Monday, March 22, 2010

Chuck, "Chuck vs. the Final Exam": The Kobayashi Maru

A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I put some new feathers on you...
"It looks like you're going to get everything that you always wanted." -Sarah
"Chuck vs. the Final Exam" was written back at a point when it would be the 11th out of 13 hours this season, not 11th out of 19. Schwartz and Fedak have said the original 13 episodes more or less continued to be produced as an intact unit, so this is the point when the original season arcs really start kicking into gear, as Operation Bartowski appears to come to an end: Chuck passes his final spy test (albeit with secret, illegal help from Casey), Sarah prepares to move to Washington with Shaw (definitely as colleagues, and possibly as more), and Casey has to mostly embrace civilian life (even as he makes time for a bit of freelance killin' on Chuck's behalf). And after a few months of hemming and hawing, Chuck and Sarah finally have a moment where both are interested in discussing their feelings at the same time, and preparing to kiss each other, when work again gets in the way, first with Shaw's radio call(*), then with Sarah's mistaken belief that Chuck has become a killer - and become it for her.

(*) At least this interruption felt natural and part of the plot, as opposed to Sarah arbitrarily changing the subject on Chuck last week.

In order to get the characters to these big crossroads, Zev Borow's script has to throw in more than your usual fair share of "Chuck" plot contrivances. Chuck, for instance, gets placed in a no-win scenario: either he passes the test and is assigned away from Sarah (and, whether he's entirely aware of it or not, completes his transformation into someone Sarah feels she can't love anymore), or he fails and... what? Becomes a civilian with no government oversight, in spite of having a souped-up Intersect in his head? (Whatever happened to the days when Beckman was ready to have Casey put a bullet between Chuck's eyes rather than let him "retire"? And this was back when Chuck wasn't half as dangerous as he is now.) Wouldn't there be talk about the team reverting back to its old configuration, with Sarah and a killer-to-be-named-later as handlers and Chuck waiting in the car?

And, of course, you have to swallow a lot to believe Casey would just let his cover job at the Buy More become his new career, as opposed to becoming a mercenary or security specialist or some other far more lucrative and exciting profession that takes advantage of his propensity for a bit of the old ultra-violence. That he follows Chuck on his final exam and kills the bad guy for him suggests that he really does care about Chuck and can't quite bring himself to leave, but all his earlier scenes at the Buy More are written (and played by Adam Baldwin) as if Casey has no idea what he's supposed to do next with his life.

(A few readers last week wondered if perhaps Casey's situation was like Michael Westen's on "Burn Notice," where he's basically cut off from the military-intelligence community. If so, I would absolutely watch a Baldwin-centric spin-off with Casey stuck at the Buy More while being a vigilante-for-hire and trying to find a way back in from the cold. And in lieu of Michael's voiceover narration, each episode could be liberally sprinkled with Casey Facts.)

But if I had to suspend my disbelief more than usual, it was worth it. "Chuck vs. the Final Exam" continued this terrific post-Olympics run, providing suspense (will/did Chuck kill Hunter?), romance (Chuck treating Sarah to the world's most romantic stakeout, with plenty of callbacks to season one's "Chuck vs. the Sizzling Shrimp"), and comedy (Big Mike mentors Casey the interim Ass Man).

After Sarah has been frosty towards Chuck for so much of the season, a scene like the stakeout-cum-date was a very potent reminder of Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski's chemistry, and why so many fans are pulling for these crazy kids to make it work. Ditto the scene at Union Station, where Chuck is all psyched up for a romantic night with the woman of his dreams, only for Sarah to crush those dreams (and in turn to be crushed when Chuck appears to go through with the assignment). Some really high-caliber work done by both leads in both those scenes.

And if the two seem further away than ever at episode's end, I've got faith that these last two episodes of season 3.0 are going to finally bring these two crazy kids together for more than interrupted make-out sessions so shippers and non-shippers alike can live in peace and harmony and the show can move on to its next great dilemma: like how to get Team Bartowski back together, and specifically how to get John Casey his colonel's eagles back.

Casey's interruption during Chuck's red test complicates matters for both him and Chuck. Casey, of course, has now committed murder without any kind of government-issued license to kill to cover him, but I'm also not sure what kind of favor he did Chuck - at least, assuming Beckman wasn't going to order Chuck's death again. If the job Chuck is training for requires the ability to kill from time to time, and Chuck still can't bring himself to do it (both of his "kills" from season two were accidents)... well, isn't Casey just setting Chuck up to fail - or, worse, get himself killed because his opponents will have no such compunction?

But I'm sure the writers thought that problem through, even if Casey didn't, and Chuck's continued skittishness about homicide will play an important role in these next two episodes. And I'm hopeful that the spy stuff will be as much fun as it was here, with Chuck busting out the kung fu in a steam bath, and winding up nude on a hotel balcony to get a good look at the bad guy. ("I am a naked spy!")

Again, the idea of Casey choosing continued employment at the Buy More is pretty goofy, even by "Chuck" standards, but as we saw with the Casey/Morgan team-up in "Chuck vs. First Class," Casey having to carry out actual Buy More duties is a comedy goldmine. And the stakes are even higher here because, at the moment, Casey doesn't seem to have a real job to fall back on if he can't stop himself from punching Lester.

Where Jeff and Lester were mostly harmless in the first two seasons (give or take Lester's brief turn as Ass Man, and various scams), the duo have become much more antagonistic towards our heroes (Morgan included) this season, and it's been a very smart use of Vik Sahay and Scott Krinsky. Their sheer delight at forcing Casey to eat Jeff's sandwich while Lester lists all the places Jeff's mouth could have been ("fire hydrants!") was hilarious, as was Baldwin playing Casey's struggle to follow Big Mike's teaching.

Two more episodes from what was the original season 3 run, then two weeks off for reruns, then Season 3.1 kicks off in late April. Based on how the show's been bringing it lately, I'm very excited.

Some other thoughts on "Chuck vs. the Final Exam":

• This week in "Chuck" music: Hall & Oates' "Private Eyes" (Chuck puts it on the iPod during the stakeout, just as he used it in a stakeout mix in "Sizzling Shrimp"), "Permalight" by Rogue Wave (Sarah invites Chuck to dinner at Union Station) and "In My Sleep" by Austin Hartley-Leonard (Sarah tells him that he has to kill Perry).

• This week in "Chuck" pop culture references: Anatoly's cover name is Ivan Drago, who was, of course, the steroid-abusing, Apollo Creed-killing commie bastard villain of "Rocky IV." Two Drago clips for ya: his catchphrase and Rocky and Drago's training montage, scored to the not-at-all-dated-no-matter-what-you-say sounds of John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band.

• The supporting cast availability is flip-flopped from last week, with Morgan, Ellie and Awesome absent, and Big Mike and Jeffster! back in the fold.

• Two weeks ago, we got our first Subway sandwich sighting of the season, and here, we go whole-hog, with a long scene set at the mall's Subway shop, complete with Jeff ordering his own creation (the Tunaroni), and Big Mike uttering what should be the chain's new slogan: "Subway can soothe the tummy and the soul."

And speaking of one-time "Chuck" savior Subway, many people (including Josh Schwartz) were very concerned when the show's ratings last week dropped 17% from the week before, even though the CBS comedies were in repeats and ABC was in between "The Bachelor" and "Dancing with the Stars." You can pin most of the blame on Daylight Savings Time, since it's been a trend in recent seasons that nearly every show (particularly shows in the 8 o'clock hour) suffers when DST begins, because people are staying out longer and watching less TV. On the same night, "House" was down a similar amount.

The difference, of course, is that "House" can stand to lose 17% of its audience a lot more easily than "Chuck" can. I still believe NBC's problems are too big and widespread for "Chuck" to not come back next year, even if it's just as cannon fodder until other parts of the schedule can stabilize. (If they try to come back in the fall with a schedule that's primarily composed of new shows, they're gonna get killed.) But I could certainly say that with more confidence based on the ratings circa "Chuck vs. the Beard" than I could after last week's numbers. A fan campaign like last year's isn't going to work again. All that matters at this point are two numbers: the ratings the show pulls over the rest of the season, and the license fee Warner Bros. is willing to agree to for a fourth season. All we can do is watch (and encourage anyone we might know with a Nielsen box to watch), wait and hope.

What did everybody else think?

244 comments:

1 – 200 of 244   Newer›   Newest»
Finn said...

Bathroom fight scene, major fail, but otherwise a good tense episode.

r1pvanw1nkl3 said...

that was totally intense. reminds me of the final episodes of season 2, but with a much much darker tone.

filmcricket said...

Can we assume the steam-room fight scene was a PG shout-out to "Eastern Promises"?

CPK said...

Sarah and Shaw..TOTAL FAIL. Fedak wasn't kidding in his TV guide interview. They have lost their minds if they think we want to watch this much Shaw and Sarah and that this is what the fans deserve. Yes, deserve. TV isn't just self indulgent writing for one's own enjoyment. There is an audience and ratings. No doubt SS are sleeping together after tonight is there? So let's see--all that have faith stuff was have faith that in episode 13 we might get a Chuck and Sarah moment. Gee. That is going to make this arc worth it..not. An entire season of barely any Chuck and Sarah interaction. Diehards like Alan (no offense Alan) will say ths season was "epic". Well, I was a diehard, but the fact that Shaw is continuing beyond this episode as not just a minor love interest for Sarah, but major, doesn't make for fun viewing. Wasn't Chuck supposed to be fun? And Sarah of old would never have participated in that red test and would not have made Chuck feel if he didn't do it he could never be with her. I know SS won't last, but what a lousy, depressing episode..again.

Anonymous said...

Overall, a really good episode.

One other pop culture reference: I think the whole restaurant scene was also a reference to the final exam in La Femme Nikita.

WWWeaves said...

There is a 'not' missing from the last paragraph!!!!!

Greg said...

Alan, how can you say "possibly as more"?? Shaw was in Sarah's apartment. Sarah admitted to Chuck that she and Shaw are dating. It's not possibly more..IT IS more.

Horatio said...

Casey's rug is distractingly bad. Archie Campbell had a more convincing piece on "Hee Haw".

Also, do they no longer care that Chuck is "The Intersect" and in need of extra protection/special treatment?

Brad said...

the piece of jewelry that the woman dropped looked an awful lot like the charm bracelet! could it be that sarah killed chuck's mom?!??

Anonymous said...

I'm so bored of putting off the inevitable. Oh hey look, another artificial obstacle.

Anonymous said...

(1) This was a complete mess.

(2) I'm not sure tonight's show did Subway any favors.

(3) The ending with Casey was like a slightly *more* absurd version of the end of "Billy Madison," when Steve Buscemi appears out of nowhere with a rifle--with no forewarning or explanation whatsoever--to shoot the bad guy who pulled a gun on Adam Sandler.

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

providing suspense (will/did Chuck kill Hunter?)

There was no suspense whatsoever. We begin with a flashforward in which we hear a gunshot but don't see Chuck pull the trigger; when, midway through the episode, Chuck presents Casey with a gun smuggled out of Castle and Casey responds credulously when informed that Chuck had passed his final test, the identity of the shooter was glaringly obvious.

CJ said...

I am so sick of Sarah and Shaw, and I don't get how we're supposed to buy one minute that she can no longer love Chuck if she thinks he's a killer but she can be cold to him all season and have feelings for Shaw? I was hoping for a moment or two tonight that whatever was going on between Sarah and Shaw was going to be revealed that he was using her to test/use Chuck. I could almost believe that, because that would put Sarah in that awkward no-win situation of being unhappy, uncomfortable, but unable to blow her second cover. Even if it turns out to be that, though, we have had entirely too much time with Shaw in the picture and contributing very little to the chemistry, the plot, etc.

Ellen said...

No-one should save Schwartz's butt this time. The ratings are no-one's fault but their own. Why anyone would think this Shaw/Sarah plot is what the fans wanted to watch when they worked to bring the show back is beyond me. JS made no apology for it either. He stands by this season. Then he can live with the ratings too. I bought Subway, wrote in, etc, but not again. I love Chuck but it was time to let go of the contrivances (the interrupted kisses, the love interests), but they have piled them on this season so it's been unbearable. They could have accomplished everything they wanted to without the love interest plots and given us more ZL and YS air time. I've stuck with it, but with only 2 episodes left in this portion of the season, nothing is going to redeem it for me now. They took it all to the point where it made the season unenjoyable. I had hoped tonight would be a turning point, but they just piled it on further.

Dan said...

As much as I love the show, I am starting to hope the writers tie up all the current storylines going into the season finale. I have my doubts that there are enough ideas creatively to maintain Chuck at the level it is at now.
I think the show would be better suited to come up with a overall ending for the show. Go out on top.

Anonymous said...

The restaurant scene seemed like a La Femme Nikita reference to me too, complete with ending up in the bathroom though the details were different.

The guy they killed at the end, played it seemed by the actor from Worst Week, looked like an interesting character and it's a shame he's gone now. It would have been interesting to learn a bit more about him, he added something.

I was left assuming that the woman who arrived to pick up Chuck is likely from The Ring.

Overall it was a decent episode but Shaw is just so terribly bland that it stretches all my credulity to imagine Sarah with him. I have no problem with her being with someone other than Chuck but he's a poor choice.

And re: someone else's twitter comment to Alan, the producers really need to start using words other than spy. Operative would be a great start.

Kristie said...

Only one good line this entire episode: I'm a naked spy.

Danny F. said...

No mention of the awful use of in media res? Usually you're so critical of that tactic, and given the way it actually detracted from tonight's episode (IMO), surprised you didn't call attention to it.

At least for me, it only gave away the mole's ID (at least subverting the possibility of it being a character we already know), showed the inevitability of having the mole at gunpoint, and hinted strongly at the fact of someone else pulling the trigger. Plus, "no gunshot from Chuck or otherwise" was never a possibility, which is a failure of the "suspense" leading up to that moment.

Also hated the directing during the bathroom right. Seemed like amateur hour. Slo-mo, on THIS show, which usually has such strong, well-choreo'd and fast-paced gunfights... fail.

mrt said...

Another pretty solid episode. I agree with Alan that even for a show which requires one to suspend belief fairly frequently (which I willingly do), there were a few moments tonight that even caused me to shake my head. And boy, the sooner Brandon Routh is gone the better. I realize he probably seemed like a good idea to the writers/creators before the season (with the whole Superman connection), but I can't help but wonder if they are regretting it now. His performances on Chuck have been wooden and he has no chemistry with the rest of the cast. Every time he shows up in a scene, I find myself cringing (and it has nothing to do with the Chuck/Sarah relationship).

Anonymous said...

A quibble:

Hunter was pulling a gun; Casey shooting him doesn't constitute murder whether he's Joe Civilian or Emperor of the World.

AM said...

I'm pretty sure the opening scene (when Lester is pleading with Jeff not to shoot him) is from a movie...Can't figure it out though.

Decent episode- the Subway stuff was a little much but obviously necessary for the show to live. I don't see how anyone could argue that this season is better then the past 2. Everything, from the storyline's to the special effects to the intangibles seems a notch below what they were doing last year. Hope the show stays alive.

Anonymous said...

It has certainly seemed the intersect-in-chuck's-head-is-a-matter-of-national-security hasn't mattered this entire season, as Beckman has been content to toss Chuck aside multiple times.

Pamela Jaye said...

too bummed by the end of your review to have a comment.

Kyle said...

I really REALLY liked this episode. One of my favorites, in fact. However, I'm very disappointed to see most of these comments are negative, some veering on the edge of creating a Chuckpocalypse II: European Gigolo. Sarah has been known to fall for the type of guy Shaw is before, so while I feel like their relationship was rushed, I don't think it's completely unbelievable or unrealistic. And the Sarah/Shaw aspect was such a small part of this episode. When Sarah met Chuck, she was surprised to fall for him because it's not the type she usually falls for, so when she thinks that he's becoming the type she usually falls for, it scares her to think he won't be that same person.

The other problem that I think some may have with the show is the darker turn it's taking and complete change that has taken place with the dynamics of the characters. I can understand why some people would want Chuck to always be about this team that gets a mission and completes it and that's the way it stays. But I much appreciate the change, I get tired of things easily and I think the change really keeps things from getting stale.

But, hey, you can't please everyone.

And I totally agree on the use of the word 'spy'.

arrabbiata said...

I don't think Chuck will ever be a cold blooded killer, but last week it looked like he was real close to killing a bad guy before Sarah snapped him out of it. Actually I'm kind of surprised that the new Intersect doesn't include some kind of killer training, something we are shown is necessary to prove one's worth as a spy. Logically he wouldn't be used in the field on a simple assassination mission- his unique abilities would be too valuable to waste there.

As soon as Chuck's target announced a need to use the bathroom I immediately thought of the Godfather, and was almost half expecting to see a pull chain toilet in one of those stalls.

Someone out there will have to try a tunaroni and report back here on the results.

I'm as annoyed with the continued presence of Shaw, like most people here, but otherwise a pretty good episode.

Alan Sepinwall said...

too bummed by the end of your review to have a comment.

Crucial missing word there (that I just inserted): "I still believe NBC's problems are too big and widespread for "Chuck" to not come back next year,"

Michael G. said...

My specific thoughts from the episode:

--My reaction to Sarah's quote from above that led to the credits? "Please hit us over the head more writers. Please."
--Sarah's there for the stakeout but no other part of the mission? While Shaw is also listening in? Why?
--"This isn't over." Good line, nice delivery by Levi.
--Really? Drago throws intel on the ground. That's convenient (unless it's a trap, in which case, good move). Oh, he ignores the fact that his muscle leaves him alone? Also convenient.
--Figured Sarah was going to kill Perry, so Casey was a surprise. (Considering that I noticed the gun Chuck gifted Casey and the one Chuck had were the same, it probably shouldn't have been).

Overall, I still think the writers are asking us to overlook a lot more than they did in the first two seasons, or at least being more sloppy about it being open. But I thought this was the funniest episode in a long time, and still enjoyed it quite a bit. Didn't top last week's.

3333/afa said...

I liked tonight's episode, but apparently it's time for another "Chuck"-pocalypse here at Alan's blog. I'm going to get my popcorn.

Gwindor said...

"I don't see how anyone could argue that this season is better then the past 2. Everything, from the storyline's to the special effects to the intangibles seems a notch below what they were doing last year. Hope the show stays alive."

It's certainly better than season 1. It's not quite as good as season 2 but it's not much worse, especially the last few episodes.

Pamela Jaye said...

and now the comments are making me even more depressed so I'm going to go eat dinner and watch Big Bang Theory and hope Kate Gosselin does something really bad on DWTS to cheer me up.

Sob.

Michael G. said...

Finn said...

Bathroom fight scene, major fail


Oh, and this. What the hell? That was by far worse than anything in the Levi-directed episode, including the flash bang scene.

BillAtWork said...

JS said in an interview before the season began (Hitfix?) that we wouldn't feel exhausted by wt/wt. But that's exactly what I sense people ARE feeling.

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

I'm feeling another Chuckpocalypse coming on!

David said...

I thought they were saying "the bread test." As in will he rise to the occasion and be able to kill.

mrt said...

Kyle,

I can't speak for all the people who have been critical of the show this season, but my criticisms are not necessarily with the plot lines/darker direction the show has taken. Frankly, if you'd given me a CliffsNotes type summary of the first 11 episodes back in January, I think I would have been pretty excited. However, I just think that the execution of this season hasn't lived up to the standards of the previous two. I think that the budget cuts explain a lot of it, storylines seem rushed, production values are down, and the exclusion of certain characters from episodes has felt forced (plus, Brandon Routh has been a poor addition to the cast). Anyhow, I still enjoy the show and am looking forward to the rest of the season, but I still maintain that this season isn't meeting the standards set in the previous two.

ML said...

We're all gonna die! Two fictional TV characters aren't doing exactly what some people want them to do! Aaaaaa!

Ahem.

Loved the episode. Love this season. As much as I enjoyed the first two seasons -- rarely has a show ever been as much pure fun -- it would have grown tedious had it stayed that way forever. Change is scary, but change is good.

Anonymous said...

"I still believe NBC's problems are too big and widespread for "Chuck" to come back next year, even if it's just as cannon fodder until other parts of the schedule can stabilize."

Did you mean NBC's problems are too big and widespread for "Chuck" not to come back next year...

Anonymous said...

Meh.

Anonymous said...

I loved this episode. It was incredibly tense.

Other than the final test to see if he could kill, Chuck was incredibly competent in this. I like competent Chuck.

I also like the dilemma they left Chuck in of being an agent, but essentially knowing he kinda cheated.

One of my favorite episodes of the season. I can't wait to see how where it goes.

Anonymous said...

Well not sure I want a fourth season from what i have read they plan on re-inventing the show yet again as evidently the show has been a disaster this year.

Really more sham, the damamge done to sarah is huge she has acted like a gossip girl extra. Shes such a good spy she does not notice shaw is a scum bag that is using them - what? she is a rubbish spy, she was so cool in season 1 and 2. Now She hates chuck cause she thinks he killed someone. She will not be with chuck as he wants to be a spy. The girl is trouble and chuck should have been with Hannah. I really do not buy why sarah and chuck should be together please just get her off this show and give chuck a decent, honest and loyal woman. After her flaky behaviour this year chuck is better off without her.

Why does chuck have to chase her again its so demeaning to men.

Baylink said...

> Hunter was pulling a gun; Casey shooting him doesn't constitute murder whether he's Joe Civilian or Emperor of the World

Correct. "Lawful defense of another" is a valid defense to homicide in every US jursidiction of which I'm aware.

Whether he still had a pistol permit, of course, is a different issue.

I didn't like this one quite as much as the previous two, either; but clearly, this new writer has a groove.

I didn't go to Trek for the theme, though, Alan; I prefer War Games:

"A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."

Kyle said...

mrt,

I agree that this season doesn't feel as well put together as the last season (in my opinion, it easily trumps the first half of season one) and this can probably be attributed to the budget cuts and 13 episode season they thought they had. I still think this is one of the most consistently enjoyable shows on television though. I'm very interested to see what they do with last six episodes, especially with the return of a certain character.

And let's get this out of the way: In no way, shape, or form should any tv critic or commenter ever use the phrase 'guess who's Bakula?' Got it?

Lisa said...

I've given Brandon Routh all the rope I can. God, he's horrible. And what's particularly awful is that they could have saved his salary and STILL sustained every aspect of the Sarah/Chuck arc and done it much more effectively. Sarah didn't have to hop in bed with someone else to play out her worries about Chuck's future and her confusion about her feelings for him. This stupid relationship with Shaw makes Sarah's character nonsensical, and I hate it.

Add that to your comments about the ratings, Alan, and I'm starting to wonder if we are really going to have to steel ourselves for a series finale in May.

Baylink said...

Oh, and if we were supposed to get from the shooting sequence that Chuck did *not* pull the trigger on $BADGUY, then Director Fail.

jarodrussell said...

Maybe they should start having better shows like "vs. Beard" that actually make you like Chuck and his characters, instead of "vs. Fake Name" that make you question that they are the good guys.

Kyle said...

Baylink,

I agree with you there. I was confused as to who had actually shot until Casey and Chuck talked about it at the end of the episode. So Director: 0, Scriptwriters: 1. Actually, make that Director: -1 just for that bathroom fight scene.

Flap Jackson said...

I knew the ultimatum Chuck was faced with in his mission was going to find some middle ground. He wouldn't kill the guy, and he wouldn't be dropped as a spy, again. That middle ground just happened to be Casey, which adds a bunch to his character and his place in the show. And it was totally unexpected, at least for me.

Well played Chuck, well played.

Phillip said...

Bathroom fight scene, major fail

I think it could have been executed better, but I thought the change of pace (choppy, slow)was deliberate and reminded me of Bond's first kill in Casino Royale. The idea being that killing isn't glamorous like most of the Chuck fight scenes. It was trying to convey the seriousness of the situation.

Again, not done perfectly, but I followed the logic. I was ok with it.

BillAtWork said...

Someone has to explain something to me.

Chuck tells Sarah that he doesn't want to kill. Doesn't think he can do it. Only would do it so that they could be together.

So she holds it against him when she thinks that he did. Can't love him anymore. So instead, she goes off with the guy who manipulated her into making him do it in the first place.

What am I missing?

Peg said...

I feel like the Chuck show of old, is buried under this ridiculously drawn out Sarah and Shaw story. Moreoever, they've had Sarah being completely inconsisent and illogical to the point of distraction. She can be with Shaw, but not Chuck? She tells Shaw all her secrets, name reveal, worst day of her life, but barely confides in Chuck. Shaw pushes her to push Chuck and she does? After thinking Chuck has killed and knowing what a bad day it was for her, she won't take his call?? Sleeps with Shaw OBVIOUSLY and makes out with the dude more than she ever has Chuck and the reason we're given is he's the guy that in an alternate universe she'd be with, and who she thinks she should be with, and oh yeah, she loves Chuck so of course it's easier to be with Shaw?? That makes one bit of sense how? I could have bought them if there was any chemistry and it had ended much sooner without so much betrayal of Chuck. I loved Sarah and now I don't like her character very much at all. It's starting to feel like why isn't she just with Shaw then? I think she killed Eve as her first kill. Which will be super weird and bizarre to have had her dating Shaw. I agree it call could have been done without Shaw or Hannah and Shaw has been pushed too far.

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand why Sarah is with Shaw. He is an incredibly unappealing character being played by a terrible actor.

Also, I'm afraid I must agree with Horatio about Adam's hairpiece. He'd be better off wearing that toupee from 3.02.

Pale Writer said...

Really? No one commented on the homage to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance?

When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

You could probably tweak that around into something about Chuck, but...eh.


No lie: my word verification is "fucit". As in "fucit", I'll still watch this show even if I imagined it being completely different after season 2's finale.

Lisa said...

Did anyone ellse notice the parallel between the end result of Chuck's "shooting" and Chuck witnessing Sarah's shooting of the Fulcrum agent in "Chuck vs. Santa Claus?" They've both managed to horrify each other now, and I wonder if that will ever come up again?

greg willis said...

I thought the bathroom fight scene where Chuck was supposed to make his first kill was pretty sweet. It was deliberately reminiscent of the opening scene from Casino Royale where Bond gets his first kill, and ultimately begins to lose his soul.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, I noticed and it further harms Sarah's character. Yvonne's doing a fine job with what she's got to work with, but the writers have made Sarah wishy-washy and laaaaaame.

They've also separated the most appealing part of the show, which is the byplay between Chuck, Casey, and Sarah. This arc blows, and it has nothing to do with Shaw/Sarah (though Routh is awful).

Lisa said...

What Peg said.

Jim Hill said...

No comment on Casey's "bunk" line, recapturing Baldwin's most shining moment from "Firefly" ?

Chrissy said...

I am generally totally uncritical of Chuck. I've really enjoyed this whole season, don't mind the Shaw stuff overly, and am not particularly concerned about Chuck and Sarah getting together. But this episode didn't seem too great to me. I had trouble right off the bat getting past the idea that Casey would stay at the Buy More, for a lot of reasons. I don't normally expect much in the way of realism, but how is he going to afford his lux apartment that is identical to one afforded by two doctors on, what $12.00 an hour, max? Not a chance.

I set that aside, though, and enjoyed some of what transpired next, particularly Sarah warming up to Chuck on their stakeout/date. This was despite the fact that it feels like we've been here before; Chuck getting tested, breaking up the band; will Chuck become a real spy, etc.

But then we come to Casey killing the mole for Chuck. Which takes away Chuck's choice (which is the interesting aspect of all this), as well as highlights an issue that really needs to come to a head. Chuck is clearly not cut out to be a spy. He'd be a great analyst, world class. But he makes stupid mistakes all the time, and he has no confidence in what the government tells him to do. He's unable to make hard choices like killing that mole, and that is what this version of the CIA asks of him. He constantly gets emotionally involved and has no ability to compartmentalize. It's frankly getting silly that they want us to believe Beckman would send him into the world alone to do real spy work.

I do find it a little bit funny that people think Sarah and Shaw are a bad couple. Sarah is interesting, in that her life is so unlike ours, and she's beautiful and well-acted by Strahovski. But she's not, how to put this, a mesmerizing personality. She's not exactly bubbling over with joie de vivre. She and Shaw seem quite well-suited to me. It's clear that Chuck loves her, and that she loves him in her way, and I like them both and hope those crazy kids make this work. But I could easily see either one of them with many, many other people, and if the show doesn't end up being all about their twu wuv, I can totally deal with that. (Not to imply that anyone here is only interested in that, it's just an undercurrent I see in various comments. I think I might be more invested if they backburnered that relationship completely and let both characters grow independent of it.)

mtw179k said...

Wow.

Am I the only one who thinks that Sarah is a Mata Hari tasked to expose Shaw as a Ring operative? Even Casey's "dismissal" could be part of the plan, which would emphasize the fun-house mirror nature of the spy world even more.

I'm sorry that so many people are apparently suffering mortal emotional wounds, but I won't pass judgment on the season until the story is told.

Anonymous said...

shaw casts a filthy stench over the show, the creative team puts together reasonably good shows, only to end each one with sarah and shaw alone, 3.5, ,3.7,3.8,3.9.3.10 she was in a cab heading toward him, and now 3.11 - this show should be called shaw - and the unfortunate part, sarah shaw have no chemistry, and the shaw sarah story is borderline idiot....take away that, the show is pretty good. (oh, and the shark got jumped in 3.8, and certainly got jumped again tonight)

Baylink said...

Yes, Lisa. Yes!

I said it: "What, Sarah; it's ok for you to shoot the bad guy in pretty cold blood... but it's not ok for Chuck to kill his *in self defense*?"

I like the show, but, Chris? Josh? My suspension of disbelief is about to snap like a rusty leaf spring. C'mon, guys; you can do better than this.

I know "Story Editor" is just an excuse-title these days for another staff writer, but *you need one*. Bad.

Joseph said...

Gah, like so many others, I just have to say Shaw is awful awful awful. At this point, I almost hope he takes off with Sarah so the show has no excuse not to have the rest of the still-entertaining part of the cast in every episode.

I think this season has been plenty entertaining as a whole, but it's just unfortunate how much they neutered Sarah and...yeah, Shaw. Seriously, I get excited in the rare episode the General gets to appear in now.

It's too bad these episodes were done so long ago, because some sort of ridiculous "Shaw Explodes in a Ring-controlled Orbiting Satellite" plot device could have been used to get the whole fan base cheering again.

Ah well, three seasons for such an absurdly awesome show is probably too much to ask for!

mizenkay said...

Glad I'm not the only one thinking Casey could fly to Persia with that rug. Yikes. But he really looked good in the suit, so it all evens out.

I'm missing the Chuck (the show) that used to be funny. The one that had me guffawing faithfully every week, along with the drama and the romance and the clever pop culture thing. Where has that show gone? Chuck vs. The Beard had that for the most part, but this season has been a little long on the dark and violent, and is missing the inherent charm that made this my favorite show on TV.

Yes, the characters must grow and evolve, but maybe they've game-changed a little too fast. I barely even recognize Sarah anymore. And Shaw has been a big clunker, talk about stiff and wooden acting. Overall this season has been so all over the place as to be a big mess.
I loved the idea of Chuck-fu giving him these crazy powers, but they haven't even taken that to its potential and now they're talking in these recently published interviews that the game will change yet again? I don't know if I can take that so soon. If they don't get a season 4 I wouldn't be at all surprised. Not being negative, just really realistic.

Baylink said...

Chrissy: concerning Sarah's joie de vivre... I don't see it *lately*.

I don't see it since Shaw arrived; I don't see it since Prague; I don't see it since Chuck went on the Spy Track.

I used to see it, though...

I've been assuming she's in a lousy mood since she finally admitted to herself that a) she wants Chuck, and b) she cannot *have* Chuck.

eurench: what you use to work on your broken car, in Prague.

Baylink said...

One last comment for me before bed.

About Joseph's "Shaw explodes" thing?

Anyone remember that Buffy S7 episode where someone grabs a roll of duct tape and goes off to tape Dawn's mouth shut?

Matt W said...

I did find it funny that when I saw Kyle Bornheimer, I was waiting for him to mess something up royally, a la his character 'Sam' from "Worst Week." If you look at the big picture, though, 'Sam' struck again. He was a mole who got spotted, and he tripped and fell when his life depended on it. Classic 'Sam.'

Overall, I'm with almost everyone here. I hate Shaw, as he just throws everything out of whack. Yeah, Chuck has to grow as a spy, but it seems to me that Shaw is doing his best to just push Chuck to the side so that he can get closer to Sarah.

The show only works when Sarah, Chuck, and Casey are together, whether on a mission or not. Shaw just throws a wrench into everything.

HOWEVER, I do like the storyline about Chuck growing up and becoming a real spy. It had to happen some time people, whether Sarah is at his side or not (of course, we will all root for the former).

Overall: 8.0/10

Matt W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Kyle Bornheimer in a knife fight…

Danielle said...

It's an interesting social experiment watching how the comments always play out. The negative ones are ridiculed as being written by people who are obsessive, irrational, crazies who can't tell rela life from a TV show. Why is it that if you think a show is lacking in quality for whatever reason, it can't be the ones who don't see that who are the crazies? I'd say overwhelmingly the fans don't like the Shaw/Sarah arc. It's self evident to me why that is. If someone doesn't see what a bad idea it was and how it's not been well received, then I say they are the crazy ones.

Anonymous said...

Why is Sarah with Shaw?

a) Look at him
b) Look at her
c) Look at him again
d) Her heart was crushed by a guy
e) The same guy ran off with another girl
f) The guy from a and c was waiting with open arms
g) She has a history of working with brown-haired coworkers.

It's not very complicated.

greg said...

May be just me, but I saw Sarah's pain as more of a Chuck never would have changed if he never met me than as a Chuck has killed someone now, so I can't love someone like that.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alrighty, then. I've let this play out for a few hours, and we're not having another incident like a few weeks ago.

TALK ABOUT THE SHOW, NOT EACH OTHER.

You want to complain about the show, or Shaw, or anything else? Fine. You want to praise the show? Fine. But figure out a way to do it in which you are not mocking, insulting or in any other way belittling those here who disagree with you.

For most of you, this doesn't seem so hard to figure out, but for the handful of you who are having trouble, stop it. Now. Disagreeing about a TV show doesn't give you license to be an asshole.

Steve B said...

I only have one problem with this season, and it's Shaw. I can understand the need for a character like him, but this has just been going on for too long. A three episode arc would have been fine, but he's been part of almost the entire season. It's been six episodes now, and more to come.

That's a huge investment for a guest star, and I don't know why chose to do that. The payoff just hasn't been there.

Last week's episode was a great example. Get rid of Shaw, and Chuck/Sarah/Casey give us a great old-fashioned Chuck episode. Bring him back and he's just sucked the life out of everything.

I can understand why the writers wanted to change things up this year. If the show and characters don't evolve, they stagnate. But I think they made a mistake by changing the heart of the show, which is Chuck/Sarah/Casey.

Anonymous said...

Knowing that Chuck and Sarah are meant to be together, we, as the audience should assume that they both still love each other, even when they are not together. They will gradually come to terms and accept the changes in each other. Yeah? Now, if only they get rid of the un-awesome Shaw....

Steve B said...

One last comment about Sarah. I don't care that she's with Shaw. I don't care that she's slept with Shaw. It's natural after being crushed to want to be with someone. A rebound. But I think what strikes so many as false is the way she is opening up to him.

My favorite episodes from the first few seasons were those where we learned some of Sarah's backstory. Chuck v the Cougars, etc. Those were great because we saw Sarah as someone who finally found a person she could open up to, however slightly. We saw how difficult it was for her to do that. We saw that she was only able to open up to Chuck, and not Bryce, because of who he was, and the goodness he represented. When we see Sarah almost casually opening up to Shaw, her rebound, it just doesn't compute.

I think I sound negative about the show, which I don't mean to, I still look forward to watching each week. I'm just disappointed the characters are acting in a way that doesn't match what we know about them.

Pamela Jaye said...

Crucial missing word there (that I just inserted): "I still believe NBC's problems are too big and widespread for "Chuck" to not come back next year,"

glad I peeked back in. :-)

I'm going to go watch a judge say that Kate's partner "pushed her around like a shopping cart" again. :-)

thanks
(and I really loved the Subway scene. I'm liking Chuck's new grown up hair too.)

Leah said...

oh! man that missing word sure is important! I was pretty excited about the episode and then boom that brought me down hard. Very glad for the correction :)

Pamela Jaye said...

Baylink - I think that was Buffy who did that to Dawn. With a comment. I wonder if it's on youtube... I do remember there was an ep, Normal Again, where Buffy was nuts, or thought she'd been nuts for the past 7 years after a demon ...stabbed her with some poison.

thanks for the eurench

Anonymous said...

I can understand why Sarah's opening up to Shaw in seemingly uncharacteristic ways...she's trying to force a connection with Shaw by over-sharing. This strikes me as fairly standard, post-getting your heart broken / have no one else to turn to type behavior.

Pamela Jaye said...

btw, has anyone here *ever* met anyone with a Nielsen box? Just wondering.

Ring Agent #6 said...

(1) Shaw is the failure of this season. He just doesn't work.

(2) The bathroom scene is clearly a reference to James Bond's first kill in Casino Royale.

Anonymous said...

HOWEVER, I do like the storyline about Chuck growing up and becoming a real spy. It had to happen some time people, whether Sarah is at his side or not (of course, we will all root for the former).

Except Chuck never actually does grow up. Somebody else always has to take care of the unpleasant aspects because he refuses to shoulder the responsibility. It's a stark contrast to the guy who, in the wake of Bryce's death, decided he needed to step to the plate on behalf of mom and apple pie.

Henry said...

I'm starting to reeeeally hate the "brief-cliffhanger-at-the-beginning-of-the-episode-then-jumping-back-X-amount-of-time" plot. Just kills any amount of tension one might have during a fight in the middle of the episode... like the one Chuck has Eastern-Promises-style in this episode. It was used so well years ago in Alias, but has become really tired (it cropped up in last week's episode of Human Target). Plus, seriously? The glasses-fogging-up-in-the-steam-room bit? Come on... it's been done.

On the plus side, Yvonne looks really great (I mean, more than usual), Casey is hilarious at the Buy More (LOVE showing his hand to Lester and Jeff with the hand saying he's gonna kill them), and the use of Ivan Drago as a cover alias.

Henry said...

Oh, and do the writers know what a "solo mission" is? 'Cause I was really expecting Chuck to have some shout-outs of Shaw or Sarah or something. I guess in shows with spies, it's hard not to have backup, but the show keeps saying, "Hey, this is the week Chuck goes solo" like it's a big thing, but he NEVER goes solo.

Does give some good romantic tension to the Chuck and Sarah scenes, though.

BillAtWork said...

I agree with a lot of the comments. The show was at it's best when Sarah and Casey were the spies and Chuck contributed in other ways.

And I still think that could be the formula. Chuck is obviously never going to be a Bryce Larkin type spy. His emotions are going to get him killed. What's wrong with the partnership of C/S? She's the hard ass spy and he has the intangibles. Seems like that couple is more than the sum of the parts.

Like many others, I just don't see what Shaw brings. Even from a spy perspective.

I also don't see how The Ring is different than Fulcrum.

sean said...

I think everyone is free to their opinion. But I will say that crowdsourcing a television show's plotline is a really stupid idea. Fans 'want' all sorts of things, but sometimes they don't realize that they shouldn't get those things. That's why fans typically aren't creators (and when they are, it's often a trainwreck). When you give in to your fans, you get crap like Alien vs Predator. It's okay to give them a little something here and there, which I feel Chuck has often done.

I agree that the Sarah/Shaw situation has seemed forced as they don't have tremendous chemistry, but as someone mentioned earlier, I keep feeling like this could all be leading to a final reveal where we find out it's all been some kind of operation. I can't help but think of Beckman's conversation with Shaw in his first episode, and how she said something along the lines of 'they aren't ready for this'. I haven't seen any mission so far that's really lived up to her trepidation.

chuckfan said...

This is my first time reading posts after an episode but I'm really enjoying it. I agree with what a lot of people are saying but particularly with greg's comment "I saw Sarah's pain as more of a Chuck never would have changed if he never met me than as a Chuck has killed someone now, so I can't love someone like that." Also, if I was Sarah, I'd be pretty hesitant to get back with Chuck too. It's kind of weird to me that he can go off and sleep with these girls he barely knows and it doesn't affect the way Sarah feels about him. I'm a girl. If a guy I liked went and slept with someone, that would kind of damper how I feel about them. But his sleeping around seems to have little significance other than pushing Sarah into Shaw's arms. I do think the episodes this season have been amazing. Morgan finding out Chuck's secret... FINALLY. HILARIOUS. I'm ready for some Chuck/Sarah reunion but I like the little twists we are taking. I just hope that Sarah finds out that Casey really killed the mole and I'm VERY excited to see if Sarah's first kill was a) Chuck's Mom (charm bracelet) or b) Shaw's wife

Thanks for writing the reviews!!

Anonymous said...

Was it just to obvious to mention the Mission Impossible/your mission is/self destructing tape player, updated to a DVD player? It seemed that even Chuck mentioned it - "is this thing really self destructing?"

Henry said...

How could Casey have SHOT AROUND Chuck? He was standing in front of the guy, no? I get that Casey is a good marksman, but he can't be that good!

nb said...

I was really looking forward to this episode but it kind of fell flat for me. The CS drama is so old that I really don't care anymore. I am officially emotionally exhausted. I did not really go for the Casey side story either. I will say that Chuck's character has finally evolved to a good mix of new super spy grounded by old Chuck's principles and charm.

Jeeves said...

This episode was mediocre. There were some great moments with Casey, but there were some terrible scenes with Shaw to offset that. I don't know, I just don't feel the same way about this season as I have in the past about Chuck. Something just feels off this season. I blame not having all the characters in the same episode. Without the full cast, every episode feels incomplete. I also think they wasted a lot of potential with Sarah and exploring her past as a storyline. Instead of choosing to so obviously make her this needy, weak stereotype character, they could have focused more on her reasons for not wanting Chuck to change. It makes no sense she would be so repulsed by Chuck's plummet into the depths of being a spy that she would then want to be in a relationship with another hardcore, emotionless spy. I love the show and it is my favorite thing on TV, I just really hope it starts getting better.

Anonymous said...

"Your spy test begins tomorrow." UGH.

I've suffered through this show's poor dialog for two and a half seasons. It's starting to edge into show-killer territory.

Daphne B. said...

"mtw179k said...

Wow.

Am I the only one who thinks that Sarah is a Mata Hari tasked to expose Shaw as a Ring operative? "


Whew, I'm not the only one with that thought then :)

I don't think Shaw is a Ring operative though.. the Ring really does seem to want him dead.. Maybe there are 2 lots of bad guys, and Shaw heads the Ring's competition? And Sarah's trying to get info by pretending to be interested in him?

Otter said...

That sound you hear like someone dragging a rock,the writers dragging out chuck and sarah angst.
Shaw = Epic Fail.

Anonymous said...

Major letdown after the 2 great previous episodes.

Brandon Routh cannot get off my television soon enough. The guy is murdering the show.

The plotholes are getting to be too egregious to be ignored. The show has always required you to suspend a certain amount of disbelief, but suspending disbelief isn't the same thing as ignoring previous story arcs.

I did like Chuck's Hurley moment this week when he was getting nastalgiac about the way things used to be. The fans feel the same way!

One thing I would like, is if at some point Chuck and Sarah get in an actual argument. I think they are the only two characters on the show who have never gotten into a serious disagreement about anything, even though they've put each other through the most BS.

LP said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Alan, I'm part of that 17% drop in ratings. Actually, I stopped watching after 3.7. I read your blog in the faint hope of the show coming back but from what I've read, it doesn't appear that way. To have the main relationship in the show do a 180 turn in the last 2 episodes is way overly contrived, even for a show like "Chuck". I'm done.

dez said...

How could Casey have SHOT AROUND Chuck? He was standing in front of the guy, no? I get that Casey is a good marksman, but he can't be that good!

Casey can curve bullets, like the assassins in "Wanted," of course!

I am in a definite minority, but I like Shaw and I don't mind the prolonged separation of Chuck and Sarah. And I really enjoyed this ep, too. Casey in a suit sold the whole thing for me :-)

Lisa said...

Did anyone catch that bizarre moment during Chuck's locker room fight where the camera flashes on this WEIRD smile on Routh's face as Chuck's kicking butt in his towel. I have no idea whether it's bad acting or simply the creepiest camera direction for this character.

I'm assuming that this is just horrible character development unless someone tells me differently.

David said...

@Henry
I think Casey had an angle to shoot the mole, as he was behind Chuck but also to his left, shooting from behind the train car.

This ep was good, but dark like much of S3.

For me what's been lacking this season is the epic, high stakes feel of it all that existed in S1 and much more so in S2. The Intersect, Fulcrum, Orion, Stanford, Bryce, Roark, the Chuck family connection...it was so awesome how all the mythology pieces came together to complement the character drama.

This Season it feels like the Ring is less threatening than Fulcrum was, despite our being told the opposite. The overarching arc has pretty much been Chuck's personal quest to become a spy without the ever-threatening "Oh and Fulcrum's trying to get him too and build an unstoppable army of superspies, etc." to give more weight to the question of whether he succeeds. And Chuck's importance as the one and only human intersect seems to have vanished as they prepare to make him just one more spy...not really any better than Sarah or Casey, just equal to them because of the cheat moves gets from the Game Genie...i mean, intersect.

Matthew said...

I won't get into any specifics, for fear of being ridiculed and accused of whatever it is people are accusing others of this week -- but as it stands right now, the show just isn't fun anymore.

E said...

I actually do have a Neilsen box. Am doing my part, but haven't bought a Subway sandwich in a while...

Rachael said...

I liked this episode for the most part, though I do agree with several of the complaints:

- The way they filmed the bathroom fight scene was odd and distracting.
- I am also at a loss as to why they've decided to keep Shaw on for the entire freaking season thus far.
- If I have to hear them keep using the term "real spy" or even "spy" much longer am going to go ballistic!! Can't they just use the term "agent" instead or something?? They actually did use "agent" once at the end of this episode, praise jeebus.
- Yeah they certainly didn't give a good explanation as to why Casey would still be at the Buy More now that he's lost his job with the NSA. I guess we're supposed to believe it's an interim thing till he can figure out what his next career move is, but I'm really not sure.
- I was very glad for the Chuck/Sarah almost-kissing scene, but I found myself getting mad at Chuck for not paying attention on the mission once again.

There's probably a few other things I'm forgetting too. BUT with all that said, I still enjoyed the episode. I don't mind the darker turn of the show, though I am unsure how they'll get around the thing about Chuck being forced to finally kill someone (on purpose) at some point soon. I'll be curious to see where they take that.

I thought this was a good Sarah episode, especially since one thing that has disappointed me a bit about this season is that it feels like Sarah hasn't been given much to do. They need to let her kick more a$$ ... there hasn't been nearly enough of that this season!! Though we did get some of it last week. And I like getting backstory on her as well (which we got more of tonight).

One other thought - I've been mostly enjoying the season, though the 13 episode original order has definitely made things feel a bit rushed and awkward. I'm trying to forgive that as much as I can though, because I know the writers are doing as much as they can with what they've been given (budget-wise as well). The only other thing that has irked me though is that a lot of the dialogue has been awkward this season. The whole "real spy" term being used over and over again, the too-obvious lines like Sarah at the end of this ep telling Shaw, "Not anymore!" when he asked whether she's still in love with Chuck ... or "Chuck is a spy!" as soon as he (seemingly) killed his target (couldn't she have just said "it's done" or something?) ... some of those lines are too in your face and/or cheesy!! I dunno where that issue came from this season, as I don't recall noticing it nearly as much last season, and most of the writing staff is still the same. Very weird!!

But anyway I hate to spend most of my time complaining because I really did enjoy most of this episode. Good Sarah stuff, good tension in the last 15 mins, Jeff and Lester were pretty funny, good storyline with Chuck's moral conflicts about killing people, etc etc. Now it's time to just hope and pray that the ratings will bounce back from last week, YIKES!! ... crosses fingers and toes and knocks on wood and does a rain (ratings) dance ...

ken said...

I did like the episode, but the truth is i am really getting fatigued by the storyline. In previous seasons the small Chuck/Sarah moments put an extra shine on the rest of the story, this year the continual WTWT seems to tarnish the good parts of what is being told.

I'm not against growth or even having other romantic interests for the characters but things seem to be done in a heavy handed way.

I ralize the risk of using wikipedia as a source, but on the Chuck page there is a quote from Alan "what makes Chuck so special... is that there is a fundemental warmth and humanity under the jokes".

I don't think that there has been much fundemental warmth and humanity this season.

Ian said...

I'm amused that Casey had more to do and say in this episode than in last week's "feature" for him. I'm not sure I really buy Big Mike cowering in terror of Lester's lawyer though - if I were him I'd tell Jeffster that the head-slams will continue until morale improves.

Liked, didn't love, the rest of the episode (apart from some really strange direction at times, especially the bathroom fight). I'm so over the UST at this point that I want Beckman to kill Sarah and tell Chuck to grow a pair or he's next.

Anonymous said...

The only way the Shaw stuff is redeemable at this point is if it turns out Shaw is a traitor and Chuck's real first kill is saving Sarah from Shaw.

Probably the biggest problem with Shaw is we get a character who is not liked in exchange for characters we want to see. This week no Awesome, Ellie or Morgan. Other weeks, other characters. Are Chuck and Sarah the only two to appear in every episode this season at this point? Come on. Chuck is about the people, a lot more than about the plots. Lose them, you lose what makes Chuck worth watching.

Anonymous said...

Matthew just nailed the problem that's been bothering me and why "vs. the Beard" was the exception.

Beard was just fun. Josh Gomez in particular did a great job in just kind of reveling in the reveal.

The rest of the season (especially after the two Awesome-centric episodes) has been darker and not about being a fun escapist fantasy. Maybe that's intentional because of the "growing up" theme for Chuck in the third season, but it's not why everyone fell in love with the show, especially during this economic climate.

The other thing is turning Sarah into a needy shell of her former self. Sarah was the most conflicted and thus the most interesting of the characters, the balance between Chuck and Casey in a sense. Now she's a cliche from teen soaps.

Then there's Shaw. Ugh.

1) He broke up the band. Levi, Strahovksi, and Baldwin have great chemistry and why you break up Team Bartowski for the entire season is just mystifying.
2) He fails the Creepy Serial Killer Review of Phantom Menace Character Test. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI for reference)

Describe Shaw without referring to his physical appearance.

Sam Hobart said...

This season has been an interesting experiment and far from the disaster that some seem to think but there have definitely been some growing pains. I'm reminded of the weaker parts of The West Wing and Buffy seasons 4 when the creators started changing things up to try to find a new status quo that could work long term. I think the main Chuck through line has been excellent but the pieces are fitting together a bit more clumsily, ala early season 2 that than late season 2.

Oh, and loved seeing Casey in a Marcus Hamilton suit again.

Billiam said...

I've really enjoyed the upped stakes of the last few episodes.

And the Rogue Wave "Permalight" is a very new song, so I was surprised to hear it.

Is Josh Schwartz the person who we can attribute all the great music to? Or do the writers of particular episodes choose the music? I'm assuming its one person, since there's such obvious trends (this isn't the first time a Rogue Wave song was used).

Anonymous said...

Plot hole? Won't they find out that the bullet wasn't from Chuck's gun, but someone else's (and it's not even from Sarah or Perry's gun)??

jd said...

Decent episode, though "v. Fake Beard" and "v. Tic Tac" were way better. I really enjoyed parts of the episode, but the episode itself wasn't quite the sum of its parts. Standout scenes:

**Chuck's nostalgia-laden stakeout kit; god, I've really missed that tremendous chemistry between Zac Levi and Yvonne Strahovski. So nice to see some lightheartedness between the two, even if only for a few minutes.

**Chuck and Sarah meeting for dinner at Union Station, and the horrifying decisions that both face (Sarah, to tell Chuck to kill; Chuck, to decide to kill). That look the two of them share as she leaves the restaurant...Levi and Strahovski nailed that scene.

Before the season started, Brandon Routh said in interviews that the show's fans wouldn't like the Shaw character; that he and his wife are real-life fans of the show and that HE was a bit conflicted about the Shaw/Sarah storyline. I can't believe that his inert portrayal of Shaw is 100% his failure; I have to wonder why the creative team has continued to give the show's directors orders to continue building on that wooden approach?

Still am quite excited about the last two episodes of the original 13-ep order; I have a feeling that the shipper angst will finally be put to rest and that we can all enjoy the back six episodes. I just hope that we get a fourth season; it would be a shame to have made it through all of the hulabaloo and not get to enjoy a reconstituted Team Bartowski with a capable Chuck doing his spy thing with Sugar Bear Casey and the love of his life by his side.

Build A Better Fan said...

I agree with much of the criticism, but it's not ruining the show for me nearly as much as it's ruining it for some. There's still a lot to enjoy.

I liked the fight scene -- not as cool as last week's fights, but less glamorous and for a good reason.

That bracelet looked an awful lot like the one that Stephen gave to Chuck's mom when Ellie was born. Though in my memory, the lady seemed young to be their mom, even if this was the better part of a decade ago.

I chalk up the lack of a termination order to the fact that Chuck can handle himself a lot better than he could in the first two seasons. I don't think they're worried so much about what happens if Chuck gets captured, which was what concerned them when they first gave Casey the kill order.

And I still see the potential for Casey to turn on the government (or some powerful part of it) rather than be reinstated. Don't forget that Stephen and Bryce both seemed wary of the government getting its hands on an Intersect machine.

I'm enjoying this show, I like how dark it's getting, and actually, reading these comments tends to kill my buzz even when I disagree with them. So I'm going to stick with just Alan's remarks from now on.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I thought they were saying bread test too!

abby said...

David said "I thought they were saying "the bread test." As in will he rise to the occasion and be able to kill."

Everyone is so serious that no one even commented on this delightful gem.....maybe it's not the show that isn't so much fun anymore but the viewers? It's a lighthearted show, follow this gentleman's example and watch it lightly!

Anonymous said...

The bathroom scene was from True Lies. A movie about a civilian who gets caught up in the spy world because of a close family member.

Jennifer said...
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Chuck Me said...

For those of you wondering if Sarah killed Shaw's wife, I highly doubt it. She was killed 5 years ago. Did Sarah [i]just[/i] become an official agent (passing the red test) 5 years ago? Those timelines seem way off to align like that. Same goes for her killing Chuck's mom, though I don't believe we've ever been told when exactly she left the family.

Build A Better Fan said...

Chuck Me -

Chuck's mom left when Chuck and Morgan were in the fifth grade ("Chuck Versus the Best Friend"). And I'd be very surprised if the bracelet was not meant to be meaningful. I don't know how this adds up, but I'd definitely bet there's a connection.

MikeS said...

I can't believe all the negative vibes about tonight's episode. I think the show built towards an epic finale last season, and this is building up similarly.

Last week, I said that I guessed that we were finally building towards a resolution of will they/won't they with Chuck and Sarah. I still believe that's coming, and the finale of this episode is to pull people away from that.

Sarah is heartsick about Chuck, and how much he has changed as he moves into real spy territory. Shaw is making himself emotionally available to her, so that is why she's interested in him.

It may still be a little contrived, but I don't think it's entirely out of character, and it's not the worst thing ever.

I personally think the story with Casey sticking around is because he wants to. I think he could find himself a new job that allows him to utilize his special skillset, but as he proved in the train yard, he doesn't quite want to walk away from Team Bartowski quite yet.

The pacing and timing of this episode felt different to me than most episodes of Chuck, not bad, just different. I was almost expecting the gunshot to be a cliffhanger that carries over to next week.

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

Shaw's been hit or miss with me this season. I agree that he and Sarah have zero chemistry together and am looking forward to them moving on from this. However, I do think he's served an important purpose in pushing Chuck into becoming a real spy.

Now, maybe some people don't want that, but I'm intrigued by Chuck the Spy. And he was never going to become that with Sarah and Casey. They'd reached a comfortable equilibrium, and Chuck was never going to grow beyond a modern-day Encyclopedia Brown. I think Shaw's been effective as an external driving force to move Chuck into the spy he'd clearly destined to be. But Shaw/Sarah? Yeah, epic fail.

Still, I love the show and his presence or even his romance with Sarah is nowhere near enough to derail my enjoyment.

belinda said...

Someone posted that the sauna scene reminded them of Eastern Promises, and I totally thought that when I watched it too. Also agreed, HATE the bathroom scene. I get what they're going for, they just didn't get there, so at first I actually thought something was wrong with the video.

I was a bit bothered by the lack of talk about the intersect, which is sort of the premise of the show! On some level, I've always thought the CIA was interested in training Chuck was so that Chuck/Intersect can protect himself. So I also thought that Chuck really had one option if he wanted to survive (or not be taken away to some sequester unit) - to pass the test and be a spy. I'm hoping that perhaps that is why Casey helped Chuck, because Casey is experienced enough to realize that Chuck needed to pass the test to survive. Which begs the question, why does Sarah not realize it? I guess I understand the sentiment and the guilt factor, but I still found Sarah to be a bit overbearing and hypocritical that she's all 'oh, I can't love Chuck because he killed' when Chuck's own life was at stake - possibly from the CIA, the fact that it was self defense(which upon inspection Sarah would know, and from her own experience it's very likely she'd check that body)...not to mention that she herself kills people all the time.

Joshua said...

Looking back at previous seasons, the show just isn't fun like it used to be. The rotating cast is really hurting the show. I don't care about the relationships, they're becoming FAR too distracting. Hated the bathroom fight scene.

Joshua said...

Also wanted to comment that I think the Shaw character could have filled a fun niche and been used a lot better if he stayed the more serious, seemingly-invulnerable agent from the first episode he appeared in. The relationship drama makes very little sense given what we know of his past. Without the relationship bullshit, Shaw still could have been pushing Chuck beyond the limits Sarah is comfortable with and continue causing tension there.

Anonymous said...

I think in defense of Chuck directors, producers, and writers, they were notified that their show would be extended beyond 13 episodes only after they had already scripted and producing their shortened season. Combined with budget cuts, I think this is a legitimate reason why the show has suffered from numerous pacing issues, holes in the story, and contrived relationships. I think viewers are a bit too negative and really should cut the writers some slack. If the Chuck staff knew they had 19 episodes to work with, I think they would have addressed many of the concerns people have with season 3.

Nick said...

Mike S: Sarah is heartsick about Chuck, and how much he has changed as he moves into real spy territory. Shaw is making himself emotionally available to her, so that is why she's interested in him.

You must have been watching a different show than me, because Shaw is the least emotionally available character I've ever see in any show ever. He's not there emotionally at all. The guy is like an emotional no-seller.

cgeye said...

First, how lame was Chuck's permanent cover story? A European billionaire industrialist based in Rome? When Chuck hasn't successfully maintained a cover for more than a few hours at a time? The larger issue of Chuck simply not putting enough study and hours in preparing for his career change hasn't been addressed by anyone, and the ongoing danger of keeping the Intersect out in the world hasn't been addressed. Why?

Protecting Chuck was never just about keeping a doofus unkilled; it was keeping the sole huge working human-based intelligence database safe until it could be replicated successfully. Since when is Chuck's personal fulfillment the goal? Isn't him serving his country through flashing more important than him taking initiative on missions and putting himself in danger? CHUCK has forgotten its mission statement in favor of 'shipper fan-wanking, until now we're supposed to equate 'spy' with 'assassin' (and 'stud'), when any intelligence spokesperson would emphasize thorough analysis of intelligence from a distance as being more important than wearing a tux smartly.

The sanest course the writers could have taken could have been making Chuck's goal an Alphabet agency desk job where he could still be Sarah's resource, but with lots of walls and doors standing between Chuck and potential kidnappers. Sarah could at last get a break from her 3-year assignment, and do her job without worrying about him either being too endangered or ruthless.

I think the writers made the mistake of measuring Chuck's character-fu against the examples of masculinity from its butcher co-stars, when all along CHUCK has extolled the special-fu a smart guy can wield, just by knowing the right thing at the right time. This obsessing with Chuck becoming a different man, in order to accept the instant Ultra-V he's capable of, is a distraction from his core strength as a character, and the attention paid to his Intersect impotence because of his relationship worries, a cruel and snarky joke.

These writers knew their characters better than this. They trusted Sarah's wavering between nice and nasty as part of being a girl who's been manipulated by her dad and the government, so much that she doesn't know what she wants. That's why she has an honesty fetish that, if she really believed in it, would get her ass kicked by everyone she and her dad conned and every sucker she played for a mission.

It would be far more interesting to see how Sarah hates herself, and how she's twisting up Chuck in knots, because of it -- but since she always has to remain the Hot Chick, that complexity can't burst past her airbrushed veneer. That's why the romance seems at turns repetitive and constipated -- we're not allowed to see the darkness in this affair, regardless of whether she pulls in a Bryce or Shaw, for momentary kicks. If they let YS own that darkness, as she did during CHUCK VS. SANTA CLAUS, this arc would rule. But, le sigh.... we've got what we've got.

cgeye said...

"Someone has to explain something to me.

Chuck tells Sarah that he doesn't want to kill. Doesn't think he can do it. Only would do it so that they could be together.

So she holds it against him when she thinks that he did. Can't love him anymore. So instead, she goes off with the guy who manipulated her into making him do it in the first place.

What am I missing?"

Frakkin' A, BillAtWork, Frakkin' A. Either Sarah doesn't know what she wants, is frakkin' insane, or is being directed by her bosses to play Chuck as a honey pot, until he throws himself into the Feds' cozy apartment prison with XBox. Because if she means what she's says, she's the cruelest babe on TV -- she makes Patty Hewes and Betty Draper look like amateurs.

Anonymous said...

For me what's been lacking this season is the epic, high stakes feel of it all that existed in S1 and much more so in S2. The Intersect, Fulcrum, Orion, Stanford, Bryce, Roark, the Chuck family connection...it was so awesome how all the mythology pieces came together to complement the character drama.

This is a very good, and important, observation. What does The Ring do? What do they want? Do they care about the Intersect? Do the good guys even really care about the Intersect, based on the four or five times they've made peace with cutting Chuck loose, or killing him, this season? As the writer above notes, the first two seasons dealt with a guy trying to find himself while saving the world. This year it's just a guy pulling a Hamlet while a girl does the same thing, but tortures him inexplicably and gratuitously in the process.

The questions about Sarah's motivations (or even the logical rationale for her behavior) at this point are spot on. She's either written well and not much worth Chuck's time, or written poorly and a total disaster of a character right now.

As has been mentioned several times, both this week and in prior ones, it would appear Routh has chosen to make Shaw a borderline perv. That's the only word I can use to describe it. The odd, creepy grins, with no seeming context or stimulus, remind me of Matt Dillon in 'There's Something About Mary." Odd.

Anonymous said...

I'll echo what many others have already said. This show just isn't fun anymore. I'm beyond sick of Shaw. Who thought it was a good idea to bring him on for this many episodes? The guy has the personality of a wet blanket and adds nothing to the show. He's taken away far too much screentime from the supporting characters. And I won't even get started on the Sarah/Shaw romance which is just beyond ridiculous. Are we seriously supposed to be buying this? Zero chemistry there and the relationship doesn't make an ounce of sense for either of them.

And Sarah...yikes. What a complete and utter mess her character is right now. Completely unrecognizable to me. Chuck and Sarah had some fantastic scenes tonight (shocker what amazing work two actors with palpable chemistry can do) and I thought maybe they were getting back on track with her. And then there was that trainwreck of a scene at the end where she couldn't say fast enough that she no longer loves Chuck. Whether I believe her or not (I don't) is irrelevant to my point. My problem is that I don't understand the reasoning or motivation behind anything she does or says anymore. What happened to the Sarah Walker I used to know and love?

Never thought I'd find this show so incredibly frustrating to watch. It has absolutely nothing to do with being a shipper. It has everything to do with Shaw destroying every good thing this show had going for it.

CJ Frances said...

I really liked this episode. I know its making shippers unhappy but COME ON! this is great stuff! the internal debate Chuck is facing--to kill or not to kill? The question of whether he's tough enough for this job or if he's really been just doing this to prove to himself (and to Sarah) that he's worthy of her. Its awesome! I don't get all the negativity!

But I am totally intrigued by Brad's comment regarding the bracelet dropped by Sarah's first kill. I totally wondered if that was some how related to Chuck's mother because he's right--it looks awfully similar. Granted those Tiffany charm bracelets were all the rage for a while but it would be completely awesome if the back six episodes addressed this issue!

I can't wait for next week's episode and I hope all the frustrated people give it a chance!

CJ Frances said...

Oh and Alan--thank yo so much for writing these recaps. I always look forward to reading them right after watching the episodes even if I don't always agree.

But one thing I want to point out to the rest of your commentators: the negativity of some of the fans is just not cool and actually takes away from the enjoyment of the show. Its one thing to articulate frustration but its a whole other thing to practically damm the show as unwatchable or "jumping the shark". I never get comments that repeatedly beat up on Chuck; even though you're frustrated the show isn't going the way you want, what would you rather have: Chuck on the air or Chuck canceled? I don't know about everyone else but even when Chuck makes me mad I STILL think its one of the most enjoyable 42-45 mins of TV I'm going to watch all week. So plz--easy on the haterade. Remember that just like network exes monitored web traffic for the renew Chuck campaign last year, they can monitor it now...And I'm not ready for Yvonne Strahovski to not be on my TV screen once a week!

Robert said...

Two thoughts, beyond echoing the frustration articulated by many above.

Firstly, Chuck garnered praise for its handling of female characters. Well, I think they deserve severe criticism for the way in which they have treated the character of Sarah this season - she has gone from being strong and independent to being a damsel in distress when Shaw is around (the character just sucks all the oxygen out of the show), and mopes around him like a battered wife. The girl is messed up, true, but this is just ugly.

Secondly, even with the Hollywood version of the Paranoid Style in American Politics, surely Chuck is joining the CIA, not SMERSH or SPECTRE? I know Hollywood types laugh in the face of EO 12333, but assassination as a qualification? - that's pure Bond villain. It spits in the face of Casey's sacrifice of his personal life.

I know they wanted Chuck to be darker and more realistic, but they have gone for melodramatic and preposterous.

Bah.


Finally, it is argued here that we shouldn't bash the show. I have to disagree - for a season and a half I absolutely loved Chuck. The soap opera changes have totally failed to set the ratings on fire, and I think the showrunners have earned some fairly robust formative feedback. After all, we really, really don't want them introducing a fourth perky brunette, and a fourth "suave spy who catches Sarah's eye" if there is a next season. We need to call them on the constant re-use of plots, and misuse of characters.

Anonymous said...

Oh lord, how more contrived can these ridiculous "romance" arcs get ? Sarah thinks Chuck killed a guy buhuhu so she's shutting him out (again) and confiding to a guy that's also out there killing guys too. Oh the angst. It's all a misunderstanding. It's so tragic. Everybody, feel for Sarah and Chuck.

These duffuses will get canceled, they have no idea how to advance a show in a way that makes sense. They just resort to contrived overused B movie subplots. Congrats on edgy storytelling Chuck showrunners (yeah that's sarcasm)

Anonymous said...

Glad I DVRed this, no way does Chuck deserve my live view. It used to be a fun show, now it's Gossip Girl set in LA.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

So what's the new premise for the show? Chuck is James Bond except he doesn't kill (at least not in cold blood) and Sarah is a bada$$ superspy that can't handle anything outside her emotional comfortzone? She will support Chuck so long as he doesn't cross some unwritten rule she doesn't communicate to him, and if he does she ups and moves to some hideout with a paperboard cutout of a character that acts as her sounding board??

It's cheap angst not "amazing storytelling" guys. Chuck should have to stuck to light comedy with some action blended in, the people behind the cameras just can't pull off A grade drama, this should be obvious to anyone who has watched this Season. They go for emotional and all you get in cringeworthy stuff. They can't pull off the dark stuff (drama whatever you call it) they shouldn't have tried to. Somebody should have said hey guys that's beyond our cababilities, and just forced the show into a different after Angel de la muerte.
Oh and I m not a shipper, I m just a Chuck fan frustrated by the nonsense I have to watch week after week. To be honest I would rather Chuck and Sarah had stayed friends in 3.04 and just given us good entertainment for 7 episodes instead of this supposed "journey" that supposedly ends in a "happy taste" but bores people so much they tune out.

Brien said...

@Pale Writer

Totally agree about the Liberty Valence parallels, I thought the same thing as soon as I saw Casey shoot from behind the train.

Great hat-tip to a great movie.

Karen said...

OK, I just want to go on record as saying I liked this episode very much, I've liked season 3 very much, and I trust Fedak/Schwartz to tell a story I'll like.

There were things that happened that I didn't like, but that doesn't mean I didn't like the story. I mean, I read novels all the time in which bad things happen, but it doesn't make the storytelling bad. Because bad things happen.

So, honestly, making Sarah believe that Chuck had really killed Perry made me very sad. But I believe in Fedak/Schwartz, and I think they're going to resolve it in a way I like.

I still do have a hard time believing everyone's towel stayed on in the steam-room fight scene, though. That's just implausible!

Julie said...

By my scorecard, Shaw 2, Chuck 0 in terms of Sarah revelations. Are these writers not romantics? So, Shaw sleeps with her first, she bares her soul to him first, but yet Chuck is the one she loves? Oh of course, how did I miss that? That's how I usually act when I'm in love. :-) I don't follow how Sarah's hurt over Prague negates all positive action/emotion toward Chuck this season. I am not buying them anymore. And I loved Chuck and Sarah. So yeah, I'm angry that they've played fast and loose with an amazing TV couple with trite plot points and unrealistic interactions. It didn't have to go down like this. It's incredibly frustrating knowing how much better this could have been played.

itsANHonor said...

Just wanted to throw out that the whole "kill a person" test is clearly an homage to the 007 requirement of two kills (or whatever else spy reference). Chuck is joining the covert ranks as a covert agent, not wussy analyst. Yes, it's a little ridiculous, but this is "Chuck" so I find the red test entirely fitting within this exaggerated spy world.

Also, Sarah never knew that Beckman was planning on killing Chuck in season 2 so her reaction to the possibility of Chuck failing his test is consistent.

That being said, if I think it would have been better to know Shaw was planning on killing Chuck if he failed to at least explain that plothole and give some dramatic depth to the Shaw who so far is just kind of a dick.

Bruce said...

I don't mind darker or the growth of characters. Change can be fun too. But Shaw is a disaster and no, that doesn't mean I'm a shipper who doesn't know good TV or some naive TV watcher who doesn't get angst arcs. Budget cuts, short season intially, whatever the reason, they need to admit their mistake here and fans would forgive. I think the fan ire comes from the creators continuing to push this storyline like it was a good idea. I had a friend who was a big Chuck supporter, did the Subway campaign, etc, tell me today she saw Tweets asking people to support Chuck last night and she can't bring herself to do it again. She's watching, but she's mad. JS and CF need to reexamine this season if they get a
4th and if they need fan support to get that 4th, they need to rethink their defense of the Shaw portion. The Emperor has no clothes with these guys because they only hear TV critics and discount the fans who aren't suckups.

Matt W said...

Shaw has to know Chuck isn't a murderer.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it Shaw who pulled the trigger on himself in his first meeting with Chuck because Chuck didn't want to kill (Shaw was later resuscitated by Awesome). Right then and there, Shaw should have seen that Chuck just isn't a cold-blooded killer...I could be wrong, though.

Sonia said...

Great episode IMO. While I loved Bike Mike taking Casey under his wing, I still get the feeling that there is some secret mission going on with Casey...I just can't believe that he's just disavowed and that's it for him. Or maybe the whole situation with Casey killing the mole was just another test for Chuck?

And I personally laughed when Casey called Jeff "fat drunk and stupid"...nice shout out to Animal House.

Anonymous said...

John Casey being a civilian (and helping on missions) isn't a problem - in '24' most of the seasons had Bauer being a civilian and allowed to help CTU or the FBI and rack up a huge body count with no accountability. At least on CHUCK, they acknowledged the fact that 1) Chuck giving Casey the gun was a felony, and 2) John killing, albeit in defence of Chuck, was murder. That is a lot more believable than 24!

I think the scenes with Casey at the Buy More is him being shell-shocked because he got fired at a job he was willing to sacrifice a lot to do. They worked for me.

I was also wondering why Chuck was so naive to think that the final test to become a spy wouldn't involve killing someone? Didn't he watch Casino Royale or any other spy film?

Anonymous said...

John Casey being a civilian (and helping on missions) isn't a problem - in '24' most of the seasons had Bauer being a civilian and allowed to help CTU or the FBI and rack up a huge body count with no accountability. At least on CHUCK, they acknowledged the fact that 1) Chuck giving Casey the gun was a felony, and 2) John killing, albeit in defence of Chuck, was murder. That is a lot more believable than 24!

I think the scenes with Casey at the Buy More is him being shell-shocked because he got fired at a job he was willing to sacrifice a lot to do. They worked for me.

I was also wondering why Chuck was so naive to think that the final test to become a spy wouldn't involve killing someone? Didn't he watch Casino Royale or any other spy film?

Anonymous said...

When I saw this post from Anonymous earlier it said

Why is Sarah with Shaw?

a) Look at him
b) Look at her
c) Look at him again
d) Her heart was crushed by a guy
e) The same guy ran off with another girl
f) The guy from a and c was waiting with open arms
g) She has a history of working with brown-haired coworkers.

However I believe it should have read:

Anonymous said...

Why is Sarah with Shaw?

a) Look at him
b) Look at her
c) Look at him again
d) I'm riding a horse..

(a la Old Spice..)

CJ said...

mtw179k & Daphne B.,

You give me more hope that all this business with Sarah and Shaw could be explained away when it is revealed that one is playing the other (or even both). Sarah has certainly pretended to like guys before (and even slept with them, as has been discussed in previous seasons), and maybe Shaw is so wooden because he is also seriously pretending about something.

The personal reveals (real name, first kill) Sarah provides make less sense to me, but maybe they are harmless enough reveals that she could use them as part of her overall plan to convince Shaw of her sincerity.

And that the flash on Shaw's creepy smile during the sauna fight made me pause. Was he amused by seeing this government toy working in action? Was the moment reinforcing some particular theory he had about Chuck? Does it help to complete some greater scheme in his mind?

Overall I don't mind the darker tone, and I don't care all that much about Chuck and Sarah getting together (Chuck and Hannah could have worked for me, too).

And, I am still finding some fun in every episode, so I will keep watching and loving the show as a whole.

BUT, I am really curious (and skeptical at the same time) about how the Shaw/Sarah thing will be resolved in a realistic way (realistic, that is, for the Chuck universe). The inconsistencies in Sarah's character this season have been difficult to process and accept.

Dave said...

And in lieu of Michael's voiceover narration, each episode could be liberally sprinkled with Casey Facts.

I'm surprised nobody called you out on this, Alan. Think of how John Casey would react to seeing his name used in the same sentence as the word "liberal." Shame on you, Alan!

cadfile said...

This was only an okay episode for me. Might have to watch it again because I might have not been in the right frame of mind for it.

They really need to have more outside the arc self contained episodes that are lightly attached to the main plot.

I think my main issue this season is the fun factor has been diluted. I know different things float people's boats but I think there is a problem where the show seems to be taking itself too seriously and I think that is why I am at the point where the soapy parts are making me cringed more often than not.

I don't want "Gossip Girl Spy". I want "Chuck" - the goofy nerd accidentally a spy who can't bring himself to kill so he needs a team to protect him and "clean up" as it were.

I think the show tried to expand their viewership by focusing on the people who like the relationship more than the overall reason the show was good and I think at this point - unless the last 2 episodes of the original story prove me wrong - the writers and show runners failed to live up to what made the show interesting for people like me.

It's not a bad show but it seems there are less parts for me to like and less reason for me to watch it live each week.

Anonymous said...

chuck's mom left when he was in the 5th grade, but the show never indicates that she died then. she could have left the household, been a rogue spy for a while, gotten killed by sarah during her red test, at which point her proctors for the red test cleaned up the scene and returned the charm bracelet to papa bartowski, who hadn't left chuck and ellie yet. the continuity is there.

Anonymous said...

*** I'm liking Chuck's new grown up hair too. ***

All season long, I've thought Levi has been the spitting image of Greg Brady circa the Johnny Bravo period lol.

And, I can understand the hostility towards the character of Shaw, but not so much towards Brandon Routh.

Granted, I'm not too familiar with his acting work prior to these episodes, but isn't he supposed to be playing a rather emotionless, no-frills, seemingly joyless agent (as a direct contrast to Chuck, at least that's how I view him.)

Did he act this way in his previous roles, too?

Anonymous said...
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Alan Sepinwall said...

Let me repeat myself, multiple times, because some of you just don't seem to be getting the message:

TALK ABOUT THE SHOW. NOT EACH OTHER.

TALK ABOUT THE SHOW. NOT EACH OTHER.

TALK ABOUT THE SHOW. NOT EACH OTHER.

TALK ABOUT THE SHOW. NOT EACH OTHER.

TALK ABOUT THE SHOW. NOT EACH OTHER.

TALK ABOUT THE SHOW. NOT EACH OTHER.


I just deleted several comments (from people both pro and con on this episode/season), and the next step is either for me to shut down comments on this post altogether, or to change the commenting settings for the blog so people can't comment anonymously anymore (since most of the really strident comments come from anonymous posters). I've tried to avoid either option since most of you are mature enough to behave, but my patience is wearing very thin. Once more,

TALK ABOUT THE SHOW, NOT EACH OTHER?

How hard is that? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

Fast Reply

Just loving it. They could set the whole show in a Subway and I'd ask for more.

Except for Sarah- she's just annoying. Pushes him into what he wants and then punishes him because he becomes the guy she always falls for (except he's obviously not, would Shaw bring a romantic picnic spy case on a job?)

With that two week absence still questionable...

-EmeraldLiz

Argus said...

Alan, can Casey actually work in private security? I think that at the least there's a good chance his job history is blank, and possibly some limitations on what work he is allowed to take part in as a civilian.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Argus, all Casey has to do is to find some old buddy of his who's retired and working in private security (and surely there are a few dozen former acquaintances who would fit that bill) and sign on to work for him, resume or no.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Good call on Liberty Valance, guys. Should have been obvious to me, but since the show rarely strays past 1979 for its references (and since it wasn't as visually in-your-face as the Iwo Jima flag gag from "Beard"), my brain didn't instantly make the connection.

Lisa said...

The Liberty Valence observation is brilliant, and not just as an inspiration for the action in that scene. I'm thinking about what it means for Chuck and the rest of his life. Imagine Chuck becomes a legend in the CIA and his "first kill" is part of that legend -- that would make Chuck something of a fraud, wouldn't it, just like Jimmy Stewart's character in the movie.

He's damned any way you look. If he spills what really happened, he wins Sarah but loses his career and puts Casey in jail. If he keeps the secret, his mission in life gets built on a lie and of course, he loses Sarah. And if this becomes a lie shared by Sarah, Casey and Chuck, it still eats at Chuck's character.

I thought this episode was rather thin, but if this really is part of their thinking, it's potentially the best storyline they've done. We're really talking about Chuck's soul now.

Anonymous said...

This last few episodes have really made me annoyed, there so many plot holes, and so many things that just wouldn't happen that i just can't shut my brain off like I used to previous episodes. The so called suspense beginning of the episode was telegraphing the ending as the episode moved along.
I think even the writers are not certain about chuck's actions anymore, and the "will they or won't they" about chuck and Sarah it just getting tiring.

Anonymous said...

The Liberty Valance reference struck me and La Femme references was a good catch; how about the mole asking for persmission to go to the bathroom. Godfather?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Imagine Chuck becomes a legend in the CIA and his "first kill" is part of that legend -- that would make Chuck something of a fraud, wouldn't it, just like Jimmy Stewart's character in the movie.

I'm not sure if that's where they're going, Lisa, but that would be pretty cool.

Schmoker said...

Thanks for the Liberty Valance shout out. I completely missed that homage. Very cool.

Did anyone else notice that that another non-80's reference was the fight with the Russians in the steam bath? That's straight from Eastern Promises, and they highlighted it with the gang tattoos. Only it's TV, so, you know, everyone's towel stayed on.

Hating Shaw, but I see that more as bad casting. Routh's never done anything for me before, and he's sure not now.

As for quibbles:

1. Casey at the Buy More still doesn't need explaining to me. He could be just in shock, which I would buy, or he could be sticking around to both help Chuck and to get himself back into the loop. Either way, how could they possibly clue us in? It isn't like John Casey is going to talk about his feelings, nor should he. We don't need to know why right away. I think we can have some patience.

2. Routh's blandness aside, I think the primary methods used to keep Chuck and Sarah apart this season have been totally believable. In fact, I think the Sarah-Chuck stuff is the most believable/real-world translatable thing on the show. It's like Buffy, using the spy stuff as very cool metaphor for relationships---how they start, how they work, how they stumble, how people can grow apart, etc. The only real mistake was probably not to let them couple-it-up for at least a few episodes last season, because when they refer to "trying it again," the truth is that they never really tried it a first time. It's tough to use metaphors for relationships when Chuck/Sarah sort of never had one in the first place. That was a mistake, but what they have been going this season, if you let your disbelief extend to Sarah and Chuck having actually been a couple previously (like they seem to both feel), then all works like gangbusters.

So, I mostly buy it all when it comes to Chuck/Sarah, and them banging away is sort of last on my list for why I watch Chuck. I watch Chuck to laugh, and it delivers that week-in/week-out.

P@ said...

This was the first episode of Chuck I fell asleep watching.

And, I'm another person who thought they were saying "bread test".

WV - consho, as in, many people used to be proshow, now appear to be consho.

Brent said...

Sorry, but I thought last night's episode was maybe the most ridiculous in the history of the series. To review:

1. Why would they want to simply kill Hunter when he has intelligence about the Ring?

2. Why would they give Chuck a gun and expect him to kill Hunter in the middle of a crowded restaurant?

3. Why exactly does Chuck believe that for him and Sarah to be together, he has to become a "full-fledged" spy? Did he miss the part about how he would be in Italy and she would be in DC?

4. Are we supposed to believe for a single second that Chuck would agree to being stationed ALONE in Italy without his family or friends around?

5. Why is it suddenly necessarily for Chuck to become a "full fledged" spy anyway? He has the Intersect in his head and it's going to stay there regardless of whether he can kill a guy.

I don't expect total realism from Chuck, as it's not the Wire. However, when entire episodes are loaded with illogical plot points, it's hard not to notice.

The CineManiac said...

I really enjoyed the episode. I'm not a huge fan of Shaw and Sarah, but come on people it's a tv show, and we all know they're not going to last, so why is everyone so up in arms over this?

As someone else pointed out (and as an attorney, myself) Casey has a valid defense for killing the guy, he was pulling a weapon, and 'defense of others' is equal to self defense. He would likely get a felony for having an illegal weapon though.

Overall it wasn't my favorite episode, but I did like it a lot, even though it was very dark. I'm still hoping we can bring the team back together.

My one problem with the episode was how excited Chuck seems to be to run off to Rome and leave behind Elle, Awesome, and Morgan, when he's been so against leaving them in the past. I guess with Awesome and Morgan in the know now, they'd at least understand a bit more. But he just seemed to excited and didn't really think about them at all.

Anonymous said...

Two points: Sarah doesnt love Chuck anymore for becoming Shaw, yet she is with Shaw?

I dont see any other way for this season to end other than it being with Shaw being a double agent

Chrissy said...

I don't think that woman could have been Chuck's mom - she looked to me to be about the same age as Sarah, and Sarah is about the same age as Chuck. She certainly didn't look 20 years older than Sarah. Still, that bracelet is suspicious.

As for Casey, I don't even think he would have to look for private sector work. I feel like they would seek him out; isn't he a legend? I could accept that he was staying out of some sense of unfinished business, but I think they should at least show that he has other options that he's not taking.

Anonymous said...

Alan, while I appreciate you sticking up for the show, the ratings tell the true story don't they? The show runners dropped the ball this season, I just hope they come up with something to convince the hardcore Chuck fans they 've lost to come back. And no I am not talking about come up with a story line people want, I mean admitting they dropped the ball in trying to turn Chuck into a show it's not and can never be. It was a bet to try and get new viewers, it is obvious for a 2nd grader with basic math skills that it didn't work. Shame really.

Josh

Larry said...

Is this good for last night?
NBC: "Chuck" (5.4 million, 3.3/5)
(found on zap2it.com)

Finn said...

No, Larry, that is not good, tied last week's series low. Granted against DWTS premiere, but House was a repeat. This is sad.

Anonymous said...

Deeply sucky. I want to love the show, I really do, and I thought the last 2 eps dead on, but....

The show exists in a world where killing bad guys is casually done every other episode by Casey or Sarah, it seems. In which case Chuck should eventually kill someone in a fight--I was hoping to protect Casey or a civilian. These are the stakes, you want the job, counting on Sarah and Casey to kill a dozen people while keeping his own conscience pure is just immature--a problem with the Chuck reset for all of S3, that he keeps acting immature.

From the other direction, the CIA isn't the Crips, so having to obey a kill order to get in just seems dumb. Give that job to a specialist, not every green trainee. Like many others, I can't believe that the man had no intelligence the CIA might want to extract first. Nor is it obvious that he isn't acting under duress like, say, oh, Casey just last week.

Jeffster started Fight Club, so this week's subplot just seemed too stupid to fly.

Chuck is a worse spy now than he was in S2--he announced he's a spy before witnesses in Orange Orange, in Buy More, in the restaurant. He is incapable of having a heart to heart with Sarah unless they're in the middle of a mission they then screw up. Brings alcohol to the stakeout. Doesn't keep his eyes on the door he's staking out. I'm a better spy.

Even if Agent Buzzkill is evil, he's just not doing anything interesting except sucking the fun out of every scene he's in.

Anonymous said...

Disagree...Bathroom fight scene rocked!!! It's not slo-mo... it's "undercranked" or shot at a low frame rate to give a harsh and gritty feel. It wasn't just the same polished fight that Chuck always has... very inventive! He was in a brutal fight to the death. I thought it was the best episode all year!

Anonymous said...

So much for assuming daylight savings time is what killed Chuck's ratings, as this week's were just as bad. It's tragic since Chuck is such an entertaining show, but people are kidding themselves if this season has been at all approachable to new viewers.

Put aside Sarah/Shaw, this season still doesn't make much sense as an overall story arc. I really thought a 13 episode season would allow the writers to tighten things up, but they didn't. I just can't excuse excuses like budget cuts or "rushed" writing. Cable shows deal with smaller budgets and fewer episodes.

Or maybe we can all just say instead of jumping the shark, Chuck jumped the Brandon Routh?

Here's hoping all the leads find shows that take advantage of their abilities. Yvonne Strahovski made me a believer that gorgeous blonds can act.

angela said...

Many have commented on the overuse of the word 'spy' but for me it was the overuse of the phrase 'real spy' that bothered me. It conjured up Pinocchio's effort to become a 'real boy' and I just can't think that's on purpose.

And I seriously do NOT understand why him becoming ahem, a 'real spy' would allow Chuck and Sarah to be together when he would be stationed in Rome and she in D.C.
Don't get it.

I too like Chuck's hair much better this season.

Definitely not a favorite episode for me, I found Casey's storyline with Big Mike mostly confusing and forced, but I'm pretty shocked by people's vitriol, especially towards Shaw.
Has the towel scene faded so quickly from people's memories???

Anonymous said...

I'm a new viewer. Caught the marathon that preceded this season & got on the bandwagon. (And have used the 'net to catch up on a bunch of previous episodes.) The show is absolutely one of my current favorites.

Might some relationship be in a bad place? Might our hero be in peril?

Well, tune in next week! That's what I plan to do.

--not Bridget (planning to create a "real" ID to avoid being confused with the other Anonymeese)

AdamW said...

--alan sepinwall said

>I just deleted several comments (from people both pro and con on this episode/season), and the next step is either for me to shut down comments on this post altogether, or to change the commenting settings for the blog so people can't comment anonymously anymore (since most of the really strident comments come from anonymous posters).

Alan, this seems like a sensible approach to me anyway. Anonymity to discuss a TV show? Doesn't seem to fall into quite the same category as the guy in the parking garage talking to Woodward and Bernstein... Although I suppose if somebody is really intent on thwacking the beehive with a stick, the "Name/URL" option isn't secure and doesn't require registration so they'd just use that instead.

FWIW even with anonymous posting, this blog stays remarkably civil. I only really notice personal attacks on some of the more popular topics, and usually only after a show has been on for a while and started to attract broader attention. Maybe that means more readers/commenters coming in from search engines rather than your 'regulars.'

Anonymous said...

cgeye said....
"I think the writers made the mistake of measuring Chuck's character-fu against the examples of masculinity from its butcher co-stars, when all along CHUCK has extolled the special-fu a smart guy can wield, just by knowing the right thing at the right time."

I agree, and this puts a finger on another S3 weakness. When Chuck knew the security camera's weaknesses because Buy More sells them, and how to use Castle because he read the entire manual, we could see a future for Chuck as a brilliant analyst who accidentally kept winding up in the field. Chuck-fu now seems to be all about the intersect. (And yet he could quit or be fired rather than killed, unlike S1?) His general knowledge and smarts aren't called on, and yet his training to be a real spy should have been all about adding to his knowledge without needing to depend on the intersect--in S2 he was doing that, using his own abilities beyond the intersect 1.1 enhancement. It's just off balance.

Finn said...

To Josh' comment about the ratings = viewer satisfaction, perhaps thats the case, but I see it more as this is the normal rating numbers for Chuck in the same time frame as last year. Maybe this is all we can get in this time slot, or anywhere. The return of DTWS is big-time, plus anything NBC throws in here at this point of time will be slaugterhed. I have hope for a Season 4, but am prepared to not have one. Keeping fingers crossed.


And as for Alan "defending the show", really his job is to critique the show regardless of ratings. I mean really, a lot of critical favorties do not equal audience favorites.

Larry said...

I wonder why you never see Chuck fatigued/hurt after doing some of the Intersect inspired fight/martial arts moves? Either holding his hand after punching someone or pulling a groin would be something I would almost expect to see.

I still really am enjoying he series and would hate to see it cancelled.

judodog said...

I loved Chuck (and maybe that will once again become present tense) but I am losing faith.

The whole Shaw story has killed the show. He's an awful actor; the whole S&S "romance" just feels like filler to keep Chuck and Sarah apart for a pre-determined amount of time (no I am not a "shipper" it just feels like lazy writing).

I understand the budget cuts that require the supporting cast to be in rotation, but any more I would bench Chuck and Sarah for a few games to see more Morgan, Casey, Jeffster etc.

Robin said...

Things I liked:

-Casey. The rules state that Casey can do no wrong, even when forced to bow down to Lester and Jeff. He WILL get his revenge, oh yes, he will :-)

-The darker tone that the show has gotten overall. I'm totally on-board with that tone, including Chuck facing the moment where he has to actually shoot someone.

-Subway integration. Seamless I thought, right down to having the meeting in the restaurant. Bravo on that.

Things I do not like:

-Breaking up the band. We have to go back Chuck, we have to go back!

-The O.C.-ification of Sarah and Chuck. As this story goes on, I'm reminded more and more of the stupidity that was Ryan and Marissa in S2 and especially 3 of the O.C. They could at least be forgiven because it was a show about teenage angst. Chuck and Sarah on the other hand are grown adults. I don't blame Shaw (or Routh) for this. I blame the writing.

-The lack of fun. I like the darker tone of the show, but they seem to be achieving that by eliminating the fun. If forced to choose between the 2, I think I'd rather have the fun back. I never liked this show for it's realism.

All that said, I still have faith that this will end up in a good place. And I hope for a 4th season.

Derrick said...

Totally agree with you Alan. Chuck's renewal chances are pretty good, but would be better if the showrunners could find a way to reduce licensing costs further. I've heard that the cast and crew have already taken a steep pay cut, so I don't think there is much room to operate except for eliminating a set, and the cast tied to it. ie the Buy More.

steph said...

upon second viewing today: was that josh schwartz in the orange orange while sarah was asking chuck out to dinner?

Elena said...

I've been a fan of the darker tone of the season, don't mind if Sarah and Chuck are apart, and actually liked the "Chuckapocalypse" episode. But have to say this one was my least favorite, and it got on my nerves.

It mainly, as so many have said here, has to do with HOW they are dealing with Chuck/Sarah and with Shaw. I've been holding out hope that Sarah is suspicious of Shaw and is with him to discover if he's actually an enemy agent. But I realized last night that if they were going in that direction, they'd at least give us a hint of that --that Shaw was actually a bad guy-- as Chuck isn't the subtlest of shows. So now even if they go that way, its kinda ruined for me, as they've played it so straight for so long.
But I don't think they are going to do that. As has been mentioned here many times, I don't like/buy that Sarah would reject Chuck for doing what he has to to even have a chance of being together. He says to her--if I don't pass we can't be together--and she says--probably not. What she doesn't say is that -if you pass, we won't be together anyway. And the opening up to Shaw would only make sense if she's playing him, but as I said above, I've decided that's too much to hope for.
The most disappointing part of this arc to me is that it was intended to be THE story of the season. With 13 episodes originally scheduled, this was supposed to the big thing, and it is, sorry to use an overused phase, an epic fail. I'd be okay with all the Shaw distractions if it had been a story within a planned longer season. Don't know if that makes sense. Anyway, I'll keep watching, I like the B storylines, Casey, Jeffster, etc, that its worth my time, but I am disappointed.

Kalman said...

Surprised you didn't think the naked steamroom fight with Russian gangsters should count as a pop culture reference to A History of Violence

rosengje said...

I really adore this show and I respect Schwartz and Fedak for being willing to experiment with the premise and broaden the world instead of letting the characters stagnate. Having said that (with full CYE implications in mind), I just don't think the direction they have chosen is reconcilable with the goofy tone that first set the show apart. I don't obsessively demand realism from my tv shows, but the idea of this Chuck who still uses missions just for the chance to talk to Sara could be a "real spy" (ugh I hate that phrase so much now) is absurd. The plot holes are harder to ignore when the show veers darker and Chuck's flaws more apparent. Each episode is still littered with great moments, but I am having a lot of trouble with the arc.

Anonymous said...

I was sure the woman Sarah "killed"...she says she didn't check...was that brunette bad girl friend of hers who has been in at least two episodes. I can't look up her name b/c I am at work and have spent too much time reading this already.

Jimbo said...

This is typical of our instant gratification culture, people want everything right away. The destination is never as good as the journey. Have some faith that the people who make this show are doing their best to make it entertaining and enjoyable for all. If someone is honestly getting mad about two fictional characters not getting together, imo it speaks to a deficiency in their own personal lives. To me, the show is better than ever and has gone where I would've expected it to go after the Season 2 finale. Yes, BR is a little wooden, but that's hardly a reason to stop watching. It's sad that the only reason people are listening to the negative comments are because the show is vulnerable.

To those who say "Sarah wasn't like that in the first two seasons" - characters evolve. Nobody complained when Chuck chose the greater good over the girl... evolution of characters keeps a show fresh. To the writers, keep doing what you do and ignore the bs (which I'm sure they do anyway)..

Kujo said...

The subway was stuff was on steroids this week. Way overboard, but solid ep.

Anonymous said...

Carina...who needs a job?

Paul Worthington said...

I just wanted to chime and say, as BABF just did, that while I agree with many of the criticisms, I still enjoy the show.
It could be better, yes, but it is fun -- and worth watching.

Andrew said...

I'd say at this point the "journey" argument falls flat because we're less on a journey and more stuck on a roundabout.

Chuck and Sarah try to talk.
The writers interrupt them.
Something angsty happens.
They can't be together!

Next week, surely Chuck or Sarah will try to talk to the other.
But they will be interrupted!
Something angsty will happen!

I'm fine with a journey if they're not recycling plots and openly making every other permanent character on the show say "you two need to be together." When Jeff figures things out, it's time to move on and do something new.

Donna said...

This episode was a bit of a let-down for me, and I think it's mostly because ShaW is back. The show is so much better without Shaw. He doesn't just gum up the works between Sarah and Chuck, he isn't a good spy. He makes mistakes which almost get him killed, he never seems to use the Ring intel they got from his late wife, assuming she exists, and he was just creepy when he was using their cover to hit on Sarah. I hate it that Sarah has gone for him. For 2 years she was all we can't, we can't, we can't with Chuck. Was she lying to him all along? Kind of how you let down the guy you aren't interested in by saying it isn't about him, it's because he's an asset. Makes her seem cheap, shallow, and manipulative. Sarah seems weak and without much purpose, other than to drive Chuck crazy, this season. I miss the old Sarah, and don't much like the new one.

Chuck isn't blameless, by the way. Hannah was cute, but if he's been in love with Sarah why in heaven's name did he leap, panting for the first brunette who crossed his path? Hannah happened awfully easily for someone who supposedly loves someone else.

I'm so frustrated, because there's still much about Chuck that I love. I've enjoyed the action, I've done my darndest to overlook the plotholes, and I still think CHUCK pushes the boundaries compared to most dramas on the air now. I love it that I still look at how much time there is left in the episode and don't see how they can fit in a climax and resolution in - and they do, every time. It feels like there's an actual, complete story to watch every week.

But I hate the Shaw/Sarah thing, and it's dragged the entire show down with it for me. I understand that Sarah was hurt in Prague. I don't, however, believe in it. That railway platform conversation was precisely measured for Chuck to say precisely what would hurt and worry her the most, and it just threw me out of the story. That conversation couldn't really have ended where it seemed to. It really went on for an hour or so, and shouting was involved. Therefore, all of her hurt and confusion has felt false this season. For her to rebound in to the Wooden Soldier's arms just seems like the usual contrived, artificial way to drag out the angst. I see, reading comments, that my husband and I haven't been alone when we've concocted a Shaw-as-bad-guy and Sarah-as-cover reason for Sarah to go for him. Something about the episode last night weakened my hope that it could all be explained that way, though, and Shaw played straight, as who he seems to be, including Sarah's new love, is just too depressing for words.

We're sticking with it, for now. Wish we had a Nielsen box. Sorry about the long post. This has been building up for me for awhile.

|ost said...

Chuck Season 3 should be preserved and used as a case study for future generations of showrunners in what happens when you don't understand your target audience.

From episode 1 all the way to episode 11 it's been like someone somewhere found a cool red button labeled angst and just keeps pushing it and pushing it and pushing it. This might work on other shows targeted at teenage female viewers, it doesn't work on a show targeted on late 20s males.

Did I like vs Final Exam? Yes, overall I did. Everything except the fight scene in the sauna was fine by me, and that was basic cinematic preferences, no big deal. The ending though was not fitting Chuck though. It was silly silly angst used for the sole purpose of having angst in an already angsty episode on the back of an angst overload season. Everybody with half a brain understands it was a setup for the next episode. Similarly everybody with half a brain understands where the storyline is going and roughly how it will be resolved, but in my opinion all that does not justify adding angst for the sake of having some. And if that wasn't enough they went all out ansgsty on the 3.12 promo. I seriously question the wisdom in those choices, apologies if anybody gets offended.

Having said all that, I am a Chuck fan and will continue watching, hoping the final 8 episodes make up for the subpar season so far. Especially since it seems those will be the last Chuck episodes we will ever see.

rosie said...

I'm still a loyal fan, regardless of some of the ups & downs in this 3rd season. My heart sank when I saw the ratings from last night's episode. However, I will remain hopeful, as Alan is, that there is still time for the ratings to improve, the storylines to come together, and for my favorite show to be renewed for a 4th season.

As for the episode, Low point: I felt bad that Chuck was abandoned by Sarah when he wanted so desperately to talk to her--he really needed her support & she could've been a friend to him at that point. ahigh point: I loved the 'irony' scene with Casey & the Jeffster, and I'm really enjoying the dynamic between Chuck & Casey. The Union Station scene with Casey peering out with his smoking gun was...well,.... smokin'!

Don't know if this has been mentioned, but I had a crazy thought , esp. with the way the show throws hints, that possibly the woman that Sarah shot & killed could be Shaw's deceased wife? That would really be a twist to ponder!

Anonymous said...

Really liked the episode. Very intense and suspenseful. All the main actors did a great job, including Routh, who I think is a fine actor.

Also, the Shaw/Sarah pairing never bothered me. It actually made sense to me; Sarah was too lonely, broken-hearted, available and beautiful. Same with Shaw. And he was a good listener and treated her kindly. It was very understandable that they'd hook up, to me at least. I just think that some fans are way too invested in the Chuck/Sarah ship and couldn't stomach seeing her in a more serious realtionship with another guy. I actually liked that the showrunners played it that way instead of a one-night stander. It feels more mature.

I also like the Shaw character, though he was better written in his first two episodes. Here is hoping his last two eps are A LOT better written. There is lots of potential there.

Personally, I like the way Routh played his part. He has a great presence. Also, This was a more serious, complex, mysterious and subtle character. Routh does subtlety very well, that's why I don't get why some people say that he's wooden. He is supposed to be a closed-off and icy spy much like Casey. These guys are not supposed to be that expressive. Oh well, to each their own. I just think that some fans hate the character (and the actor) because he stole Chuck's girl. Sorry but Chuck is no saint either. He broke Sarah's heart, got too cocky at times, and slept with Hannah. So much for loving Sarah.. Besides, we all know that Chuck and Sarah will reunite eventually. It's so obvious.

Well, very good review, Alan. I agree that there were some inconsistencies and the Casey/Buymore B story wasn't very good. Still, there was so much that was great in the ep, as usual, imo. And if this is the end of the show, well, it's been a hell of a ride. The character development and emotional realism has been great. Thanks to all the people involved. Oh, and I will sign up soon. Want to be identified properly, haha. Till the next one.

~Star

Anonymous said...

I wonder why you never see Chuck fatigued/hurt after doing some of the Intersect inspired fight/martial arts moves? Either holding his hand after punching someone or pulling a groin would be something I would almost expect to see.

I was thinking the exact same thing! Chuck is Chuck, not Devon "Awesome" Woodcomb. His fists don't hurt after punching someone? Where does he get the muscle strength to do all those back flips. LOL

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one to watch the last scene and say "Ah, the Ring has come to kidnap Chuck"? No exclamation point?

The ride always turns out to be bad guys.

ILGolfer said...

Yeah, the ride always seems to be the baddies, LOL.

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