Monday, March 01, 2010

Chuck, "Chuck vs. the Fake Name": Would you like green eggs and ham?

"Chuck" is back post-Olympics, and I have a review of tonight's episode coming up just as soon as my tastebuds fist-bump each other...
"I hate those will-they-or-won't-they things. Just do it already!" -Paulie Walnuts
"If you and this girl love each other so much, what's keeping you apart?" -Skip
"It's complicated." -Chuck
When last we saw an original episode of this show, "Chuck" Nation was in the midst of a civil war, with fans hotly divided between those outraged by the Chuck/Shaw/Sarah/Hannah quadrangle and those outraged by the outrage(*). Things got so ugly in the comments to the "Chuck vs. the Mask" review, and then the follow-up post where I asked Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak to weigh in on things, that I eventually had to shut down comments on both.

(*) And, yes, I will acknowledge that there are many gradations among the two groups, including those who haven't been happy with the season independent with what's happening with the romance arcs, but the two loudest and most visible groups were the ones who fell on either side of the 'shipper line.

"Chuck vs. the Mask" wasn't designed to be the last episode to air for three weeks, but that's how the schedule played out. The hope would be that "Chuck" would return from Olympics hiatus with an episode to allay the fears of the 'shippers and other doomsayers and bring "Chuck" fandom back together in the kind of peace and harmony that led to the show being saved from cancellation in the first place.

"Chuck vs. the Fake Name" was not that kind of episode.

Which isn't to say it wasn't a good episode. It was, I thought - one of the best of the season, in fact. It had a lot of humor, Chuck being a good spy, Casey being even more bad-ass than usual, the darker edge that's been an increasing part of this season, and some great pathos from Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi in the scene where Sarah tells Shaw that her real name is Sam. Other than some of the usual "Chuck" stuff you just have to roll your eyes at or shrug off (like the wiseguys smashing Chuck's communicator watch for the sake of the plot), it was packed with the sort of material that makes me love this show.

But even though it had those things, and Chuck breaking up with Hannah because Sarah's near-death made him realize how much he still loves her, it also had Sarah moving more deeply into a romance with Shaw - going so far as to tell him a secret about herself that she never dared tell Chuck - as well as the conversation quoted above between Chuck and the two wiseguys(*) about how annoying all this Unresolved Sexual Tension stuff can get. And my worry is that those of you who were pissed off three weeks ago will feel just as unhappy, if not more, about that.

(*) Their actual character names are Matty and Scotty, but come on. You hire Tony Sirico to play a wiseguy, and we're gonna call him Paulie Walnuts. OH!

I will say this, before moving on to discuss the many things I enjoyed about "Fake Name": generally, when shows that play with UST start having other characters make meta references to how the two characters in question should get together already, then it's time for those characters to get together already. My enjoyment of "Chuck" doesn't hinge on seeing Chuck and Sarah together, but my patience does wear thin when we reach a point where the couple is clearly apart only because the creative team is reluctant to end the will-they-or-won't-they dance already.

Now, I don't think that's exactly what Schwartz, Fedak and company (here with Ali Adler on script) are doing. I think this recent arc (going back at least to "Chuck vs. the Nacho Sampler") about Chuck turning himself into the man he thinks Sarah wants - when in fact Sarah wanted the old Chuck and is alarmed by what he's becoming - is pretty smart, and has been very well-played by Strahovski. I totally bought that she would be so confused and troubled by Chuck's growing ability to lie that she might feel compelled to blurt out her true name to someone else - and that hearing her do that would hurt Chuck deeply. But I do wonder if Shaw isn't one complication too many. There could well be more to this story as we go along (either Shaw secretly working for The Ring, even though they keep trying to kill him, or Sarah pretending to fall for him because she doesn't trust him, or what have you), but as things stand now, I think the writers could have maintained Chuck and Sarah's distance without having to bring in a couple of outside obstacles.

(Though doing that would have deprived them of the opportunity to give the fangirls and fanboys an episode that featured both Superman and Lana Lang in towels. And I hear some people enjoy that sort of thing.)

Anyway, moving on from 'Ship-ocalypse Now, "Chuck vs. the Fake Name" actually featured several pseudonyms. Not only does Sarah briefly slip out from under her own, but Chuck (who already has a cover identity as Charles Carmichael) spends a good chunk of the episode posing as gifted assassin Rafe Gruber.

Chuck turns out to be surprisingly adept at playing Rafe, and the joke was written, directed (by Jeremiah Chechik), and played by Levi on just the right level: funny to those of us who know how un-Chuck-like the role is, but just believable enough to the likes of Paulie Walnuts. The comments about the cupcake store were a great punchline leading into the opening credits, and I loved Chuck-as-Rafe's desire for sterile dental instruments ("I want to kill him - not some secondary infection!")

Though the Intersect 2.0 goes on the fritz when Chuck is afraid for Sarah's life in the hotel room, for the most part he acquits himself very well on the mission, even earning a healthy dose of respect from Casey. (And Casey gets to be awfully impressive himself, not only letting Chuck pull his tooth for the good of the mission, but making the one-in-a-billion shot with the sniper rifle to kill Rafe and save the day.)

We also get to see how Devon is struggling with his spy knowledge, even without the burden of a fake name, and once again how hard it is for Chuck to let someone from the real world into his life, with all the attendant dangers it now includes. He mainly dumps Hannah because, as Ellie intuits, he realized he still cares for Sarah, but there was also a "Peter Parker dumps Mary Jane for her own good" quality to the way things went down, and I would hope that this is the last time the writers tell a story about Chuck trying to date a civilian - and not just because I'm hoping, for all our sakes, that he and Sarah get together soon, for good.

And on that score, I'm not too worried. If Paulie and Skip can see it, and if Jeff (while discussing Chuck's amazing luck with the ladies with Lester and Big Mike) can be lucid enough to see that those other women don't matter because, "When he's with Sarah, the light in his eyes shine brightly" - well, then I think we're heading towards a destination that everyone will be happy with, even if the journey there is longer (and bumpier) than many would like.

Some other thoughts:

• This week in "Chuck" music: "Faces in the Dark" by The Generationals (Ellie talks to Awesome as he exercises), "A Sleep Be Told" by The Traditionalist (Chuck tells Awesome he didn't cook this meal), "Living a Lie" by Daniel Zott (the whole Chuck/Hannah split sequence) and "Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion" by the great Italian composer Ennio Morricone, from the Italian film of the same name (Chuck, posing as Rafe, meets the two wiseguys).

• This week in "Chuck" pop culture references: well, pretty much every second that Tony Sirico (aka Paulie Walnuts) and Louis Lombardi (aka Big Pussy's FBI handler, Skip Lipari) were on screen together was an extended "Sopranos" joke (and, at times, a pretty broad one, but no moreso than much of Sirico's time on the real show). Meanwhile, Ellie talks about Chuck's childhood crush on Mrs. Seaver from "Growing Pains," and Chuck explains that he once played Perchik in a school production of "Fiddler on the Roof" (the revolutionary played by Paul Michael Glaser in the '71 "Fiddler" movie). Rafe's last name Gruber is almost certainly another "Die Hard" shout-out (Alan Rickman was Hans Gruber), and all dental torture scenes in movies and television implicitly hearken back to the "Is it safe?" scene from "Marathon Man."

• Rafe was played by Johnny Messner, who did a stint on "The O.C." as Julie Cooper's con man ex, and was also named in tribute to new "Chuck" writer (and "Survivor: Guatemala" second-runner-up) Rafe Judkins.

• So we found out early in season one that Sarah's real middle name is Lisa, and now we know her first name is Sam (short for "Samantha," or do you reckon Gary Cole just gave her a boy's name to be distinctive?). Anyone want to set an over/under on finding out her last name?

• Speaking of aliases, what do you figure was up with Casey's extreme discomfort when Paulie Walnuts recognized him as someone he knew as Alex Coburn? Chuck did flash on the name, which is never good.

• This is our farewell to Kristin Kreuk as Hannah, but Schwartz and "Chuck" producer Matthew Miller understandably moved to quickly work with her again on "Hitched," the sitcom pilot they're developing for CBS.

• "Hannah, don't you think this chicken is moist?" is just a funny phrase. It just is.

Finally, I want to make it abundantly clear that what happened with the comments last time will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form from now on. I have commenting rules for a reason, and it's because up until "Chuck vs. the Mask" aired, I was able to keep this blog as one of the few places on the 'net where people can talk about TV in a mature, level-headed respectful manner. Here are the two relevant sections I need people to keep in mind here:
Rule #1: Be nice. This is an opinion blog, and a place where people can and should argue passionately for their point of view. But there's a difference between arguing with passion and arguing with hostility. If you can't find a way to express your viewpoint without insulting other commenters, or getting strident and self-righteous -- say, equating your opinion with fact, and deriding other people for not seeing the truth of your words -- then either tone down your words until they're more respectful to other people, or don't comment.

Rule #6. What did I say about being nice? Given that most of the recent violations have been about Rule #1, it bears repeating. This shouldn't be that hard, but sometimes, it is. Talk about the shows, not each other. Period.
I'm going to be very quick on the trigger to delete comments this week if you all can't behave, and if things edge into calamity like last time, I'm just going to switch the entire site over to comment moderation until things calm the hell down.

Disagreement is fine. Hysterics and name-calling are not. Are we clear?

And having said all that... what did everybody else think?

133 comments:

xtOne said...

Ok, I thought there was some horrible thing in this episode, but I didn't see it!

Pretty funny stuff with the cover Chuck did, I liked it. And as for the relationships, I am a shipper, but everything played out pretty true to me here. Chuck got called out for his "lying" and Sarah thought Chuck totally moved on and so she decided she would force the issue with her situation.

Good episode. Although Sam Lisa isn't really a name that flows.

Ryan said...

Just when they had sucked me in with a funny episode with a great amount of action, they sucked me right back out with the same old shipper garbage we've been seeing all three seasons.

How many times are they going to air the exact same storyline? Getting very old, very fast.

Anonymous said...

Motivations continue to change from episode to episode, and within the episodes themselves. Awesome.

Chris said...

I have to say, I thought that was a really great episode. Ali Adler did great with the Shaw and Sarah thing, and Yvonne's acting really shows the depth of the Sarah character. I've heard from many places that this is the weakest of the next four, so consider me pumped.

Mike said...

Loved the "Hurley" moment with the wiseguys playing an extension of the fans in the show.

Ronnie said...

I'm not going to watch this show again unless Chuck ends up with Hannah.

3333/afa said...

Liked it very much, and thank you, Alan, for pointing out that the "fake name" could be viewed in two different ways. I didn't think about Sarah's fake name until I read that.

jarodrussell said...

I have no patience for will-they-won't-they stuff, however, there were parts of tonight's episode I enjoyed:

1. I liked seeing Casey say he was proud of chuck. That was epic.

2. I liked seeing Casey make the sniper shot. Sniper's are some of the coolest guys ever.

However, what Hannah said at the end really struck me as a poignant point about the will-they-won't-they is getting in the way of me enjoying the show. Chuck dumps Hannah not only after they sleep together but also in front of he parents. In my book, that does make him a lousy guy. At least when we saw this same storyline in the previous two seasons, Lou was the one who broke it off and Jill was a FULCRUM agent. Both times, Chuck maintained a shred of nobility. This time, I don't really have any sympathy for the character.

It wasn't a bad episode, but it is an episode (putting aside my distaste for UST) that leaves a horrible taste in my mouth.

Alex said...

I thought this was one of the best episodes of the season, maybe even the series.

Although the will they won't they stuff is getting pretty annoying I trust Fedak and co. to tell the story the way they want to, not the way the fans want. If I had to guess they'll be together soon, maybe as soon as the end of the season.

This episode was great with lots of comedy and spy stuff. And next week is directed by Zachary Levi so it will be great!

Mike said...

Meanwhile, Sarah talks about Chuck's childhood crush on Mrs. Seaver from "Growing Pains,"

Lancaster != Walker.

Alan, I know I read your columns too often when I realize that this is a trend for you.

albert said...

Horrible way to reveal sarah's real first name to chuck just my opinion but whateve.

JT said...

It makes perfect sense.

Just when Sarah is finally willing to be with Chuck he pushes her away. (Season 2)

Now the shoe is on the other foot and Chuck will have to win her back.

Shaw is a non-issue, he is up to no good in my mind, seems to keen on putting Sarah in situations that make her vulnerable to her feelings for Chuck. And then uses them to draw her in to him because he is always there when it happens.

I don't see any other path from the train station in Prague to now that could have put us in a different place. Anything else would have felt forced (whether they were put together or driven apart forever).

Shippers will get their wish, for sure, and those of us who enjoy the tension will enjoy ever minute until it happens.

filmcricket said...

Fan. Tas. Tic. I had a smile on my face from the moment Paulie Walnuts showed up until the end. Just great fun, and the perfect use of the tertiary characters (although Josh Gomez's absence did mean we lost out on some drama with Morgan being upset over Chuck and Hannah).

I recognized Messner from "Burn Notice," of which I've only seen the first season - he totally brings the same type of ex-military menace as Baldwin does, doesn't he?

Loved Sarah recognizing that she falls for the guys she works with; not so thrilled about her backsliding on it, but more because I think it's a regression for the character than because I'm worried about Chuck and Sarah long-term. I hope that Hannah giving Chuck s*it and Ellie being less of an airhead is an indication of where the female characters are headed in a season that's not been too kind to them so far.

Nikki said...

The wait for this new episode was so worth it. I adore this show, the whole show and all of the characters. So being able to see new Chuck was so great. And yes, "Hannah, don't you think this chicken is moist" is hilarious.

I love this show for all the awesomeness it is and isn't. Gonna go watch it again because I missed a few things I was laughing so hard.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to miss Hannah. I really liked her and Chuck. KK just had a nice vibe, sad to see her go so soon. I' much prefer her over Shaw who is too wooden for me. I'm glad she got to call Chuck a jerk and I thought when she told Chuck he wasn't a nice guy it really stung. He says he wants to be a spy but then he sees the cold reality of it and I'm not sure he really likes it.

I'm not a fan of Sarah and Chuck together and like the show best when they don't focus on their will they or won't they relationship. I don't care about them so I was bummed to be back to square one with them (or atleast Chuck) again.

Loved Casey getting to be all bad ass, I knew he had to be one of the five.

J said...

I'm not going to watch this show again unless Chuck ends up with Casey.

Otto Man said...

Line of the night -- Lester's "I'm so lonely."

Anonymous said...

It was painful to watch at times, but I thought it was the best episode of season 3 so far. I have a feeling Ellie might play a major role in getting Chuck and Sarah back together.

Anonymous said...

I knew Casey would get to save the day once he volunteered but was passed for Chuck. And I'm not saying that as a bad thing. We need more Casey in the show. Glad to see Jeff and Lester back.

And maybe it's just because Seems Like Old Times is my favorite movie (and also one of Chevy Chase's best works), but I always think of Aurora's Chicken Pepperoni when I hear chicken pepperoni. Again, this is a good thing :)

I also thought that maybe Chuck dumped Hannah more because he didn't want to lie to her about his alter ego (a la Spiderman) rather than Sarah/Sam stuff.

So, is Yvonne going to be Sarah or Sam from now on? This could get confusing going back and forth.

Emily N. said...

I liked this episode much more than I thought I would based on things I had heard beforehand.

I laughed out loud several times, once after the comments about the cupcake store. The Casey stuff was good and the wiseguys were enjoyable.

The main aspect that bothered me was Sarah's real name. Sam? That doesn't flow at all with Lisa as a middle name. Even Samantha Lisa sounds weird. After all the build up, I was incredibly disappointed that the writers chose Sam as her name.

Baylink said...

I have two thoughts on this episode (yes, only two; not many comments to comment on yet. :-)

I agree that Chuck ended this relationship poorly... though it *is* nice to hear he finally got a little. :-)

I expect, since Chuck *is* a good guy, that this will come back to haunt him... even if he's the one who brings it up, and needs to be talked down off the ledge.

And, as someone who's spent a lot of time in strip clubs, being told dancer's "real names"... I don't know we've actually heard her real name *yet*.

Parkwoo: coming up this season on NBC; the story of a guy, a girl, a car, and a promontory.

Anonymous said...

Switched from Chuck to 24 and found Chuck to be more realistic.

unkraut said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jessica said...

Overall I enjoyed the episode immensely. First can we just talk about how fantastic Zac Levi was in this episode? Not that he doesn't bring it week in and week out, but the whole Rafe character was believable without being cheesey. And he is developing some mad fighting skills, at least on camera! Now to the meat, I am not a Chuck/Sarah shipper or whatever the kids are calling it these days. I really could care less if they get together or not, for my enjoyment of the show does not hang on any romance. That being said the will they won't they yo-yo is getting a bit tiresome. Lets move forward or drop it altogether. I did have a few beefs with petty stupid stuff, which hello I know the show is not "realistic" in any way shape or form, but we accept a lot of unbelievable stuff as gospel for this show to work and let it slide, but the coziness of Chuck and Hannah out in the open at work, wouldn't happen, it's tacky and unprofessional, and since he's her superior, almost all workplaces wouldn't allow it, even a place like Buy More, also the whole hooking up and her being in the shower, I just don't see Chuck operating that quickly. The boy has almost no game. So that to me seemed a bit far fetched. Honestly when I saw her in the towel I thought hmmm her shower must be broken and she's borrowing his, not they "y'know" last night and she's um, washing up. lol But anyway, sorry longer comment then I meant it to be. But love the blog Alan and love Chuck. I'm in it for the long haul, wherever this crazy ship of fools may go!!!!

Chelsea said...

I think like Mo Ryan my feelings are complicated. :-) I think it was a better episode aside from the C/S aspect than 3.7 in that the "other" elements were firing on all cylinders--BuyMore, Casey, Ellie/Awesome. We were only missing Morgan and that is where the budget cuts come into play again. I think the unevenness of 3.7 and some of the mishits with the C/S storyline all season can be attributed to that and losing writing staff plus the rushed season. Unlike last week, I did have a favorite line, which was the "LSD mind control or sorcery" line with the BuyMore guys. That being said, the C/S part of this episode was 3.7 squared. It was not enjoyable on any level, nor did it flow or feel organic for these characters. To have Sarah tell Shaw her real name before Chuck was unnecessary and hearbreaking in a not good way and if you didn't tell me Ali Adler was involved in this episode I wouldn't believe it due to that element being so off. I won't run through all my "what were they thinking" comments from last week--suffice to say I thought that througout 3.7 and now 3.8 with regard to C/S. No, Sarah did not tell Shaw ILY in this episode, but I think that's coming in a future ep. We had the name reveal, the kiss as part of that which made it even worse, Sarah cooking dinner for Chuck and Hannah, Chuck sleeping with Hannah, and a strong suggestion of Sarah sleeping with Shaw, and with all of that the whole C/S dynamic was just thrown further out the window and I don't see it as worth it no matter what the rest of the season holds. I agree with Alan-I think they did a slow build in S1, further build in S2 and it was time this season for C/S to move forward. I don't have the so called "Sarah rule" that she sleep with no-one but Chuck b/c I think viewers aren't getting the obvious if they don't see that Sarah sleeps with her marks. But after Chuck revealing his feelings on tape, after Sarah asking Chuck to run away with her, I do feel it was time to put away the other love interest obstacles, and they not only didn't end that angle they have pushed them off a cliff with it. I felt for Sarah in terms of her not wanting Chuck to change, that worked, but to have her tell him her name, was a huge misstep in my opinion. I won't be rewatching 7 or 8 and for me, C/S are forever changed after these 2 eps. That makes me sad, and it makes me sad that this show that never ever made me feel anything but good, has gone of course like it has for me. I'll watch the rest of the season...I'm sure...but the inconsistency with C/S is a let down.

Baylink said...

Jessica: I concur that it seemed a bit fast... but it did actually seem to me like there was a show-world delay between this ep and the previous one; I think he had more time to work than was obvious.

But maybe I'm fanwanking.

Anonymous said...

"I'm so lonely" YES! Best line of the night! I so agree.

And at the end all I kept thinking is, "wait, where is Chuck going with this? He's not going to break up with Hannah in front of her parents is he?" And he was being a jerk to break up with Hannah the way he did.

I wonder if it's a future plot point (as already suggested) or just that Schwartz and Fedak are socially inept in their own lives and didn't see the huge problem there.

Michael G. said...

Ugh...I wasn't very happy with the episode. I mean, overall I liked the episode--it was Chuck. Still, there were too many silly story things for me to "shrug off."

I really need to start taking notes or something, because now I can't even remember what most of them were.

Here's one--why the hell did the Ring use a couple of gambinos for middlemen? Why did they use middlemen at all?

To be fair, I missed a couple of minutes in the middle, so it's possible I missed something that explained this.

Anonymous said...

I would be somewhat okay with the whole Sarah/Shaw thing if the two had any chemistry. Routh is too stiff for me-- I just don't believe that Sarah would be into him like I did with Bryce Larkin. Levi and Kreuk had terrific chemistry, so I didn't mind that too much.

Jessica said...

@Baylink haha you may be right. Or perhaps Jeff and Lester were right and it is a pact with the devil or some sort of sorcery. Maybe Hannah was the one with the game and poor Chuck was just wooed too far! lol

Bob said...

I think Sam is a really cool name for a girl. +1 coolness for Sarah just because of her name.

Jay said...

I'm one of those who don't like the Shaw/Sarah storyline, but I have to say that this was a fantastic episode. Some random thoughts:

- Chuck/Ellie scenes need to be mandatory in every episode.
- It was a good Casey episode
- I thought it was important that they showed that Sarah finally accepted Chuck's total transformation into a spy -- it justifies her fling with Shaw.
- I didn't miss Morgan at all.

Jen said...

I thought this was a great episode . And I was happy to see that I was finally buying the attraction btwn Sarah and shaw. It felt too rushed in the last ep.

I thought the buy more team was integrated really well this week even if Morgan had to be off on a leadership conference (hee!) but great that we got some great stuff from big mike, jeff and lester, AND Awesome and ellie.

The Olympics were fun and all, but man I missed this show!

Anonymous said...

Sarah has been getting nervous about Chuck turning into someone else, a real spy, for a few episodes now. Casey has been loving it, but Sarah was never happy about it. But Chuck did not figure that out until he heard her say it to Shaw. That made him look at himself and realize what he was becoming.

I do agree that dumping Hannah in the way he did just shows the bad guy he was becoming but he did agonize over it. I hope it continues to agonize next week. One shouldn't get over something like this so quickly.

I did think Shaw was pretty slow to catch on and a little rough in his apartment when Chuck was obviously playing Raif.

And at the end, Sarah makes a beeline to Shaw's side. What does that mean?

Stephanie said...

Count me in as loving this episode. Everyone was on in this one, particularly ZL and YS. The exchange with Shaw highlighted why I'm okay with Chuck and Sarah being apart. They're both growing and changing and while I think Chuck will ultimately find himself again, I'm enjoying the ride.

Terrific balance of comedy and drama. I tend to agree that Chuck should have chosen a different occasion to end things and couldn't really disagree with Hannah's assessment, but the look on Zachary Levi's face during that exchange was very moving. I really felt for him in this one, while also laughing at his ridiculous performance as Rafe.

And even though I knew Casey would save the day with that shot, it didn't make the climax any less thrilling. Casey is such a badass and of course he would've been one of the five. He's always been one of my faves, but now I'm even more intrigued by this alter-ego that Chuck flashed on.

Looking forward to next week!

Mike said...

Let me start out by saying I am in no way a "shipper." That is an interesting part of the show but isn't, by any means, the main reason I watch the show. However, I'm also not one of the people who says to "just put them together already." Regardless of how you feel about Chuck & Sarah, the relationship is a big part of the show. I like to compare it to The Office in that it was also a large part but not the only reason to watch the show. Now, I believe that The Office handled the relationship about as well as possible for a TV show. In my opinion though, that show has noticeably declined in quality ever since they got together. I feel that just putting Chuck and Sarah (Sam?) together would cut down on a lot of creativity for this show and writers. They cannot stretch it out forever but let's not jump the gun here people.

Nathan said...

One would have to assume that Shaw would know Sarah's real name if, as team leader, he had access to everyone's file.
Clearly Casey's alias that Chuck flashed on is going to be re-visited. And yeah, it was great to see Casey save the day. And yeah, this felt like the big step to finally move Chuck & Sarah together. If this episode had directly followed the one from three weeks ago I don't think there would have been the frell-storm which developed.
I understand why Chuck did what he did but yeah, the way he dumped Hannah sucked and wasn't very nice.
I guess I was wrong on Hannah being a Shaw plant or diversion although I'm still not so sure Shaw isn't working some kind of major angle as far as The Ring is concerned and one that is going to put Team Bartowski in major danger.
Overall, strong episode with a lot of funny material...probably the funniest of the season.

CJ said...

I don't mind the UST so much, but I find both Hannah's practical worshipping of Chuck and Sarah's quickness to get into a relationship with Shaw unrealistic. I certainly understand how Chuck and Sarah make sense apart after Prague, and I love the way Sarah becomes softer as Chuck becomes harder, but I don't buy Sarah suddenly (seemingly) trusting Shaw so much. If anything I would think she would trust LESS after things didn't work out with Chuck, especially when it comes down to having a new boyfriend. I am really hoping that Sarah's moves on Shaw are all part of some greated plan and not as sincere as we seem to be meant to take them.

Sorry for the rambling.

Lisa said...

"But I do wonder if Shaw isn't one complication too many."

You know, Alan, that captures it in a nutshell. Brandon Routh is probably a far better actor than the material he's being given. So far, he's being written as little more than eye candy and I'm getting bored waiting around for whatever Shaw's backstory finally turns out to be. For that reason, his character IS a distraction from the most compelling aspect of this new season: Chuck's new powers and purpose.

As for Sarah, likewise, Yvonne Strahovski is doing all she can with some pretty weak character support. I think it's important that Sarah is in a state over Chuck's conversion to the spy life and that's a very valid path for her to take. But I just find that Sarah has lost her mystery and professionalism and she really HAS become all about her relationship with Chuck - or the lack of it. And it bugs me that this is one of Ali's episodes too. I was hoping she could pull Sarah out of the muck a little bit.

That said, I think Levi hit it out of the park with the speedy and clumsy breakup with Hannah, so much so that you really do forget how horribly insensitive it was to pick her dinner out with the parents to dump her. And strangely enough, I was really moved by YS's performance coming down the stairs with the crock pot and the Chinese for Shaw, even if I didn't particularly like the result. She was trying to make sense of this love triangle that's been cleaved on to this show.

Here's the point. This show still has an extraordinary cast (and BTW, the Adam Baldwin-centric episode CANNOT arrive soon enough). They just need to get everything back to the essential cast members and the heart of the story. We've dumped Hannah (beautifully played by Kristin Kreuk), now let's wrap things up with Shaw, shall we, and get back to the journey of Chuck.

Kevin said...

Great, great episode. Tony Sirico was excellent. Perfect casting.

Line of the night: Jeff, if you double dip, you're going to kill us all.

The arguments over the last episode seem even sillier now. It's obvious that Shaw isn't going to be around long.

Michael G. said...

Oh, Adam Baldwin owes Ali Adler a cupcake or something. Best episode for him in long time (though there are more than five people in the world who can make that shot). I'm guessing the sniper name will come up in...what, two episodes from now during the Casey-centric episode?

Anonymous said...

I like "Sam."
I Like "Lisa."
Not crazy about "Sam Lisa __."
But this was an incredible episode with the most dramatic scene EVER: Sarah held at gunpoint seemingly ending her own life. WOW.
YS did an amazing job depicting the emotion she was feeling and I think things are going to get confusing fast once she finds out Chuck broke up with Hannah. Still, though, why does Shaw get to be the one to call her Sam? I get the emotion from the reveal, but that was too heavy to have it thrown away as an inside joke for some guy who randomly shows up in the third season. Chuck's been trying at that since the third EPISODE.
All that blatant tiptoeing around the Chuck/Sarah relationship makes me very excited. Sounds like foreshadowing for the inevitable...

davidcullen08 said...
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Alan Sepinwall said...

Guys, no talking about what's in the previews. That's yet another commenting rule.

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

As someone else posted, I thought Chuck's dumping Hannah had less to do with his feelings for Sarah than his growing realization that the more people he has in his life, the more complicated it becomes. Ellie and Awesome and Morgan are people that he can't just cut out of his life, and he's beginning to see the toll his double life is taking on his relationships with them. He's no longer as close to Ellie as he used to be, and Awesome's about to crack like a soft-boiled egg. Having Hannah in his life, no matter how nice or compatible she is, just adds another layer of complication and danger, not just for Chuck, but for everyone around him.

Joseph said...

Can I just say I'm gonna miss Kristin Kreuk? I did not see that coming but consider my charmed. I suppose her character arc with Chuck came to a logical conclusion, but I thought she was a really great fit on the show...

...in a way that Brandon Routh does not. Maybe he and, uh, Sam aren't quite as icky as the last episode, but, blah, we're just back to a love triangle AGAIN. I sort of liked having Chuck take a break from pining after Sarah and I was starting to like the new hardcore version of Chuck.

Anyway, aside from the bizarre budget-cut loss of Morgan, the rest of the show's pieces were clicking on all cylinders.

VisionOn said...

I too thought this was one of the best episodes of the season, but Kreuk should at least been given the opportunity to play out a relationship with Chuck until the end of the season.

We all know Chuck and Sam will get together eventually, but it would be nice, for once, if one of Chuck's interim girls didn't have to be dumped after only a handful of episodes.

Especially when Kreuk was such a great cast fit and her character worked well with everyone else.

Jobin said...

Loved the episode... but I just can't buy Sarah-Shaw. Listen, I could care less if Chuck and Sarah end up together, but it just seems so obviously thrown together that Shaw and Sarah will end up falling for each other. There is zero physical chemistry or tension, and it seems like at random times, the writers decide to make Sarah awkwardly fall for him.

Besides that stupid plot hole (to me), I thought the episode was fantastic. Lots of laughs.

cadfile said...

Good episode to come back on. Nice balance of humor and drama. Liked the guests and the deer caught in the headlights look was back for Zack. But what I might start to do is either change the channel or fast forward when Chuck and/or Sarah start looking wistfully off in the distance and the music cue is like the walking away music from the Bill Bixby Incredible Hulk TV show.

Those moments seem to pop up all of a sudden and bring the whole episode to a screeching jarring halt... ugh.

Other than that can't wait for the next episode.

Anonymous said...

I felt that this episode was necessary for the development of Chuck and Sara. Although not my favorite episode, however it is one of the better episodes of the season. When Jeff says something about how Chucks eyes light up when he sees Sara. You know when the last person on earth to get it gets it.... Chuck and Sara may finally get it!

evelyn27 said...

I'm not here to make a long drawn out comment, my minds not working enough for that right now, but I have to say that I loved Hannah calling out Chuck. As much as I love Chuck I think he deserved that a bit. -'reesespuff27'

Jacob said...

Samantha Lisa? Granted, I spent the weekend throwing the worst names I could think of at a couple expecting friends, but that double-a ending was beyond anything I'd have done (assuming she really isn't just Sam).

Moist -- a possible pop culture reference to "Juno"? (I think it was her mother who hated the word, right? Or was it from "Dead Like Me"? I'm blanking)

alone in the dark said...

I'm with Baylink. Why are we so sure that "Sam" is Sarah... er, Jenny... um, Lisa's real name?

I think the maneuver where Sarah becomes more unsure and conflicted as Chuck improves as a spy to be a fairly convincing and creative one. Now, if we find out that her play for Shaw has been completely about outing him as a Ring spy, then I will be content.

And didn't the two wiseguys say that the contract had been dropped when it was assumed Shaw was dead? I thought they saw this as a chance to make an impression with some bigger fish.

frabjous said...

Alex Coburn - (almost) the same name as longtime Nation columnist Alexander Cockburn. Given Baldwin's very not-Nation-reading politics, I wondered if it was specifically chosen for the winking reference.

Justin said...

Easily the best episode this season. I was a bit surprised at the abrupt ending of the Chuck/Hannah relationship though. I didn't expect him to just cut it right there. Now Chuck will have to try to win back Sarah because she is obviously falling in love with Shaw.

The best things from that episode though came from Adam Baldwin. What a great job he did, getting a tooth ripped out, the obvious anxiety he shows with the name Alex Coburn and then finishing off the sniper shot. We learned a lot about Casey in this episode as well.

Dan said...

Bigger douche, Chuck or Ted Mosby?

The Chuck/Casey stuff was great, the Chuck/Sarah stuff less so. It's amazing for all the talk of budget cuts and staff reductions that the season has revolved around shoe-horning guest stars into an awkward contrived plot ot keep the two leads artificially apart. As much as I like the show, it's veering dangerously close to paint-by-numbers each week.

Joey Germ, MNIS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lou Sytsma said...

Very good episode.

Sarah got her Chuck confession in 3.02 and now Chuck has his Sarah confession here.

Much tighter plotting and motivations supplied for the characters to explain their actions this time.

The ending is left ambiguous so the viewer can decide whether Sarah and Shaw sleep together. I'm fine with either outcome ie whether they do or not.

The ending was all about what drove Sarah to that moment that matters. And everything she felt in 3.08 can be traced back to one source.

Chuck.

And that is the only point that matters.

Casey is BADASS!

Germ said...

Really, really great episode.

I don't want to sound like a shipper, but I was really sad to see Hannah go like that. Right now, she just seems like a better fit for Chuck. But oh well.

Brad said...

Alan, I saw your tweet with ChuckTV.net that you both felt this was a great episode. Are there any episodes of Chuck that either of you have hated? Just wondering. :-)I think anyone who hated it hated how the Sarah character has changed and the fact that she told Shaw, not Chuck. The bringing him food, the kiss, the talking to him like she never talk to Chuck. There are other ways to show Sarah unraveling that don't involve her doing what she has never done before and that is throw herself at another guy. But not everyone will see it the same.

Geoff said...

"I hope your lies keep you warm at night." -Hannah

Hannah was the reminder that Chuck can really only be with a spy. In truth, breaking up with Hannah was as much about having to lie to Ellie as it is still caring for Sarah, sorry, Sam.

The same way that Bryce and Sarah were competant enough to let each other take that shot when needed, Chuck is developing that competancy. That solves the main problem from last season. My guess is that Shaw's ruthlessness (punching the hostage) is what will remind Sarah that Chuck is still who she wants.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Are there any episodes of Chuck that either of you have hated?

Can't speak for Mel, but there aren't any I've hated. There have been some I felt didn't work, or frustrated me in some way, and I thought the show was still finding itself in the first season, but no hate from me.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Sarah's real name actually isn't Sam. That'd kind of put all the stuff with Shaw in a new light, no?

Meredith said...

Pardon me if this has already been mentioned, but didn't the episode about Sarah's high school reunion say that her name was Jenny? That name would seem to be pretty reliable since everyone at her high school remembered her as Jenny (unless she took Jenny an alias before Sarah Walker). So are we supposed to think that "Sam" is the fake name, and she was lying to Shaw? On the other hand, it seems like the writers aren't suggesting that conclusion, because why did Chuck react like he had never learned her real name before? I'm confused. It seems like it's a plot hole either way.

Anonymous said...

(1) Geez, Chuck. Dumping her at dinner with her parents. On the other hand, he did at least wear a Wally Cleaver-esque pimp suit while doing it, so that redeems him a bit.

(2) I'm undecided on whether Routh is a really good actor or a really bad one. The best adjective I can assign to his performance is "pervy." Some of the bizarre leering is priceless, but I honestly don't know if it's intentional or not.

Ian said...

Loved the episode. I'm not sure what was more touchingly funny: Casey telling Chuck he's proud of him, or Big Mike's "damn onions" moment. Ali Adler rocks. (As do Adam Baldwin and Mark Christopher Lawrence).

Alan Sepinwall said...

Meredith, both Sarah and Jenny are aliases that she's used in the past or present. Her dad was a con man, so they both moved around and changed names a lot.

Baylink said...

Hey, guys?

Doesn't Hannah *still work at the Buy More*?

Is KK actually scheduled for any more eps? Hope they clean that up, if not.

vargoted: what the writers have been doing to the shippers this season.

jason said...

I think we all want to reach for reasons why the characters are acting out character this season. Like Sam is not really her name. Or Sarah is playing Shaw. But I think what we see is what we get. Mo Ryan also has a review up --she doesn't like the Sarah/Shaw relationship and I have to agree. I thought this episode wasn't much better than the last one and I didn't think Ali Adler saved anything like alot predicted.

PY said...

Great episode. First ep this season that I really felt connected to on an emotional level.

fgmerchant said...

Loved the episode. I'm so happy the Olympics are over so I can actually have something to watch!

I don't care that they are taking forever in bringing Sarah and Chuck together, but I was disappointed that we lost Kristen Kreuk first! I'd rather her be around longer and we get rid of Shaw first! I have faith that when Sarah and Chuck finally get together it will work properly, so I can live with the wait.

Loved the cupcake line!

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to figure out what was so jarring about the name reveal to Shaw--besides that it wasn't Chuck. It was Shaw asking if she had told Chuck and she said "not even Chuck". That bothered me alot. It felt like a big betrayal on Sarah's part. Like an girl telling her new boyfriend that she really didn't care for her ex all that much.Downplaying it. And also Chuck gleefully coming into Castle the morning after Hannah and Casey talking about him getting laid. It felt ewww all around. They would never have done that to each other in the past. It feels like they are lashing out at all turns and I know the point is that they are lost, but it's not fun to watch it go on.

steph said...

kind of a nice touch: http://twitter.com/AliAdler/status/9858533140

Xeddicus said...

Sam may or may not be her real name, she did get a look on her face when Chuck said it in the room, but that may have just been because she realized he had heard the entire conversation. Kind of a minor point, though.

Speaking of the minor points: I was a disappointed with the punch. Was hoping it would be from Chuck actually being pissed at a Shaw that deserved it. Maybe Chuck really was upset with him at that moment, but it then he went right into it being all a cover.

And then there was Sarah. Maybe she poisoned that food? :P

Otherwise, good episode. Glad Hannah is gone, even if Chuck did look like a jerk. Even though Chuck and Hannah has a billion times more chemistry than Sarah and Shaw, I just never bought Chuck going from trying to win everything back (Spy life and Sarah) to adding a complication to one and driving the other farther off.

Jeff and Lester awesome as always. Ditto for Casey.

Anonymous said...

The talk about "only 5 guys in the world can make that shot" is a reference to Lethal Weapon.

Rachael said...

O.k. so I saw the warning from Magnus on Friday that many people were going to HATE this episode, mainly because of the way Sarah behaves. He also basically said he was very disappointed in her behavior.

As a huge Sarah fan, I gotta say, I didn't think she did anything that bad. Girl has not gotten laid the ENTIRE SERIES, maybe she's just feeling kinda lonely/sad now that Chuck is with Hannah (as far as she knows), and therefore she's making a bad decision to hook it up with Shaw. Let her have a little somethin' somethin' for once people, sheesh, nobody's perfect. ;-)

O.k. well maybe her decision to tell Shaw her real name was a little odd and it felt kinda random the way it went down. But I could kinda see how she might not mind telling someone who she doesn't deeply care about rather than someone she does (but is having trouble admitting that she does). I think overall she's just making rash decisions lately because she's trying to "move on" from Chuck (and not doing very well). ;-)

I am glad Magnus warned everyone though, because maybe I would have been more annoyed with Sarah's actions if I had not been expecting anything semi-"questionable" to occur. :)

Oh and I agree with you guys on the name ... Sam Lisa!? What the hell!!

Oh well anyway, overall I definitely enjoyed this one upon first viewing. I'll have to watch it again soon and see what I think the second time around. :)

regina said...

My patience is totally waring off on this Chuck and Sarah thing.One thing really bothers me: why Sarah can accept Shaw just within several episodes but refuses to let Chuck in OVER AND OVER AGAIN???
But I do agree that Sarah and Chuck, these two main characters are developing more depth within these episodes.

Crapshoot said...

Purely a patience thing on my end; the show's funny, but this seems like writers looking for excuses to drag this out to season's end. If the Office has taught us anything, its that a happy couple does not mean the death of the show - enough already. Either end it (for a split second I thought Sarah was dead, but jeez, that would never happen) or put em together.

Rachael said...

Oh and sorry I missed Alan's point about why Sarah has been making these poor decisions lately (including choosing Shaw to be the one she tells her real name to), but I absolutely agree with him - She's totally depressed and disillusioned with "new Chuck" who can lie and deceive people. She feels like there's no one she can ever trust anymore, not even Chuck.

Now THAT must be depressing, and if I were Sarah, it would probably lead me to have a little bit of a "f*ck it" attitude about life. Sounds like she's kinda going that route now ... making some rash decisions about her life. I really can't blame her!!

Anonymous said...

Dark is the direction we are going. I'm not sure the Intersect can ever have a haapy ending, not one with the white picket fences.

Chuck has changed, not only in his skills and his lying, but in his attitude. Check out his hair in the restaurant, not greased back as the assassin, but not free flowing curly like Chuck used to be.

And he did what he had to do and snuffed out a nice relationship. This story is shaping up to be a tragedy.......

Puff

Ben said...

In the try not to repeat what others have said, let me toss out some random ideas:

Sarah talked to Chuck about how to live under an alias, how you have to become that person. Ok, so i think the obvious double meaning is she has lost herself after all these years of being "Sara Walker". But, what if it was really a hint that Sarah is playing Shaw? She has fallen for him very fast and it seems out of character, at least in the post-dating Bryce Larkin era...

With that said, I also think Shaw is playing her and, up until tonight, I thought KK was playing Zach as well. In fact, the latter point was almost emphasized by Jeffster questioning how Chuck keeps getting these babes.

And as for Shaw, there is just a negative about him. Not sure if that is what is going on or I am reading too much into Superman's somewhat stiff performance...

Overall, still digging it, though what happened to the Jeffster stalking Chuck plot point???

jd said...

I really liked this episode. The scripting, direction and editing were firing on all cylinders with "vs. the Fake Name".

My take on the Chuck and Sarah relationship in this episode: it has reached its turning point. They've been going in opposite directions since Prague; "vs. the Fake Name" shows a Sarah and Chuck coming to their individual realizations of who they are becoming and the heavy personal cost of their choices and actions.

Zac Levi and Yvonne Strahovski really sell their characters' emotional conflict. I truly felt for them: Chuck, after overhearing Sarah's comments, radiates shame; he doesn't much like what he has become and who he hurts by his lies and omissions. The cockiness is gone. When he breaks up with Hannah, I got the impression that it was motivated in equal part by his feelings for Sarah and his desire to stop lying to someone who was starting to matter to him -- Morgan and Ellie are more than enough collateral damage due to his double life.

And Sarah, watching her tentatively reach through the cracks in her walls to be someone other than "Sarah Walker, CIA agent". Disclosing her true name to Shaw, a vulnerable Sarah seeks an emotional connection with another person. Granted, there will be "Chuck" fans who will be upset that the person is Shaw and not Chuck, but Yvonne does one helluva job of making you root for Sarah's happiness. Even if that happiness can't be found with Chuck (at this time), you still want Sarah to find some personal peace and comfort. That's fantastic acting, folks; I'm a big fan of the Chuck and Sarah relationship, but that hasn't stopped me from appreciating their emotional growth and evolution from directionless nerd and hardened spy to someplace in the middle for them to exist as a couple, once and for all.

Kudos to Ali Adler for a skillful script: subtle, emotionally charged, funny, broad-humored with the wiseguy routine...damn good stuff.

Gish said...

Alan,

Did you hear from Josh and Chris that Chuck is changing in an attempt to please Sarah? They hit the changes so hard in just a few episodes, I can't help but fear this has something to do with the new Intercept. I am enjoying Chuck's growth and would hate to see them "cure" him back to his whimpy former self. I hope I am wrong.

Anonymous said...

Maybe "Sam" is a fake real name and Sarah is playing Shaw, I don't trust him. The writers have had Chuck and Sarah heading in the direction of getting back together then boom new love intrests. Maybe they are playing us. Maybe Hannah was Chucks mark and Shaw is Sarahs mark but Chuck was sick about playing Hannah and refused to continue. Just a thought lol.

Anonymous said...

I think that Chuck breaking it off with Hannah in this fashion actually shows that he is willing to look like jerk in order to keep Hannah out of danger. He easily could have spilled the beans about his double life; both the fact that he's a spy and that he's still in love with Sarah/Sam. And this would have given him justification for the break up. But he didn't do that. To do so would have not only hurt Hannah but could have placed her in danger if she knew he was a spy. The timing of it was horrible so soon after they slept together. But would putting it off have made it better? What would Hannah's reaction been if Chuck had gotten to know her parents? She'd probably be more upset than she is now.

Rich, Denver

BigTed said...

When I run the CIA, the first thing I'm going to do is finally invent a pair of pen-proof handcuffs.

Anonymous said...

No complicated analysis....I just loved this episode. Chuck's dumping Hannah was perhaps ill timed, but to me it reflected his growing realization that given what he knows (i.e. all the secrets in the world) and who he is becoming (an increasingly competent operator)falling in love with innocent civilians can get them *killed*. Is Chuck guilty of bad timing? Yes. Is he guilty of being a bad guy because he had to be cruel to protect Hannah? No. And I think he realizes this better than anyone.

Also, this is the first episode where to me Awesome actually acted like a real person and not a cartoon character.

And they should promote Paulie Walnuts and the other guy to at least Jeffster status....i.e. work them in as occasional characters like twice a season.

Kibbe said...

Fun episode. Sarah/Shaw relationship is handled better here. Despite the Buy More stuff being very limited here, we did get some real good lines from Jeff and Big Mike. It was fun seeing Levi impersonating the assassin, but some of his moments felt very exaggerated, including his "no" during the fakeout shot with Sarah being held hostage. And I'm not really a fan of Chuck dumping Hannah like that -- a day after he just slept with her and on the evening when he is about to meet her parents.

TV Obsessed said...

This season has been so conflicting, I have a hard time deciding what to think of it. The character development has been top notch. We see Chuck lying, pretending to be other people, and hurting friends. He’s a new person that Sarah knows isn’t the man she fell in love with.

On the other hand, the addition on Shaw and Hannah has been pointless thus far. The fundamental relationship issue—Sarah not liking where Chuck is—works regardless of what Shaw or Hannah do. Hannah and Shaw are just inconvenient road blocks in the form of people. The main relationship roadblock has always and will always be between the main characters of the show. Now that Hannah is out of the picture, how exactly does Shaw fit into the show? I just don’t get it.

Review of the episode on my blog:
http://th3tvobsessed.blogspot.com/2010/03/review-chuck-season-3-episode-8-chuck.html

Pox of LeChuck said...

Not knowing anything about the pilot I'd still hazard to guess Hitched has good prospects. Really with Josh Schwartz shows it's always been the comedy carrying the load so might as well just jump into sitcoms.

Kristin Kreuk's guest run ending was inevitable and to put it in a not-so-lechy way she was very attractive in the buymore uniform.


Last point, I know it was done quickly but I'm not in love with the editing on the shot. Like literally no one thought Sarah got hurt (come on, it's not the finale or sweeps!). Chuck as a show just cannot pull those moments off - not even that one second of suspension.

compain87 said...

All I know is, when I tune in to Chuck, I'm entertained. Seeing the evolution of Casey's relationship with Chuck alone is all the ship I need. When Chuck pulled out his tooth I was thinking "O man Casey is gonna kill him" and the exact opposite happened Casey was happy he pulled out a cavity.

- After that shot it should be clear you don't miss with Angel De La Muerte.

- Paulie Walnuts has to be in the the discusion for best guest stars of Chuck?

I gotta agree with some posters that are gonna miss Kristin Kreuk. I think Hannah might have been a better guy for Chuck pre-intersect than Sarah ever would be. For all the talk of how Sarah fell in love with Chuck before he was a spy, would that have ever happened if she walked into a Buy More and bought a computer from Chuck? No, it took getting to know him after being irritated with him for half the first season. Hannah on the other hand, just liked Chuck, the wide eyed Nerd Herder from Burbank who wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower(albeit they meet under circumstances that would have never happened if chuck weren't a spy and he wouldn't have the confidence either). I really thought Hannah and Chuck were a better match, but maybe Jeff was right "When he's with Sarah, the light in his eyes shine brightly".

I don't understand the complaint of the "O we've had the same exact plot for the last season. blah blah blah. bad writing. blah blah" fans. on the surface maybe you can can say they have done the will they-won't they dance every season, but I'd imagine if your posting on Alan's blog your paying a little more attention than the average viewer. The writers aren't just keeping them apart for the sake of it, because in the end we all know they will get together. The writers have used this relationship as the greatest tool to show the character development and emotional changes happening with these two characters.

I really feel like this is going to be their last obstacle because in the end it will serve as a choice between the type of person chuck really wants to be, a good guy with the intersect in his head but with Sarah or a great spy that is alone and detached from any real relationships.

Sorry for the long post Alan

belinda said...

It all felt a bit rushed - I was actually a fan of the new relationships, but now I wonder if the addition of Hannah and Shaw was even necessary if they were going to end one of them so quickly. I guess I'd prefer it if they stuck with it for just a little longer, because now it seems kind of just wishy washy, and we're back in the 'will they or won't they' zone, which, isn't really all that fun. Either put them together or have them function in separate couples (for more than 3 episodes!)

But, I do love finally seeing Casey more in action! I think he's been too underused this season, especially given the history he has with the team, so much excited to see what might be a longer story (the stuff Chuck flashed on a past mission of Casey's. Seems kind of important, no?)

Chris said...

Excellent episode. I got all misty when Casey made the shot.

Cotsos said...

Well, if Sgt Al Powell(Reginald Vel Johnson) is in the same universe with Chuck, maybe Gruber isn't just a reference.
He could be the third Gruber brother, or Hans' son! :P

Beth said...

Kind of an odd comment, but has anyone else watching this show played Mass Effect (1 or 2)? The instrumental music seemed very Mass Effect-like to me and I wondered if it was a shoutout to Yvonne Strahovski and Adam Baldwin appearing in the game.

Jo said...

I'm not going to coddle JS and co and watch Chuck any longer. He shouldn't be rewarded with a season 4 and that pains me to say as a huge Chuck fan for 2 seasons. I bought the Subways, etc and no way am I particpating again if needed if THIS is what JS and co think is what the fans want to watch. Chuck and Sarah were abused by their creators all season, but beyond belief for the past 2 episodes. I disgree that the Olympic break was bad. I think if these shows had run back to back there would have been a worse reaction. The break let people forget Episode 7 somewhat and to calm down. Chuck and Sarah are no acting AT ALL consistent to what we've seen for 2 seasons, with not believable reason. They have given us no foundation for Sarah's behavior last night. We have seen no reason other than he is nearby for Sarah to throw herself, which is what she did, at Shaw. Sarah who has rejected good looking guys one after another all of sudden is blurting out her name to, buying crockpots and chinese food for, and intiating makeout sessions with a guy she was momente before saying she wanted to maintain a professional relationship with. After having her realize she falls for guys she works with, she tosses that aside as fast as she realized it, and acted like a girl who can't live without a guy, a guy who in this case is her creepy boss. It was gross to watch her tell Shaw her name and to confirm that Chuck doesn't know it, to make it clear what a gift to Shaw it is, a guy she barely knows. Chuck runs around now gloating in front of Sarah after sleeping with Hannah, breaks up with a girl at dinner with her parents, and I was left scratching my head. Chuck's angst at becoming a spy and Sarah's at watching him change couldn't have been dealt with in character for these 2? While maintaining some small semblence of who they have been for 2 seasons? The defense by those who don't want to say anything bad about the show it--they have to hit rock bottom. There weren't other ways to do that and maintain the show's credibility? It's ok to do that without setting it up to be realistic? I felt Ali Adler's presence in certain humorous moments, but where did she go when they wrote Chuck and Sarah? Xt--the horrible thing was Sarah telling Shaw her name and not Chuck and betraying Chuck as she did so. It was watching Sarah throw herself at a guy they gave us no reason to believe she would have a relationship with beyond him simply being in her vicinty after having been so loyal to Chuck, even when he's been a jerk. The execution has been beyond what I can come back from as a viewer and continue to enjoy an show. Which is ok. We all tune in and tune out to shows at different times. I'm just disappointed after being so psyched Chuck was coming back to feel this way.

Anonymous said...

fist bump? don't y'all mean a terrorist fist jab?

Lisa said...

I really do hope Sarah is up to something with this Shaw relationship. Because if this is all about some reckless fall into another man's arms because the love of her life has disappointed her, then that's too bad.

DeeTV said...

A little side note. For those who admire Yvonne Strahovski's physique, there's a nice article and photo layout of her workout in the March issue of Shape magazine.

Robin said...

Alan, I was really hoping your title line was going to be about cupcakes :-)

I enjoyed this ep far more than the last, simply because I thought it was a better story. And I like the dark direction that Chuck is going.

Does Chuck's flash on Casey's alias mean we might get a Casey back story? That would be epic.

And finally...thank you showrunners for giving me the eye candy that is Brandon Routh in a towel. Yowza :)

Anonymous said...

Leaving aside all the Big issues...

- why did Sarah act like she was shot, with her eyes closed, lying still on the floor? Seemed like a cheap ploy for drama.

- I think it's been cool to see Casey developing some respect for Chuck, but it would have been nice for Chuck to notice and care about this a bit. He just doesn't give Casey a second's worth of thought, as he'll been stalker-like obsessed with Sarah. It would make things more balanced and 3-dimensional if Chuck and Casey were getting chummier while Chuck and Sarah were drifting apart.

I did love Chuck in his bad-ass assassin mode -- great acting by Z.L., which I think often gets under-appreciated.

Justinian said...

When is Ellie going to break down and put a dog collar on her brother? He's a grown man! Her need to know every single detail about his life is creepy, not endearing, and it makes her look like she has no life or interests of her own.

Why doesn't anybody ever think Sarah is in the wrong? Being a hero in her eyes is the main reason Chuck wants to be a spy in the first place, so it's maddening that she expects him to still be the same gullible schnook she wrapped around her finger years ago! She's always been so downright fickle and fussy when it comes to Chuck, I had no sympathy for her when he wouldn't run away with her in Prague. Her love is conditional--"You didn't run away with me, I never want to talk to you again."

Anonymous said...

This season has been bizarre in that the thing that was supposed to screw it up (intersect 2.0) has been handled masterfully, and the thing that was so well done in the first two seasons (chuck and sarah) has been slip shod.

The characters are rich enough to put conflict between them without reverting to the petty jelousy angles. The "relationship" is at its best when the realities of who they are and what they do snap them out of their fantasy world (Chuck vs Santa Claus and Nacho Sampler).

Hopefully Routh is gone next episode and we can get back to characters that are actually likeable.

Alfred A. A. said...

I love everything that has to do with Casey and am surprised his two funniest moments barely got mentioned in this review: claiming he's very persuasive while holding the fire whatchmacallit and claiming he's one of the five people who can make that shot.

Billiam said...

I've been mentally comparing Chuck to Peter Parker ever since the Hannah arc began. He's a nerdy guy who someone attracts a multitude of beautiful women, but his secret identity gets in the way of his ability to be with them.
But I think this has to be the end of Chuck dating guest stars. He more or less decided he was unable to date a civilian (he also decided that in season one with Lou, but I believe one regression would be possible).

Ring Agent #6 said...

I like the season for the most part, but something remains a bit off: Shaw.

There are three potential reasons, individually or collectively:

(1) The acting -- creepy [part of the problem for everyone is that since Shaw comes off so weird, it is hard to believe that Sarah could actually fall for him];

(2) The way the character is written [contributing to the problem above], and/or

(3) Shaw's constant presence throws a 4th wheel into the comfortable Chuck-Sarah-Casey dynamic that we are all accustomed to.

Now, is Shaw's presence necessary to the development of Chuck's storyline? Perhaps. But I will celebrate the day when his presence is no more.

olucy said...

When is Ellie going to break down and put a dog collar on her brother? He's a grown man! Her need to know every single detail about his life is creepy, not endearing, and it makes her look like she has no life or interests of her own.

OMG, thank you! I used to really like Ellie and the sweet relationship she had with her brother, but she is becoming incredibly whiny and intrusive. Not quite as annoying yet as Fiona Glenanne, who is standing on my last nerve...but annoying.

I didn't watch the Olympics, so I *finally* caught up on S2 and S3 in the last couple of weeks. That's a LOT of Chuck. I'm just not feeling S3 like I did S1 and S2. The cutbacks are felt: less Buy More last night, which puts all the action on the spy side.

And normally the spy side is fun, but there's too much angst over the love triangle. I don't want to see what happened to House happen to Chuck. Remember when House used to be about doctors treating patients? Now it's like The Odd Couple in a hospital.

And maybe I"m not as into the fight scenes and gadgets as some. I really enjoy this show the most when the spy side is balanced out by the hijinx at Buy More.

Lastly...quite a night for Sopranos alumni. Paulie Walnuts and whatshisname on Chuck and Uncle Jun on Damages (looking healthier than he did on Sopranos for sure). Good times! Good times!

Anonymous said...

anyone noticed 'trace signal loctated chuck bartowski'? funny NSA typo there

JLJW said...

The time for getting Chuck and Sarah together has long passed for me to be excited in any fashion. I was really liking the Chuck/Hannah relationship and that break up scene was pretty painful. Though I do commend the fact that her comments about him being a liar will affect him later on.

I sincerely hope the writers aren't building up to what seems to be the most clich├ęd ending and thats have Chuck and Sarah FINALLY get together at the end of the shows run; even though it definitely seems that way. To have both of them move on and find someone else, whilst remaining close friends with each other, would in my opinion be a better way to take this.

But, as much as Chucks love/home life pains me, it was a well acted out episode and at least I am still liking his spy storyline very much.

Rick said...

It is apparent that the show has moved into territory where the obstacles between Sarah and Chuck no longer seem reasonable. After all, Sarah's ostensible reasons for avoiding a Chuck/Sarah relationship rest almost solely on the fact that by choosing the life of a spy he has chosen a life where Sarah and Chuck can't be fully fulfilled as a couple.

What sense does it make then for Sarah to fall for yet another spy, a spy who, in this case, is so transparent in his come on attempts that he might as well be asking Sarah if it hurt when she fell from heaven. If Sarah is losing her feelings for Chuck because he is taking on the characteristics of a spy, it doesn't make sense from a narrative perspective for the obstacle to their love to be someone who is more a spy then Chuck is ever likely to be.

GabbyD said...

it was a great ep! fun and funny!

Elena said...

I liked the episode quite a bit. Beyond the obvious stuff with Jeffster and Casey, I thought they moved the story forward on Chuck realizing what the spy life is costing him, and the Sarah/Shaw hookup. I'm convinced that Sarah is playing him, they showed her startled reactions both times when Shaw got more violent than necessary, first with Rafe, then by continuing to choke Chuck after Chuck told him what was really going on. I think she's realized there's something off about him, and is trying to get close to him to find out the true story. The most convincing lies are those closest to the truth, and if you're trying to con a spy, you'd better be really convincing. I have a feeling her real name isn't Sam, but she knew that giving him that would make him feel she was falling for him. Anyway, time will tell. I too will miss Hannah, think they moved the relationship forward too fast, could have let it play out over a few more eps.

Anonymous said...

@Robin:
"I enjoyed this ep far more than the last, simply because I thought it was a better story. And I like the dark direction that Chuck is going.

Does Chuck's flash on Casey's alias mean we might get a Casey back story? That would be epic.

And finally...thank you showrunners for giving me the eye candy that is Brandon Routh in a towel. Yowza :)"

DITTO! ;)

LOVED everything about this episode! Zac and Yvonne were great. And I really like the Shaw/Sarah thing. I'm happy that Sarah is trying to connect with someone on a more emotional level; Shaw seems to really care about her. But I know it won't last. :( I just hope Shaw and Sarah end up being good friends at the end when he leaves Burbank. Really hope he doesn't end up being a Ring agent or a bad guy.

Love the show.

~STAR

Brandy said...

24, Chuck, everywhere I go they kill Edgar. Sigh.

Good episode, although I like Hannah significantly more than Shaw. I'd understand why Chuck would go there with Hannah... why Sarah would with Shaw even recognizing she's repeating a pattern? I'm less sure.

But I did like this episode, a lot!

But then Casey is my favorite character and I have no dog in the Charah fight.

GabbyD said...

that will they or wont they joke made me smile!

it like they knew people's reaction to the chuck-sarah relationship's issues.

lindsay said...

This wasn't my favorite episode of the season (The real Rafe Gruber sprinting 1/2 mile to kill Chuck in close range was ridiculous). But, they kept mentioning Chuck's famous Chicken Pepperoni dish, which I found awesome! (Reference to "Seems Like Old Times" w/ Chevy Chase & Goldie Hawn, a totally good movie that I used to watch on cable over and over)

"Oh, will Aurora be making her famous Chicken Pepperoni?"

Stellar Drift said...

"This is our farewell to Kristin Kreuk as Hannah"

Is it ? Imdb says she is in the next one as well.



"Rule #1: Be nice. This is an opinion blog, and a place where people can and should argue passionately for their point of view"

Except if your view is of other people ;)


"But there's a difference between arguing with passion and arguing with hostility."

Basic Bush doctrine; people who disagree with me should met with hostility.

"Rule #6. What did I say about being nice? Given that most of the recent violations have been about Rule #1, it bears repeating. This shouldn't be that hard,"

It is hard, because a lot of people (unlike you?) haven't been brainwashed into being nice to ;)

Brian said...

Yup, best episode of the season so far. I don't really care how long they drag out Chuck/Sarah as long as it's not the central focus of the show (this is why Jim/Pam worked for so long--it was always on the sidelines), and tonight's episode had enough going on outside of romantic angst to be a blast no matter what side of the "shipper" line you fall on. I do think this season had been spinning its wheels, but hopefully now this post-Olympics period will show them really unloading their best stuff.

Anonymous said...

Best line for me was Lester saying: "If you double dip Jeffrey then we could all die."

Katrine said...

**And my worry is that those of you who were pissed off three weeks ago will feel just as unhappy, if not more, about that.**

And I can happily say, there you'd be wrong! I still think Chuck/Hannah should NEVER have happened. It was slightly--microscopically--redeemed by adding the new dimension of having Hannah confront Chuck with the fact of his no longer being a "nice guy" at the end, but it should still NEVER have happened and made no sense as it did in the last episode.

And I still think that Sarah/Shaw happened too fast, and IS happening too fast. But as a storyline, Sarah/Shaw I have no problem with. Sarah/Shaw is the one direction that makes SENSE. Sarah pursuing someone-anyone-other than Chuck after being burned so badly is entirely plausible, and makes sense. Chuck pursuing anyone else other than Sarah at this point is what didn't and doesn't.

Xeddicus said...

And I still think that Sarah/Shaw happened too fast, and IS happening too fast. But as a storyline, Sarah/Shaw I have no problem with. Sarah/Shaw is the one direction that makes SENSE. Sarah pursuing someone-anyone-other than Chuck after being burned so badly is entirely plausible, and makes sense. Chuck pursuing anyone else other than Sarah at this point is what didn't and doesn't.

I 100% agree. I don't LIKE Shaw, but Sarah feeling hurt and looking for a connection is a little plausible. Not welcome, but what can you do.

Chuck, on the other hand, was thrown into Hannah's arms like...he was written there to keep him away from Sarah. It just didn't work even though Chuck and Hannah had decent chemistry. It just was nothing compared to Sarah and Chuck (and also just made Sarah and Shaw look worse).

jo-blogs said...

Really loved this episode. The writing, acting and directing were on fire this week. Real tension, high stakes and a more adult feel (all of which I really appreciated), without losing any of the frantic, surreal slapstick tone that I love about the show.

Was it me, or were there way more references to sex than usual—my eyebrows were raised at times wondering how they got so many through—I loved it. The characters actually seemed like adults for a change, even Ellie who too often gets stuck with being a whining patsy. I know loads of people have mentioned it already but wanted to add my 'Yay!' for SL's delivery of "Hannah, don't you think this chicken is moist?"

It also felt more like these were proper, grown-up relationships we were seeing. Haven't quite been feeling that in the writing (even with ZL and YS's legendary chemistry) since the season 2 finale. This was the first episode where I got what both Kristen Kreuk and Brandon Routh were bringing to the table.

The episode totally brought the drama - the emotions on Chuck's and Shaw's faces when they thought Sarah was dead—amazing moment. In a formula show to get even a split-second where the audience can buy a moment like that...wow.

Loved Casey getting his moment. Loved the creepiness of Shaw punching out the assassin guy—it worried me that Sarah looked slightly turned on by that and not nearly conflicted enough. Props to YS for selling that ... I think Sarah (Sam) could be in serious danger from Shaw down the line, even though I buy that he has real feelings for her. She is going to get burned—in more ways than one maybe.

OK, that's enough. Think I need to go watch it again.

Thank you show for reassuring me you are still about the slow-burn storytelling and shifts in tone that lesser shows would never be able to pull off successfully.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad that (apparently) Sarah got some romantic release. There's always been kind of a musty guy-tude evident in Chuck on that point: Chuck does it. Morgan does it. Even Casey and Big Mike do it. But Sarah - super fit, luminous Sarah - just goes 3 years without, with nary a blink? What is she, part camel?

Anonymous said...

Well, I hoped I'd be wrong, but these last episodes confirm it. Like Sarah's penchant for dating coworkers, there's an absolute trend with Josh Schwartz series: Inventive, fun seasons 1 and 2, season 3 - turns to crap. The quickness of the dropoff varies (The OC fell off a cliff, Gossip Girl is a more gradual decline, Chuck somewhere in the middle), but the bottom line is that Schwartz has yet to show that he can sustain a show for longer than 3 years. I fear its Times Up.

Lars said...

Ya know, I started watching this show from day one because it was a fun and light hearted show. No matter what, almost every episode in season 1 & 2 left you feeling good...

But something has changed with season 3 and now it seems that JS want to turn it into The OC 2.0 with all the teenage angst. The show just doesnt feel that fun to watch anymore.

For me I think the big problem is that Chuck & Sarahs relationship (no matter how little) was the one thing that felt REAL and glued all the crazy together. But now when I only find that part to be annoying angst it over shadows the rest no matter how good it is...

The writers really need to grow some balls and get over the Moonlightning scare. As it is now it seems pointless to get more seasons because we all know they will do the same thing all over again.

Sarah telling Shaw her real name was probably the worst decision the writers have done sofar. She couldn't trust Chuck with that for over 2 years but have no problem telling Shaw? Considering how many stupid things they have done this season is there still any hope that it's not her real name? Oh well...

Speaking of Shaw, what is the logic behind suddenly falling for yet another superspy when she wanted Chuck to be normal? I have no problems with Sarah finding someone else after all the stupidity Chuck does but Shaw? Wouldn't it make more sence if she fell for another "regular guy" in stead of a spy?

A part of me almost wish they had been canceled after season 2, that way I would still have the show I used to love in memory.

Sure, I can just stop watching but for some reason I still hope it will get back on track...

Brian said...

Comments about the Sarah's name earlier made me chuckle.

Agree Sam is a great name for Sarah's character.

Sam Lisa doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

Samantha Lisa isn't much better.

How about Samantha Elizabeth. Better?

Add a 3 syllable last name and she'll be set...

Anonymous said...

What the fuck?
That episode went from being the funniest and most enjoyable I'd seen in a long time to the most bizarre and infuriating episode Ive seen EVER within the last 5 minutes of the episode.

Garbage. Pure garbage. They had a good thing going! And they throw it down the drain. This is it. Chuck has got one more episode, and if it doesn't produce, I stop watching.

DJ Doena said...

Is it possible that "Sam(antha)" is not really Sarah's first name?

Maybe an elaborate plot because she knows/suspects something about Shaw?

Just grasping at straws here...

olucy said...

I *do* hope that Sam is playing Shaw because I'd hate to see her turn into that girl by falling for yet another co-worker.

And as someone else pointed out above, Chuck was a d-bag for how he handled the breakup with Hannah. I don't like seeing him in that light. He's supposed to be my hero, dammit.

Rogers said...

This show hinges on Chuck's likability. Breaking up with Hannah in front of her parents after sleeping with her twice shoots that all to hell. Why should anybody root for him at this point?

AdamW said...

I'm not going to watch this show anymore unless Casey ends up with some cupcakes.

word verification: "Ulati"

(Why yes I am, but I was too busy to watch the show earlier in the week.)

Canadian Gringo said...

Hi Love your analysis and dissection of Chuck 3.08.
What did you think of the fight between Shaw and Chuck?
I was hoping for more tension - maybe making it become a little more personal...
I expected the breakup between Hannah and Chuck - but I thought that Chuck was guilty of being far too logical and rational. With all the " stuff" falling apart in his life - I'd expect to see him start to come apart at the seams... especially after the Sarah & Shaw moment - and after his wonderful conversation with Ellie. I would have liked to see some deeper emotions - rather than just deeper dialogue.
Anyways - for me - Chuck is the most entertaining show on TV...
[ saw the sneak peeks for next week] - CAN'T WAIT!!!

schmoker said...

Way behind on my Chuck, but I thought this was about the best ep of the season. I also thought the pink doughnut box was a nod to the pink box in Buckaroo Banzai.