mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the Santa Suit

Chuck vs. the Santa Suit
Season 5, Episode 07, original air-date 23 December, 2001

Shaw returns. Some other stuff happened, but that was the point where Frea stopped caring.

Eh, we say it all in the review. Warning, there's no optimist again. We understand that people liked the episode, yes.

We didn't.

Frea: That was stupid.

mxpw: Terribly, terribly stupid.

Frea: Oh, geez, the stupid, it nearly killed me.

mxpw: But we should probably say more than that.

Frea: Okay. Casey made me laugh at one point. There. I've said something positive.

mxpw: Casey made me laugh at one point too.

mxpw: I actually was amused by one of Jeffster's lines as well.

mxpw: "Water would only dilute this feeling."

Frea: I don't remember that.

Frea: I think I was pounding my head against the wall too loudly at that point.

Frea: I should preface this review with something.

mxpw: I'd like to add a disclaimer as well, when you're finished.

mxpw: A general disclaimer, kind of like we did last week.

Frea: 1) I hate Shaw. I've made no bones about that. I hate him for a lot of reasons. I don't hate him because I'm a shipper, I hate him because I view his character as the source of all that is wrong with Season Three, which includes wrenching the characters around in order to make an inexplicable plot work just hitting those characters with the stupid stick repeatedly. I hate that he got between Chuck and Sarah, but I hate Hannah for that, too, and I hate the writers more.

Frea: So I was pretty much predestined to dislike this episode from the start, yes. And I did. I hated every blessed moment of this episode, save the time Casey made me laugh, and some of Jeff and Lester stuff, and that Morgan wasn't overused. But I didn't hate it just because my Shaw Hate is fogging my vision. I hate it because I'm allergic to stupid and unoriginality and this episode had both in scads.

mxpw: *nods* You and I are pretty much of like minds when it comes to Shaw and the issues surrounding him, so I won't repeat you.

mxpw: I would like to say this, however. If you were a big fan of this episode, this review will probably not be for you. Like we said last week, we're not going to tell you that you're wrong, and we'd like it if you did the same. We both hate Shaw, true, but that doesn't mean our views about him are automatically invalid. Nor does it mean we are so blinded by our dislike of his character to see the good parts of the episode, however many or however few there might have been. I would just like to head off that kind of discussion right now.

mxpw: With all that prefacing and disclaiming said, let's move onto the actual review.

Frea: Okay. My review: "That was stupid."

mxpw: My review: "Ditto."

Frea: Okay, I'm going to go pound my head into the wall a few more times to wipe my brain clean of everything I've watched tonight. Bye!

mxpw: I think the best way to do this review would just to move from beginning to end.

mxpw: Or not, I don't know. There is so much I had a problem with I don't really know where to start.

mxpw: I guess I will start with the thing I hated most about this episode: Sarah going to see Shaw at the end.

mxpw: That was ridiculous. Not just that she would voluntarily go see him, but that she would do that on Christmas Eve, when she should be spending time with her family.

Frea: Oh, this review is still going on? Damn. I guess I didn't pound hard enough.

Frea: I had a major problem with that, as well. 1) Diane told her not to. 2) It's Christmas Eve. She should be spending time with her family, even though her husband who obsessed about their proposal to the point where it nearly drove me to drink didn't get her a gift even though it's their first Christmas together and OH MY GOD THE STUPID IT HURTS and 3) the fact that she went to see him without any explanation whatsoever proves to me one thing:

Frea: I really should just give up hope that they will ever give her a fully-rounded character with motivations and decisions that make sense. I'm officially resigning myself to the fact that Sarah Walker, and every other character on this show, is a plot boomerang and I should just treat it like I treat Glee: oh, look songs. Instead, it'll be: oh, look, fights.

mxpw: She had no reason to go see him. Beckman even said it was a bad idea. It's not like she knew Shaw had other nefarious plans in motion. For all she knew, he could have just wanted to see her so he could bitch about how she killed his wife some more. She went there just because he asked, basically. Because HE ASKED. She wasn't being forced, he didn't tell Beckman "Either Sarah visits me or I eat the souls of 10 more television viewers", she just showed up because Shaw wanted her to. WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER? I bet she didn't even tell Chuck what she was doing, because I seriously doubt Chuck would have been okay with her going to see him. On Christmas Eve. Right after he just tried to kill the both of them.

Frea: Can't say much more to that but "Agreed."

Frea: But yeah, let's go back to the beginning of the episode.

Frea: And just work our way up now that we've gotten the Biggest Stupid out of the way.

mxpw: Awww, but I'm not done complaining about Sarah.

mxpw: Okay, I'll wait.

mxpw: What about the beginning?

Frea: I don't know. I can't remember that far back. What happened at the beginning?

mxpw: Ellie was freaking out about Clara's first Christmas, Awesome was being awesome about it, the customers were freaking out in the BM about the Omen, and oh yeah, Shaw surprised Sarah in Castle.

mxpw: Because Castle apparently has the worst security in the world.

mxpw: And just anybody can waltz in.

Frea: Let's see...Castle getting breached...

Frea: First time was Chuck vs. the Gravitron, right?

mxpw: I think so?

mxpw: I tend to blank out the Jill arc except for the shower scene.

Frea: Understandably. Let's see...Castle was breached by Jill and Leader then, Vincent got in quite a few times, there were multiple breaches in Season Three, somebody broke in every other week in Season Four, and this isn't the first time in Season Five, I don't think.

Frea: What an original idea, breaching Castle!

mxpw: Should we talk about the giant plot holes surrounding Shaw even being free now or later on?

Frea: In a bit, I'm still going.

Frea: Next up: the Omen. A major computer thing that steals data without any major programmers being aware of it...hey, look, RiOS is back.

mxpw: Okay, by all means, continue.

Frea: Appropriately, and I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself, it gets dropped into nothingness with no consequences afterward. History repeating itself again! Woot, two for two.

Frea: Ellie freaking out about something major. Happened too many times, we can discount it as a character quirk, whatever.

mxpw: Yes, getting dropped into Shaw's brain is getting dropped into nothingness.

Frea: And now, Sarah getting surprised by Shaw. I feel like we've been here before. Only this doesn't look like the WB Lot's version of Paris.

mxpw: She just took so damn long to react. I get being surprised, but geez, Sarah.

Frea: Okay, so we're three for three on the setup ideas for this episode.

Frea: This is...somewhat less than promising.

mxpw: Look, the whole Shaw thing just doesn't seem to make any sense. This may take a while to go into, but let's try to break it down.

Frea: Okay.

Frea: Shaw is thrown in prison.

mxpw: First, Shaw doesn't have a governor. That was part of the point of the end to Ring 2. So how is he not completely insane? And I don't mean Bond villain insane, but actual bonkers.

mxpw: Did the government give him a governor? If so, why? Furthermore, why would they let somebody who already tried to take down the CIA once even keep an Intersect in their brain?

Frea: Okay, I'm going to play Devil's Advocate here.'

Frea: Which SUCKS.

Frea: And I hate this.

Frea: But, hypothetically, let's say Decker comes in to interrogate Shaw, Shaw blackmails him. Decker fetches Shaw a governor.

mxpw: Yes, okay, but are we supposed to believe Decker did that two years ago? Decker has been Shaw's stooge for that long?

Frea: I'm not saying that's likely or even what happened. But if I wanted to tell a (really, really #$%&ing stupid) story like this episode, that's how I'd do it.

Frea: Well...Shaw's not really all that smart, apparently. It probably took a lot of time to think up a plan like that.

Frea: Heh, I like playing devil's advocate. This is fun!

mxpw: Okay, but here's where things really break down for me. Decker was clearly a dick. This is important for two reasons: A) Not once did he ever act like he was being blackmailed by anybody. He seemed to clearly get off on what he was doing to Chuck and company. Nor did he ever act like he was resisting anything he was being made to do.

Frea: Maybe he follows Jack Burton's school of faking it until you make it

Frea: I mean, what's he going to do, shake his fist at the ceiling and shout, "And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't been for that meddling 2x4!"

mxpw: B) I'm supposed to believe that somebody who was as big a dick as Decker couldn't find an opportunity to "take care" of Shaw in the entire (presumably) two years he was being Shaw's bitch? REALLY? Just two episodes ago he threatened Chuck and Sarah with the fact that if he didn't do what he wanted, he'd arrange for somebody to kill Casey while he was in jail. What was Shaw going to do? He was in, by his own admission, like an 8x8 cell. He was literally a captive audience.

Frea: Clearly the guy is all talk and no show. Wow, something new and totally different for this show.

Frea: Besides, if he'd handled Shaw, then this plot would never have worked. Get with the program, Maximus.

mxpw: I thought Shaw blackmailing Decker was a totally weak explanation for his behavior/character during the first five episodes.

Frea: Agreed. But then I've thought this Decker thing was stupid from the start. Who called it? Me. Okay, maybe it's premature and they'll totally wow us during the finale, but if it was anything like this episode, the only thing they'll be wowing with me is a further amazement about how much idiocy I can tolerate in the space of an hour.

mxpw: I still think the fact that they never explained how Shaw was still functional, let alone could arrange everything from inside a prison cell, was a huge glaring problem with this episode.

Frea: We just have to accept that Shaw is magical, Max.

mxpw: You can't just have a character like Shaw show up in Castle, kick Sarah's butt, and monologue for a bit and hope we don't think about why he's even up and about in the first place. Plus, I really, really hate that the whole Omen plot was really just an excuse to get Shaw out of his cell.

Frea: I really, really hate that Shaw's cell number had a 47 in it.

mxpw: Yeah. But I think we need to accept that Shaw escaped. And move on.

Frea: Okay. But first, keeping with my We've-Been-Here-Before-I-Recognize-Tree part of the review: Shaw escapes. Which he did in Ring: II and, you know, Other Guy, technically. 4 for 4. Yay. Moving on.

mxpw: Right. So Shaw shows up and beats Sarah up. I'm just going to say this up front: I get that Shaw is a bad guy and bad guys do bad things. I get that showing Shaw totally physically and sexually assaulting Sarah is supposed to show how evil he is and make his downfall more satisfying. That it wouldn't be a good dramatic story if there weren't stakes, if Sarah's life wasn't in danger, if everything is easy. But just because I understand that, doesn't mean I have any real desire to see a man who is literally twice Yvonne's size beat the crap out of her. Throwing over the railing? (Putting aside the ridiculousness of Sarah not even being hurt by that.) That was totally overkill. And evoked images to me of an abusive boyfriend throwing his girlfriend down the stairs. I'm not saying this necessarily as a criticism, but that it was just not something I wanted to watch.

Frea: Ditto. I hated it. Also, for my part of the review, Shaw overpowering Sarah? Been there, done that. TWICE.

Frea: I've heard tell that this is "Chuck's version of Phase Three."

Frea: Sarah's being held captive, Chuck has to be badass and save her.

Frea: I'm going to stop you there. Phase Three was an awesome written, awesomely directed, and beautifully shot episode of Chuck. This episode...didn't even look like Chuck.

mxpw: See, I have a problem with the comparison for a slightly different reason.

mxpw: But I'll let you finish first.

Frea: This episode was not well-written. It was tonally all over the place, it was completely disrespectful to government employees in a way that made my fists clench. Yvonne acted the hell out of Phase Three. Zachary Levi phoned this episode in.

mxpw: God, so TRUE.

mxpw: That was my second biggest issue with this episode.

Frea: The humorous parts of Phase Three fit because they were dark humor. The humorous parts of this episode, some Jeffster stuff aside, just made me want to scream at the characters and remind them that hey, Sarah's freezing to death in Castle, maybe somebody should do something about the security down there.

mxpw: I object to this episode being called Chuck's Phase Three because not once during the whole episode did I ever feel any of the desperation, the panic, the urgency, the stakes, that P3 had.

mxpw: Sarah was coming unhinged in P3. She broke into embassies, tortured people, flew to Thailand and terrorized a whole country to save Chuck. Chuck did none of those things. Hell, there were points during Santa Suit where I honestly wondered if Chuck had forgotten that his wife had been kidnapped.

Frea: Same.

mxpw: Look, I criticized Chuck pretty severely last episode for what he did. He was panicky, stupid, hurtful, and crazy when Ellie was in danger. But here, with his wife kidnapped by the man who murdered his father and already tried to kill Sarah multiple times? No panic, no stupidity, no ridiculous, on the fly plans. These writers can't even be consistent in the characterization of their main character in successive episodes. It was so ridiculous.

Frea: Wait, wait wait

Frea: I need to add that to my specialized part of the review.

Frea: Inconsistency between two episodes? Let's see...Phase Three to Leftovers, Santa Claus to Third Dimension, Breakup to Cougars, Gobbler to Push Mix....

Frea: Actually, strike that. I'd like to change that to "Any episode in season four to the episode following it." We've been there, too! 5 for 5. Wow, we're winning this game, Max.

mxpw: I'm glad Chuck thought of a plan, I really am. But to have such a radical change from the previous episode was seriously jarring. Plus, worst of all, this writer in Santa Suit really overcompensated. Last week, Chuck was a mess, this week he takes the time to joke around with Beckman, have multiple side conversations with Morgan, just stands around while the BM is being evacuated instead of acting. And most glaring of all, after Shaw has been defeated, what does Chuck do? Does he rush to see if his wife is okay? No, he stands around and has a "heartfelt" conversation with his sister. I wanted to hit Chuck right there. It's like he didn't even care about Sarah!

mxpw: And Crumby pointed out to me after the episode how bizarre it was to have an entire episode dedicated to Chuck rescuing Sarah and then to...not have a single reunion moment between them. Other than them sitting together in the Theater room, we don't get any scenes between them until the very last two minutes of the episode. Really threw off the whole impact of the story for me.

Frea: Agreed. I get that you just got closure and whatever, but dude. The guy who killed your dad had your wife. For three hours. He's her ex. You've got a pretty good idea of what kind of damage he can do. He had her. FOR THREE HOURS. He overpowered your spy of a wife. YOUR KICKASS SPY OF A WIFE. Which means she's at least hurt. YOUR FIRST RESPONSE IS TO RUN TO HER, DUDE.

mxpw: Seriously. Not talk about how glad you and Ellie both are that Shaw has been defeated and that you love each other. Can I just say how bizarre it was that Chuck and Ellie told each other they loved each other twice at the end of the episode but we didn't get anything similar between Chuck and Sarah?

Frea: They'll be divorced within a year at this rate.

mxpw: I do have to say something, though, that you might object to. I hated Ellie showing up at the end of the fight.

mxpw: For two reasons: It was too damn similar to the end to Ring 2 (Yokaputo told me that this episode was basically Ring 3 and I agree).

Frea: Yeah, add that to my We've-Been-There-Before review. 6 for 6.

mxpw: And secondly, as I explained to Crumby after the episode, if I have to endure an entire episode of Sarah getting beat up, Casey getting shot, everybody being made to look like an idiot, all so Chuck can get his Big Damn Hero Moment, I'd like to see him actually earn said moment and not defeat the bad guy due to basically blind luck. I felt kind of robbed, honestly.

Frea: The only real Big Damn Hero moment here was Casey with the bear. But then he was one of the original Big Damn Heroes so that makes sense.

mxpw: Haha, so true.

mxpw: I know people liked Ellie smacking Shaw, and I'm happy for them, but I didn't. Of course, I hated that whole fight anyway. Chuck pissed me off. His wife is in danger and instead of beating Shaw as quickly as he can, he lets Shaw get back into the fight multiple times and taunts him like some kind of smug jackass.

mxpw: Just kick his ass, Chuck, GOD.

Frea: I hated the fight in general.

Frea: I honestly think Chuck wouldn't have been able to defend himself that well. It was a Mary Sue moment for me.

mxpw: Oh, totally agreed. Even without the Intersect, Shaw was supposed to be a top agent. And had at least 50 pounds on Chuck. He should have kicked Chuck's ass.

Frea: I realize that there's some precedent for Chuck being able to fight now; he's punched people since the beginning of Season 5 and he held up against the Douchersect's training session, but geez. Waaaaaay too Mary Sue for me.

mxpw: It would have been a lot more believable if Shaw had been incapacitated in some way when Chuck uploaded the Omen into his brain. Like he was at like 75% power or something.

Frea: Orrrrr....

Frea: And I'm going to get a little crazy here.

Frea: But stay with me, okay?

Frea: So Shaw walks out of Castle, right?

Frea: Walks right past Morgan.

mxpw: And Chuck just shoots him?

Frea: Allowing Morgan to sneak into Castle.

Frea: Why doesn't Morgan just...turn and tranq him?

mxpw: Hahaha

mxpw: Good question!

mxpw: Or why doesn't Beckman have a full tactical team waiting?

Frea: I mean, Shaw thinks he's got Intersect 3.0 so he can catch a bullet in the teeth (OH GOD I WISH HE WOULD TAKE A BULLET TO THE TEETH)...but he doesn't actually have it, so just shoot the bastard, save Sarah, and get your dick out of the equation. You can measure who's bigger later. Just be smart in the meantime and save your wife.

Frea: Honestly, that whole showdown smacked of a size contest, to me.

mxpw: I don't disagree.

mxpw: Oh man, this is kind of off the current topic, but I have to comment about one more thing between Sarah/Shaw that disappointed me.

mxpw: I really, really hated the Sarah and Shaw conversation where she tried to reason with him. I hated that she was begging and pleading. Poor Sarah had to endure enough in this episode, adding that was too much. But mostly I hated the line "You're a good man, Shaw". That was the worst line of the episode. I commend Yvonne for trying her best to sell it, but that was really bad writing right there.

Frea: Agreed. I'd also managed to brain-bleach that right out of my head, so thanks for reminding me.

mxpw: You're welcome!

Frea: Man, all of the Sarah/Shaw interactions in this episode bugged me.

mxpw: I agree.

Frea: First off, either make your villain a badass or don't.

Frea: If he breaks into an "unbreachable" fortress like Castle--oh, wait, stop, I can't finish this sentence without laughing, hold on.

Frea: Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Frea: Okay, got that out of my system. Whew. Anyway, if he breaks into Castle, at least make him competent. Just make him cold (and not literally, as they did here) and scary. Don't let your tied-up character get anything out of him the way Sarah kept tricking information out of Shaw. A monologuing villain is automatically less scary.

Frea: Unless he is the Mayor from S3 of Buffy because that guy could turn from genial to mofo in a blink. It's called acting ability.

mxpw: I hated that after Sarah got free of the rope, that she tried to take Shaw on hand-to-hand again. She had a knife, she should have just thrown it at his head. Or barring that, stabbed him with it. I wasn't too impressed with Sarah's tactical thinking in this episode, to be honest. Of course, her walking around in those ridiculous noisy heels didn't help matters either.

Frea: So I guess what I'm saying is that you're going to make me believe that Shaw is powerful enough to breach Castle, overtake my favorite character...then you have to sell it.

mxpw: Completely agreed.

Frea: Writing 101. Make things matter. Commit. If you've got a character you want to be a villain and a threat, he actually has to threaten your characters at their fullest potential.

Frea: Or rather, the fullest potential they can be at that point in time (an injured Sarah isn't going to fight the same way a healthy Sarah is)

mxpw: I do want to say that this was Brandon Routh's best performance in the series. By far. For the first time, there was some...life in his performance. He was much better at selling things than Zac was in this episode, at least.

Frea: Maybe Zac was phoning it in to help his friend out.

mxpw: Maybe. I actually count BR's performance as a positive for this episode. Believe it or not. I've long criticized him for being wooden, but he was decent here.

Frea: Yeah, he wasn't awful.

mxpw: I was really annoyed that apparently Lester and Jeff are better computer programmers than anything the entire United States government could produce.

mxpw: But at least they were fairly funny this episode.

Frea: All because they had some familiarity with C++.

mxpw: Haha, I know. That was dumb.

Frea: Yeah. Subway stuff got a little blatant for me. It was funny for a few minutes in S3 and as a wink wink occasionally, but by this point, well...do they make a dead horse footlong? Because they're beating it pretty hard.

mxpw: Yeah.

mxpw: I think that's most of the negative stuff out of the way. Basically 85% of the episode. Haha. I kid. Sort of.

mxpw: Casey was awesome in this episode, though Shaw took him down way too easily.

mxpw: Also, he should be dead. I know he's like Wolverine at this point in the show, but come on.

Frea: Casey was awesome in this episode. Shaw did take him down too easily. Loved the stuff with the bear.

Frea: Loved his scene with Alex...until he talked Morgan up.

Frea: Stuff with Beckman was stupid.

mxpw: Agreed. Though the Duck was kind of funny, I thought.

Frea: Yeah, on its own, it was a little funny. Sarah's reaction to the end, in particular. But it was distracting from the urgency of the main plot and it involved the stupidest office party on the planet.

mxpw: Haha

Frea: If people were going to get smashed like that, they should have been in civvies.

mxpw: There were way too many uniformed people there for it to be a CIA party. And there's no way it would be appropriate for all those military people to get drunk while in uniform.

Frea: That bothered me SO MUCH.

Frea: I'm not military myself. But I have several friends that I respect in the military and I'm familiar with their customs and to see it that blatantly abused made me see red.

mxpw: I know it was just supposed to be a joke and that Chuck is a comedy where nothing should be taken too seriously, but that was pretty dumb.

mxpw: I think we should move onto final comments.

Frea: I'll start.

Frea: Look, nothing happened in this episode that hasn't been done before. I thought of about 15 things I didn't mention during the review and it felt like the same old chewed up Chuck regurgitated not very well onto the screen. The shots they chose (I hated the blatant "shooting BR from a low angle to make Shaw look monstrous and YS from a high angle to make Sarah look helpless" because that was incredibly tasteless and it meant that I had to look up Shaw's nose and really, who wants that?), the tonal shifts, even the music felt tired. This episode was just a chore to watch. First off the idea that bringing Shaw back and then not even justifying it, for me, felt insulting. I know people liked it, but an hour of watching my favorite character get beaten to hell without any good payoff, followed by her turning into a plot boomerang yet again, just made this entire thing dispiriting. I hope that this is the worst episode of this season, honestly, because it just can't get worse than this.

mxpw: My final thoughts are, I might have been able to tolerate this episode up until the end of the fight, but after that, everything went downhill. I hated there was no reunion scene between Chuck and Sarah because I felt like it cheapened the whole point of the episode, I hated how unconcerned Chuck seemed during the episode, especially at the end of the fight. I hated Sarah going to see Shaw at the end SO MUCH. She was such a slave to the plot there it was depressing. I was very underwhelmed about all of the Chuck and Sarah stuff in this episode, quite honestly, and that's why it's no P3 for me.

Frea: Also, I'm allergic to stupid.

Frea: And this episode gave me the hives.

mxpw: Oh, and I felt like the bracelet was kind of cheapened here. I would have expected Sarah to react more to Shaw taking it from her. That was weird to me. And the fact that Chuck had to use that as his Christmas present because he didn't buy her one yet was beyond dumb.

mxpw: Anyway, that's all I've got to say.

mxpw: I thought Curse was bad, but this was just as bad for me.

mxpw: So my rating is: 2 Freezing Sarahs out of 5.

Frea: 1.8 Caught Ninja Stars out of 10. It doesn't deserve the Castle Slide.

mxpw: And that, my friends, is the ultimate Frea burn right there.


  1. Anonymous27.12.11

    Couldn't agree more with the review. I made many of the same arguments as well on another forum I frequent.

    One thing that I didn't see mentioned but bugged the hell out of me was the Intersect glasses. Ignoring the question of where Shaw was able to get a pair after escaping from prison, how come they didn't work the same way as every other time they've been used?

    Just off the top of my head, I know that they were first used by Chuck in the Break-Up and most recently used by Morgan in the Cliffhanger. Both of those instances resulted in the user being knocked unconscious immediately after use. So why wasn't Shaw?

    The obvious answer to that is that the plot wouldn't have worked if he was but it was just another example of how bad the writing was in this episode.

  2. awelle27.12.11

    I had a really long comment on this, but apparently I can´t post more than 4,096 words. I still have my long comment saved. Maybe I´ll post it in parts.

    For now let me just say, thanks for the review. I can´t really disagree, even if I mostly liked the ep. And I definitely don´t begrudge you your dislike of the episode at all.

    And I need to see Chuck displaying some deeper concern for Sarah soon. This was definitely not Phase III territory on that front and they don´t have a problem showing how much he cares for all the other people in his life.

  3. I work with pretty large files when I do video editing, thanks to the whole high-definition thing, and I used to work on an Avid Unity system. So the idea that this virus could steal every bit of information in the CIA's mainframe and download it into Shaw's brain, and do so in a matter of seconds has always been way far beyond my ability to stretch my suspension of disbelief. And then adding the idea of all of that fitting into a set of sunglasses just...broke it. By that point in the episode, I was curled up on the couch crying, "The stupid, oh, the stupid, it burns." I know I came into the episode overly critical, but man that just...hurt. They do know that their core audience is nerds, right? Would it have hurt them to do a simple Google search to find out something besides the word "zettabyte?"

    About why Shaw wasn't knocked out...honestly, Anonymous, I said it in the review: Shaw is magical. Once we accept that, we'll all live much happier, fulfilling lives.


    (But I agree completely. If they're going to torture us-- I mean, bring back Shaw, why not make it smart and actually challenging for our characters and give us an emotional and victorious payoff that would've made it worth it to bring all of these awful feelings back? Wait, scratch that, nothing is worth that. Never mind)

  4. awelle27.12.11

    The relevant part of my too long comment regarding Shaw and him being a black hole, absorbing logic:

    Shaw was creepy and menacing and worked for me, even though I didn´t particularely enjoy him beating Sarah up either. I thought Sarah was trying to fight him without much of a plan after she had gotten free, because she wanted to help Casey or at least make sure he wasn´t killed. And the fact that Shaw´s revenge was about Sarah and he didn´t just capture her to get to Chuck made those scenes more bearable for me.

    The logical complaints about his actions are valid, but I honestly expected something that much worse as the resolution to the Decker conspiracy, because it was so obviously just thrown in there while they thought Cliffhanger was the last episode ever, that I liked what we got by comparison.

    About the not being knocked out by the glasses specifically, I thought that made sense, if one considers, that there weren´t any data uploaded. Chuck claimed to have used the Omen virus to erase the intersect. Shaw obviously was too stupid to realize that.

    That still leaves us with no explanation on how the virus could do that, but I guess Chuck had just saved all his smarts last week and thus was able to do just about anything with that virus in no time, this week.

    After all this week, it was only Sarah, who was in danger, so there was plenty of more time and much less reason to completely freak out. Sorry getting bitter about my biggest gripe with the episode again.

  5. Speedhoven27.12.11

    I believe that the lack of flashing is what kept Shaw from going insane. Chuck had his seizures after flashing and apart from flashing on Decker he probably didn't flash much keeping his brain from going all mushy. Chuck's special but he had probably more than a hundred flashes before his brain started melting and we've seen Shaw flash just a couple of times.

    Anyway, I'll post my thoughts on the episode later on.


  6. Anonymous27.12.11

    Wow, great review. Though I actually kind of liked the episode you hit on many of the things that bothered me about it.

    First and yes I know what some will say about me bringing this up, but the most glaring problem for me was no mention of Sam what so ever. The only time Sam was ever used effectively was in Subway and the fact that they didn't mention it even once shows how far and fast they have run from that whole debacle.

    Second. Why was Shaw ever allowed to still have the Intersect to begin with when they clearly had suppression devices? I know because there wouldn't be a story here if they did. Just like S3, if you let Chuck and Sarah talk then there is no story.

    Third. How does Shaw flashing on Decker and blackmailing him explain Fulcrum, The Ring and all of the conspiracy that Decker mentioned in Cliffhanger? Simply put it doesn't. All of it was just to bring back Fedak's greatest creation in his mind, Daniel Shaw. That is also why I believe he wasn't killed beyond the whole next plot line set up. Fedak loves Shaw and would never kill him outright.

    I agree that Chuck not running to Sarah at the end was awful. Plus I agree that Routh gave his best, though still stiff, performance in this episode and yes I agree that Zach mailed it in.

    Plus Sarah's ridiculous appeal to Shaw being a good man bothered me a lot. Fedak is still trying to justify the Shaw story of a good man turned by the betrayal of the CIA. It was again back to the old we are being told something completely different than what we are being shown. Even the fight scene shows that. Shaw was a pussy in that fight instead of the great agent we were once told he was who should have kicked an Intersectless Chuck's ass. Afterall he should have been working out in jail as there isn't much else to do.

    Anyway even with all of what you said and what bothered me, I did enjoy it but I do not agree with Sepinwall that it was the best since P3. That is an insult to what I consider the second best episode ever.

  7. Anonymous27.12.11

    There were actually just as many people in danger this week (Sarah and Casey) as there were last week (Ellie and Awesome). It was just that Chuck ignored/forgot about Casey.

    Oh, and I love (read: hate) how Chuck and Morgan believe that Shaw might have rigged the Buy More with explosives again and then Chuck forgot about that as soon as he said it. It was just another thing that I hated about Chuck having a conversation/hug with Ellie after they defeated Shaw. First check to make sure that your wife and friend are alright, and that you were wrong about the bomb theory, before you stand around telling your sister how much you love her.

    As for Shaw not being knocked out because the glasses erasing the data instead of uploading it, that makes sense but begs the question of why Chuck didn't just put some kind of virus in it that would have overloaded Shaw's brain the first time he flashed. He obviously knew how to change the way the Intersect behaved since he made Shaw see a cartoon when he flashed. But that all goes back to Frea's comment about the fight being a size contest.

  8. awelle27.12.11

    Yup, Chuck should have put something in there to knock Shaw out, when he tried to upload it and then used something to erase the intersect. Would have made that whole stupid fight, that Chuck would have lost without Ellie anyway, completely unecessary.

    And he did show even less concern or care for Casey, than he did for Sarah. That´s true. I wasn´t really refering to the number of people in danger, but to the amount of Chuck caring about that, though.

    I tried to rationalize, that he felt responsible last week and not this week and he might have thought Casey and Sarah would be able to take care of themselves than Morgan, Awesome or Ellie, but that isn´t quite enough.

  9. Anonymous27.12.11

    I haven't read this MvsF yet, but I agree with all of it.


  10. Anonymous27.12.11

    "And Crumby pointed out to me after the episode how bizarre it was to have an entire episode dedicated to Chuck rescuing Sarah and then to...not have a single reunion moment between them."

    Did you not watch vs the Cliffhanger?


  11. Anonymous27.12.11

    ArmySFC said,

    over twenty years Army here and never saw a party like that so it frosted me a bit. agree with most of what you said but want to add on to casey. i liked his bit until the end. here's a man shot, bleeding badly that can't even pull himself up using the table leg. he says a heart felt goodbye, the just like that he's on his knees opening a lock and helping carry sarah out of castle, also where did he get the pistol? wasn't he almost dead a few minutes ago?

    did sarah somehow forget there is an arms room in castle? just sayin, lots of cool toys there she could have used.

  12. Agreed about your first part, Army, buuuuut unfortunately they did cover the second part. Shaw mocks Sarah when he's going into the armory by telling her it's locked so she's obviously unarmed.

    Which is stupid. Honestly, the number of times they've had bad guys break into Castle, they should just auto-code everything to open for any of the team members every single time, with no lock-out feature for team members like that.

    But if we made Castle idiot-proof, none of the characters would ever be able to get in, so...yeah.

  13. Anonymous27.12.11

    Frea thanks, i was probably half unconscious from banging my head against the table to get the stupid demons out of my head and missed it. my thoughts were similar they would have an over ride code to get in. they are supposed to be the best after all. i guess her finding a sharp pointy object in there is also to much to expect.


  14. I can't speak for Frea, but for me, I'm pretty easy when it comes to this show. As long as Yvonne is involved somehow, I can ultimately forgive just about anything (notice I said ultimately, not right away, heh). So if they had just provided an explanation, ANY explanation for why Shaw was still functional and able to plan all this, I would have been more accepting of at least his plotline in the episode. Sure, I would have mocked it, because that's what I do and because it's plainly obvious the whole Shaw/conspiracy thing was cobbled together at the last minute so any explanation would have likely been dumb, but at least it would have been an explanation. At least it would have showed me they were at least *trying*. The fact that they didn't even bother explaining anything completely undermined the whole episode for me.

    And yes, like everyone else who has commented so far, it really bothered me how blase Chuck was about Sarah being kidnapped by Shaw. It was definitely a huge misstep by the writer and the producers not to include any kind of heartfelt scene between Chuck and Sarah. Why should I care about Chuck saving Sarah when it seems like he doesn't care all that much himself?

    But nothing in this episode bothered me more than the end. Re-reading this review just made me realize that even more. Sarah voluntarily going to see Shaw was just SO, SO distasteful to me. @happydayz3 said it on twitter, but it really did feel like a girlfriend going to see her abusive boyfriend in jail to me. She went because he asked, y'all. The anger I feel over that is just...ugh. I can't even describe. I don't know what it is about Shaw, but whenever Sarah is around him, her IQ seems to drop at least 50 points and she becomes a spineless, simpering, cow-towing shadow of herself. And I hate this episode most of all for the plot dictating that she act like that.

  15. I will was going to comment on the fact that Sarah fell from 10 ft. to a concrete floor and didnt even break a nail, but people fall from high places all the time on this show, so I'll give grace on that.

    I will cry foul on two thing (from the many to choose):

    1. Casey was shot in both the leg and side. He thought he was dying. St the end of the episode, all he needed was a Hello Kitty Bandaid. His leg seemed fine. Um, what?

    2. Sarah had hypothermia to the point she was unconscious. No ambulance? Just one thin blanket? Sigh.

  16. awelle27.12.11


    This is what I wrote in my too long post about Sarah seeing Shaw in prison:

    Sarah seeing Shaw wasn´t as bad for me, because I never once entertained the idea, that it might still be Christmas, although maybe it was, and I do agree, that that would be pretty stupid. I thought that occured at some unspecified later time and maybe she wanted some closure after him being defeated again, cause she certainly didn´t get any before. Or she just wanted to see his face after he obviously had been beaten up in prison. (Cause that just couldn´t be the result of his fights with either Sarah or Chuck, as they were both completely fine afterwards.)

    The worst for me was definitely Chuck´s attitude about Sarah during her confinement and after. But then again I am much more sensitive about Chuck being insensitive than I am about Sarah making bad choices. And you said it´s the other way around for you. So I see were you are coming from.


    Those two things are definitely worse to cry foul on and they somehow helped to justify Chuck not being very worried, comforting or caring with either Casey or Sarah. And instead of helping with that, it just made it worse for me, because it felt as if the show, didn´t care much either.

  17. Anon A(n Angry) Mousey.27.12.11

    Chuck really is quite the clueless husbund. Apart from the 10minute blank stare (that was dumb) after Shaws message he really didn't have any reaction to his wife being kidnapped and beaten up.

    To cool the mainframe? Yeaaahhhh but don't put the f&£king mainframe in the living and working area.

    Next weeks episode looks interesting though.

  18. @awelle - It looked to me like Sarah was still wearing the same clothes in the prison scene that she was wearing during the party scene. That, added to the fact that we see her going right to Shaw after Beckman mentions he wanted a meeting, and I think the writers wanted us to think she had gone right over. Plus, we know Sarah never wears the same thing twice, so if the clothes were the same, then it had to be the same day. Heh.

    See, honestly, the reason doesn't matter. She went. That was bad enough. And she didn't go there to gloat or rub in his face that he'd lost or even to revel in his hamburger like face (which yes, I think we are supposed to think is the result of his fight with Chuck). The very first thing she says to him is to ask him what he wants. She let him dictate the conversation. She showed that she was there because he beckoned. And that...oh my God, the RAGE. Haha.

  19. Anonymous27.12.11

    Completely agree with you there mxpw. I really couldn't care if she went to see him on Christmas or a week later. The fact that she went to see him at all is unacceptable. If nothing else, denying him what he wanted would have been reason enough to not go.

    @happydayz3's comment is spot on and exactly why I felt sick to my stomach watching it. The Shaw and Sarah dynamic the entire episode was painful to watch and I'm disgusted with the writers for even considering having it happen.

  20. Anonymous27.12.11

    I had absolutely no problem with Sarah seeing Shaw. First, same as awelle I thought she went at some unspecify later time, not that she went straight there. Second, she may have still felt some guild over Shaw, not maybe for him, but rather that she helped create a monster.

    And finally it's good that she went, because now she has a chance to stop whatever Shaw put in motion...and she wouldn't be able to do anything about it, if she didn't know.

    Also I like Sarah attitude in this episode, while she was beaten in fight, she wasn't dominated by him, she was very much in control of her emotions, she didn't lose faith in Chuck, she tried to talk Shaw down, even tho it was hopeless, but it's better than nothing. She was also cold as ice toward him in prison.

    P.S. The floor is the coldest and there was freezing, so if she were barefoot, she would get frostbites for sure ;) .


  21. awelle27.12.11

    I just checked the clothes and you can´t really tell what she is wearing in prison, because she wears a coat over it.

    I don´t think it has to be on Christmas, as that wasn´t referenced at all. So I am fine with continuing to believe it was at some later unspecified time. And the only word, she utters is "What?"

    It honestly didn´t bother me that much. She might just have wanted to see for herself, that he was really truly locked away again. And he did taunt her, that he knew everything about her. So she might have suspected him setting something in motion, that might put whatever she has been protecting in danger.

    I never minded Shaw as a bad guy very much, though. I can see why that would set someone´s teeth on edge, if you take hating everything about Shaw into account.

    I thought her trying to appeal to Shaw being a good man while she was tied up was worse. He had already killed Chuck´s dad in cold blood and tried to kill her before. I get that she tried to defend herself killing his wife, but to try and appeal to any good left in Shaw just made her look too weak and naive.

    I get the same ragey feelings, if I think about Chuck´s attitude and especially how they treated Chuck and Sarah´s conversation about Shaw kissing her, though. So I can relate.

    I really hated, that they in any way likened Shaw kissing Sarah to Beckman kissing Chuck. The later was funny, the first was pretty much an assault and not something that Sarah needed to confess to Chuck or something that he needed to forgive. If anything that was another missed opportunity for showing Chuck caring about Sarah or her feelings in any way.

    And even though it feels like blasphemy, I also thought Zac´s acting wasn´t top notch. I don´t like him pulling funny faces instead of selling real emotions, which he sometimes does. I already thought it made his apology look very insincere last week and it made him look unconcerned with her well being this week. That might also be the directing, though.

  22. Anonymous27.12.11

    This all goes back to IMO Fedak and the rest of the writers having a very different view of Shaw and the importance of him than many of the fans and viewers do. To Fedak it seems that Shaw is definitely more important to this show than, Ellie, and Casey certainly. But also many times it seems like he is more important than Chuck or Sarah. The ridiculous attempt to bring back the Shaw was a good guy at heart after we had been shown time after time that he was driven only by vengeance, was evil to the core a cold blooded murderer, was sexually abusive and physically abusive towards women but yet somehow both Chuck and Sarah appeal to him as a good person. He was betrayed by those he was working for and was therefore not at fault for any of it. How they can accept forcing that crap on their audience is beyond me. But it seems that Fedak still is trying to justify and reinforce what he views as the correctness of the story he had on paper in S3 instead of what he showed his audience.

  23. Anonymous27.12.11

    "I thought her trying to appeal to Shaw being a good man while she was tied up was worse. He had already killed Chuck´s dad in cold blood and tried to kill her before. I get that she tried to defend herself killing his wife, but to try and appeal to any good left in Shaw just made her look too weak and naive."

    I like to see this as her learning from Chuck and trying to see something positive in people, even if they don't deserve it.


  24. Anonymous27.12.11

    "I like to see this as her learning from Chuck and trying to see something positive in people, even if they don't deserve it."

    I like to see it as Fedak trying to lecture the fans about his creation. He knows that the majority of the fanbase hates Shaw, thinks that said fanbase is wrong, and is trying to inject his own opinion on Shaw's character into the story with that godawful line from Sarah.

    I'm with uplink2 that Shaw's appearance in the episode was nothing more than Fedak trying to justify and reinforce his vision of the story and characters and "correct" the misguided fans.

  25. @awelle - I don't think it was Christmas, but the night of the party, which was supposed to be Christmas Eve. Ultimately, as I said, when she goes doesn't matter to me. That she went at all is what bothers me.

    Maybe you're right about why she goes to see him, I don't know. I don't think so, but it's possible. The problem is, nothing in the writing sold me on her reasons. Shaw asking Sarah to visit him in prison, after everything that happened, and she willingly goes? You better give me a damn good reason why she's making that. You cut out some of the Jeffster nonsense and show a scene between Sarah and Chuck talking about her visiting him. You give me something that shows she wants to see for herself that Shaw is in prison, or she's worried about what he might know. You don't just leave it vague, especially since Shaw gives no specific reason for why he wants to see her. You give me more to work with, because otherwise, I'm left with Sarah going to see Shaw because he asked her to. I'm left with seeing Sarah acting like the same woman who let Shaw order her around and basically run roughshod over her in S3.

    I guess I have a hard time believing that Sarah listened to Shaw rant about everything he knew about her and her first thought was "Oh man, I better go see him and find out if the mysterious baby I've given no indication of even existing for the last five years is going to be okay." It was just such a cheap ploy to launch Baby.

    And this is really a personal thing, but I absolutely hate that Shaw knows so much about Sarah's past and background and Chuck knows next to nothing. It really hurts the Chuck and Sarah relationship for me. Well, that and everything else that happened in this episode from Chuck's end.

    Worst married couple ever. :P

  26. awelle27.12.11


    I get that. If something really rubs you the wrong way, it needs to be set up very well or explained very carefully on the show to not bother you that much. And even though Sarah going to see Shaw didn´t do that for me, they certainly didn´t do that. So it´s probably not helping to try and make sense of that. Sometimes it´s better to just be free to hate something.

    And I meant when I said, that I don´t begrudge anyone hating the episode. I certainly hated Chuck´s attitude and none of the possible explanation can really save that for me. I´ll post the rest of my uberlong comment after this. I think it might be short enough now. And it does contain ranting about Chuck´s actions, that is maybe not completely deserved.

  27. awelle27.12.11

    I liked the episode and yet I don´t really disagree with anything here.

    Most of the stuff just didn´t bother me as much, as it bothered you, although some definitely did.

    I liked Jeff, Lester and Casey and pretty much every scene they were in. Morgan was also fine.

    And while the changing in tone was jarring at times, I also liked Beckman. She at least seemed concerned about Sarah and I thought she was funny, especially about kissing Chuck.

    I much prefer Chuck being smart, tampering with the Omen and thinking of a plan to him being overly neurotic and incompetent as he was portrayed last week.

    But I very much do agree, that because of the change in tone, when they dealt with the Chuck/Beckman mission, he seemed completely unconcerned about Sarah. I also hated, that he didn´t rush to check on her after Shaw was defeated. Someone pointed out to me, that Shaw had told him, she was watching while they fought and that he for some reason trusted Morgan to save her, when I was complaining about that. And that may be true.

    He still came off as pretty uncaring, especially when put in contrast with Sarah in Phase III. So definitely no on any of those comparisons.

    Whatever it is, I think so far this season they do a much better job of making me believe, that Sarah truly does love Chuck than the other way around. Maybe I am biased in seeing it that way and I didn´t always have a problem with Chuck´s actions during the specific episodes:

    But so far, Chuck looked for a house for them with Morgan, dismissed her concerns about something bad happening to Morgan, suspected someone wanting to be Sarah´s friend of having ulterior motives, because someone couldn´t just like her (and of course he was right), didn´t consider her place in their shared company, if he might change that their business (I was good with that, though. He did talk to her and hadn´t decided anything.), didn´t seem to much care about the fact, that he at least had her when they had to run and dismissed her desire for them to stay together at all cost and instead just left her behind to run into a dangerous situation without any plan.

    Like I said, I didn´t always mind these things while they were occuring and some worked pretty well or were resolved properly.

    But still with that list, he should have gotten her a really great Christmas present prior to Christmas Eve. And I definitely wouldn´t have minded him showing a lot more concern for Sarah and her well being either during her capture by Shaw or afterwards. What they did was just too light and thin for me.

    I liked Ellie taking out Shaw, because that guy did murder her father in cold blood and she deserved that. Chuck and Ellie´s talk at the Christmas Party also just hit the right tone for me. I didn´t like Ellie´s obsession over Clara´s first Christmas, because I find obsession over making memories for children that small silly. But I guess it fits with Ellie´s character.

    And I guess we didn´t see Sarah give Chuck a gift either, but they didn´t reference it, so it might have easily happened off-screen.

  28. Okay, I've got to set something Shaw said straight for the record.


    Krampus, which is a scary story perpetuated throughout Southern Germany (think Bavaria, and land of the awesome Lederhosen) and Austria, was first told to be a companion of St. Nicholas, who visits not on Christmas Eve but on December 5th or 6th. Which means that Shaw is not only completely and totally wrong, but his breaking out on Christmas Eve has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FOLKTALE HE PULLED OUT OF HIS 'CAN'T EVEN USE WIKIPEDIA' ASS FOR THIS EPISODE.

    I'm sorry. I just...the stupid is literally lasering a hole in my head and making me cry.

  29. Interestingly enough although I liked the overall premises of the episode and expected to disagree with the both of you for the most part; I can get on board with probably 90% of the same complaints you had for the episode, and I agree that while I liked the episode it wasn't Phase Three by any stretch.

    Though I can find issues with many things in this episode I didn't have any issue with Sarah visiting Shaw. Came off to me as her not wanting to leave anything to chance. I would be bothered if she went on Christmas Eve, but we don't know that she did or didn't so I'm willing to look past that.

    The thing that bothered me most was probably Chuck's disinterest in it all, I honestly felt more concern from Ellie in regards to Sarah's well being than from him. If Fedak and crew were going to make Chuck the hero in this episode, then why not write him as such? They had the buy-in of Sarah being in danger, but not for her husband showing fear in regards to that? Stupid, Half Ass, BS...

    Other things:

    - I'm kind of growing tired of Ellie being so obsessed with landmark moments that she deems important. Really the first thing she remembers is Christmas, so she wants to make Clara's FIRST Christmas special? She's one... I guess if it's more about Awesome And Ellie then I get it...

    - The picks at Chuck and Sarah not knowing each other very well or keeping secrets for the sake of the plot is annoying. It chips at what has been built so far and is a cheap plot trick. LOL, Also how does Chuck forget a Christmas gift for Sarah, it's freaking Chuck!?

    I can let go of all the technical and small caveats, but the character flaws are bothersome.

    Frea and Max, thanks for the review. I enjoyed it. Though I didn't hate the episode like you did, it's always fun to see fans analyze the details and find issues that we all have. Good Stuff!

  30. Crumby27.12.11

    That was so dumb, and painful. Agree with everything. I hated it.

    If you're gonna have a terrible idea, at least do it well, but no, not even that.

    Thank you for the review, guys.

  31. Frea - In Shaw's defense he was in a maximum security prison I'm sure he didn't have wikipedia, just you know, the means to create an elaborate but moronic plan of revenge.

  32. Simon, he can consider himself off of my Krampuskarte list next year!

  33. I am still chuckling at the idea that Shaw could come up with his elaborate plan to defeat Chuck and Sarah and take over the CIA, but didn't have access to Wikipedia. Thanks for that, Simon!

    I'm also still facepalming at the fact that Chuck Bartowski, of all people, didn't have a Christmas present for Sarah.

    Thanks, awelle, and Simon for providing such a good debate/discussion on everything, but especially the Sarah/Shaw scene at the end.

    Oh, and awelle, pretty much agree on everything you said about Chuck. Which is a shame (not that we agreed, but that his characterization has been so off you were right). Ah well.

  34. After alternatively incapacitating either Sarah or Casey to give Chuck his moment in previous episodes/seasons, it was pretty funny--in a really, really sad way--that the episode they decided to actually had both of them out, it meant nothing. Nobody seemed to give a damn about it.

  35. Anonymous27.12.11

    Frea and Mxpw, i would like to thank you for the honest opinions you give. it's refreshing to see fans that care about the show not be swayed by their like of the show or a character. you don't display the defend it at all cost mentality i see else where. thanks for that.


  36. awelle27.12.11


    Do you mean nobody gave a damn about Sarah and Casey? If so, that is unfortunately what it felt like. Seriously nobody even thought that Casey might be in trouble.

    Sarah tried to protect him and did actually manage to save him from being shot dead. And he was completely bad ass with that bear and managed to save Sarah. Nobody acknowledged that much, though. Casey deserved a thank you at least as much as Chuck or Morgan.

    Well it was acknowledged in this review. ;)


    Shouldn´t Shaw be on the Krampuslist? I did have to google Krampus, even though I am German, but I had never heard of it. I do know Knecht Ruprecht, who is supposed to be similar, I guess. Anyway Krampus is supposed to do bad stuff to bad people, isn´t he? So I vote Shaw on that list.


    I really am disappointed in Chuck as a husband as far as this season goes, but he will probably be a great one in the next ep, when it will be Sarah´s turn to make poor decisions and disregard him. Or they both just stop caring.

  37. AnonymousBody27.12.11

    I felt like this episode insulted my intelligence as an audience member by doing things like telling me to believe this conspiracy they built up as the greatest in history was all just to get Shaw out (or just wanting me to believe any of the A plot). I felt like it insulted me as a fan of the characters by making the original Team B all act like plot devices/idiots. After these last 2 episodes and spoiler info going forward I really don't even want to watch the last 6, and I probably won't unless I get positive feedback from people with similar likes/dislikes. If they're just going to keep insulting my love for this show, I'm just going to stop showing it any love. Having said that, I'm glad others still get great enjoyment out of it. I truly wish I could get around my issues and join them.

    Another thing I don't get is the massive support this ep got from critics. (Note: I'm going off their twitter pgs, not their actual articles). It is completely ok they thought that 5.07 was one of the best tv eps of 2011. I was just kind of surprised because I've read articles by the same people who blast shows for recycled plots, characterization mutilation, and bad acting. Like you, I thought this episode had all of those. I feel like they watched some awesome unaired version of Santa Suit.

    Aside from all this negative, I will say that I'll always love Yvonne- no matter what they make her character do, she does her level best at making me believe it. I definitely appreciate the effort.

  38. awelle - Every time they kill him, he comes back with a stronger power, so I worry about what would actually if Krampus actually took him away in the night.

  39. Spoiler Junkie28.12.11

    First off, as always brilliant review. Total agreement on my part.

    @awelle - I believe I had commented at ChuckThis blog before this episode aired that in S3 TPTB had Chuck doing something stupid so that they could balance it out/ try to justify it with Sarah doing something equally or more monumentally stupid. Regarding the kiss scene - When I saw the spoiler pics of GBecks kissing Chuck, I was 100% sure that they were going to compare and "justify" the sexual assault of Plywood with it. And I was not wrong.

    Both Chuck and Sarah disappointed me in 5x07. Everyone's entitled to their opinion but IMO, people comparing this to Phase 3 or saying that this is the best of S5 are completely in the wrong. Lot of facepalm moments for me while watching the episode.

    And as happydaz3 and CaptMediocre always say - Plywood is a Dementor - his presence will just suck out the fun and leave the titular character's characterization in tatters.

    @Frea - All you need to haze out the terrible moments in this episode is brain bleach. I believe some fans over at ChuckThis blog put it into constant use whenever S3 or Plywood is/was mentioned. ;) :)

  40. Spoiler Junkie28.12.11

    One more thing - slightly off topic. Is it just me alone who thinks that there has been a steady decrease in the on screen chemistry between Zach and Yvonne ever since S3? IMHO, they are not just selling it - being in love and married that is. Their interactions have begun to look superficial and artificial. (to me) Or is it the writers, who have given them such a tepid/ "more lukewarm less passionate" storyline? Or a combination of both bad writing and chemistry loss?

    I bring this up because it has really bothered me during S4 and now S5. And just to be clear when I speak of tepid relationship display, I am not actively advocating sex scenes or nudity to display passions (although that would be more than welcome) but some realistic scenes where any person would expect two people deeply in love with each other (s4) and then married (s5) would act towards each other and react in certain situations.


  41. awelle28.12.11

    For me it was mostly just small beats that bothered me.

    I did put up that long list of Chuck´s actions, but like I said, those things mostly didn´t bother me while they occured. I didn´t completely love the first three episodes of the season, but the house stuff was supposed to be a sweet gesture and Chuck did end up asking what Sarah wanted. I also actually liked, that Sarah went to Ellie when she thought something was wrong with Morgan and thought Chuck being a little blinded, because he was too close to him made sense.

    The emotional beats in Business Trip seemed a little off to me, but Chuck and Sarah again talked about their issues. And I actually really liked pretty much everything in Curse. Especially the way Sarah calmed Chuck down and gave him confidence by believing in his skills and Chuck actually talking to Sarah while he was still considering options.

    So they worked pretty well as a couple for me up until 5.05. There weren´t really big developments, that required them to show deeper feelings on-screen up until then. So more romantic stuff between them would have happened off-screen, because it wasn´t really relevant to the plot.

    But I thought Chuck´s actions in 5.06 felt like a regression and his leaving Sarah behind and the resolution to it was not very satisfying. That coupled with the lack of any single more emotional scene between them in this episode did a poor job of showing Chuck´s devotion to Sarah, which I don´t really doubt is still there.

    I just thought the last two episodes warranted some scene highlighting it, as the plot did deal with him leaving her behind and her being in mortal peril respectively.

    So my list regarding the earlier episodes was meant quite hyperbolic, as I thought his actions were actually fine in context. I just would have minded the lack of any more emotional scenes in the last two episodes less, if there had been some huge effort on his part just prior to these eps.

    And I don´t really think any Christmas gift would have fixed that either. He said he had something planned and just couldn´t finish it. That was probably something big and he couldn´t foresee Shaw showing up. And I wanted emotion and not a big gift on his part anyway. The bracelet actually was pretty emotional and I would have been fine with it, if they had just changed the tone of the scene a little. I wanted their exchange to be emotionally deeper and a tad more serious as far as Sarah´s ordeal was concerned.

    On the whole I like the way they portray the relationship much more than the way it was presented in much of season 4, because I did not like Chuck running to Morgan about every problem he had with Sarah. Now they are actually talking to each other. I think that´s good and realistic.

    And I don´t think the chemistry is lacking at all.

  42. BigKev6728.12.11

    You know, I really can't disagree with any of your points regarding the stupid in this episode, and the OOC moments that made you wince - but I really enjoyed the episode anyway! And that dichotomy leads me to ask a question - is it possible to enjoy ANY episode of Chuck (certainly post-Pink Slip) if you're overly worried about stupid stick character moments or ridiculous plot contrivances. Honestly I'm not sure you can, because there are just so many of them.
    I sat through Pink Slip, and then Mask - and then watched them resurrect a bloke who'd taken three to the chest - and trash one of the main emotional drivers of a 13 episode arc in the process. At that point I decided nothing was sacred - and I needed either to stop watching or to stop caring about anything other than being entertained or interested in the story.

    And I completely get those who weren't entertained by the episode. Those who don't like Shaw - or Sarah being marginalized again. Luckily for me there was enough stuff that I really liked to get me past
    all that - but I had to handwave the plot holes and stupid sticks, as I do every week. At this point, I'm not sure you can enjoy the show any other way - but I'd be interested to hear what others think?

  43. I find it interesting that you hated the episode as it repeated ideas/things that have happened before, and other people loved the episode as it was a typical Chuck episode with Chuck being clever, and it being funny. How many times have we heard complaints that there was no threat in the episode and with the fights in this episode I thought they were, the most 'real' fights since Sarah vs Smooth Lau in Best Friend.
    I had not heard of anyone talking about this ep as like phase 3 except in your review, so I was surprised by your comparison.
    Fistly I would like to echo some of your dislikes, Chuck and Sarah, there relationship was shown in S1 and 2 as an epic kind of love, but it is clear now that Chuck has no idea about relationships, in last weeks episode he decides to not trust his wife and leave her behind, he does not understand why she is mad at him and offers a really crap apology. This week that same wife is captured but we dont say a reunion scene just him with an arm around her on the sofa. REALLY!!!
    I dont agree fully with you having a go about his moment with Ellie as that was 40 seconds or so and it was Ellies line about him taking there Dad and not letting him take anyone else i thought was great. The main thing is that Chuck did not know what had happened to Sarah. He saw her suspended from the ceiling but did not know the scale of the fight beforehand, he could of thought she had been tranked, he did not know she was freezing to death, or escaped and been beaten again. He does not know if he talked to her on the phone once or not at all but he does know Shaw told him that she was going to watch as Shaw killed him.
    I also share your dislike of Sarah going to see Shaw in prison. Mainly because he asked for her, there is no offer of intel if she goes, she does not talk to Chuck about it but goes anyway. I also thought that she went straight away but it would not make any difference to me if she did not. It annoys me as she was the one that was better at the relationship and now she is being stupid too.
    I loved all the Sarah/Shaw interaction her 'not in the slightest', 'Christmas eve with you' and her reaction to his kiss was great. Her fight with Shaw she was really violent but even after being thrown of the balcony she did not give up she still tried to beat him. I undertand your thought about her knife but we know Chuck could catch one if thrown and I dont think she would have got near enough to stab him. I also think her plan was just to escape/evade but when he found Casey she had to try and protect Casey and it gave her a chance as he was distracted.
    I loved that she had faith in Chuck and that she new he would win in the end.
    I know you disliked her 'pleading' with Shaw but I cant help thinking that a) she feels a bit guilt as she did kill his wife. b)She cant help put herself in his position, by that I mean would not she want to kill the person that killed Chuck? we know the lengths she went to for him in Phase 3 so would she not go all Psycho on that person? I think so. She was trapped and had nothing else to do so she tried to get him to understand. I was disappointed in one way as I thought Shaw would call her Sam but in another way I am glad as I really dont like Sam.
    Shaw not going insane without the governer did not bother me as the stress on his brain would be caused by flashing if he is in jail and pretending not to have it he would not flash. Decker was probably supposed to remove it but as he was blackmailed he lied to the CIA about it. Re your comment about Decker not lookinh like somone who is blackmailed surely that is the point what does somone who is being blackmailed look/act like?
    My last point is echoing my earlier one, Chuck is a lame Husband not getting Sarah a present for there first Christmas, but did Sarah get Chuck one as she does not mention it at all.

  44. Spoiler Junkie28.12.11

    @srb "but it is clear now that Chuck has no idea about relationships"

    Or maybe it is clear that the writers have no idea how to write a relationship and are just winging it thereby ensuring that hits (random) and misses (frequent) occur.

    Also it is not a question of what Chuck knew/ didn't knew about Sarah's condition. If any perverted psycho had your wife hostage you would assume the worst even when you saw her only tied up. Rushing to her would be the only concern and top priority and not waste a sec (40 sec at that). IMO, the writers missed a beat when they didn't have Chuck show manic concern throughout - which could have come out in the form of rage, outbursts, high sense of urgency etc etc.

  45. Spoiler Junkie - You're right, of course. But unfortunately, my pituitary gland just refuses to create brain bleach naturally and I spent all of my money on training an army of Common Sense Ferrets to go bite stupid people.

    Big Kev - I can and do enjoy Chuck. I thought the first episodes of the season, up until Curse and some of Klemmer's contribution aside, were fun and funny. Sure, they had their problems, but when the cast is firing on all pistons and the writing is semi-decent, this show is amazing.

    Neither happened here. There's something called an emotional checks and balances system. You have one with everybody in your life. If you make somebody happy or enrich their lives, you're putting in a deposit, which will hopefully build up over time since every time you screw up or do something awful, you withdraw from that account. And Chuck built up a lot of goodwill with me in S2. I raved about it, I converted all of my friends to watching it, I rewatched episodes and debated character beats.

    And then in S3, it cleared the account out. And it's been withdrawing ever since, so whenever it makes the deposit in this metaphorical emmotional bank, it feels wonderful. But they're so far under balance that every withdrawal now, until I completely stopped caring at the end of S4 (guys, I hated S4, a few episodes aside), that this show just felt completely draining. I had two best case scenarios for S5:

    1) Chuck continues to suck itself down in the black hole of S4 and then I can happily kick it to the curb without it wrenching me around emotionally. The dog days are over, good-bye.

    2) Chuck goes out on a high, poignant note, allowing a properly happy good-bye from me and a chance to celebrate the season that, let's be honest, it should have never gotten.

    My Worst Case Scenario, as I told mxpw before the season began:

    Chuck comes back out of the gate kicking with great characters, funny dialogue, and interesting episodes...and then falls victim to its own regular crimes which include:

    a) introducing awesome, game-changing concepts only to turn around an episode later and make every single one of those concepts null and void

    b) wrenching the characters (but let's be honest here, Sarah in particular) around to fit really stupid plots

    c) bringing back Shaw

    d) complete and total inconsistency between episodes a la S4

    So this episode, for me, was the absolute Trifecta of Suck and the last thing I wanted to happen. ALL IN ONE EPISODE. It's possible for me to enjoy an episode of Chuck these days, yes. You just have to look at the first five or so mxpw vs. Frea reviews. But this episode did everything wrong, and the negative balance on that emotional bank just makes me want to scream.

  46. Also, srb: what Spoiler Junkie said. Closure is something that can happen at any time. If they wanted to convince me that Sarah is in actual danger, I needed to see Chuck reacting to that as something less than a rational person. If Ellie is in even the merest whiff of danger, Chuck goes berserk. If Sarah's in danger to the point of hypo-freaking-thermia and being captured in Castle, Chuck just kind of shrugs and goes around kissing Beckman and hugging his sister.

    And let's not forget Casey, too. I know they're trained spies and Chuck is probably used to them being able to handle themselves, but it's actually the fact that they're trained spies that means he should be freaking out more. After all, they're trained spies, and they got taken down by Shaw. They're hurt and that's a problem.

    And Chuck's not the only one I have a problem with in that scene. I understand Ellie's getting closure from her father, but she's a doctor. She's seen a lot of injuries, and honestly, she should be running toward Castle just as fast as Chuck.

  47. Speedhoven28.12.11

    I've yet to do my rewatch of Santa Suit and a few previous episodes, but did Chuck or Ellie know that Casey and Sarah were critically hurt and still in danger? Not knowing that Casey was shot and Sarah was suffering from hypothermia might make their actions just a tiny bit more reasonable. Still, extremely stupid writing not to make Chuck check on Sarah instantly.

    All in all, I could have forgiven the episode for all it's stupidities and ridiculous plot holes(some of which were actually rather hilarious for me) if we would have gotten a nice fluffy christmas ending with a sweet charah scene. But off course not, instead we got whatever the hell that was in the end...

    Still feeling generous enough to give the episode a score of 2 out of 5.


  48. Anonymous28.12.11


    There was nothing to indicate that they knew Sarah and Casey were critically hurt. What they did know was that Casey had attempted to sneak into Castle to take out Shaw and rescue Sarah hours ago and that they hadn't heard anything from him since then. They also knew that he had failed since Sarah was still captured and Shaw wasn't. I'm not entirely sure what they were supposed to think about Casey since his absence wasn't ever acknowledged that I can remember.

    As for Sarah, any knowledge (or lack thereof) of her condition is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. She had been kept hostage for hours by a man that killed your father and had tried to kill her once already - and that is ignoring the bomb theory. There is zero excuse for not immediately running to check on her. None.

  49. Anonymous28.12.11

    One other thing, the only thing that Chuck had that Sarah was even still alive was Shaw's word. Shaw had told him that Sarah was watching on the camera but that could have been a complete lie for all Chuck knew. He hadn't seen Sarah since earlier that morning IIRC and hadn't spoken to her since the "dear" phone call where he knew something was wrong.

    For all he knew, Shaw shot and killed Sarah as soon as Chuck handed over the CIA device. Or Shaw could have poisoned Sarah. Or maybe there was that bomb thing Chuck thought of.

    No, he didn't know about the hypothermia but that is exactly the point. Chuck had absolutely no idea what state Sarah was in and really didn't seem to care either.

  50. Spoiler Junkie28.12.11

    As mxpw said " worst married couple ever" :P

    You have a husband treating the mission as if it involved saving some random woman and not his wife and who should by all accounts be worried sick about his wife but doesn't display any of it. On the other hand you have a wife who is pleading with her almost-murderer and father-in-law's murderer that he IS a good person (WTF? If she had used the past tense and said that he used to be a good person then that would somewhat have been logical) and then she goes off to meet him on his beck and call keeping her husband totally in the dark.

    I was raging at both Chuck and Sarah's portrayal in this episode. It's like both husband and wife take their relationship for granted and continue to act like they are twi separate entities who have not been bonded in the sacred bond of marriage.

    A Regular Feature:

    Chuck: I will make stupid and unilateral decisions and leave my wife in the dark even though I vowed to her that she could count on me. I will keep repeating these mistakes without learning anything from them.

    Sarah: I will continue to keep secrets from Chuck and will initially resist all attempts by him to get me to open up ( be it S4 or the upcoming episode) but I will come around at the end of an episode (that deals with whatever issue) only to repeat this cycle in a future episode. I also consider it trivial not to mention it to my husband about my rendezvous with THE most hated person.

    Me: *twitches* *constant facepalms* and at last *overdose on brain bleach*

  51. I'll keep it short and simple... reading your review was cathartic, so thank you. You've probably heard this before, but I wish you both were writing the final season of Chuck... honestly.

  52. Anonymous28.12.11

    I've gotta say I enjoyed the episode but I have to agree with your review, the show feels like it's lost something key in the relationship between Chuck and Sarah. Any other time Chuck thought he was going to lose Sarah, even when he thought she was leaving with Bryce or Shaw he was much more worried about it. Chuck just didn't care about Sarah in this episode, there's not a lot of panic, he reacts to the thought of her being captured by Shaw who has tried to kill her on multiple occasions, has an intersect (which is ridiculous, surely he could have broken out of prison using the intersect?) and killed Chuck's dad. Chuck's laidback at the party, finding Stan Lee being an agent funny. I'm rewatching phase 3 at the moment, and this episode hasn't a patch on it, Phase 3 is Chuck at its best! Sarah needs to save Chuck she can't think about anything else, she actually turns into a different person without him, this gives the episode a sense of urgency, you're really afraid Chuck is going to die or forget sarah or something because of Yvonne's acting and the scenes with Chuck being tortured. In Santa suit you had horrible scenes of Sarah being beaten up,which were definitely a bit over the top, but Zachary Levi, as much as I love the man just didn't carry this episode off. Chuck just didn't seem bothered about Sarah being stuck with Shaw and just kind of wandered around, which annoyed me, plus like you both said we never got a reunion scene, personally I think Sarah would of died without Morgan (who I hate so it kills me to say it!) and Casey. Also! Casey is shot and missing for ages and Chuck doesn't even ask where he is or attempt to help. That should have been Chuck going into the vents of Castle not Casey!!

  53. @BigKev - Basically what Frea said. I generally enjoyed the first five episodes of the season. In fact, I had even started to develop some faith in the writers again. But then Curse happened and I was disappointed, and even though I gave them the same score, I think I was even more disappointed in Santa Suit.

    See, I might have been able to overlook the stupidity of Shaw's escape and plan if I felt like there were real stakes in the episode. But since Chuck didn't seem to care half the time that his wife was in danger, it was hard for me to care. And since I wasn't getting sucked in, all the problems just became more glaring to me. I couldn't overlook them.

    That was the big flaw with this episode in my opinion. Sarah has been kidnapped by Shaw, Chuck's arch-nemesis and yet most of the episode he was going around all la-di-da, without a seeming care in the world. There was no urgency or emotion to anything he did. The story fell completely flat for me.

    @srb - I might agree with you about Sarah's pleading if the stuff surrounding Shaw only involved Sarah, but Shaw murdered her husband's father in cold blood. Her saying he was a good man (in the present tense, no less), trying to appeal to him like that, was just distasteful. Not to mention I didn't really want to see Sarah pleading with Shaw period. But like Spoiler Junkie said, at least if it had been logical, I might have been able to understand her doing so.

    Also, good point about Sarah apparently not having a present for Chuck, but I think it's just more noticeable when Chuck Bartowski, of all people, leaves getting his wife a Christmas present to the last minute.

  54. BigKev6728.12.11

    See I liked the fact that Chuck was cool and calm through the episode. It was akin to the Chuck from Push Mix, and I'd rather see that any day than neurotic and panicky Chuck. In fact didn't we all criticize him (rightly) for tearing off emotionally and without a plan last week? So he does the opposite this week, and he's not emotional enough? Doesn't seem entirely fair to me.
    I liked the symetry with Phase 3. Sarah is normally the ice cold professional and reverted to an emotion-charged GBSM when Chuck was threatened - and Chuck reverts from his usual emotional defaults to something more calm and logical when Sarah is threatened. I didn't think Chuck's reaction was uncaring at all.
    And I thought the Ellie scene was fantastic. Didn't see it coming at all, and the image of the Bartowski siblings protecting each other and defending Orion's memory was well worth the price of missing a Chuck/Sarah reunion scene - to me anyway.
    Certainly a polarizing episode. There doesn't seem to be much middling opinion on this one - it's been fun to read the discussions!

  55. You make really vallid points about Chucks Behaviour in this episode. at least in Vs Cliffhanger (and i know you hated S4 but)he showed some concern for Sarahs well being, he was asking about her with Ellie, put his life on the line to go to Vivain alone, unarmed and without the intersect. We had him running in and pleading to not be to late. In this there was no sense of drama. I hope that there are some scenes that got cut that we see on the DVDs but as you point out they have gone from the best couple on TV IMO to the worlds worst couple, and I love the actors (ok mostly Yvonne) so I want to love them as a couple. It does seem to have been a theme for seasons 4 and 5 that at the begining they are a great couple we get lovely moments between them like in Anniversary, Suitcase, Coup De tat, Vs Zoom, Frosted tips and business trip. and then they start being stupid. I dont want to blame individual writers as the tone of the show is controlled by Fedak and I honestly think he has no idea to write a proper couple. I cant remember when I have ever seen a normal couple portrayed properly on TV, they always have to have some drama to make them interesting to watch.
    I also have listened to the Pleading scene, I had thought that Sarah says 'you were a good man Shaw, you can be that man again.' but having re listened it does sound more like 'your a good man' but then the next part makes no sense so I dont know. I stand by the other part of my comment in that she could see herself doing something similar if Chuck was killed.
    @MXPW everyone knows that its only husbands shopping on Chrismas eve for presents for there wife, so what is unusual about that. Certainly in my experiemce I have worked in shops for 22 years.

  56. Anonymous28.12.11

    Wow, that was harsh. I wouldn't put this episode close to my top 20, but I sure didn't see it that way before reading this review and I still don't afterwards. To each his or her own. We all see different things in each episode, and we all have different levels of assumption and tolerance about what might have taken place outside of a 42 minute episode that could fill in the gaps on screen.

    It's a shame so many people here can't enjoy a Chuck episode anymore.

    Am I the only one who sees the irony of this review one week after Crumby's guide? I know that write-up was for fanfiction, but I think the last three sections apply to any review.

  57. Anonymous, please refrain from making generalized assumptions and accusations about commenters on the blog in the future. I'll let it pass this time, but next time I'll delete any such comments.

    Thank you,


  58. Anonymous28.12.11

    I did not mean to offend, but this is your blog, so please delete my accusation-less comment and this one as well.

  59. CaptMediocre28.12.11

    I think my overall largest issue with this episode it that it resolves absolutely nothing regarding Shaw. NOT ONE DAMN THING!!

    Listen, the show has been notorious for hand waving away any resolution to thr drsms in the blink of an eye (something I fully expect to happen again in 5.08, although I'd prefer it didn't). But this episode has no resolution whatsoever. Shaw ends up where he started. The characters learned nothing. It was simply a detour where nothing happened storywise.

    No, I don't believe 41 minutes of that was necessary for the 1 minute "cliffhanger".

    I guess I must not be intelligent enough to understand the point of the story they were trying to tell.

  60. CaptMediocre28.12.11


    ... any resolution to the drama in the blink of an eye ...

  61. Spoiler Junkie28.12.11

    @CaptMediocre - Thank you Sir. You said the thing that has been bothering me the most. Where was the closure in this episode regarding Shaw? Was it Chuck kicking his ass? But that happened in Ring 2. Was it because Ellie couldn't take a frying pan to Plywood the last time around and achieved it this time? What about an injured Casey? More importantly, what about Sarah? She didn't even get to kick him in the nuts for what he did to her. Did she get any closure? Apparently not, because she is still under the Log's influence - cue last scene

    "No, I don't believe 41 minutes of that was necessary for the 1 minute "cliffhanger".

    ^^^This. Word.

  62. Spoiler Junkie28.12.11

    Time for some levity. :)

    @Frea " I'll let it pass this time, but next time I'll delete any such comments.
    Thank you,

    For those of you who watch Burn Notice they may surely remember who Management is? For others, Management is an old guy who is also one of the ring leaders involved in the burn notice of Michael Weston and a lot of other agents.

    So, whenever Frea signs off using Management, I have this weird image of a mysterious old lady wearing shades and ordering minions around and generally pulling their strings. ;) :)

    @Frea - Pls don't take offense. Just my lame attempt at a humorous post among all these serious discussions.

  63. Its hard to argue with any of the points you guys make. The only thing I would disagree with a little is the way they handled Chuck during the fight. Yeah it was weird that he didn't seem worried about Sarah but I liked that he was cocky and didn't try to talk to Shaw. I get why it would bother people but I'd take that version of him than the whiny one we usually get.

    What really bothered me was that Shaw's Intersect had Sarah's life story in it while Chuck's had zero. Come on, I know they had to setup the next episode but it makes zero sense. The other is Fedak's obsession with trying to tell me how awesome good or evil Shaw is while showing the complete opposite on screen. Just like S3 this episode showed me they just changed the name on the scripts from Bryce to Shaw without any thoughts on how it world play out. Even Levi in an interview talked about how Chuck and Shaw were friends. Really? When when was that? That kind of story telling I find insulting and really makes me question why I've stuck with this show for so long.

  64. Spoiler Junkie29.12.11

    @JC Re: Chuck not flashing on Sarah's complete life

    Biggest plot hole or very, very convenient story telling because you know how much TPTB like to project Sarah as an enigma wrapped in an enigma.

  65. @SJ i think they have shown that the details that cause a flash have always been a bit strange maybe tattoos, picture frames, and Rings. The only time Chuck has ever flashed on Sarah was due to her ring back in the pilot, as Sarah found out about that in Helicopter I'm sure she would not do the same again ie wear something from a previous mission. Shaw was also Sarahs boss in S3 so would have had access to her files then so he would have known more about her even then.
    It could also be that Shaw has the Ring intersect and it makes sense that they would pay particular attention to the enemy in theres. Chuck only flashed once on Casey aswell and that was not on him but the name Alex Coburn

  66. I still think that the main problem with S5 until now is that the authors had to solve the mess that they did with Cliffhanger: the first three episodes were to work out the whole Morgansect thing, then there was the conspiracy rant from Decker. The problem is, they found the cheapest solutions in both cases, thinking that two wrongs could make one right: like, the whole conspiracy thing could have been worked well with a completely new villain, but it was easier to just say that Decker was Shaw's puppet from the beginning, as unbelievable as it could be.
    And I totally agree with Frea when she says that the authors are wrenching the characters around to fit the plot. I want to be good, and think that they know what is the goal, and that it will have us all satisfied at the end (hopefully), but until know, as satisfactory as the end may be, it is difficult to me to justify the means...
    Also (and finally) I think that all the hype about the episode didn't help: I hope that I won't be disappointed by the next episode (but at the end, I agree with max, I ultimately will forgive YS for almost everything...), and most importantly, by the finale

  67. Since you brought up my post Anonymous, I wanted to reply to your comment.

    First, I didn’t think this review was harsh on the episode. The episode was harsh on me. Why? Because I like the show. I love the show, actually. I am a fan, and as such watching Chuck vs. the Santa Suit was painful, frustrating and maddening for me. It had pretty much everything I don’t like about the show in it.

    Now, I did enjoy most of the beginning of the season (I had more problems with Business Trip, but nothing comparable to Curse and Santa Suit), just like Frea and mxpw have said in their previous reviews that they enjoyed the first episodes of the season too.

    Just because you don’t like one episode doesn’t mean “you can’t enjoy an episode of Chuck anymore,” and they’ve stated as much repeatedly.

    I’ve personally never seen being a fan as accepting anything that was thrown at you, and it doesn’t mean you don’t like the show anymore. And I certainly hope being a fan doesn’t mean you can’t say why you didn’t like that one episode, either. Especially when every criticism is explained and justified, like it was done here.

    Finally, I’d refer to the disclaimer in this review: “If you were a big fan of this episode, this review will probably not be for you. Like we said last week, we're not going to tell you that you're wrong, and we'd like it if you did the same.” No much surprise about dislike of this episode in the review to be had after that.

    Besides, who closes the book at Chapter 7, right? ;-)

  68. @Kev Is it possible to enjoy ANY episode of Chuck (certainly post-Pink Slip) if you're overly worried about stupid stick character moments or ridiculous plot contrivances?

    You’re right, it’s always been there, even in the adored S2, and certainly *after* S2. But to accept that you need to have something in exchange. You need to be able to enjoy other aspects of the episode enough to accept stupid stick or plot contrivances. There weren’t any for me here.

    No payoff. No closure. The humor fell flat to me (it actually irked me more than anything). The stakes weren’t there. Every single thing I could have liked was so wrongly executed IMO, that it ruined it even more.

    I really agree with Capt Mediocre’s comment. At the end of the episode, Shaw is gloating in front of Sarah, and still tormenting her with whatever he put in motion from the inside of his cell. What was the point of all this? Original story? No, it had all been done before, and nothing at all made any sense. It made so little sense, even the characters didn’t care, lol.

    Also, about Chuck, there is a huge different between acting rationally and being calm, and appearing completely without care for your wife. Take Other Guy for example: Chuck wasn’t whiny or neurotic, but he was clearly scared for Sarah. He did need a little push from Casey back then to focus, but it was 2 seasons ago, he wasn’t as experienced as he is now. I see a difference right there.

    I don’t see the appeal in the Chuck character that has been shown in this episode. I didn’t like the guy.

    And I thought the Ellie scene was fantastic. Didn't see it coming at all, and the image of the Bartowski siblings protecting each other and defending Orion's memory was well worth the price of missing a Chuck/Sarah reunion scene - to me anyway.

    It wasn’t to me. Not when you keep Sarah hostage all episode long. If you’re going to do that, then give payoff about it, otherwise there’s no point. And why couldn’t Chuck and Ellie have their moment AFTER running to check on Sarah? I like this idea about the Bartowksis too, I do, but it was just completely misplaced, and therefore inappropriate to me. Which in the end ruined it.

    I would even go further and say that it was a complete missed opportunity. Seeing Ellie run along with Chuck to check on her sister in law would have been awesome. Had it been Devon in Sarah’s place, Chuck would have done it. And making sure your family is safe is a better way to honor your father’s memory IMO, than waiting around when you don’t know if she’s even alive. (I’m not even mentioning Casey, who was completely ignored.) It would have brought home the point they have been making about family this season, and how Sarah was family too now, how the Bartowskis defend their family. But no, nothing. Ugh.

  69. disapointedfan29.12.11

    I enjoyed this episode until I watched Phase 3 again and realised how badly the writers have ruined my favourite couple! Shaw! the worst character on the show ever, showed more emotion for Sarah than Chuck! it was hatred but it was better than Chuck's blahness! I have to say I agree with every point in this review, It also annoyed me how the just skipped over Casey being shot in the end, nothing is said about it!

  70. I didn't think this episode was too bad, but then, that's possibly because I've been slowly turning into more of a casual viewer over the course of the past 2 years, so perhaps it's because I'm not as committed to the show as I originally was.

    I, too, was a bit annoyed that Chuck didn't get Sarah a gift for Christmas, but he did say he couldn't get it in time, which makes me think that there was probably some last-minute picking-up to be done. Plus, when they bring up things like THE BRACELET and callbacks like that that they've failed to do for quite some time (not to mention in character synopticity) it just gets me all excited that THE WRITERS REMEMBER. Slash fedak told them.

    I think I enjoyed the shaw stuff least. I really enjoyed shaw as a villain last year, but I didn't really see the point of having him there. I hold out faith, however, that it will be explained in later episodes. To me, at least, this is clearly part of the main arc of the season, which really kickstarts next episode.

    It's for that reason I assume that Sarah decided to go and see Shaw - she knows something that neither Chuck or we do. Perhaps Shaw has something to do with the baby that we didn't know about/access to the baby, and thus sarah has reason for wanting to keep an eye on Shaw.

    It was an alright episode for me.

  71. Anonymous29.12.11


    I can understand why it seems unfair to criticize Chuck one week for acting too emotionally and not having a plan, and then blasting him the next week for behaving the opposite way. The thing is though, his plan was almost identical to the one he shot down the week before.

    The original plan that Chuck was so against using in the Curse was to make a copy of the Omen and use it to trade for Ellie and Awesome. Chuck ended up lying to Sarah, not trusting her, and running off on his own because he thought that Robin would see through the copy and kill Ellie because they tried to trick her.

    So what plan does Chuck use on Shaw? He modifies the CIA thing so that it will corrupt the Intersect 2.0. The plans are a little different (making a copy vs modifying the original) but the end result is still the same: they aren't handing over what they were told to.

    Imagine this, what if Shaw wasn't a complete dumbass and uploaded the Intersect 3.0 while he was still in Castle. Chuck just sent the device down to him without demanding Sarah be released in return or even making sure she was still alive and unharmed. Had Shaw uploaded the Intersect before he came up to the Buy More, he also would have probably tested it as well and discovered what Chuck had done.

    Wasn't that exactly what Chuck was so afraid of happening the week before? What did he think Shaw would have done if he had figured out the trick when he was still locked in Castle with Sarah? Admit that Chuck bested him and turn himself in without a fight?

    So not only did it seem like he was indifferent to Sarah being in the hands of a psychopath because of his demeanor throughout the episode, but his brilliant plan to save her was the same one he had rejected the week before because it was too dangerous for the captive.

  72. Ayefah29.12.11

    Nonny, that was a beautiful comment. *applauds*

  73. Wow, Anonymous, I never quite thought of it that way before. Thank you for that comment! It certainly provides a different perspective.

    Heh, after reading that, I can't help but agree with you. Wow, that makes me dislike Chuck's role in the episode even more. I didn't think that was possible.

  74. @BigKev I can agree that the plans are similar but the situation were to so how different can a plan be.
    I think the differerences are slight but important Chuck knows that Shaw is an Egotistical Dumb Ass and would not think to check the update and how could he possibly do that without uploading it. If he does then you still have done what you wanted anyway.
    A fake Virus would be easier to spot than a fake intersect update and if they had spotted that last week Robin still would have Ellie and Devon hostage, the only way for Shaw to test the update was to use it
    Flashes have always seemed to be time sensitive so I dont really think he would try to flash before he needed to but if he did he would still have the virus uploaded. You ask if Shaw would just give up once he new he did not have the intsersect no I dont think he would. I think you are concerned that he would just loose it and kill Sarah straight away but i disagree, I think he was so determined to have Sarah suffer by seeing Chuck being killed that nothing would stop him from doing that, and as he knows Chuck does not have the intersect, he said he was nothing he would think he would be able to beat him easily, and then he would also be angry about being tricked by Chuck anyway.
    A lot has been said about Chucks actions in the episode but I would just like to say that I thought he came across as pretty determined and focused when he gets a phone call he thinks is from Shaw but then it is Sarahs voice telling him she is free, so it is not surprising that he relaxes a bit until he gets that second call. He even says that he thinks Shaw is using Sarah and that she gave him a clue by saying 'dear' so as he thought he was talking to Sarah he thought that he knew she was OK.

  75. BigKev6730.12.11

    Can't disagree with you that Chuck's plan for Shaw was similar to last week's and doesn't stand up to detailed scrutiny - but that's not why Chuck was being criticized by people in this episode. He was being criticized specifically because he wasn't emotional enough - not in relation to his plan. Criticizing him for his plan is legitimate. Criticizing him for behaving how we all wanted him to behave last week still strikes me as unfair.

    Thanks for the reply!
    We've already touched on most of this on twitter, but for the record I completely take your point that even if you handwave the plot holes and the stupid sticks, you still have to enjoy the episode. You have to be engaged enough by the story and convinced enough by the execution. This episode did that for some, and demonstrably did not for others - and there doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground. It's probably the most polarizing episode of Chuck they've done to date.

  76. Anonymous30.12.11

    @BigKev...i think you may be right although the cliff hanger ending was pretty bad as well. from what i have been seeing around the net this week, tonight's episode vs the baby may supplant this one in spades.


  77. Anonymous30.12.11


    But were people criticizing him last week for being emotional or for the way he acted because of those emotions? There's a big difference.

    Last week, Chuck first started acting whiny and stupid because of a fear of a curse that didn't exist prior to the episode. Where exactly was this deep fear when Chuck first had to run away from Ellie back in season 2? He had just discovered the reason why his father had left them but, when Sarah took him on the run in the Colonel, he seemed to be fine with it. You would think that this fear would have been most prevalent here but it was nonexistent.

    Then you have Chuck ready to run around Europe with Sarah in season 3 and again there was no mention of a fear of leaving Ellie behind. He just tossed his cell phone out of the window on the train and forgot all about Ellie who was at home wondering if she would see him before leaving for Africa for the Doctors Without Borders program.

    And those were both from before Ellie had any clue that Chuck worked for the CIA. His sudden disappearance at either of those two points would have been far more devastating to Ellie than it ever would have been in the Curse. She at least knew why he was leaving and understood the reasons this time.

    I don’t think anyone was saying that Chuck shouldn’t have been upset and freaking out a bit about Ellie and Awesome being kidnapped. He wouldn’t be the Chuck we know and love if he wasn’t. But that fear doesn’t come close to justifying the way he behaved towards Sarah. It wasn’t that he was emotional that was the problem; it was the way he acted based off those emotions. His “plan” (or lack thereof) was just icing on the terrible cake.

    Which brings me back to why I didn’t enjoy his character in this episode either. I am absolutely criticizing him for not being emotional enough about Sarah being held captive by a man that wants revenge on her for killing his wife. As I said before, I expect Chuck to have emotions and freak out when someone he supposedly loves is in danger. That is who he is. That doesn’t mean he needs to throw all rational thought out the window and rush in without a plan but that appears to the choice we are given. You either get the emotional, irrational dumbass we saw in the Curse or an indifferent, irrational dumbass from the Santa Suit. If his plans are going to be garbage either way, I’d at least like to see some concern for people he supposedly loves.

    These past two episodes make it seem like a black or white scenario with no middle ground available. The whole point of the first couple of seasons though was to show that a regular guy driven by his emotions wasn’t able to just survive in the cold, emotionless spy world but that he could thrive in it and that guy has been nowhere to be found recently. I want Chuck to not just use his intelligence to think of a plan for saving the day but to be “that guy” because he cares. That is the character I loved from the first two seasons and that is the one I want to see for the final few episodes of the show.

  78. Anonymous30.12.11

    To the Anonymous person above me:

    Amen to that last paragraph! A middle ground between the two different Chucks from the last two episodes is completely posdible, as the show itself has shown us before. *sigh* I know characters change over time, but damn if I don't miss that Chuck.

  79. Anonymous30.12.11


    But would you (if you were in Chuck's shoes) be willing to bet Sarah's life on those assumptions? Because that is exactly what his argument was the week before. He thought it wasn't worth the risk to Ellie and Awesome's life if Robin and her minions noticed that the virus was a fake.

    Chuck was taking that exact same risk with his plan this week. Not only did he have to be correct that Shaw would be arrogant enough to wait and upload the Intersect without any testing but that if he did test it, he wouldn't harm Sarah for the trick. This was the same guy that swore to get revenge on Sarah for killing his wife and had tried to kill her on multiple occasions in the past. The risk to her life was far greater than the one to Ellie and Awesome's lives the week before. Robin had at least said she would let them go if he brought them the Omen and appeared willing to do just that if they hadn't escaped on their own.

    As far as needing to flash to test it, we saw that he was able to flash on command as soon as he uploaded it. Chuck was just standing there when Shaw flashed on the cartoon. It wasn't a reactionary flash to something Chuck did.

    Finally, he still could have made Sarah suffer from watching Chuck die with or without the Intersect. If he had uploaded it down in Castle, he could have just shot Chuck in the leg and tortured him while Sarah was forced to watch. He only put his gun down because he was confident he could beat Chuck because of his Intersect.

    And, as Frea and mxpw mentioned in their review, Chuck should never have been able to beat Shaw one-on-one in a fight anyways. He's been fighting without the Intersect for a few months while Shaw was supposed to be one of the CIA's best for years before he ever got an Intersect. You can at least make the argument that Chuck only stood a chance because he was able to catch Shaw off guard after the Intersect was a dud but even that flimsy excuse wouldn't work if he had uploaded it while in Castle.

  80. Two posts in two days, Anonymous, and both well-reasoned, eloquent and superbly executed. I don't know if you're intentionally hiding your identity, but if not you should adopt a moniker so others here can pat you on the back without feeling weird.

  81. @Anon
    We obviouosly have different opinions on Chucks plan and indeed the episode i respect your opinion but dont share it.
    I liked the fact that with a very limited time Chuck came up with the plan at all. Last week he was given three hours to deliver the Virus that he already had. This week he was given the same three hours to deliver something he had to steel from a CIA Base. While on the way back he gets a phone call from Sarah saying she is free, that has to make him relax and then when he arrives he gets another call from Sarah but this time he realises something is wrong but he also figures out what Shaws plan is. He then has a very short time to think of and carry out the plan.
    You state that Shaws disorientation would not have been an issue if he had flashed before coming up in the lift but you probably have no idea how long any effect would have lasted. I dont either but as this is a TV show I would choose to believe it if that is what they had decided to show.
    Certainly a very polarizing episode this one. I wonder if this had not been hyped by so many if people would have been as down on this episode. Hopefully we will be celebrating a really good episode later tonight

  82. Tenks730.12.11


    Absolutely and I apologize if it sounded like I was trying to pass off my opinion on the matter anything but an opinion. I'm glad that so many people enjoyed the episode and just wish I felt the same way. My intention was never to convince people to dislike the episode, I just enjoy discussing it. It's been cathartic.

    To be completely honest, I was actually unaware that Shaw even gave Chuck a deadline because of the lack of urgency I felt from him. I could feel the sense of importance when it was Sarah on the screen, but lost it during Chuck's scenes.

    I second your hope that the next episode is a really good. I'm not actually that concerned about the mystery baby being Sarah's* and hopefully Sarah will tell Chuck the truth quickly so that we don’t have another episode of them keeping secrets from each other.

    *Note:* I'm guessing that they're going with the John Hartigan/Nancy Callahan plot from Sin City. Basically, the bad guy had been trying to find the baby since Sarah took him/her to her mother’s but were unable to. So they trick Sarah into thinking that since they know about the baby, they finally found him/her. Sarah then breaks her no contact rule in order to make sure the baby and her mom are safe and leads the bad guys right to them.

    Ardent Aardvark,

    Right, sorry. I wasn’t trying to hide my identity as such, I just didn’t want to bother typing in a name every time.

    Thank you for the kind words.


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