mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the Balcony

Chuck vs. the Balcony
Season 4, Episode 11, original air-date January 17, 2011

Chuck and Sarah try to combine a romantic French getaway with a mission to find a specialized microchip. Lester asks Big Mike for romantic advice.

I'm going to start a tradition here at CI, where I name the doomed agents that meet their peril before the credits after SO-5 officers from the Thursday Next universe.  Seriously, it's like the second or third time this season alone that some poor soul has perished, and Team Bartowski doesn't seem to give a darn that a life was lost.

So Agent Kannon, ex-partner to the equally doomed Agent Phodder from Suitcase, this review is for you.  Next up, will it be Agent Lamme or Agent Slorter?  Guess we'll find out in coming weeks.

In the meantime, hit up the break for our review.  Spoiler alert: it ain't pretty.

mxpw: Sometimes I feel like you and I are just too different from other Chuck fans.

Frea: I think the problem with us is that we're both fans of serial things.

Frea: Like Harry Dresden, WoT, that sort of thing.

Frea: We like forward momentum.

mxpw: That's true.

Frea: Unfortunately, the writers are...well, they're procedural writers, and that's their strength. They're good in, essentially, a closed ecosystem.

mxpw: Right. It's obvious they don't know how to be consistent.

Frea: From the beginning of one episode to the end of that episode, they're solid. It's driving forward with logic where they fail.

Frea: And they misinterpret their failures, too.

Frea: "Oh, the fans don't like it because Chuck and Sarah aren't together, not because it's a bad story."

Frea: Well, the former is true--most of the fans that saved the show would be happy with Chuck and Sarah working happily together, solving a spy crime of the week every week.  The latter is definitely false. We hated it because it was a badly-written and devised, and illogical besides, storyline.

Frea: They really need to read the Dresden Files, I think.

Frea: Not to get tips on how to be mean to their characters, but to understand the drive for people to read a book series where the love interests aren't even together

mxpw: Far be it from me to defend these writers, but I do think that it's only about 80% their fault. The other 20% is the fans. And what I mean is, fans continually give them a pass on the crappy writing, plotholes, bad continuity, inconsistent characterization, because they think only entertainment is important. And it is, don't get me wrong, but you shouldn't be so willing to accept a pile of crap just because you occasionally find a fleck of gold in it.

mxpw: I see this phrase all the time, "Yeah, it doesn't really make sense and the spy stories are full of holes, but I try to just sit back and enjoy things and I don't care as long as I'm entertained."

Frea: Meanwhile, I just want to shake them and be like, "They can do better! Why are we letting them slide?"

Frea: For me, it's like paying to go see a professional orchestra.

Frea: And they're so lazy half the notes in the Hallelujah chorus are flat.

Frea: But at least they played the Hallelujah chorus!

mxpw: Heh, yeah, I get that. And I agree with you.

Frea: "I want to enjoy you without having to make excuses for you!"

mxpw: And you know, I admit that I probably am more critical than I need to be at times and I occasionally nitpick, but man, a lot of the stuff that goes on in the show is so blatantly bad you almost have to concede defeat if you want to enjoy it.

Frea: That's exactly how I feel about Balcony!

Frea: I just couldn't figure out how to say it

Frea: "I know I'm overly critical, but do you have to suck this much?"

mxpw: Haha

mxpw: Exactly, that's how I feel too.

Frea: I want Chuck to be cool again

Frea: If being with Sarah is going to turn him into a doormat permanently, then I'd rather they break up

mxpw: I think the worst part is that people don't appear to care if Chuck doesn't have a backbone. Or that he doesn't get angry and lash out at people or stand up for himself. I see it all the time on other blogs and forums and I think it's true of a lot of Chuck fans in general. They think Chuck should always be that way because "That's just the kind of guy he is. He's forgiving and I like that."

Frea: I like that he's forgiving.

Frea: But dude's a doormat.

mxpw: I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I think they've overcompensated with Sarah.

Frea: I've been thinking the same thing.

mxpw: They so thoroughly minimized her in S3 that they've completely missed the mark by trying to rehabilitate her character this season. They tried to make her cool again, which they succeeded at, but at the cost of making Chuck almost an afterthought a lot of the time.

mxpw: In a lot of ways, it reminds me of like old movies from the 40s and 50s where the man is so awesome and he does everything and the woman is there to swoon over him and occasionally she does something nice or shows some independence, but mostly she spends the whole movie being the damsel in distress.

mxpw: And that's Chuck, only with the genders reversed.

Frea: Again, completely agreed.

mxpw: I mean, the last episode was a great example. For the most part, I loved Sarah taking over the proposal (and for the record, I am a fan of Sarah proposing), but at the same time it was really kind of emasculating. Like Chuck is so incompetent or so neurotic he can't even propose to Sarah right and on his own. He has to have Sarah make sure it happens.

Frea: And Morgan.

Frea: And Casey.

mxpw: Right, and Chuck has always been emasculated in comparison to Casey (who is supposed to be a man's man) and well, Morgan has become more of a competent hero this season than Chuck.

Frea: I don't want Sarah to propose.

Frea: It's one of those things I'm weirdly traditional about. The guy proposes.

mxpw: Eh. After the last episode, I'm less of a fan of the idea as I was before.

mxpw: I can understand that.

Frea: This review will be subtitled, "God, you're just NEVER satisfied, are you?"

mxpw: No, probably not. I think that comes from our writing background, though. At least I know I that's often why I feel the way I do.

See?  Awesome.
Frea: And the answer to that is, "Well, Phase Three was awesome."

mxpw: Right, exactly. But even P3 had its problems, however few they might have been. It may have been one of my fave episodes of the series, but the issues in that episode, are largely the same we've been discussing so far.

Frea: Man, Chuck is trying to become Fringe.

Frea: Olivia and Sarah, parallels there. Now I'm starting to feel the same way about Chuck as I do Peter: I like him, but really only because Olivia does.

Frea: Broyles and Beckman are both pretty awesome, Casey's insane like Walter, and well, Astrid kicks Morgan's butt, but that's because she's Aspirin.

mxpw: And I think that is a shame. I am an unabashed Sarah fan, but I hate to see Chuck breakdown and be made so inconsequential at times. Like the entire Volkoff arc is winding down now and who is all the focus on? Sarah.

Frea: It leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

mxpw: Who is saving his mom? Sarah. Who is doing what is necessary to secure their future as a couple? Sarah. Who has to be the hero because nobody seems to believe Chuck is capable of doing what needs to be done? Sarah.

Frea: Who will be dressed in a leather catsuit next week? Sarah, thank God.

mxpw: Yes, definitely thank God over that.

Frea: Chuck doesn't have the hips for it. But his shoulders are divine.

mxpw: Obviously they will find some way to pull Chuck into the main storyline, it just bothers me that he's not a part of it from the start.

Frea: That, once again, his choice in the matter is being taken away, this time by his partner? Seriously, what sort of leadership seminar did the writers attend where "patronizing" is a good quality for teamwork?

mxpw: Yeah. I mean, I realize Sarah didn't know exactly what Beckman had planned, but the whole thing is just so... It has an air of condescension about it at times.

Frea: Very much like Chuck lying to Ellie.

Frea: And Awesome lying to Ellie, by default.

mxpw: I don't know. The worst part of the whole end scene, I think, was that Sarah basically goes, "Okay, going on undercover mission with Volkoff now. I'll be back, I promise. Bye!" And then she left. Really, I have to wonder if she would have told Chuck before she left if Chuck hadn't come down that hallway when he did.

Frea: These people have strange definitions for "being in a relationship."

mxpw: I just don't buy the excuse that Beckman wouldn't have given her the time to talk things over with Chuck. That's a weak excuse, in my opinion.

Frea: I mean, if I were in a relationship and about to go undercover for who knows how long and risk my life, I would think my partner would get a say in this.

mxpw: At the very least, as soon as Sarah realized what Beckman was suggesting to her, she should have immediately put a halt to things and insisted Chuck was there during the debrief.

mxpw: That's what I would hope any wife would do for her husband.

mxpw: How could Beckman refuse? Why would Sarah even let her refuse? It's not like she's really a prisoner.

Frea: Well the problem therein is that I don't think the writers really realize there is a problem.

Frea: I'm sure to them Sarah's actions are perfectly understandable.

mxpw: It was just weak storytelling to set up the dramatic end of the episode, that's all. And I hate being manipulated like that by the writers. And I especially don't like questioning the Chuck and Sarah relationship.

mxpw: Honestly, you could have easily done most of the tearful goodbye at the end with Chuck fully in the know.

mxpw: Very little would have needed to be changed.

Frea: But then we wouldn't have the "twist" ending, Maximus.

mxpw: And if for some reason there wasn't enough time, shave 30 seconds off the dreadful Jeffster storyline. It's win/win!

Frea: 30 seconds? How about "trash the entire storyline except for Big Mike and the redecorated Home Media Room?"

mxpw: Heh, well, I was trying to strike a compromise with the writers and still let them have their stupid Jeffster while still making the end less wonky.

Frea: Oh, compromise. Hmm... Here's my compromise: Let Max Denby go work for a show like Bones. And then I'll complain less.

mxpw: Heh, did you know he's partly responsible for the atrocity that is American Hero as well?

Frea: ...Okay, Bones is too good for him. Do you think they're hiring writers for Outsourced still?

Frea: Seriously, Max Denby must GO.

Frea: NO MORE.

Frea: He wrote my least favorite episode of Season Three.

Frea: He contributed to my second least-favorite episode of Season Three.

Frea: And now he's given me this nightmarish mishmash of bad writing that even Yvonne Strahovski playing drunk and Zac Levi being charming couldn't completely save!

mxpw: I would even be willing to accept Klemmer over Denby, I think.

Frea: Agreed. At least Klemmer gave us Role Models and Sandworm.

mxpw: At least Klemmer wrote Tom Sawyer, an episode I know you're not that fond of, but I love it. Plus, you know, Sarah in the NH uniform.

Just in case you forgot.  Which I suspect you didn't, but you're welcome anyway.
Frea: Tom Sawyer was leeeeeeagues better than this.

mxpw: Agreed.

mxpw: At least TS was funny and had good teamwork. This episode wasn't that funny and the beginning was oddly slow. I didn't have much of a problem with the very beginning, even though I found the increasingly elaborate proposal elements absurd, but it was just really painful. And I don't mean painful in a sense where I'm supposed to think it's painfully awkward, but like that wasn't actually intended at all.

Frea: The beginning was where I had the most problems, actually.

Frea: It spun the entire episode off of the rails and I just couldn't...get...past...the...rest.

mxpw: Yeah, I found the aborted proposals increasingly annoying.

Frea: My problem with Denby's writing is that it's some of the most contrived writing of the series, and this episode is no exception. While on the one hand, it was great to hear that Sarah actually has a mother and didn't, well, I've seen the Athena references floating around here somewhere, and I found that amusing (though, seriously, she's Artemis if she's anything)...anyway, it was great to hear that Sarah does have a mother, but why on earth would she start telling that story about her parents unless she actually knew Chuck was planning to propose right then? I mean, dude's a spy, but he's not exactly hard to read. So her entire story, and the whole proposal setup, came across as really contrived and forced. I kept watching, hoping it was a nightmare, that Chuck was going to wake up in bed, gasping. And then...he didn't. It was awful.

mxpw: It was kind of bad how oblivious Sarah seemed.

Frea: And then when you think about it, the proposal itself was kind of horrible. Sarah likes the grand gestures, but...balloons? All of the attention in the room on her? I mean, why would Chuck ever have thought that was a good idea or at all suited to Sarah or her personality?

Wait, that stuff in the script wasn't a joke?  You mean, real women would
really say this out of nowhere like that?  I don't believe you.
mxpw: Well, I think we're supposed to think that's why it failed. You know, it wasn't meant to be, that proposal wasn't right for Chuck and Sarah, so that's why it failed. Of course, you're right, why Chuck would think that was the perfect proposal, I have no idea. I realize he feels like Sarah deserves this grand gesture that is worthy of her awesomeness, but it just read as Chuck being kind of oblivious himself to what was right for them as a couple.

Frea: Or...*cough*CONTRIVED*cough*

Frea: Sorry.

mxpw: And honestly, it was another example of Chuck's insecurity and neuroses this season that have just made his character near unwatchable at times.

Frea: It just really annoyed me. You don't propose to the shy girl on the Gravitron. Not unless you want her to say no and flee in terror.

mxpw: You're absolutely right.

mxpw: For me, though, it was the third failed proposal that just made me facepalm and get annoyed.

Frea: I've blocked most of the episode from memory, which one are you talking about?

mxpw: That was actually a pretty damn good speech Chuck gave and it was a really good moment and it was heartfelt and it seemed right for them, and then the writers had to go and interrupt it right when Chuck was about to propose. Like what the hell? Was the CIA commander like some kind of sadistic bastard? Who even DOES that? It made no logical sense that they would choose that precise moment to make their move to arrest Sarah. I think that was the worst interrupted Chuck/Sarah moment of the whole series.

Frea: It felt like something the Cabal would write. Hopefully there are no Fibonacci sequences or tanks involved.

Frea: But I completely agree with you.

Frea: Also, my apologies to anybody who's tried to use brain bleach to wipe that story from their memories.

mxpw: And after that, that was when I realized that the writers intended to yank me around about the proposal and I stopped caring about it as much. Then to have Sarah interrupt Chuck for the fourth time when he was going to propose in Castle was like me just wanting to give up.

Frea: Well, you're doing better than me.

Frea: I have never cared about the proposal.

Frea: That probably makes me seem like a bad shipper, but I'm content with the fact that they're together. I'd rather them being together makes them both better people.

mxpw: I know. And it's not like I didn't expect them to interrupt it once or twice. Or even across multiple episodes. I could have probably handled that, but to do it FOUR times in one episode was too much. It was like kicking a guy when he's already down.

Frea: Well, it fits in with the theory: the writers don't actually like Chuck.

mxpw: I do wonder at times.

Frea: Who's been the most consistently awesome character this season?

mxpw: Sarah, of course.

Frea: Okay, let me rephrase.

Frea: Who do the writers think is the most consistently awesome character?

mxpw: Oh. Well, that would have to be Morgan, of course.

Frea: Who has the most crowning moments of win?

Frea: Who has time and again risen to the challenge above all odds?

mxpw: Again, Morgan.

Frea: Who has saved the day multiple times?

mxpw: Morgan.

Frea: Who has provided support to every single character without fail?

mxpw: Morgan.

Frea: I love Josh Grimes, I think he's awesome, but...

Frea: NO.

Frea: No, okay? It's gotta stop!

mxpw: You wanna know what I think is funny/ironic?

Frea: Dorothy Parker?

mxpw: Like we talked earlier with Sarah taking over the show, it's how clueless the writers seem at times. Schwedak did that interview, I think it was a podcast, and they were asked if they were surprised by the reception Phase Three received and they answered yes. They said they hadn't expected it to go over as well as it did. And when I read that, I could only wonder at how out of touch they are. Like they really don't get how popular a character Sarah is. And I think that was a good example of them having totally different views of the characters than the fans do.

Frea: You know, that sounds about right.

Frea: I do think LeJudkins get it, though.

Frea: Wasn't it Rafe's dream for Sarah to come out of the water with a knife in her teeth?

mxpw: That's what makes episodes like Balcony so perplexing. Honestly, what were all of the good scenes in the episode focused on, with one notable exception? Sarah. The awesome and funny drunk Sarah bit, where she was adorable, the amusing Sarah and Morgan convo where she decided to jump feet first into marriage (and also where she was wearing her inappropriate work attire again), Sarah being nervous, Sarah during the third proposal scene, the end? It was another showcase for Sarah/Yvonne, which I'm not complaining about, but then when they do stuff like this, you gotta wonder why they still don't seem to understand how many people love her.

Can we get a scene with stoned Morgan and drunk Sarah?  Is that too much to ask?
mxpw: Yeah, that was Rafe's dream. I bet he and Newman spent a lot of time bouncing back ideas for P3 while she was writing it.

Frea: In that case, everybody should talk to Rafe.

mxpw: Heh, well, I think you and I have gone on record before as saying LeJudkins should write most of the episodes.

Frea: I kind of agree with you, but I also don't.

Frea: Because yes, I agree that all of the good scenes seemed to revolve around Sarah, but I don't think the people that make Chuck see it that way. One of the problems I always have is that they "go for the funny" at the expense of everything up to and including plausibility, so I have a feeling that there were parts of this episode where they were just rolling in their chairs. Like, Chuck facing down the Walking Stereotypes to End All Stereotypes over the wineglass, the ten bajillion mentions of "Stable on the label and the stork on the cork," Morgan's scene with the "sub-mission" (please don't make me type that again, ever). All of those scenes they probably adored, while I was sitting there going, "If I want to watch a cartoon, I'll go watch Archer. Knock it off!"

mxpw: Hey, Archer is hilarious and a fantastic show.

Frea: Exactly.

Frea: That's what I'm saying. That's what I'll turn to if I want to watch a cartoon. Chuck is not a cartoon.

mxpw: That's true.

Frea: Actually, let's be honest here.

Frea: I'll probably watch Powerpuff Girls or Scooby Doo.

Frea: The City of Townsville isn't going to save itself, you know.

mxpw: Though speaking of that beginning, it was really nice to see Chuck at least being proactive and completing a part of the mission all on his own, but that fight was ridiculous. And that's saying something for this show. It didn't even make sense. And I've yet to see anything new or interesting about the Intersect. It's like the whole Intersect-less arc never happened.

Frea: Oh! That was my other major beef with the episode!

Frea: I was holding back for Leftovers in hopes that the Intersect-lessness would lead somewhere, but nope!

mxpw: I suppose there is still hope that something might crop up in 4.12 or 4.13, but with so much supposed to be happening in both episodes, I'm not sure they will even have time.

Frea: I suppose.

mxpw: And that is disappointing. This show is just really bad about bringing stuff up and never resolving anything.

Frea: They like to introduce awesome ideas and there are so many great places you can go with them...but then it's just back to square one. Every. Single. Time.

Frea: I'm sorry, I'm just really disappointed with this episode.

mxpw: Yeah. I appreciate what Sarah is doing. In a lot of ways, it's really romantic. She wants to bring back Chuck's mom because she wants to make his family, and by extension her own, whole. She wants to remove a shadow that is supposedly hanging over their heads. But it just feels so sloppy. Is that worth Sarah dying? Is it worth her also getting stuck in an undercover mission for 20 years? Is that worth potentially breaking Chuck's heart? Is that worth her going back on all the hard work she's done to become a better person? Why would she even want to go back to being just a spy? Isn't she afraid of how Chuck might react to seeing that side of her? How does she plan to bring down not just Volkoff, but his whole organization, when Mary failed? Am I really supposed to believe it's as simple as adding Team B to the equation? If I thought I'd even get half of these questions answered by the end of 4.13, I'd consider this arc a success. But past history has told me that I shouldn't hold my breath.

Frea: You said it much better than I could.

Frea: It depresses me that it's come to this.

Frea: I love this show, I've loved this show since the Pilot, but I'm not holding my breath for anything.

Frea: The bad guys have never once been as sinister as the threat of losing Sarah/being bunkerized, and you make so many valid points. If it's just a simple matter of adding Team B to take down Volkoff, then he joins a long line of failed bad guys.

mxpw: I think ultimately, for me, what it all breaks down to is that they haven't convinced me yet that at any point, once Mary realized that her mission might never end, why she couldn't simply shoot Volkoff in the head and go back to her family. Because of some network that we know nothing about and they've not developed at all? They haven't convinced me that the threat of Volkoff extends any father beyond him. So I consider Mary a failure, and that means I consider this arc with Sarah largely a failure too, as I don't know why she, or more likely Casey, can't camp out on some roof with a sniper rifle and kill him. The arc just doesn't hold a lot of dramatic weight with me. It feels hollow, which is why I'm not expecting much of 4.12 besides Sarah looking hot in her catsuit, doing general acts of morally questionable badassery, and Chuck wondering what the hell is going on while everybody else does something proactive.

Frea: ...so, just like the rest of the season?

mxpw: Yeah, so basically like the rest of the season.

mxpw: I mean, unless the whole Mary storyline is a massive fakeout (which has its own problems) and she's really a bad guy, which I know will never happen, I just can't buy the idea that she was trapped in her mission. So it's hard for me to buy Sarah being trapped too, which robs the storyline of a lot of its power, I think.

Frea: For me, personally, I just hate that they went with the parallels between Sarah and Mary.

Frea: I knew they were going to before the season started.

mxpw: As did I.

Frea: But I was genuinely hoping we'd see something more original than that.

mxpw: For me, I just don't even think they've done a good job with the parallels. We complain a lot about how off the Chuck/Sarah relationship is, but I've never thought Sarah was anything like Mary. We are supposed to believe that Mary loved her family, that's what they tell us onscreen, but her actions are not the actions of a woman that loves her family. She never would have put the mission above them to begin with if she did. And if I'm supposed to believe there's a danger of Sarah doing that too, I'm not sure why I would even keep liking her then.

Frea: Well, she's doing it for Chuck, Maximus.

Frea: Whether he likes it or not.

Those CIA agents had better be careful.  They're still finding pieces of the last
person the Adorable Psycho gave that look.

In Siberia.
mxpw: Heh, you're right. Though the counter to that is that Mary supposedly did the same thing for her family, and look what that got her.

Frea: Wouldn't that be awesome if that was the moral of the story?

Frea: Like, "Don't lie to your sister, and consult your partner before you make decisions for the relationship?"

Frea: Wouldn't that be great if that were the lesson they were supposed to be learning here?

mxpw: Yeah, but it's not.

Frea: *sigh* I know, I know, I'm not getting my hopes up.

mxpw: Like I said, I admire Sarah for what she is doing, I just don't like how the whole storyline is playing out.

Frea: I don't admire Sarah for what she's doing.

Frea: But then, I don't like the Mary Bartowski storyline at all. I adore Linda Hamilton, I think she's doing a fantastic job, but I'm not gonna lie: I don't like this storyline.

mxpw: I admire the thought behind it, I guess I should say, even if I do think she's being misguided.

Frea: I just want it ooooooooooooover.

Frea: I suspect I am in the minority about that and am fine with it, though.

mxpw: Heh. You know, I think that this makes me the optimist.

Frea: I think you are.

Frea: And heck, this time Sarah didn't have to destroy Thailand to make it happen.

Frea: Would you consider that progress?

mxpw: I didn't think the episode was good, but it did have a lot of scenes that I thought were individually quite good. And I could watch Sarah being drunk for a whole episode and not get bored. Tousled hair is a really good look for her.

mxpw: Yeah, I think so. Minor progress.

Frea: It was nice to see her being a spy again.

mxpw: Yeah, that was definitely nice. And we had the return of SWLP as well!

Frea: Like, her first response wasn't to high-kick her way through the room.

Frea: Ah, yes, the SWLP.

Frea: "They're just legs."

mxpw: There's no such thing as "just legs" when talking about Sarah Walker.

Frea: There's no such thing as "just" when talking about Sarah Walker.

mxpw: Amen.

See?  We would not lie to you.
mxpw: Does it make me terribly shallow if the thing I'm most looking forward to about next episode is the catsuit? Even the bad wig doesn't deter me.

Frea: I liked her scenes with Morgan. Sarah and Morgan together is always going to mean a fun conversation is to be had.

Frea: Not terribly shallow.

mxpw: Just male?

Frea: Oh, I can think of a few females that share you opinion.

Frea: How about we go with "human?"

mxpw: *cough* Tally *cough*

mxpw: Okay, I think we've rambled long enough. Do you have any final thoughts?

Frea: Calling a man a walking cliche does not excuse lazy writing.

Frea: Also, I liked Tony DiNozzo's Danny Kaye tribute better.

Frea: But I definitely won't be rewatching this episode any time soon, even though I loved Chuck's proposal speech.

mxpw: I might re-watch for drunk Sarah and I too loved Chuck's proposal speech. One of the best speeches he's given on the show. They really should have let them get engaged. Just think about how hard the end would be then. The drama and angst would have been delicious. Oh crap...what am I saying? I think they've indoctrinated me! Save me, Frea!

Frea: Hey, look, we made it through an entire review without mentioning that "Double Agent" was used twi--crap.

mxpw: I was trying really hard to avoid mentioning "Double Agent." I mean, it will be really interesting to see Sarah being a double agent. I wonder what this double agent storyline will be like? What will she have to do as a double agent to gain Volkoff's confidence?

mxpw: ...double agent.

Frea: We suck at this.

mxpw: Yeah. One could even say Sarah becoming a double agent was fated.

Frea: Really, really suck at this!


Frea: 2.8 Castle Slides out of 10, but only for the proposal, drunk Sarah, and mentor Casey

mxpw: 2.5 Drunk Sarahs out of 5


  1. As usual these episode reviews are always entertaining, provide food for thought, and insightful.

    Especially for an episode like this where I agree with your observations, especially about Chuck, and yet have a totally different reaction.

    Season 3 inspired WFI. Wonder what wonderful fiction(s) Season 4 will generate? ;D

  2. I agree with everything.

    I miss awesome Chuck. He was that sweet and nerdy genius who could make a pizza without olives look like the most romantic thing in the world, and I could totally understand why Sarah would fall for him, but since "vs the ring" he has been so... neurotic!

    The Intersect 2.0 is cool and all, but c'mon! it isn't what makes Chuck great. And lately his creepy bearded friend has been better than him in every single thing (even in relationships!!!!)

    So yeah, as much as I love Sarah, I would like to see some balance: maybe Chuck doing something right without freaking out or having Morgan,Casey and Sarah babysitting him for once?

    That's it. I feel better now (I am mad and confused since the 6th or 7th failed proposal this season).


  3. This show is just really bad about bringing stuff up and never resolving anything.

    Agreed! That's SO frustrating.

    Even Phase Three wasn't convincing about that, the resolution kinda disappointed me. It still is a fantastic episode though, but it really showed me that, they just don't know how to resolve the issues they brought up.

    I can't say I really disagree with anything you two said about that episode, yet I enjoyed it.

    Sarah's story about her parents didn't bother me, because she thought Chuck was apologizing for not having proposed yet. She wanted to tell him there was no rush, she understood he had other things on his plate. Made sense to me, and the scene made me laugh.

    One of the problems I always have is that they "go for the funny" at the expense of everything up to and including plausibility.

    I agree, and this is really frustrating when what they're doing isn't that funny...

    It's like the whole Intersect-less arc never happened.

    It is my major problem with this episode. I wonder if the Intersect will be addressed at all in 412 & 413? Volkoff doesn't even know Chuck's the Intersect, so really I'm thinking they're capable of just take that new Intersect storyline for the Back 11, and not mention it until then...

    The multiple proposals didn't bother me either, I guess I didn't except anything less, which is, yes, kinda sad.

    Now about that last scene... Is that worth Sarah dying? Is it worth her also getting stuck in an undercover mission for 20 years? Is that worth potentially breaking Chuck's heart? Is that worth her going back on all the hard work she's done to become a better person? Why would she even want to go back to being just a spy? Isn't she afraid of how Chuck might react to seeing that side of her?

    The problem is that they didn't convinced us that first, Chuck's whole family is in danger right now, and second, that they have an unique opportunity to take Volkoff Industries down right now. That's why it fell flat for some people, I think.

    If you're convinced of that, yes, Sarah would totally go for it IMO. How could she not? I can't see Sarah saying, "well, I'd really rather stay here with you and wait for Volkoff to find out that your mom is playing him and kill us all, than going on that mission."

    How does she plan to bring down not just Volkoff, but his whole organization, when Mary failed? Am I really supposed to believe it's as simple as adding Team B to the equation?

    I guess 412 is supposed to answer that, but it probably won't...

    So that last scene worked for me because, they did show that Chuck was worried about this
    Volkoff situation, and Sarah was too. And I took their word that Sarah has a unique opportunity with this mission. It's not like she planned this whole operation behind Chuck's back, and was going because, hey, that's was she does.

    I want to add for the record that I don't really like this Mary storyline either. LH has made an incredible job, but Mary hasn't convinced me at all.

    She didn't kill Volkoff because it wasn't her mission. So with her it's mission first, right? Yet she still believes she did it all for her family? Can't see it. From what they showed me of Mary, Sarah is nothing like her, and if they try to make me think she is in 412, I really don't think I'm going to like that.

    And finally, are they going to bring back First Date Chuck? The guy that could ask Sarah on a real date without wetting his pants and get the mission done because "of course, it's him".

    Honestly, Chuck being neurotic over proposing to Sarah didn't bother me because a proposal is huge IMO. But, he's been neurotic for so long now... My problem isn't with Chuck in that episode (at least he got the mission done well), it's with Chuck since S3.

  4. Anonymous21.1.11

    Part of me wants to believe the writers have some grand plan for Chuck (the character) this season that we're just not privy to. Maybe the more awesome Chuck of seasons past has been hibernating, and he's going to come back better than ever just in time for what would have been the season finale.

  5. Its nice to see I'm not the only person who wants to see Chuck get angry and grow a backbone. What gets me is had this storyline been reversed and Chuck was going undercover the fans would be going nuts. And I can guarantee every character would've called Chuck out for what he was doing.

  6. I've really hated the ongoing storyline for this season. Chuck focusing on his mother took some of the fun out of the show for me. As for the last episode

    When cops go undercover the criminals don't know that the person is a cop. If the criminals knew that someone was or used to be a cop they would shoot them. I hate the idea of Sarah going undercover because it makes no sense.

  7. End Chuck's Neurosis21.1.11

    [Morgan Rant]
    For the sake of Morgan's so called "growth", the writers have hijacked Chuck's awesomeness. If Chuck was the awesome guy of seasons past, then what would Morgan now do other than sit and twiddle his thumbs. I have never cared for Morgan but this season I find myself acutely disliking his scenes - specially the ones where he is the "know-it-all" on anything and everything under the sun and Chuck, Sarah and even Casey are idiots. Are the writers so blind that they cant see a secondary character stealing the limelight from the titular character, which in turn is making the titular character look bad. Morgan is the new "Shaw" except for the PLI crap. [End of Rant]

    People are just impressed that Sarah is making the ultimate sacrifice by going undercover but IMHO what one needs to do is look at the situation through Chuck's eyes. What does he see when Sarah goes away - a probability that what happened to his mom could very well happen to Sarah. His abandonment issues are just aside as inconsequential and his concerns brushed aside - but not to worry -all done in the name of love. :)

  8. I have to say this episode was just another example of whatnive always felt is Josh Schwartz biggest flaw as a creator/show runner, he just doesn't know how to pace things. You can blame the writers for week episodes gut when you talk about how weak a characters been for a few episodes or a season, or when you complain about how Intersectless-Chuck didn't last long enough thats on Schwartz/Fedak. I could list off half a dozen sub plots that I think the writers could have explored more patiently, the intersect less Chuck being one. Bigger than that though is the Fact that were only 12 or so episodes into Chuck and Sarah as a couple and were already at the proposal stage? Really? It's one thing for chuck to start reading the whole 'Getting to Marriage' books but couldn't we have figured out more things for them to have to go through before they jump straight to that?

    Also that screen cap from Tom Sawyer again reminded me of something that's bugged me for a while, they don't seem to sex up Sarah as much, she spends most of every episode in outfits that would look more fitting on Ellie than they would on S1-S2 Sarah. I hate to nit pick but the way they've kinda give up on Sarah's hair is kinda buggin me, just seems so blah compared to how she wore I in S2 in particular.

  9. Ayefah21.1.11

    AHAHAHA. I can't believe you two have finally turned around into being quasi-okay with Klemmer coming back. HEE. But in other matters...

    I also miss the Chuck who was charming and awesome boyfriend material. I mean, when we found out about the proposal map in his pocket, it was funny because it was something he'd planned as a child - ponies and jetpacks and whatnot. But "Balcony" was supposed to be about Chuck the man, proposing to the girlfriend he's known for years, which yes, makes the restaurant proposal utterly inexplicable.

    I also hate public proposals on general principle because they are the acts of weenies. Who traps a woman into saying "yes" by making sure the whole thing has an audience? Ew. If Chuck had planned on popping the question very quietly and just drinking champagne afterwards to celebrate, cool, but as funny as I found the image of Morgan with the balloons, the rest of it was totally unsuited to Sarah and not really in line with Chuck's best romantic gestures either.

    Remember the sizzling shrimp stakeout last season in "Final Exam"? With the custom-made briefcase inserts? That was freaking adorable. The restaurant, the carriage, and the stupid balcony have no significance to Chuck and Sarah; they're just media-promoted stereotypes of What Is Romantic. Chuck used to be awesome precisely because he came at matterse sideways instead of doing the expected thing.

    At best, I'll concede that maybe the country of France can be said to be special for Chuck and Sarah, but beyond that? Who the fuck cared if he proposed on that balcony? He could have done it on the beach from the pilot, in the Chinese restaurant where they had their first "real" date, in bed after some awesome sex, on that mysteriously slow train from "Honeymooners", in the freaking cage at the Buy More...seriously, any of those things would have been more meaningful than what was offered up. So why was I supposed to give a flying whatever about Chuck's dilemma?

    Answer: I didn't. It only started becoming fun when Sarah got in on it, because then it was about her doing something sweet for him. It was about them as a couple, whereas before it was about Stereotype Man trying to achieve the most clichéd proposal he could manage.

    I used to bitch about how Anna-inna-relationship suddenly turned into a Sitcom Wife, but I just realized that the same character castration happened to Chuck-inna-relationship. Ugh. Chuck used to go through the extra effort to give everything a Chuck twist. Now it feels like they're barely trying. Freaking Lester got a more individualized courting scene than Chuck did up until the end.

    And I don't even care if they get married! Just...if the writers are going to go there, can't they please do it with a modicum of thoughtfulness? Please?

  10. Anonymous22.1.11

    First proposal? Not so sure it's Chuck's insecurities (which I think would be ridiculous after Sarah's speech at the end of P3), I think it's about giving her the best imaginable… and Morgan butting in.. how many times have we seen him stir one of them in the wrong direction? He could feel that his gestures thus far while well received, aren't in the same level as what should be the perfect moment for them. The love of his life is a master spy, who now knows he wants to propose(he has to be careful with the planning, and get Morgan's help to keep it under the radar. I would have asked Ellie's help instead :P) and who for a long time had commitment issues, he wants to do this just right. Show her just what it means to him, and maybe even add 'normality' to the mix. i loved his original plan a whole lot more. Proposing on the beach where they had that talk? Awesome. I hope the final proposal will be up to par with it.

    Interrupted balcony proposal? Taking advantage of them being so focused on each other, with no regards to it being a freaking proposal? Pisses me off, but I can see it.. team leader's contempt at saying "treason" was very profound.

    Sarah going narrow minded with going undercover and not consulting? After the whole "..I will do ANYTHING in my power to bring back Chuck's mother..", kinda expected her going stir crazy…. And solo. She already showed that intersect or not, she doesn't think Chuck can handle having his mom in the spy world, and pretty much everything to do with her.
    It's obvious she's been thinking about saving MommaB and going after Volkoff for a long time (see fountain scene from Leftovers). She seemed utterly convinced none of them is safe till Volkoff goes down. Though that doesn't excuse Chuck's very mellow response, like it didn't really click for him what it all means. Makes me wonder how bad he'll fall apart these coming eps, which I would hate to see.

    ..but maybe ultimately it's about trust between Chuck and Sarah, Chuck always had to trust in her professionally, and now he trusts her with his heart. And she asked him to trust her. So maybe I'm giving them too much credit here but it could be an example of how Chuck will do anything for Sarah, including letting her go and do what she has to do, without him.

    The 'Intersect-less' thing? I hope it will have an impact on Sarah-MommaB, Sarah could say something about her wanting to play with the big boys and that without the intersect, the US government doesn't cut it. Or that MommaB has made some use of it in further getting people off Chuck's back..?
    But that's just how I'd play it.. I'm kinda sure I'll be disappointed here.

    I've got nothin' to say about Mary, I seriously don't get her not taking down the madmen by now. She obviously could have, many times over.

    All in all, I still love Chuck, just wish the writers would take the show and the fans ability to understand without being fed with a spoon more seriously.


  11. Craig22.1.11

    I found myself agreeing with a majority of your points regarding this episode, so I'll sum up my opinions with a simple idea;

    Remember the days when Chuck used to flash on actual intel? Yeah...I miss those days.

  12. Anonymous22.1.11

    First of, I was not mad about the aborted proposals. I knew they were going to milk the funny out of that story line (well what they think is funny, I personally found it boring) for all its worth. They're Chuck's writers, that's what they do.

    I get that you all find Chuck spineless. I can see why, but I don't see it that way. To me the thing Chuck always had that Sarah never had, is his ability to be liked by everyone. He can make friends with everyone and wherever he goes he will find people to help him do whatever he wants to do. Sarah for all her awesomeness and she has a lot of awesomeness, cannot do that. She can seduce men with her body, but she has a hard time making people love her. She needs help with that. She is awkward when it comes to social relations. Meanwhile, Chuck is a natural. So him getting everyone to help him propose wasn't to me a show of his neurotic weakness, but a show of his own strength. Chuck did not need anybody's help to propose. He would have done just fine on his own, but the thing is, everyone WANTS to help him. He brings it out of people. He makes people care. That's how I see it. Beside, I loved Sarah taking over the proposal. It's just such a Sarah Walker thing to do. Control freaks everywhere, take notes!

    That said, that first proposal idea was lame and so not suited for Sarah. What was he thinking? Plus, it was one of the rare moments where I was actually disappointed by Sarah. I've never been disappointed by Sarah. I loved her through out season 3. I am completely bias toward her. I just could not believe that she was this oblivious to the fact that Chuck was trying to ask her to marry him. I mean, is she a spy or not? She knows he wants to ask, he takes her to a romantic restaurant and looks nervous and she doesn't see it? Is she stupid? What was up with that?

    The French cliché made me mad. You are so right Frea, telling us that they know it's a cliché does not excuse writing in the first place. I am half French, so those 1950's French stereotypes (that have not been updated in 60 years) pull me right out of the story. All I can think about is everything that is not possible (like a man under the age of 60, being called Pierre, only old men are called Pierre)and I can't help but be a bit offended by their lack of research.

    I love the Mary story line and I am actually interested in the Mary-Sarah parallel. Then again, I am psychology student and Sarah is my favourite character, so seeing her explore her possible self is something I find fascinating. Mary is not Sarah, but she is a possible Sarah. If Sarah ever chose to turn her back on Chuck and their family for whatever reason, I have no doubt that she would become Mary.

    By the way, I am the one who made the Athena reference. I agree Sarah would be Artemis, but since Artemis has a mother, I couldn't be sure Sarah was really her until last episode. Now, I know.

    As for Morgan and Jeffster, I'll go straight to the point. Enough with them! We all need a break from them. How can the writers not know that Sarah is their gold mine? And Chuck could be too if they only tried and did not push him aside to make space for Morgan. Gah!

    Denby is not too good for Bones. I say that as a Bones fan. Bones now has a story line where the protagonist has a new girlfriend named Hannah. She met him once, left everything to be with him and followed him across the globe like the stalker that she is. All of this because the girl of the hero's dream did not give him a chance. Does that scenario sound familiar to you all because I'm almost sure I've seen the exact same thing before? Denby can join the team, add a character named Daniel for the female protagonist to date and he'll fit right in.


  13. Stephen22.1.11

    I have to say I can agree with some of what has ben said about the downgrading of Chuck as a character it would be nice to have him back as a Hero. It is a shame that due to the nature of the arcs that have been part of the last two seasons. We have not seen Chuck and Sarah just sitting at home, or going on a date all we have seen is them on missions together. The pacing of stories has beem faster as it looks like the Mama B arc will be over in e13 but one has to think if they had known about having 24 episodes if they would have slowed the pacing down.
    Both of you are great writers but i would suggest that is is not as easy writing a TV show, the story and tone of the series is controlled by the showrunners, the series is broken down by the writers room, you are writing a story possibly without knowing exactly what is preceding it (you may know the exact script but not what scenes have been edited out before broadcast). You cant wait for feedback for the episode to know what worked and how it was received the fact that apparently lots of people loved the episode shows that the feelings are mixed. Chuck has since S2 been a bubble show so the writers had to try and tell the story as they dont know when it will end you on the other hand have complete control over when to end your story.
    I expected the aborted proposals and really would prefer it to be at the beach or by the fountain as you say those sights are personal for them I did not mind Morgan helping, liked Casey helping but loved Sarah helping as she said its for Chuck and for Me! I can also understand Chucks nervousness as yes he knows her answer will be yes but unlike asking for a Real Date is different to Marriage as a) I think he expected her to say no to the date. And b) both he and Sarah will remember how he proposes for the rest of there lives (I know I will) and it is something to tell the kids so I for one am glad Sarah did not let him propose in the cell.
    I do agree about getting rid of Jeff and Lester and showing more Ellie and Awesome but hopefully we will see more of them in the second half of the season.
    I loved the episode

  14. Ayefah22.1.11

    The fact that the team, of their own free will, gathered together to make Chuck's proposal work wasn't an example of him being spineless. It was actually one of my favorite things about "Balcony".

    Chuck's inability to stand up for his own interests comes out in other ways - his token resistance to Sarah leaving, his inability to just tell Morgan "no, your ideas suck", the way he just accepts being treated as worthless without 2.0...

    It's sad, because while Chuck has always been a very accommodating, selfless guy, he used to at least make his own plans sometimes, you know? He wouldn't stay in the car, he would come up with ways to save the day, he searched out Orion...I can't remember that happening this season except in the (offscreen) world trip he did with Morgan and the time when he glommed onto the "fear and pain" plan for getting the Intersect back against Sarah's wishes, and the latter was contingent on his acceptance of his worthlessness without said Intersect.

    It's like everyone's been saying - since S3, the writers have betrayed their own potential ingenuity by being afraid of change. They won't get rid of the Buy More even though the place has no more significance to the protagonist, they keep Chuck subordinate and inferior to Sarah and Casey past the point of it making any sense, they take Ellie out of the loop again as soon as she's in, and they've wasted cool ideas constantly because to follow through with them would require actually challenging those assumptions. (Hello, Intersect-less Chuck.)


    And yeah, the fact that Sarah didn't figure out Chuck's proposal fever until she overheard it through the Vents of Improbability was really, really stupid. :P

  15. Oh, I've never said it was an easy task writing a TV show. I mean, it's a completely different medium than fanfiction and there never was any comparison, on our side or theirs. But the fact that there are several well-written shows out there that have great pacing, awesome and consistent characterization, and intriguing plots does prove that it can be done. The fact that this show used to be one of those proves that it can even be done in house. So should I give them a pass because "it's not easy?" I personally don't think so.

  16. End Chuck's Neurosis22.1.11

    @Ayefah - It's a double standard on the show. For every action or decision Chuck takes - everyone is going to judge him, castigate him and maybe reject his decision because it doesn't serve their individual needs. And others do things without consulting him, act in a patronizing manner and expect Chuck to just shut up and deal with it - no wonder the guy offers little to no resistance. He is perennially afraid of being made the villain.

    "Vents of Improbability"

    Ha! Very apt description.

  17. Anonymous22.1.11

    You summed up my problems with Chuck perfectly. There's more humor in this review than in last episodes of this season.

    I've gone from insanely looking forward to another episode of Chuck (season one and two)to avoiding it like the plague (season three)and finally to not really giving a damn anymore (this season). Honestly, that saddens me greatly. I want to love this show again like I did in the first two seasons. Unfortunately the writers won't let me.


  18. Anonymous22.1.11

    BDaddyDL thought the world was going to end the other day when he heard i agreed with both of you at the same time. what amazed me even more was the fact that i could not find one thing to disagree with you two on. it's in my nature to at least argue one point. i don't know if you brought this up or not. the writers do know vilkoff operates out of russia right? that's where all the stuff they need to bring him down would be not here in the states. so how do they intend to get the team there to help if needed? if they try to get us to believe he is now state side then whats the big deal? bring every law enforcement agency, CIA, NSA, FBI, some military troops, cut off everything to the building and wait him out. the CIA has been after him for 20 years. they are bound to be watching him. that's one reason i think the mission is a joke.

    what bothers me most about this three episode arc is the repercussions it will have in the episodes that follow it. i'm sure it won't be kittens and rainbows for at least a while.


  19. Tamara Burks23.1.11

    I too think Chuck should get angry . One of the reasons I loved Dream Job was that not only did Chuck get angry and show it (though he quickly apologized because he's spent his life being a people pleaser in order to not get left, something that probably started with his mother leaving) but that Papa B acknowledged that he had every right to be mad.

    Sarah's story about her parents was the first mention that she ever had a mother (I was beginning to think she was hatched) . Her saying that the bad proposal was the beginning of the end for her parents brings up an interesting questions , what does it mean when the potential bride is arrested for treason that she helped set herself up for in order to appear to turn double agent so that she could infiltrate the organization run by the man who basically destroyed his family and has kept his mother from them for 20 years? Add into that that even if she didn't know that the arrest was going to happen right then she knew it was going to happen soon. tThat would be one terrible way to celebrate. What could Chuck say, Ellie I know you want to throw us an engagement party but Sarah went on a mission as a double agent , no telling whn she'll be back , maybe next week , maybe in 20 years.

    Mary was left with no one to call for help really (we don't know if she was in contact with Orion and even if she was he was off grid too, who would believe the info they had) but with the addition of Sarah and Team B she has a place to go. So if the mission succeeds it's because of the combination of Team B et al, any military backup they can call and 20 years worth of info that Mary has gathered.

    The only way Mary not shooting Volkoff and anyone else who knows her real name in the head and running works is if the part about Volkoff having people in the CIA is true and she didn't know who all of them are and couldn't take them out by herself before her family would have been killed. Maybe even the project she was on was canceled and she was outed by someone high up in the CIA , Graham perhaps.

    The biggest problem with Mary on this assignment is that she took it in the first place . An assignment like this would be long term unless there was already someone on the inside with info and access (like Mary will be for Sarah) and agent with family should not be asked to do something obviously long term . We know that Mary spent time away on missions from the opening in Anniversary .

    Essentially up until she left , Chuck and Ellie had two parents yet one was away on missions a lot and the other was the absent minded professor (at least he worked from home).

    And yes unfortunately there is one heck of a double standard on Chuck . For example take thier Red Tests.

    Sarah shoots a woman she doesn't know who hadn't drawn on her and she didn't know waas actually dangerous. For all she knew her target could have stopped off somewhere to use the bathroom and another woman was there instead. I hope at least she had seen a picture of her though.Once Chuck knew about this he didn't condemn her or ask why sis she kill someone she didn't know and knew nothing about. In fact his first thought was for her safety.

    Chuck's REd Test was of a guy he had seen kill, and knew was a traitor. He still tried to arrest him anyway and even if he had killed him it would have been in self defense . Srah knew he was a killer and she saw Chuck try to arrest him more than once yet she condemned Chuck and rewarded the guy who blantanly used her to manipulate Chuck.

    Another double standard is that it seems like the open and honest policy only applies to Chuck not Sarah.

    Frankly I'm hoping that the last 10 minutes in ep 13 that they talk about includes Chuck massively losing his temper.

  20. chuckfan5623.1.11

    I have to agree that based on how this season is progressing the name of the show should be changed to Morgan instead of Chuck. Morgan is getting all the good scenes and in most instances makes Chuck look like a dunce. Morgan has gone from someone that couldn't do anything to someone who can almost everything.

    As far as Sarah's character it seems like they're over compensating for what they did to her in season 3. I bet she even wondered why she came to the set some days.

    The things I didn't like about this episode were all the proposals. I used to look forward to that particular event, but now I don't care if there ever is one. Talk about running something into the ground. They're dragging it out like they did getting these two together.

    The other thing I didn't like about this episode was Sarah not telling Chuck that she offered her services to Beckman to take down Volkoff. What happened to the "no secrets, no lies speech she gave him in 4.1?

    I can appreciate why she's doing it, but man this is a big mission and to not at least talk it over with her partner/boyfriend that she wants to marry? If she's willing to go on a mission like this knowing Chuck was proposing then would she do the same thing after they're married just like his mother did? I hope the show explores this between the two characters.

  21. Tamara Burks23.1.11

    They definitely flogged the botched proposal to death. Though I thought Casey's telling of his own proposal was sweet and gives me hope that he and Kathleen will at least have closure if not actually get together again. It's got to be hard for Alex to not tell her mother about Casey.

  22. alladinsgenie4u23.1.11

    Counterpoint from the guys at ChuckThis blog.


  23. I wouldn't call it a counter-point, just a response. It was nice of them to mention us, and thanks for posting the link, Genie!

  24. Anonymous23.1.11

    Heh! Very insightful and humorous. Like OD said way up top, I do agree with a lot of the observations but had a completely different reaction. Genie points to one of the write-ups (thank you!), so I won't go on at length.

    But one thing that really surprises me is the notion that Chuck's - what? - not taking charge? not standing up for himself/his mother? - to his girlfriend - like he used to? I'm not seeing it quite that way.

    Somewhere in Couch Lock we saw him take charge of locating Casey, even sending Morgan away. He was directing Sarah and overriding her suggestions even as she was ordering up 100 agents. In Cubic-Z he goes after Hugo alone, twice. In Coup and First Fight we had Chuck & Sarah in the best partnering fight scenes (absolutely equal teammates) since Honeymooners. Actually, I thought the fight scene in FF was better!

    Whew! All that was to say this is far removed from "Stay in the car" Chuck. Or from Sarah saving his butt one more time from yet another female assassin. His acts of bravery in facing Vincent or Colt may seem more heroic (no Chuck-Fu back then!), but they really aren't any braver than trying to face Ellie with the truth. In fact, his greater skills and lesser naivete make it all the more poignant and personal. You know, it's sort of like us, growing up and dealing with what's real instead of playing at it.

    As for the question "Is he standing up to Sarah?", well no, he isn't this time. I'm convinced she *is* right about going after Volkoff, and he knows it. Surgeons don't operate on their own family, you see, and Chuck needs to sit this one out. He won't, of course, but for this part of the story, it works for me.

    I too am going to be interested in how they resolve all these hanging threads!


  25. Anonymous24.1.11

    I've never in my life seen such a nitpicky review of anything. I mean WOW. Why do you even bother to watch the show? Have you ever enjoyed a TV show in your life? if you are going to analyze a show that deeply then i promise you that you will come away disappointed in EVERY show you ever watch in your life.

  26. alladinsgenie4u24.1.11

    "I've never in my life seen such a nitpicky review of anything"

    Well, you know what they say - there's a first time for everything. ;) :)

    Jokes aside - have you given a thought that maybe the people on this blog are sometimes hard on the show because they are VERY passionate about it. You don't get upset about, get disappointed at or analyze with so much depth if you don't care about it(show).

  27. Anonymous24.1.11

    Hi Anonymous, It's so annoying when ppl go...why do you look at it soooo deeply. please read this:


    -Kris @mrshekmi

  28. Anonymous24.1.11

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but this review seems to come from a desire for Chuck to actually be a TV show that the first two seasons never actually promised it either would or could be. The bottom line is that Chuck on TV isn't a romantic drama; it's an action comedy with drama and romance in it. If you're going to inject humor into anything, you're taking a huge risk of missing what you're going for in the first place. Humor is the "x factor” in the TV version of Chuck. Sometimes they hit it out of the park, and sometimes they swing and miss. That level of comedic risk is missing in nearly all the fan fiction I've read, except for some chuckles here and there, or outright parodies that are beyond ridiculous.

    I also think that one of the (perhaps unfair) criticisms that writers on this blog seem to make, is how best to handle the challenge of what to do with the Chuck/Sarah dynamic after they've actually become a couple. It is apparent to me that every Chuck fan fiction author I've ever read, doesn't really know what to do with that either. The Chuck narrative works (hums along very nicely, in fact), almost on its own, as long as Chuck and Sarah are longing for what they hope they'll have someday in each other. But take that dramatic tension away by formalizing their relationship, and the fan fics stall, fizzle out, or get dreadfully boring. The TV writers have had the courage to cross that line and not look back, and then try to keep things interesting. Have they made some mistakes in that area? Sure. But they're actually doing something that few other (if any) people playing in the Chuck universe sandbox have done in any compelling way. I for one, am willing to cut them some slack for trying.

    It seems to me that the you guys at Castle Inanity have a sneaking suspicion that your versions of Chuck are far superior to the TV version. While I’ve read everything you’ve all written, and it’s very, very good…I’m afraid that once you cross that line as an artist, it’s really hard – maybe just about impossible – for you to enjoy any other version. For example - your reviews of the Cape were way, way too nice, in comparison. You are never that forgiving in your Chuck reviews. But I have a feeling that’s because you don’t yet feel betrayed that the Cape has failed to be the TV show you felt it promised you it would be. Chuck isn’t the show you’d hoped for two years ago, it isn’t the show you’d write, (the show you have written in fan fiction), therefore it’s a shoddy version of what’s possible in your minds.

    I think I understand where you’re coming from. It just makes me sad for you that you notice all the ways Chuck isn’t exactly what you’d create, and then fail to enjoy the good things that have been created by others…for your enjoyment.

    Just my two cents. - jwr

  29. You're all wrong.

    What's most important about Chuck is that my live tweets are funny.


  30. "Forgive me if I’m wrong, but this review seems to come from a desire for Chuck to actually be a TV show that the first two seasons never actually promised it either would or could be."

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I've always felt like the first two seasons promised some very good writing and decent plot integration that, right now, isn't really following through. Honestly, my feelings on the episode have nothing to do with me being a fanfic writer, and I've never once thought that "my versions of the characters are superior" to those on the show. It's that I've SEEN what the writers can accomplish in past seasons, and am therefore disappointed that they seem to be willing to sacrifice good writing and characterization for cheap storylines, unnecessary twists, and cliffhangers. The fact that you'd base our reaction to the episodes almost entirely on the fact that we're fanfic writers is a bit presumptuous, jwr. :(

  31. Pretty sure I said case closed, guys.



  32. Anonymous24.1.11

    Crystal, I sincerely apologize for coming across as presumptuous. I didn't mean for that to happen. Really, I didn’t. I really am trying to better understand where you're all (CIA) coming from…not just as fans of the show, but as artists. The problem with written communication is that it's hard to create and maintain the kind of tone you're feeling as you're trying to express yourself. It honestly wasn’t my intent to attack, or make you feel angry with what I said (or wrote.) I'm in a job where I have to write creatively on a weekly basis, and I've found that my ability to enjoy the creative writing of others suffers as a result. It’s almost like once you know how to do something in all the behind-the-scenes details of any particular creative process, it’s very difficult to step back and enjoy someone else’s big picture result. You just keep questions all the decisions they’ve made along the way…decisions that at one point, you didn’t even know to worry about. I have to teach regularly as well, and one of the tongue-in-cheek things I often say to myself is..."the only thing worse than teaching a class is sitting through someone else's." I say all of that to clarify my prior comments...I assume that as people who write in the Chuck universe, you’ve found that it's harder and harder to appreciate the show “at face value.” If that is the case, I wanted to discuss ways to possibly recapture a passion for something that you might’ve lost along the way. If it's not the case, then I guess it's something I struggle with that you don't…and I should just keep my thoughts to myself.  At any rate, again, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings, or frustrate you. And thanks for caring enough to respond to my post. I really appreciate it. - jwr

    Oh, and Chris, sorry. Case closed.

  33. Anonymous24.1.11

    JWR, I think your vision of this review is colouring your recollection of MXPW/Frea's past reviews. They are not all negative. Some are even extremely positive. It depends on their take on the episode. Every episode has its faults and its good points. Some have more faults than others, while some have more good points than others. All of this seems highly dependent on the writer of the script. Some writers are better than others and it shows.

    This episode was not bad by any means, but it was not a masterpiece either. This review is simply pointing it out. I don't think Frea or Mxpw is having difficulty enjoying the show because they can see its faults. They are just as able to see its many and sometime extraordinary qualities (see review of Phase Three and SWP).

    As for fanfictions writers putting Chuck and Sarah together, some have done so and failed to make it interesting and some have done so and succeed in making it fascinating. I could name some, but really I don't see the point as fanfiction writing and script writing are two completely different things, so comparing them is fruitless. The writers put Chuck and Sarah together and they did a good job of it, but again it is not perfect. Some writers handle the relationship better than others. Heck, some directors handle the relationship better than others. It is very relative. Some TV shows have more evenly quality every week, but even at their peak these shows do not equal Chuck on an ordinary day.

    On another note, am I the only one who thought the end of vs The Balcony kind of mirrored vs the American Hero? I mean "Why does it have to be you?" and "Why are you helping him?" "Because I know how much you care about him", these scenes kind of feel alike to me. Denby is behind both of these scenes, isn't he? By the way, is it scary that I knew these lines from memory? I did not need to look them up. I scare myself.


    P.S: Yes, Chris, your tweets are very funny. Case closed. Whatever you say.


    I kid, of course. (In my defense, I was typing my comment and therefore did not see your post until after I had already posted. :P)

    jwr, thanks for clarifying. It's all good. :) I definitely know what you mean about written communication, and also about knowing what goes on behind-the-scenes. You're right: knowing the processes of things can either make you question them or appreciate them, and in this particular case, a lot of people are doing the former, including myself. Still (and once again, I only speak for myself), I'm willing to sit back and hope for the best, even if there are many problems that I wish could be fixed. Chuck may not be what it used to be, but it's still a show that I love. :)

    So...here's to hoping tonight's episode will be better!


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