that some kind of rebellion against her father?

        “And by Day 56, Sarah is stealing a kiss from Chuck” – Yes, but she wouldn’t have done it if she wasn’t jealous. This is why I liked Lou, kiss before dying is a cliche, most recently in the S2 finale of Superstore. But here, it felt natural because we saw her jealousy, otherwise it would have been cliche and, as a result, forced. And still, about 50 minutes of screen time later, she was ready to leave with Bryce, I don’t see it plausible if she was already in love for eight weeks. It’s in this arc when her erratic behavior starts, not in the Pilot, and that’s why I see things becoming serious around this time.

        “you see it as just the advent of some BS reasons to keep Sarah and Chuck apart. You see this as return to form as dumb love story.” – No, that one is Dave! 🙂 I already said it, it still made sense to me, otherwise I would have quit Charah and eventually the show, because that’s the only part of the show that I liked in the last two seasons. That one and Volkoff.

        I just see the reason for keeping them apart differently: it’s her trust issues. She wasn’t going to leave the CIA because Chuck wanted her to, she was doing it because she wanted a real relationship and she understood that they couldn’t have one as long as she was a spy. Then, Chuck went and did the exact opposite. There’s a lot of betrayal going on in this show: Casey said that eventually people will let you down, Bryce and Jill betrayed the people that they loved because of the job, Sarah was about to betray Chuck at the end of Firs Kill. That scene at the end of Three Words, where Chuck talked down Karl, showed exactly that, both to the viewers and to Chuck: the big tough guy turned to butter because of his feelings. You can see that Chuck understands the dangers of being in love by how his speech stops when he gets to “feelings are a liability” and then continues much slower while mostly looking at Sarah. And it’s after that moment that he stopped trying to get her forgiveness so that they can be together. You can say that she should have trusted him, but you’re forgetting who you’re talking about and that Chuck had already chosen the job over her. And, as we saw from First Class through Fake Name, he kept doing things he didn’t like just because the job required it. When he “killed” the mole, she lost complete hope in him.

        “Seeking comfort in his arms would like snuggling with something reptilian. There is nothing comforting there. Just coldness.” – Well, that’s the thing, she wasn’t attracted to him because he wasn’t her type. The comfort was in talking with someone who understood her and in feeling close to someone. Look, she’s an introvert, they don’t just spout their problems to anyone, like say, to a stranger that you’re stuck with in the back of a truck full of sheep, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to talk. She tried to talk about Bryce with Carina, but she dismissed her; she tried to talk about family with Casey, but he dismissed her; when Casey told her to stop being mean to Chuck, he also told her that he didn’t want to know what happened between them; she tried to talk to Carina about Chuck, but she dismissed her. Shaw did the exact opposite. She told him intimate stuff because she needed to feel close to him, to paraphrase Morgan, she was oversharing in order to connect. The progress of their relationship mirrored the deterioration of her relationship with Chuck: she ignores Shaw because she has no interest in him and she’s waiting on Chuck; Chuck gets jealous, she scolds Shaw; Chuck tells her that he’s hooking up with Hannah, she accepts a shoulder rub from Shaw, but she stops the relationship because she’s still not interested; Chuck is a jerk without the job requiring it, she confides in Shaw and she hooks up with him; Chuck kills someone, she confides some more and decides to move away with Shaw.

        I actually think that this was written pretty well, but people are used to dumb romances and it was a bit heavy for the type the show that Chuck had been up to that point and probably not the thing that most people wanted. Still, it wasn’t perfect. The big problem was that Shaw was slimy, so the entertainment was brought down a notch or two. I guess they did it to show that he wasn’t her type, so I don’t know how you can do him differently. What I would have changed: the shoulder rub, it was weird, just find another way tho show that she was opening up to him; before Sarah told him her name, he should have offered something personal about his wife and Sarah should have impulsively initiated the kiss; in the next episode, when they were doing surveillance at the hotel, Sarah should have expressed concerns about Chuck not flashing because he sacrificed a lot for this etc; show that she would have shot Shaw when he was trying to blow up Castle.

      • Luke says:

        @Josh

        If he didn’t have weight and if he was irrelevant to the story, then he wasn’t presented like a main character. Not for the first two seasons and a half. He was the sidekick, but he was never part of the adventure.

        First, I would say that the genres were a little different: action-comedy, drama and sitcom. And I’m not penalizing the show for having three of them, I’m doing it for mucking up two of those genres. The last thing it needed was to be even lighter, the heavy drama was over, Chuck was a spy, he and Sarah were together.

        “He was observant of the issues between characters in the show… Most of the time he was just reminding people of things they were in denial” – And that was Chuck’s role in the first seasons, or Ellie’s if Chuck was the recipient of advice, but they were replaced because we needed a clown to grow.

        “it isn’t like he was shouting advice everywhere.” – Except when he told Sarah to be a gf not a spy (nonsense), or telling Chuck to go on the mission with her, or not to shoot anyone because that’s why she liked him (more nonsense), or with the magic kiss.

        I already said that I don’t care about the development of characters in who’s growth I was never invested, but I’m fine if the writers want to do it. Just don’t do it at the expense of more important characters and of the story. I hate Shaw the most, he really drags down Fake Name, Beard and Tic Tac, but I can objectively say that S4 Morgan was the worst character of the show because his use did damage in multiple areas for a longer time.

        For me, S1 Morgan was the funniest because he was an oblivious idiot. The few times that I liked him in S4 were when he was similar to the first seasons, like when he was in the bar with Chuck, in First Fight. His entrance in the bar was gold. I know people from other places were also annoyed by him in the first season and I’m curios why, cause no one ever said why?

      • Joshua Zdanowicz says:

        Hmm, thinking about it, to me I think it comes down to Josh Gomez acting, especially in scenes where Morgan would just pop up…it felt forced and like a lazy way of cutting into what are supposed to be palpable moments between characters at a time when we were still getting to know them…though when the camera panned to the other side of Chuck’s bed in goodbye I loved it.

        Sarah is the kind of person who needs to be cued in a moment like phase three, the whole A plot is about her emotional instability because Chuck is in peril. All Morgan did was remind her at a time when her grief and worries were holding back what was in her heart.

        Quinn and Shaw were the worst Chuck characters by a wide margin

      • Luke says:

        @Josh

        Thank god that someone invented the scroll wheel… I almost forgot what I ws trying to say by the time I saw a reply button.

        “it took a fun show and made it miserable which is I think Lukes point, far too long and filled with chaos”

        Not really. Some episodes are better than others, but, as a block, I like the first 10 episodes a lot. My issues are that Fake Name, Beard and Tic Tac are not as entertaining as they should be, because Shaw is a shitbag and that Final Exam, American Hero and Other Guy just suck, with or without Shaw.

      • Luke says:

        I like those Morgan pop-outs. One my favorites is when he came out from a dark corner of the courtyard, right after Sarah had left, and he said that Casey was creepy. Drax did something similar in Infinity War. I liked that Chuck didn’t even flinch, he was used to Morgan’s lack of boundaries. It was also hilarious that he was the opposite of Chuck when it came to girls: started immediately to hit on a girl that was way out of his league, Carina, and skipped all the steps of flirting, kissing Anna at the first sign of interest from her. I think I was able to like him because there are very few things on tv that make me uncomfortable and I didn’t take him too seriously.

        Sarah didn’t need to be cued in at all, just like she didn’t need Morgan to tell her to not let Chuck rot in the psych ward. All she needed was to follow her heart, which she had been doing since Lethal Weapon. Ever since that episode, her actions were those of a girlfriend, so the advice didn’t even make sense and it kind of ruined the moment. Another stupid concept in that episode: Chuck was afraid that, without the Intersect, he was going to lose Sarah. I guess this is what happens when a new writer comes in, watches the previous seasons and misunderstands what was going on. In her defense, it’s easy to get confused after watching the shit show that was Final Exam + American Hero.

        Eh, I liked Quinn, minus his convenient back story. He was certainly better than Vivian, but what they did have in common was being very easily allowed to get away. That was just lazy writing.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Luke, Sorry for the late reply. Somehow I lost this thread.

        First of all, I’m sorry that I lumped you in with Dave. No one deserves that! 😀 In my defense,

        Here’s my take on Sarah’s backstory…

        That day in the woods, we agree that Sarah chose that. She chose to leave her mother and grandmother and take up her father’s life. She could have returned to live with her mother at any time. She actively chose to trust her father and take up a life of adventure, stealing, grifting, being very secretive to protect themselves, taking up aliases to avoid arrest, and running from the law. She chose that actively. Clearly, she saw nothing wrong with any it.

        Also, she was used as a tool in his schemes. The world is divided between con men and marks. Right? And you don’t want to be the mark! This is the moral framework in which she was raised.

        Clearly she has always loved her father. Along with the various ‘adventures’, he also abandons her from time to time. It seems her attachment to him was such that it withstood these abandonments, as she never went back to live with her mother. Later we find out that her mother is perfectly fine. So, why did she have such a weak attachment to her mother?

        Now Langston Graham has caught up with her in the woods. He dodges the knife and says: “Nice toss! Your father has trained you well. The CIA can train you better.” I don’t think that was just relating to the knife. It takes in all those other skills she has learned from her father. She was a ready made spy!

        She then goes straight into the CIA. She can use all her previous training and do all the things she was doing before, except that instead of con men and marks, we have something like civilians / teammates / enemies / allies / traitors. And just like before, when she trusted her father for guidance, she trusts her CIA handlers to tell her which is which.

        So, her morality is improved. There are innocent people to protect. Loyalty and teammates to trust and work with. But when she is directed at enemies and traitors, the behaviors toward them are the same or worse. She is still a tool. It’s just someone else directing her actions. So, her trust and loyalty to her superiors can be abused, and we know absolutely that is has been.

        A normal person entering the CIA would have a more solid moral grounding. Adding the CIA training on top of that, gives you a normal spy. Someone who can judge the CIAs orders and push back or even resign if they are too egregious. When Sarah joins up and gets the CIA training, you get Langston Graham’s wildcard enforcer.

        And in the finale arc, we see this clearly when Sarah has reverted to being a tool. Quinn’s tool this time. Just convince her that you are a superior authority, point her at the enemy, and pull the trigger. It’s quite chilling to see that. There was still something special about Chuck, that she couldn’t quite finish the job. If it was anybody else, they would be dead.

      • Joshua Zdanowicz says:

        Stevie

        Your last point is something that I never noticed, I always wondered why Sarah did not raise more questions about Quinn’s version of things, he painted himself her handler, a authority figure, and slipped in Bryce and Graham’s deaths in such a matter of fact way…he painted Chuck unstable and errattic it is unfortunately brilliant manipulation of her condition, and she does not listen to her doubts because until he spills the beans she thinks her efforts are in service to the CIA, that’s so depressing:(

      • Stevie B. says:

        Luke,

        Here are my thoughts on the Sarah and Shaw triangle.

        “The progress of their relationship mirrored the deterioration of her relationship with Chuck” — This is exactly my perspective. The only difference that we have here is Sarah’s mental landscape while this is happening.

        You say she is lonely and needs a rebound relationship. I say yes to that, but it is in the context of her increasing self-loathing due to her facilitation of Chuck becoming a spy. The closer he gets, the more estranged they appear. Shaw seems to be actively taking steps to make that worse.

        It might be possible to convince me that self loathing is not a factor. But first, you’ll have to convince me that Shaw is something other than reptilian — no comfort, only coldness.

      • atcDave says:

        Josh I do have to point out a couple things in Sarah’s defense. First, Quinn likely knows she will figure him out if she has a moment to think, so he keeps chattering in her ear all night.
        Secondly, the big thing; Chuck’s raid on DARPA is seriously illegal and immoral. No matter what claims you think you have on something, you cannot raid a federal installation and destroy it! At that moment Chuck has indeed become a terrorist and that gives Sarah reason to believe everything Quinn has told her. Really a terribly written moment, Chuck is NOT the good guy there.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Yep. I’m not sure what Chuck hoped to achieve with that. I count at lest twice that the CIA has reconstructed the Intersect and Fulcrum did once themselves.

        Sarah does not come out of this smelling like a rose. After Chuck and the team succeed in non lethally getting to the Intersect to erase it, Sarah secretly downloads it. While Sarah is escaping, Quinn blows up the office over her objections, likely killing innocent people. Her response? Sarah doubles down on completing Quinn’s mission! Who’s idea was it to kidnap Ellie?

        And any hesitation with dealing with Chuck? Well, it’s Chuck. Quinn has to override their connection and any retained emotions. Like I said. Anyone but Chuck would’ve been dead already.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Here’s an interesting question that I just thought about….

        Chuck’s plan to destroy the intersect was illegal for sure. But was it immoral? That question is difficult to answer.

        From Chuck’s perspective, it became a moral imperative to destroy it. It ruined his father’s life, it ruined the lives of three generations of Winterbottoms. It amplified the evil within Shaw. The various people trying to create one are constantly menacing his family. And he might have never found this out, but General Beckman was ready to kill him to protect it’s secrets. There’s some CIA (and NSA) morality for you!

        I’m not so sure which way the balance of morality swings here. I do think trying to destroy is ultimately a futile gesture. That geni is well out of the bottle.

      • atcDave says:

        It is possible for both sides to be wrong. Regardless of the government actions, breaking and entry and destruction of government property is wrong. Not least because the breaking and entry leads directly to a high chance of someone getting hurt. And of course, regardless of Chuck’s view of ownership the courts will not agree with him ( a government scientist does not own his own work, just like most scientists working for any company will not own their own work unless they have a very special contract).
        I would agree the morality was more complicated IF it had been some sort death camp or some other clearly evil thing was being done there. Then the breaking and entry, trespass on government property and felony burglary would be small stuff compared to the gross wrongs being perpetrated.
        But that is not the case here. It’s a family vs government property dispute. This is for the courts to decide (and as I said, Chuck would loose; well, unless he can show ownership of specific changes made apart from government service), Chuck is clearly and completely in the wrong.
        I’m sorry, I really don’t see this as complicated or confusing.

      • Joshua Zdanowicz says:

        As a government cynic I’m not the right person to decide if Chuck’s actions are good or bad, I cannot overstate how much I think our freedom should have about five asterisks next to it. Seriously, by the people for the people if it ever was true hasn’t truly been the case in decades. If that were the case a certain someone would not be in office (not that his competition was much better) more like by the rich for the rich and the rest of us just have to make do…sorry if this offends but I’m part of a slice of the population (disabled) that has dealt with so much ridiculous red tape at the state and federal level that I have minimal faith that the citizens have much power, beyond maybe city issues, but I’m getting off topic…

        Honestly my view on Chuck’s actions is “absolute power corrupts absolutely” basically he sought to destroy what was a major source of people’s lust for power. His father intended the thing as a teaching tool, the harsh truth is the wider government wants to control everything, including people. I mean they do it very subtlety. For example, nothing in our constitution says people have to pay taxes, but we do because those in power are constantly making promises that they won’t keep. That’s probably the least sinister method. Major world events, 9/11, the 2008 economy collapse, JFK, MLK, disease outbreaks, weather events, etc, are used (wether orchestrated or not) as a means for governments to say “don’t think for yourself keep trusting us and we will protect you.” The part they leave out is “all while serving our own interests”. for anyone who disagrees (which I fully expect) I will end with this: the best way to control people is tell them their free and give them a bunch of rules to follow. That is how we live everyday and while it is by no means awful there is a lot of unnecessary struggle for typical citizens, A certain level of denial prevents this way of thinking but the evidence is there to find if willing to look for it, but again I have skidded off topic…

        Sorry for the rant everyone, but when morality and government are mentioned in the same vein it pushes a major button for me. I don’t mean to suggest people have become drones or anything of that nature but I do think there is a larger “mind problem” happening throughout the world.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Josh,
        For some reason, whenever I see what Sarah is up to in “vs. Sarah”, I always flashback on the scenes with Sarah as a little girl riding her bike and selling girl scout cookies… helping her dad with his crimes.

        It always breaks me up! Such a tragedy to be used like that.

      • atcDave says:

        Josh whether you *like* government or not is ultimately beside the point. Right and wrong exist apart from government. Every culture, society and government has standards of such (NO human gathering has ever existed as anarchy for more than the briefest of periods). And believe it or not, I know plenty of handicapped people who are not anti-American anarchists.
        But western law is usually broken into two categories; “mala prohibitum” is things that are crimes because they are illegal, like speeding or failure to pay taxes. While “male in se” is things that are crimes in and of themselves, like stealing or killing. And that second is more the point here. It doesn’t really matter who one is stealing from; stealing is stealing. If you can make a case for ownership, take it to court. That’s what they’re there for, and they do work. I’m pretty sure in this case Chuck would loose, but that leads directly to the pertinent point. Sarah still believes herself to be a government agent. Even if we think Chuck could have won Sarah over again without Quinn confusing and distracting her all night long (as I do); Chuck raiding and robbing DARPA makes him a criminal and terrorist under the laws Sarah still believes she is bound to. He completely proves Quinn’s briefing to be largely correct (Sarah doesn’t witness any killing, but she does see a number of federal offenses).
        Of course Quinn then proceeds to blow up the facility which makes him no better. The obvious, rational thing is Sarah should have immediately sought out a higher, legitimate authority. She already knows handlers can be as bad as anyone.
        But no doubt, Chuck gave himself a very hard fight to win where Sarah is concerned.

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        Dave, right and wrong SHOULD exist apart from government…my big problem is that quite often it does not, and that’s not just here in the U.S but all over the world, albeit to varying degrees, and while I’m far from intending to imply that we should be allowed to do whatever we please, I do think that those in positions of power have ZERO right to affect the general populations ability to strive for more than middle or lower class living to the extent that they do, it might just be a new version of the same problem but it sure seems like its worse now than the early days of civilization. The rest is just opinion formed through research.

        Back to Chuck, I agree that he is in the wrong, at the same time I think this is another moment where TPTB did not think things through and as such I always give the character a pass. Like when Chuck just says “I’m sorry I can’t” in Prague…really that is it? No, it just reeks of writing something without any thought as to what the established baseline for a character is…

      • atcDave says:

        Josh I certainly agree it was a half-baked idea on the part of the writers.
        It was a silly manipulation in the worst S3 sort of way; that Chuck would conspire to play the villain so Sarah would be convinced Quinn was right… the whole thing is totally immersion breaking.
        And I just think it would have been a vastly better story anyway to have Chuck actually be the good guy that won Sarah over in the first place. And then see Quinn’s plans fall apart when “his soldier” switches sides after falling for her husband all over again. Now THAT’s a finale I would have been enthused about!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Josh, sorry, but you tripped one of my triggers.
        “For example, nothing in our constitution says people have to pay taxes”

        When citing constitutional authority it is probably a good idea to know what is in the constitution.

        Section 8. Clause 1. The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.

        16th Amendment. The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

        Sorry everyone, it couldn’t be helped…

      • Joshua Zdanowicz says:

        Fair enough erine, doesn’t change my point though. Collecting a % of the money we make is just another form of exercising control over the people when the people are supposed to be control the government as a whole population. My point was more so that if enough people said I’m not paying taxes, that they would have to accept the will of the people. They won’t throw everyone in jail because then they would have to work as hard as we do.

        For crying out loud, I cannot work more than a minimum number of hours without having my government assistance cut or taken away completely, so effectively I cannot have a full time job to earn money that would be of real financial help. Even the part time job I had two years ago was worth more money total than the monthly checks from the government! It’s that kind of thing that makes me seem more cynical than I intend to be…for a country founded on the notion of achieving dreams, they sure as heck don’t make it VERY HARD to fulfill larger dreams many of us have…

      • Joshua Zdanowicz says:

        That last bit had a typo; do, not don’t. I should have said if people don’t want to pay taxes they should not be punished. Even so how has nobody cut out the jargon from this document in the last 30 years or so, makes my head hurt trying to understand it which is probably why I was incorrect.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Well guess I see Chuck’s actions here a little different.

        It seems to me the team has skitted over the legal line several times during the ‘Project Bartowski’ period continuing through the ‘Carmichael Industries’ period. This originates, of course, in Chuck never accepting someone else’s vision of morality. Chuck is who he is.

        So, this raid to eliminate the Intersect is on a spectrum of past behaviors. Maybe the scale is larger and the stakes are higher, but it’s essence isn’t any different than other times government and private facilities were raided without permission. or direct orders disobeyed, etc.

        Dave’s other points are well taken:
        — I too think that had Quinn not been in Sarah’s ear the whole time, that Chuck had a good chance of deprogramming her. Once she become more determined to complete Quinn’s mission after the DARPA raid, then he had a tougher task. But we could see her responding to him before that. Chuck is still Chuck.

        — And the raid on the DARPA facility did play into Quinn’s plans. And with Sarah just back from being captured and tortured! How about a few weeks off Chuck!

      • atcDave says:

        Thank you Ernie!

        And yeah Stevie, Chuck has played loose with the laws and rules before. But I do think this stands out as crossing serious lines; in particular, the sort of lines that will play very poorly with a Sarah who has lost her history with him.
        I do agree some time off was in order! It’s all a situation that hasn’t gotten much play time here, but it is one of those eye-rolling, made-for-TV sort of manipulations.

      • Stevie B. says:

        If it’s not too late, I hereby withdraw this question: “Chuck’s plan to destroy the intersect was illegal for sure. But was it immoral?”.

        Carry on with you normal Chuck programming. Same Chuck time! Same Chuck channel!

      • Stevie B. says:

        Dave,
        “But I do think this stands out as crossing serious lines;” — Do you mean crossing a serious line like breaking into a CIA facility to break Casey out of jail? Or maybe crossing another serious line like breaking a Volkoff crony out of Federal prison?

        “in particular, the sort of lines that will play very poorly with a Sarah who has lost her history with him.” — Well, yeah. But Chuck hadn’t found out about that yet. So it wasn’t a factor. The only real issue, is why the rush? Why now? 😀

        I did really enjoy the Sarah spy routine, mirroring Bryce’s in E1, at DARPA though. And the parkcour routine to sneak into Ellie’s apartment was badass too! We could’ve used more of that from ‘good’ Sarah’ over the years!.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay, you’re right, Chuck the domestic terrorist was well established.

        Of course Chuck didn’t know that Sarah didn’t know (!). It was no complaint about Chuck in character.
        This is one of those meta complaints you love so much. It’s all part of why the finale arc doesn’t play so well for me. Surprisingly this time, it’s a LaJudkins episode that doesn’t really work for me (first and only time!). I rolled my eyes so much I got dizzy…

      • atcDave says:

        Geez Josh, next you’ll be complaining about death…

        Just find a country without taxes and problem solved. We know how wonderful those workers’ paradises are.

      • Stevie B. says:

        Funny you should say that. I actually had this (bracing for more meta) next to the emoji. But I had used angle brackets, which I guess the WordPress comment system filtered out.

      • atcDave says:

        Word Press does get finicky sometimes! And only the principals have edit privileges. I would fix it for you if I was sure what you meant. You can contact me off board (PM at FanFiction.net or “Contact Me” at planedave.net) if you want to spell it out for a dense old-timer.

      • Stevie B. says:

        I don’t think an edit is necessary. I would not ask you to edit a post of mine only to add a poke at yourself. Seems uncharitable.
        😀

      • atcDave says:

        Oh if I couldn’t handle the pokes I would have been long gone by now!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Josh, you won’t get any argument from me that we are overtaxed for the services we actually receive and that there are a lot of perverse incentives in many programs to keep people dependent so they will support the program. It is axiomatic that with time any organization will shift from primarily serving their customers interests to primarily serving their own. But they are doing so with a constitutional power we gave them.

        Now I’ve broken the no politics rule twice so I’ll make this the end, and if more politics follows I’ll delete all political posts, mine included.

      • Joshua Zdanowicz says:

        No worries erine I’m done too:)

      • Luke says:

        @Stevie

        First, a correction: I liked a lot only the first six episodes, not the first ten. From there on, after some analysis, I was ok with the direction, but still didn’t like it. I liked the next four episodes, minus the romantic plot, but that was the most important part.

        “She chose that actively. Clearly, she saw nothing wrong with any it.” – She chose that when she was a child and didn’t know any better. By the time she understood what she was doing, she had become a wanted criminal, there was no going back to her mother. Also, in the woods, Graham said “your father scammed some dangerous people,” he didn’t say “you and your father,” so it’s possible that she was only living with her dad, without taking part in his schemes anymore. Another thing, she was a bit too submissive for someone with very few moral qualms about being a criminal, she surrendered to Graham without too much of a fight.

        “So, her morality is improved.” – Here is my problem, from the start, before watching and analyzing any scenes, with this theory: she’s 17, she’s too old for this.

        “Someone who can judge the CIAs orders and push back” – Well, that’s what she has done with Molly and Chuck, the wildcard enforcer was just a reputation. It’s just hearsay, I don’t understand why you are passing it off as fact.

        As for Shaw:

        “You say she is lonely and needs a rebound relationship. I say yes to that, but it is in the context of her increasing self-loathing due to her facilitation of Chuck becoming a spy.” – Self-loathing is only a side effect, no sane person dates someone else as a form of self-flagellation, they do it to feel better. This goes back to my “realistic feelings or I’m out” dogma.

        In the first two seasons, more so in the second, they couldn’t be together because Chuck wanted a real relationship while she wanted to be a spy. Now, the roles are reversed and she thinks that Chuck is becoming a ruthless spy, someone that she can’t have a real relationship with. This time, she can’t ignore and deny her feelings behind rage, like she did after Prague, now, she is facing the fact that she is losing him. Most people, actually everybody, after they get past the denial of a big break-up, say that they have lost their best friend. That’s always an understatement, it actually feels like your life has been turned up side down, like you have suffered a loss of identity. She actually says something like that with “I wanna remember who I am. Who I was before all this.”

        It’s only natural that people would like to feel that closeness again, but, initially, she’s not even seeking that. She needs to talk about it, so she goes to his hotel because he was the only that had listened to her and she tells him intimate thoughts. The trick is, because of her closed-off personality, the confession makes her feel close to him and she tells him more things, like her real name. Add in the fact that she was on a long dry spell and he was good looking, so the next steps were easy. People hate it, but I think that the name reveal saved the arc and the rest for me. The comfort was in feeling close to someone, not in loving and being loved by some prince charming. That’s why she doesn’t care that he wants to kill himself to avenge his wife, he was just like heroin for her and she wasn’t going to give it up right after she had decided that she and Chuck were done.

        And I am not sure how bad Shaw is actually, I think a part of our dislike for him is just the subjective reaction to him being such a big deal between Chuck and Sarah. If I think about it more objectively, he’s sleazy only in Fake Name: punches a tied up prisoner (cheesy), hooks up with a chick when she is crying about her ex (no dignity), rubs Chuck’s nose in it (douche bag). I give him a pass for the sexual harassment in Mask, because I think he was supposed to perceive some connection with Sarah at the end of First Class, but the scene wasn’t well written and/or acted.

      • Luke says:

        The show’s portrayal of the CIA and NSA and other branches was never realistic, so I wasn’t troubled by Chuck’s plan to destroy the Intersect, just like I wasn’t troubled by the idea of a Red Test. They were just some more silly plot points. And I don’t think that Sarah was bothered by that, either.

        For me, this is pretty simple. When she woke up, Quinn fed her some story and she immediately didn’t trust him, but some of the parts were verifiable as facts: Graham and Bryce were dead, she did start to monitor Chuck at some point and she was now married to him. So, she was faced with two possibilities: Chuck was her mark or he was her real husband. She chose to believe the former and that says something about her, at the very least, she was considering herself capable of something like that.

        She goes on with the mission, but, just like in the pilot, she sees that Chuck is not the bad guy