Chuck is not the show one watches for its tight plot. There are always puzzling plot points that don’t really hold up to serious scrutiny. That’s not a big deal, however, because Chuck is not a plot-based show but a character-based show. As long as the main characters behave in a way that does not contradict their fundamental nature or a major narrative arc, it’s all good.
This is the reason 3.17 Living Dead is particularly damning as the quintessential retcon episode. It’s not so much because the plot is absurd (see the first two points below) but because it fundamentally contradicts Sarah’s behavior from the first 13 episodes of season 3 and beyond, the very nature of the Sham relationship, basic human psychology, and commits Sarah’s character assassination (see concluding paragraph).
- There is no penthouse. Shaw stays at a hotel in 3.08 Fake Name and, after that, he lies low in Castle due to the Ring wanting him dead or alive;
- If there is a penthouse, it’s swept clean by government agents after Shaw is revealed to be a traitor at the end of 3.13 Other Guy, just like Casey’s apartment in 3.10 Tic Tac., particularly because the elusive penthouse has a CIA safe installed, with content of potential interest to the Ring, which in fact sends Justin Sullivan in this very episode to retrieve it; a government cleanup voids the entire raison d’être of this episode.
- The D.C. waterfront restaurant receipt contradicts Shaw’s own words to Sarah during the 3.12 American Hero dinner, “I’m sorry we haven’t done this sooner,” which obviously refers to them going on a first public date together since the ensuing conversation is all about them and their new life together, in an obvious reversal of Chuck and Sarah’s first date in 1.01 Intersect;
- Even if Shaw’s apology is about him not taking Sarah to that particular restaurant (!), there is no need to apologize for not doing so sooner, as they had no time to do so since they were busy doing all the other things mentioned by Sarah during the interrogation scene over the course of the roughly two weeks between the end of 3.09 Beard and the beginning 3.12 American Hero, during which, let’s remember, there are obstacles, such as Shaw being in D.C. (beginning of 3.10 Tic Tac), Sarah being ready to go back to Chuck (3.11 Final Exam stakeout), or mourning Chuck’s loss (end of 3.11 Final Exam), which are situations not really conducive to romantic dates between Shaw and Sarah;
- The earrings contradict basic human psychology, specifically the universally built-in mechanism of mental association, which we see in Sarah’s own behavior on several occasions:
- In 2.04 Cougars, when she doesn’t want to go to her high-school reunion because it’s associated with painful memories;
- In 3.02 Three Words, when she won’t wear Chuck’s mother’s charm bracelet because it’s associated with painful memories;
- in 3.13 Other Guy, when she walks on the Parisian street where she killed Eve and is immediately reminded of the worst moment of her life.
- Similarly, the earrings would remind her of Shaw and his assassination attempt, as shown in her reaction to seeing Shaw in the 3.18 Subway courtroom scene, and she would never wear them;
- In 3.15 Role Models, when Chuck asks Sarah to move in with him, she replies they are not a normal couple and shouldn’t pretend to be one; so, why would she go with Shaw on romantic dates, which are precisely what normal couples do?
- At the beginning of season 4, after being in love with Chuck for three years and in a relationship with him for six months, Sarah freaks out because she thinks Chuck is moving too fast with their relationship. But she doesn’t freak out when Shaw, a virtual stranger, takes her on a slew of romantic dates and buys her 2-carat earrings at Tiffany’s in the span of two weeks? Shaw is moving just at the right pace?
- There is also no need for Chuck and Sarah to suction-cup up the building because they could easily and quickly get a warrant to search the (non-existing) penthouse of a traitor who may potentially hide government secrets in a CIA-installed safe.
The greatest problem with the interrogation scene, however, is Sarah mentioning she spent March 22nd at Shaw’s elusive penthouse. March 22, 2010 was the date that 3.11 Final Exam aired. If Shaw’s elusive penthouse is in L.A., that seems to imply that Sarah is there between the end of 3.11 Final Exam and the beginning of 3.12 American Hero,1She can’t be there at the beginning of 3.11 Final Exam because Shaw and Sarah are driving straight back to Castle from the airport after their weekend in D.C., as mentioned by Shaw. having a good time with the man who ordered Chuck’s red test, when she’s supposed to be mourning Chuck’s loss and atoning her guilt for her part in encouraging Chuck into the spy life. What woman, let alone the heroine of a story, does something like that? That’s morally appalling behavior that kills her character.
The only way to save her character is is the penthouse is not in LA, maybe in Washington, where she was between 3.10 and 3.11. The penthouse cannot be in Washington, D.C. (or anywhere outside of L.A.), however, because Chuck and Sarah (and Justin Sulrivan and Orion) all get there faster than Ellie can get to her meeting place with Justin in L.A., even though Chuck and Sarah just had dinner with Ellie. To do that, they would all have to fly at Mach 142The world record for a jet is Mach 9.6, around 7,000 mph. (10,000 mph).
See, nothing makes sense in this episode.
This is a nonissue for me. Here is why…
Your perceptions around Shaw and Sarah are different than mine. Sarah started her relationship with Shaw to get over losing her Chuck. I can see them going out to dinner, exchanging gifts, couple massages, and having alone time together having spy sex. This is not a typical love relationship; it’s the image of one. Both of them knew the other was in love with somebody else. It’s something they both engaged in to deal with their pain.
Both Shaw and Sarah would be free to seduce other people on missions. Sarah never felt obligated to push back on Chuck’s advances because she was in a relationship with Shaw. That says a lot about how committed she felt. In fact, she dumped Shaw as soon as Chuck put something on the table she could accept.
I would like to dig into going out to dinner, exchanging gifts, and couple massages. This is what people do that are not in love. They both are essentially using each other; this brings on guilt. What happens when you feel guilty, you try to buy your way out of it. It also can be used to make the person on the receiving end feel obligated. Shaw was all about manipulation. I have no doubt he was trying to buy Sarah and get her mind off Chuck. Sarah needing the distraction most likely didn’t care. Sarah of all people would know if she is being manipulated. She chose Shaw despite his baggage. It was better than being alone thinking about Chuck.
People need to put the Shaw and Sarah relationship into the proper context. We as the audience knew that Chuck loved her. However, Sarah did not know that until Chuck told her that many episodes later. We can’t judge Sarah for her choices before Chuck told her how he felt. So it really doesn’t matter what the Shaw and Sarah relationship was. It’s all about how she felt for Chuck once he declared his love and what he was willing to sacrifice for her.
Yes, we see it differently here. I see Chuck/Hannah and Sarah/Shaw as the two halves of a real double-life, as per Devon’s warning at the end of 3.03 Angel de la Muerte.
I would only ask you to look at it from multiple perspectives, not to change your mind. Take the earrings, Sarah would wear them if she had no emotional attachment to them. i.e. wearing them did not remind her of Shaw. Now compare that to Chuck’s mother’s charm bracelet; she was highly emotionally attached to it. Yet to anyone else it was worthless, but Sarah valued it because it came from Chuck. She knew what it meant to Chuck to give it to her. It was the only way at the time that he could express how he felt about her.
Yeah, I have a hard time with that scene because it rubs me off the wrong way on multiple levels.
This scene is about healing. Chuck and Sarah were out of sync for most of the season. When they came together, they were a couple. But they were deeper levels of intimacy they had yet to achieve. In the way of all of that were their secrets. Sarah said she did not want any secrets between the two of them. In other words, Sarah was saying I want to merge into a loving, all accepting couple. Sarah wanted Chuck to accept her warts and all. This is a painful scene to watch but it was also necessary. Chuck had to know and accept the truth of Sarah’s and Shaw’s relationship. Sarah needed to understand Hanna. Only then they can grow into the healthy couple we saw in season 4 & 5.
Yes, I think I’ve seen that argument made by someone at Chuck This Blog but that never made sense to me. First, what two people do when they are a couple is their private business. Chuck knew Shaw and Sarah were a couple and even asked in 3.11 if they were going to move in together, so there was no need to bring up those dates because she did nothing wrong. Second, if they needed to bring them up, what they did bring up made no sense in the context of the story, Sarah’s search for real, Shaw’s own words during their dinner in 3.12, human psychology, etc.
You are right, Sarah did nothing wrong. The goal was the get Chuck to flash to get more information on Shaw. The scene had a purpose. However, Sarah had a goal and it was deeply personal.
Part of me is just like Sarah. Plus, I have dated more than just a few Sarah types. I think I understand the psychology quite well. They are “all or nothing” people. They emotionally need to bond at the deepest levels with their partner. This means putting everything on the table. Truth matters. If they can’t do that with someone, they end up with numerous sex partners exploring various sex activities to fill the void. That’s why they are so passionate and are so good in bed.”
In partnership, Sarah would have to teach Chuck how to satisfy her. He would need to understand what she needed and when to give it to her. As a reward, Chuck would get everyone of his fantasies fulfilled.
Here are the important snippets:
Sarah, “You need to be honest with the people you love”
Chuck “I wanted to tell you but…”
Casey “She (Sarah) has intimate knowledge of the target”
Chuck “Intimate is a stretch”
Casey “If we go over everything they did”
Sarah “Would you be okay with that, Chuck?”
Chuck “Of course”
Casey “What did you do in DC”
Chuck “Casey they were all business, no pleasure”
Chuck was in denial
Sarah needed truth
If Sarah was not trying to become more intimate with Chuck, what do you think she was doing? Do you think she just wanted to go out of her way to hurt Chuck? I say no, she wanted to bond with him at the deepest levels.
In 5×8 Chuck tells Sarah she was wrong. Look how they both handled themselves in that scene. That’s the reward for what was started here. It was spectacular!
In 5×7 Shaw kissed Sarah, Beckman kissed Chuck. They HAD to tell each other. Notice their reactions. No big deal! Why because of what was started here.
I’m sorry you are not getting this. It’s a major part of the show. I know how hard it is for people to understand it when they have never experienced it for themselves. It really is a beautiful thing to watch.
I’m not sure I follow entirely but I think the fully-realized Chuck and Sarah of season 5 start in season 1, namely when Sarah angrily denies the 1.09 incident in 1.11 and Chuck forces her to realize she’s fooling herself and she storms out of the apartment, only to come back at the end of the episode ready to reconcile, implicitly admitting she was wrong. Their journey towards open communication starts early on and they are always honest by the courtyard fountain by telling each other the truth as they know it, but with increasing level of openness as the seasons progress.
Sarah season 1 lies. She admitted to Chuck she lies. She was not willing to change that at the time.
Sarah season 5 lies when necessary but she desires a partner that stands in the light of truth with her.
Sarah wants to live with her partner in the consciousness of pure intimacy, complete trust, and a life without secrets. It’s almost an impossibility, but that doesn’t mean she won’t try. This is her deepest desire; it drives her. This is why she is so attracted to Chuck. Because he is willing to go there with her. It’s also why it’s so dam important for him to guard his innocence. If he can accept her sins, she can release her shame.
What do you see in a relationship like this? Well, you get two people in a broom closet. She wants to carry her partner’s seed around with her all day. Yes, people like this think that way. There are numerous other references like this in the show. You just need to pay attention. People laugh it off but it represents a clear pattern of behavior for this personality type.
Sarah never cared about Shaw’s innocence. Why? She has no desire to share herself with him. It was only sex to ease the pain of losing Chuck. It’s why Sarah and Shaw had no future. That is what Sarah and Chuck need to talk about. This scene start’s that conversation.
If you sense a spiritual component to Sarah, then you are starting to get it. Some of these people turn to god and ask for his forgiveness. Same energy, higher consciousness. Sarah is not ready for this; she might be after she establishes a home and family. She communicated her need to Chuck to be alone for 30 minutes a day before bedtime. I believe it’s some kind of spiritual practice that will lead to a deeper connection.
I’m not sure why you find that morally appalling. Is it so surprising that someone in emotional pain uses physical intimacy with their partner as a means of distraction? Her emotional state is devastated. How is this different than when she was distraught over Chuck’s dinner with Hannah and she turns to Shaw? It’s pretty much a given they had sex and didn’t even get to the Chinese food until after. I’m not sure what she’s supposed to do to atone for her guilt during this time either. When she earlier went to DC with Shaw, she put distance between her and Chuck. The pattern follows that she would put even more distance between her and Chuck after this. Sex with someone else is a pretty common way this is done.
Here’s something to try. Imagine Sarah jumping on Bryce, Cole, Shaw as quickly as Chuck jumps on Lou, Jill, and Hannah. I have no doubt people would have an issue with Sarah behaving this way. Sarah is in a relationship with Shaw and spends the day with Shaw after telling Shaw that Chuck is dead to her and we’re surprised they have a romp in the hay? That’s not morally reprehensible. That’s a very likely situation that might occur in the real world. Imagine if you were Shaw and someone you dated told you she was over her old boyfriend but when you went to be intimate with her, she rejected you out of guilt for that ex boyfriend. Wouldn’t that prove she wasn’t over him? Also, if Shaw knew she was feeling sad, wouldn’t he try and cheer her up by maybe spending the day with her? For Shaw, spending the day with her has one likely goal…to get into her pants. Her heart might not have fully be in it (the romp) but it’s not an unlikely situation.
Don’t forget, this is also a woman who in all likelihood has used sex as a distraction for her marks. Is it unlikely 2 spies use it in this way even unwittingly?
Also, as a side note, it’s strongly implied they spent the day in bed on the 22nd but it’s implied. It’s not a fact. She does not say it was sex. If she was morally obligated to mourn and atone, maybe she did. Maybe she spent the day watching old movies with Shaw and feeling bad. Not very likely but we’re going to impose those requirements on her, then should assume she wasn’t having sex but reflecting? We assume they had sex because it’s the most likely explanation but maybe she was the virtuous mourner you think she should be.
Rich, I think the problem most people had was that Shaw was a flawed character, unworthy of Sarah. No one believed that a season 1 or 2 Sarah would turn to him for comfort. The writers changed Sarah (Turned up the dumb blond to the max) to fit the story they wanted to tell. Sarah manipulates people for a living, she doesn’t get manipulated. What were they thinking? Chuck was no better. They both dropped 30 IQ points. Then, the writers artificially turned off the lines of communication so our main characters couldn’t sort anything out. As a result, the ratings crashed, and they almost lost the show.
People saw this scene as a big FU to the audience. i.e. Let’s force the audience to acknowledge Shaw and Sarah had sex. It was played as a joke, and that just made people more angry.
I choose to interpret this scene as the start of a conversation that needed to take place between Chuck and Sarah. That’s because Sarah demands total honesty with Chuck. At the time they were together but not where Sarah wanted to be. This is the point where the work began.
I think many viewers had that problem with Shaw’s character (I’m one of them) but I’m not sure it’s most viewers. Apparently, and to my initial surprise, most viewers think Shaw was a great spy and Fedak kept saying Shaw was Sarah’s ideal mate in any universe in which she hod not met Chuck, so my analysis of the season stems from this latter POV presented by Fedak.
Although S1-2 Sarah would never have turned to Shaw, S3 Sarah was different; she was looking for real and Shaw was intentionally made the most “real” spy she could find in the spy world so that she could confide in him.
Like many viewers, I also initially thought that the season artificially cut off the lines of communication between Chuck and Sarah to keep them apart but I now think there was really nothing to talk about. They had both accepted Carina’s courtyard demo of the cardinal rule: feelings are a liability for spies and they couldn’t afford to be in love. They were stuck, and to add a dimension of ancient Greek tragedy to it all, Sarah had been tasked by Beckman to train Chuck to become a spy, which meant she was tasked with squashing Chuck’s emotions, including his feelings for her. And to top it all off, she was shown by Carina the video confession of Chuck’s love, in which he attributed his Prague decision to her encouragement to be “that guy” and to his sacrifice for the greater good. Knowing all this, who was she to stand in his way? No wonder she cried when she saw the video and was utterly conflicted with Ellie at the gala in the next episode. What Chuck and Sarah needed to overcome in order to be together could not be resolved with words. It could only be resolved through their common realization that the cardinal rule was wrong: feelings are not a liability for spies but an asset. And that realization took time and trials and Chuck’s and Sarah’s growth.
To me, the interrogation scene in Living Dead is a huge FU to the fans but not so much because they want to shove down our throat that Shaw and Sarah had sex — to me, sex was part of the nature of both Hack and Sham relationships — but because it’s insulting; it’s tacky (private things discussed in public), contradictory (see main post), morally appalling (sex while mourning), cowardly (we waited to put Chuck and Sarah together before giving you details of what happened between her and Shaw), annoying (Shaw’s like a booger you can’t get rid of), and plain bad story-telling (you tell me what happened because you didn’t show me while it happened), useless (all for a penthouse that didn’t exist and, had it existed, would already have been swept like Casey’s place), apples and oranges (Sarah’s private life put on the same plane as Chuck’s ongoing lies to her and his dad during the episode).
I would love to have five minutes with Lauren LeFranc and ask her about her reasoning behind writing this scene.
I understand where you are coming from. Thank you! I take issue with:
1. Most viewers think Shaw was a great spy.
a. Most people say Shaw was a creep Proof – Ratings crashed
b. Fedak failed but I get your point
2. There was really nothing to talk about
a. There was everything to talk about
b. Friends talk, support each other, especially when they are in pain
c. There were opportunities to fix it if they worked together
3.Private things discussed in public
a. It was not public
b. Casey is a close friend doing his job
c. Sarah was urging Chuck to be honest
d. Sarah asked chuck if he was willing
4. Morally appalling (sex while mourning)
a. Sorry this is what people do
5. Cowardly (we waited to put Chuck and Sarah together before giving you details of what happened between her and Shaw)
a. This needed to happen for the reasons I described earlier.
b. Sarah wanted it out and on the table – Please listen to what she is saying to Chuck
c. The scene should have been played without the humor
d. I could have done without the earrings
6. Annoying (Shaw’s like a booger you can’t get rid of),
a. I agree but not with this scene
b. Shaw coming back took away from what Chuck’s accomplished on the bridge – Chuck will kill if he had no other choice
7. Bad story-telling (you tell me what happened because you didn’t show me while it happened),
a. The story was Sarah was not happy with her relationship with Chuck
b Chuck was lying to the people he loved. (Plot of the episode)
c. That was the purpose of the scene is to:
(1) Find Shaw
(2) Get Sarah and Chuck back on track to a healthier relationship
I’m sorry, I just don’t think we are going to agree on this one.
I find it appalling because I’ve been in mourning and felt guilty/responsible for the sudden loss of a loved one. I was in a situation very similar to Sarah’s at the end of 3.11; in a total state of shock, unbearable pain and guilt. Trust me, when you are in that psychological state, you feel numb, you can barely breathe, you’re not hungry, you feel like you don’t deserve to even laugh, let alone have sex, let alone have sex with the person who was instrumental (albeit innocently) in that loss. People in mourning don’t have sex. It’s a rule of human decency as old as the human race.
The situation is very different from watching Chuck and Hannah at the dinner table. I’ve been in a situation like that, too (and also in a situation like 2.06-07, where your ex comes back into your life). In that situation, no one’s dead, you are not responsible, and the other has just moved on, so you try, too.
Also, imagine being Sarah and having “FU, Chuck” sex with Shaw after Chuck’s red test and chewing out Chuck in the Castle at the beginning of 3.12, only to find out that Chuck saved Shaw for your sake and then that he didn’t kill the mole, while you still had “FU, Chuck” sex with the person who assigned Chuck’s red test and didn’t believe Chuck when he told you there was more to the story. Imagine how stupid she must feel.
In fact, if I had been Chuck during that interrogation scene and found out she had mourned my loss and atoned her felt guilt by having sex with Shaw, and while still wearing the earrings given to her by the man she did all that with and whom I had to kill against my very own nature to save her, I would dump her faster than the speed of light.
You are not being fair. Sarah lost Chuck when they both agreed to see other people. Any sex after that point is completely understandable.
In 3×12 Shaw said in the restaurant “we should have done this sooner”. In other words, this was their first date. Everything before that was comfort sex to get over people they lost. It was at that point Sarah was ready to move on. When Chuck gave her hope that he had not lost his innocence she started second guessing her decision to be with Shaw. Chuck went as far as he could to show her he was worthy of her love. When the truth was revealed, Chuck was her choice.
For Sarah, all of this needs to be shared with Chuck. Chuck must accept it and never hold any of it against her. She needs to understand Hanna, and never hold any of it against him. Moving forward they need to be totally honest with each other, or the relationship will not work
Chuck and Sarah did indeed let go of each other and Chuck knew Sarah was in a relationship with Shaw. He even asked her if they were moving in together. The way I see relationships, the implications of that question are all that a person needs to know. Who cares about the details?
But, to me, that interrogation scene goes far beyond that. I understand it’s meant to be about honesty and transparency but the execution is wrong. For me, it’s the scene equivalent of the whole Shaw arc—I understand why the arc is there but the execution is wrong and turns viewers off.
As I mention in the main post, as I understand the season, the scene is contradictory on multiple levels and it attaches (or seems to attach) rebound sex to mourning and atonement, which is not the same as post-relationship rebound sex and contradicts my very own experience of mourning and atonement.
It also makes Sarah look like a fool by having rebound sex with Chuck’s red test pusher (against human psychology and decency) and by chewing out and distrusting Chuck about it only to find out he’s innocent and selfless while she still did all that with Show while she should have been mourning Chuck’s loss and atoning her guilt for encouraging him into the spy life.
I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way about that scene but I hate it.
I can’t speak to your situation. I am sorry for what you were going through. I think we all have are own stories.
What I’m talking about is rebound sex. It’s quite common.
Rebound sex and rebound relationships are common and understandable. It’s what Sarah did with Shaw after watching Chuck and Hannah at the dinner table, even though I see that as more than that—I see it as Sarah’s attempt to to find real in the spy life. I think all the relationships with “the others” in this show had a specific purpose that went beyond a rebound or needlessly prolonging the will-they-won’t-they dynamics.
But people don’t have rebound sex after the loss of a loved one, especially if they feel responsible for their fate, as Sarah did. That’s not how humans behave or ought to behave.
Sarah surrendered to Chuck’s goals of being a spy. From her perspective, she watched him disappear not by her choices but by his. She might feel responsible but she wasn’t. She was never exclusive to Shaw. She left the door cracked open for Chuck. But Chuck kept wanting to be a spy. She told him not to lose himself. It was only after she thought she lost him to the red test she agreed to move the relationship with Shaw from professional to personal. Hence their first date 3×12.
My fault with Sarah is she never told Chuck the price of being a spy. That is why they needed to talk. They could have worked together to make Chuck a spy without losing himself along the way. Instead, we got Chuck fumbling across the goal line. These are two very smart people. They know how to work the system. It would have been a much better story to tell.
I agree that Sarah decided to move the relationship with Shaw from professional to personal with their first date in 3.12. That’s one of the reasons I fault the interrogation scene—because those dates are personal, not professional.
As for Sarah and Chuck not talking, yes, the show runners could have done the season differently and I might have even preferred it but I don’t have a problem with the general direction they chose, only with its execution. To me, it’s a legitimate path to make Chuck accept his hero’s calling and want to become a spy (also because, at the meta level, we would otherwise have no show) and to make Sarah embark on a journey towards real.
I think that having them walk in each other’s shoes was a good idea because my own married life experience has taught me that seeing things from my wife’s perspective helps immensely. At first, I also thought about Sarah not talking to Chuck, not telling him about the price of becoming a spy but I think Chuck already knew it. He had spent two years with Casey and Sarah. He understood their world. He understood what he was sacrificing when he re-intersected and when he let go of Sarah in Prague. He understood it again during the handshake at the end of 3.03. The moral trials he went through between 3.05-08 were necessary for his growth. Sarah did warn him about some of that in Prague and she tried to take some of that off his plate with burning Manoosh but she couldn’t really do much more than that. She knew Chuck wanted to become a spy for the greater good, in order to help others, and that would erode Chuck’s innocence but she saw no other way, no other option. In her mind, she saw a dichotomy between the innocent Chuck she loved (the thesis) and the unfeeling spy Chuck he was becoming (the antithesis). It was only in 3.10 and then in 3.12 that she finally saw that Chuck had chosen the third way, the innocent spy, the synthesis between the two Chucks, and it was only then that she realized that spies can fall in love.
That’s why I say that no words could fix Chuck and Sarah during season 3. Only the journey could. Chuck had to be tested, he had to go through his trials, had to try to become a spy like all the others (because we all try to imitate our mentors when we embrace a new profession, whether it’s the law or medicine or spy craft), had to sublimate that attempt and become his own spy and show himself and Sarah that there was a third way, thus redeeming Sarah’s profession and show her a new cardinal rule.
Before all that happened, neither of them knew it was even possible. They only saw what they knew at the time and what the spy world told them. Like in every hero’s journey, it’s not words that fix problems. It’s the journey.
Very thoughtful. Well written.
The fact that Chuck thought his test was over showed he knew nothing about the red test. Their passivity during the journey is my issue with the story arc. They stumbled to success; they didn’t win it. Think about it, Chuck is now a fake spy.
Sarah knew the red test was coming from the beginning. How did she allow herself to sit across the table putting the man she loves in a no-win situation? Sarah fought over and over for Chuck; but not when it really mattered, she failed him. She put his life and soul at risk. This is my biggest issue with season 3. Sarah, the best of all spies, became nothing more than a tool for a man that used her to his advantage.
This is the deepest of betrayals. This is what I could never get over. The lack of forethought to deal with this issue directly before it became a problem.
This is what happens when the characters are inserted into predetermined story lines. They stop being smart. They start reacting instead of taking action to deal with issues that everyone can see a mile away.
I was reading another blog remembering what you wrote.
“But people don’t have rebound sex after the loss of a loved one, especially if they feel responsible for their fate, as Sarah did. That’s not how humans behave or ought to behave.”
Sorry, I may have misunderstood what you were saying. If you think the time Sarah and Shaw spent the day together in Shaw’s penthouse was right after the red test, then I would disagree. The date provided in shows should not be compared to air dates.
I think Sarah did mourn the lost of Chuck but most of all she was angry and disappointed. Shaw was actively reducing her of her guilt. She held out hope to the end that a meaningful relationship was possible with Chuck. Her hopes and dreams were smashed.
I don’t see any evidence that Sarah and Shaw had sex after 3×11. She was not dressed up for Shaw when Chuck arrived in 3×12. Sarah was already committed to the job in DC. This gave her the means to hurt Chuck. This version of Sarah was not above revenge. After talking to Chuck, she switched the relationship from professional to personal with Shaw. She wanted to make sure Chuck knew what he had lost. The dinner date in 3×12 would have led to sex with Shaw if Chuck did not approach Sarah at the table. This caused her to doubt her position. Even with all of her anger, she wanted to hear him out. She gained a little hope. This would have killed any romance for the evening.
I have many issues with Sarah (writers), but I don’t think she did what you are implying. I think she was using Shaw as a means to escape and punish Chuck. In Sarah’s mind, Shaw was good enough for now and a distraction from her pain.
At first, I thought that the day at Shaw’s penthouse was in DC, during the DC weekend between 3.10 and 3.11, which was before Chuck’s red test. But the problem with this is that the penthouse can’t really be in DC since in 3.17 Chuck and Sarah got to the penthouse before Ellie could get to her appointment (with Justin Sullivan) in LA after they all had dinner together at Echo Park. Chuck and Sarah, and Orion, and then the very Justin Sullivan would all have to break the laws of physics to get to this elusive penthouse in DC from LA.
Maybe it was in LA and they were there before 3.11? But that can’t be either because Shaw and Sarah went to the Castle directly from the airport, as Shaw pointed out as he dropped Sarah’s bag on the table. The only option I see, unless I’m mistaken, is that it happened during the few days between 3.11 and 3.12, while Chuck was in DC, and that I have a huge problem with, for the reasons explained above.
As you know from the main post, this is only one of the many problems I have with the interrogation scene. I even tried reaching out to writer Lauren LeFranc to ask her about it but got no reply (yet).
3×8 implied they started sharing time together starting at the end of 3×07. It was the same episode he was harassing her. It started with the neck massage and she gave in. In 3×8, Sarah said she wanted to keep things professional while they both shared a desert. i.e. let’s keep this as just sex. Even Chuck knew something was up early on. The whole penthouse thing is a mess, I just let it go and tried to understand the nature of the relationship, I don’t care about the details. I just asume they had weeks of time together.
We don’t spend time trying to understand Hanna and Chuck. It was a relationship built on romance with the desire for lasting love. In the long run, Hanna was far more of a threat to Chuck and Sarah than Shaw. Why does this relationship warrant less inspection than Sarah’s and Shaw’s relationship? I say it was because Shaw was a very sick man and we did not want him anywhere near Sarah.
I can’t understand overnight how Sarah went from being sexually harassed by a man she can’t stand to being in a friends with benefits relationship sharing her secrets. It’s disturbing and makes me sick to my stomick.
I don’t see it that way. At the end of 3.07, there’s the shoulder rub (Schwedak implied that’s all that happened when the firestorm after Mask happened and asked why fans were more upset about a shoulder rub than about Chuck making out with Hannah).
During the shoulder rub, Shaw suggests a spy-only relationship (sex with no feelings or drama). She says no to that at the beginning of 3.08, wanting to keep things fully professional, saying she has a reputation of falling for the guys she works with. This is to let all know that she’s not fallen for Shaw and she doesn’t want a spy-only relationship. That’s something that season-1 or pre-Chuck Sarah would have preferred but real-life-seeking season-3 Sarah is not interested in, despite her attraction to Shaw.
It’n only by the end of 3.08, when she thinks that she can have a real relationship with Shaw that she starts one.
Neither Hannah nor Shaw were a real threat to Chuck and Sarah, who were the passive recipients of Hannah’s and Shaw’s interest. Chuck and Sarah only gave in because of their weakened psychological state and the belief they couldn’t be together anyway (the “bye, Chuck” conversation at the end of Mask).
Both Hack and Sham relationships were doomed from the start because they were only half of Chuck’s and Sarah’s real lives. That was the purpose of those relationships—to show this truth.
Okay, I can buy that things started in 3×8. I still don’t think Sarah thought of Shaw as a real relationship until 3×12. She was over sharing and trying to get over Chuck and she was using Shaw to do it.
“Hanna was far more of a threat to Chuck and Sarah than Shaw” is still true. But you are right that Hanna and Chuck had no chance.
The way I read things is that, in 3.12, after Chuck “fails” his red test, Sarah gives up on her quest for a real life and converts back to her fake persona, back to appearance over reality. I see her 3.12 dinner date with Shaw as the symbolic reversal of her first dinner date with Chuck.
This in from my review of American Hero:
I will reword it because we are using the term real relationship differently. Up to the red test, Sarah did not see Shaw as a serious relationship. She committed to take the job in DC and Shaw was stationed there. Hence why she felt free to entertain Chuck’s attempted kiss in the middle of 3×11. After the red test she committed to what you call a spy relationship with Shaw. I would argue that happen during her first conversation with Chuck in 3×12, not before then. The date was to solidify that commitment. Sarah waivered away from that commitment when Chuck informed her that there was more going on with the red test.
I have so many questions about this episode. Is there any significance to the fact that Sarah calls Shaw, Shaw in the Buy More at the beginning but then calls him Daniel when she sees him on the video from the subway? Also, it seems to me that the Sarah questioning session is unresolved since there is no further discussion of what was revealed. Are we to assume that Chuck has accepted what happened and has moved on?
I think that scene is in the next episode (3.18 Subway), and Sarah calls him Daniel to unintentionally emphasize intimacy. Fedak likes villains who have an intimate knowledge of the heroes to exploit their weaknesses, as Shaw certainly does in 3.18 by calling Sarah Sam to goad her into acting emotionally.
Yes, Chuck accepts what was revealed and moves on. This seems to be brought up again in 5.10 Bo, when it is revealed that Alex has “acted out” her hurt after being dumped by Morgan by having a rebound with Dale, and Chuck and Sarah advise Morgan to forgive her and move on (which is especially easy since Morgan betrayed Alex with Bo anyway in his Intersect jerk phase). This is supposed to be a reference to the season-3 relationships with Hannah and Shaw.
But keep in mind, you are asking me questions about an episode, 3.17 Living Dead, that I ignore completely based on the post above.
Francesco, I know how you feel about this episode so I will apologize first before drawing you back in when you thought you were out. I understand all of the issues with this episode but am trying to better understand what the writers and director were trying to convey with the interrogation segment that they aired. First Chuck. He speaks first when Casey mentions intimate, talks about Shaw and Sarah being in meetings all day and with Tiffany’s. Chuck knows that Sarah and Shaw were together so why try and deny now? Chuck seems to have reverted to the chuck version of Cole version Chuck. Insecure. Is this a way of questioning his confidence factor before the showdown with Shaw? With Sarah. I don’t know what to take away from her actions. She begins being confident in what is going to happen but then seems to change once Casey begins with the evidence. She goes through the list of activities like a shopping list. No real emotion, remorse etc. also like a matter of fact Spy debrief. Also, this is the only time we see her with her head in her hand and she is leaning away from Chuck. Creating distance. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
I think the main purpose of the scene for the creators is to highlight that Sarah is keeping secrets from Chuck just as Chuck is keeping secrets from Sarah and that Sarah lied to Chuck just as Chuck lied to Sarah about his condition and to his dad about his being an agent and having the Intersect. It’s all part of leading Chuck and Sarah to their “no secrets, no lies” agreement in 4.01 Anniversary.
Another purpose is to refresh the viewers’ minds about the intimacy between Shaw and Sarah before the clash between Team Bartowski and Shaw in the following two episodes since Fedak loves villains who have an intimate knowledge of the heroes and their weaknesses.
Chuck is not trying to deny Shaw and Sarah’s relationship (he asked Sarah during the 3.11 stakeout if she and Shaw were going to move in together, so he always knew since he saw them kiss in 3.08 that they were together), but he’s just repeating what she told him at the beginning of 3.11 that she was in a lot of meetings in DC (Snoresville), and he believed her.
I don’t think Chuck has reverted to his Cole insecure days. He’s just uncomfortable about the details that are being brought up (I would be, too). Both he and Sarah are, especially Sarah, who is a very private person. We can tell because right at the very beginning of the interrogation scene, they act cool (“they are okay with it”) but the camera starts focusing on their feet under the table, and they are both tapping them uncomfortably.
On Sarah’s part, her initial confidence is just an act (just like Chuck’s confidence). She’s very uncomfortable. When Casey starts the interrogation and asks her his first question, she reflexively turns her head away from him, as if she’s looking for a way out. [This is a very smart move on the actress’s part because this is exactly what guilty people reflexively do when they feel uncomfortable. Great acting right there.]
In the next cut, she’s got her head down and it looks like some time has passed (lots of questions, it seems) and she’s dejected and exhausted, and Chuck is displaying the same emotions by banging his head on the table. They are both extremely uncomfortable, and Sarah answers curtly when she tells Casey about Shaw’s loft because she hates talking about private stuff.
Again, some viewers find this scene hilarious. Some find it cringy (mostly because of the earrings). I find it entirely absurd (see main post).
Thanks for this.
Just an observation. Notice how low/slouched Sarah is in her chair just before Chuck flashes.