Chuck Picks Up the Pace

Monday night’s episode of Chuck showed signs of improvement after last week’s disappointing installment. But it still feels like the show is rushing toward a conclusion—next week's episode was the original Season 3 finale—with uneven characterization and too many plot holes. Kudos to the co-stars for providing necessary distraction.

Spy Training: Hard to judge, given that Chuck spent most of the episode trying to win Sarah back—General Beckman offering Agent Bartowski a free week to mull things over was a surprisingly cool move from the consistent hard-ass. As the series picks up the pace (which I’d argue is happening too fast), it’s nice to spend some time on Chuck’s civilian side. And in the end, he showed his fair share of bravery, rescuing Shaw from an air strike on Ring headquarters. Grade: A

The Handlers: Sarah may be an awesome spy, but she kind of sucks as a handler—and a love interest. Looking back on this season, she’s wavered from cold to hostile to mopey. What does Sarah want from Chuck? She’s been training him to be a better spy from the beginning… and now he’s too good. It’s a catch-22, because if Chuck were more a civilian, she’d worry about him getting himself killed. I’m clearly letting the romance side of things sway my grade, but as far as I’m concerned, Sarah has failed as a handler. Casey, however, is still great at guiding Chuck as a person and an agent. And he’s not even a government employee! Grade: C

The Romance: My frustration with Sarah aside, Monday’s episode did show a great side of Chuck. He was assertive, he was charming, and he looked damn good. Frankly, I think he’s too good for Sarah’s back-and-forth, but you’ve gotta respect the guy’s persistence. Bonus points for the intervention from all sides: I loved seeing Morgan, Awesome, Ellie, and even Casey on Team Chuck/Sarah. Hey, how about that kiss? Grade: B

Ellie and Awesome: Are they leaving for Africa or staying put? I still can’t tell, but you better believe I’m hoping for the latter. Ellie and Devon are the most consistently enjoyable characters on this show. I do wish Ellie had more to do—it feels like her role has decreased this season—but she shines in all her scenes. And Awesome continues to delight me as one of the most comically inept cool guys ever. He’s kind of like the Fonz, if the Fonz were also really awkward. Grade: A-

The Plot Holes: It’s sort of unfair to include this as a separate grade, because, well, it’s not going to be good. But where else do I put all the loose ends? As one reader pointed out via Twitter, Casey no longer has government clearance and thus shouldn’t have been able to rescue Sarah. Shaw’s suicide mission was another head-scratcher: Whether or not the Ring removed his tracking device, it seemed like an obvious trap. Ring baddies are too smart not to watch their backs, and look how easily Jeff and Lester were able to follow them. Then there was the reveal that Sarah shot Eve Shaw. Pretty cool, I’ll admit, but I have a hard time believing that no one, including General Beckman, knew sooner. Finally—and this may be more of an acting problem than a plot hole—Agent Shaw is so preposterously boring that I can’t suspend disbelief and imagine Sarah falling for him, rebound or not. “Wooden” is an understatement. Grade: C-

Guest Star: He appeared only briefly, but I was delighted to see Mark Sheppard as the Ring Director. The guy was in just two episodes of Firefly and he left a lasting impression. Excellent casting! Grade: A

Overall Grade: B

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Even though I've done it as well, calling Brandon Routh "wooden" would be insulting wood which actually has some kind of life in it. I really hope that he is going to be out of the picture soon. He's ruined Superman, please don't let him ruin Chuck as well!
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I think that you have to ditch the spy training subject, because the training is over and now its just real for Chuck, no one is going to save him when he's on a solo mission which he has already had. But i have to disagree with some points, first of all, It's obvious General Beckman would know before Agent Shaw and she wouldn't tell anyone because, first of all because of the whole confidentiality thing, second of all I don't think she would really care about Shaw's or Sarah's feelings when it comes to her killing Shaw's wife. I hate Shaw too :P I think that the romance part deserves an A-, even though Sarah frustrated me, she was going to go to Chuck in the end, it was quite obvious with her look which shows that Chuck and Sarah are back on track. I think that the fact that Jeff and Lester were able to follow the ring just added a humorous effect to it you know? I love Jeffster. To be quite honest I think that this week's episode deserved an A because it had everything, it had the surprising factor and Casey :) Casey is my favorite character period. He is just an ironic character. He is tough yet he's sweet :P which was showed in this week's episode where he told Sarah about who shot the mole

[PS. Do you think Beckman has a thing for that commander guy who called for the airstrikes? Their goodbye seemed pretty friendly to me. Any significance?]
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Love this show....such great characters! Sarah and Chuck are finally growing up is the way I view all the back and forth over them being in love. She always seemed too good for him, but now he's on equal footing..and quite the badass (even his hair is way cooler than last season). I think it's a little contrived that she was pissed over him killing some guy...she dated other spies before who killed lots of people. Why is that the only dimension to Chuck that she found important? But her character is lovable and the flaws can be chalked up to her lack of self confidence in the dating department.....she seems like a real honest to goodness girl despite it all. Casey, Awesome, Ellie, and Morgan and the rest.....all awesome. I agree with someone else on here who also felt the Buy More employees tend to take up too much time on the show now. It's going in a different direction, so time to include them in the spy game somehow, or give them proper goodbyes. I don't know why all the Shaw haters....it's Superman for godsake....could Chuck have an even larger than life rival for Sarah's love than that? It's like....ok now you're the super intersect mega spy guy who can have the girl right? Think again.....because it's not that easy to win the girl of your dreams. I can dig it.
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it's only a bit of an action/rom-com why are people picking holes in it - grr!! if you're going to analyse it for plot holes etc (watch a tv show that's trying to have a intensive plot!)
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i think the reason Beckman offered a week off was because she thinks chuck just did his first kill (passed his red test) and that this is what she was referring to by his "handwringing"; therefore, I see her offer of a week off not as a "surprisingly cool" move but a typically hard assed view - a week off with umbrella drinks to get over your first kill and then you better be ready for buisiness. that's what she gave him. there was no 'mulling' to be allowed i dont think. like when she said to him "sorry is not an option" or something like that.



On another note, I have loved this season but having just rewatched season one and two, and comparing it with season three, i do agree that they've lost some of the comedy and the show would benefit from breathing new life into that aspect of the dramedic balance
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Oh, I'm so sick of this boring romance. Give us more awesome SpyChuck!
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I have to agree that the writers have done too much with screwing with Sarah's emotions this season. I love the writers - the first two seasons were masterfully creative and fun. This season has lacked a lot for me. I'm still a huge Chuck fan, but overall the show feels way more serious this season. I find myself laughing a lot less. I won't stop short of blaming NBC being that they cut the budget which has meant much less screen time for certain characters and that may be a part of it. My request for the remainder of this season: bring back some more laughs. Chuck can be a spy and still be quirky and funny and let Sarah smile a little more. Casey is still perfect, as are Morgan, Ellie & Awesome. But Chuck needs a little more goofiness back and Sarah needs to stop being so twisted up emotionally. Long live Chuck!
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I do agree that the show is really moving fast this season that I'm beginning to think Chuck is not getting renewed. Even if the show is moving pretty fast, I love that the writers finally made Chuck a real spy and he's starting to act more like one and that the romance between Chuck and Sarah is progressing after too many close calls. I'm glad Shaw is not going to be around long as I never liked his character. Also I hope there's a good reason why nobody knew Sarah killed Eve Shaw all this time. Can't wait for the next eppy, despite the plot holes you mentioned the show is getting more and more exciting in all the different aspects except there should be more Ellie.
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I had tried to stay with this show, but the drama

around Sarah is really becoming way too much. Also,

Shaw is just so unnecessary for this series; lose him and get Casey back to being the great handler

he is. I still can't stand the BB employees, and

think they take up WAY too much space in this show.
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chuck forever
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Im SO glad that the Sarah Shaw stuff is done. To friggin boring. Liked the eppy tho, and the flash bang scene was cool. And an uptick in the ratings this week aswell so thats wicked!
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It's just getting waaaaaaay to repetitive on the romance front and waaaaaay too ridiculous on the spy front. After three years Chuck still waves his gun around before a room full of people, can't hold it right, etc. I mean, I know the writers have to keep his quirky persona, but COME ON. Are we serious in this spy business or not?
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Lovin the show... nuff said!
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I'm really not sure why Louis wants the romance to move along, yet is complaining that the shows pace may be picking up too quickly. While this episode does have a few too many plot holes, I do love the pace pick up. And I'm really hoping they're going in the direction I've always wanted the show to go in; Chuck and Sarah out in the world doing spy missions together for real. Not sure how they could keep around the rest of the cast, but this show will run in circles if they make Chuck a spy and then just take that away from him so he can stay in Burbank.
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I'm just happy...and hopeful for the series to be renewed. I think I've even forgiven Sarah.
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i just want chuck to renew!!!!
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Live and let die!!
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I would like to say that I understand how Sarah is feeling and I enjoy the fact that she feels conflicted and that they make romance look hard on this show as opposed to every movie, television show, and commercial right now seems to portray it. (I don't count grey's anatomy in this. That show has more to do with mopey people having sex in elevators while killing patients than actual romance). And you didn't even mention how funny the guys getting arrested instead of managing to get Chuck and Sarah back together was. If you spent less time moping about Sarah going through a romantic identity crisis you'd spend more time enjoying the show.
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I do not get it! Am I the only one who has been pissed that Sarah revealed that annoying Shaw guy her real name!?!?!??!?!? And what name is Sam???! Really, I think the Shaw plot has gone too far and I really could not see Chuck and Sarah move on so quickly after Prague, both of them sucked! This was the first very good episode in a long time...
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I completely agree with dkaf, Sarah's lack of ability in the romance department is part of her charm, i fail to see why its ok for chuck to mope about because of Jill for ages and its all ok with everyone but when the same thing happens to Sarah everyone turns on her. I think if she was just the same character as last season then people would be complaining about her being only two dimensional. Everybody goes througha rough patch in life and i think she is doing the same, so give her a break.
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Her initial basis for not getting back with Chuck was ridiculous, and extremely hypocritical; I've lost all interest in her character.
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I'd love Chuck & Sarah to get together.
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I think you are being a bit harsh on Sarah... the point was for her to not be good at the romance part. I too miss her in action scenes and spy missions, but it is also nice to see her "fallen" and Chuck being her only hope to get back up.
From what we've seen in promos for the second part of season 3, the spy couple will soon rise back up and take on missions together, (hopefully) with Morgan and Casey on their side leading us to the SEASON 3's finale.
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It was really nice to see Chuck fight for Sarah and finally telling her that he loved her! Gosh, I've expecting for so long for that moment. I didn't like the fact that Sarah said that he doesn't trust Chuck, when he asked her to, when they were talking about the fact that he killed the mole. When did Sarah ever had a motive not to trust Chuck? OK, he did some stupid things, and Sarah had to bail him out a lot of times, but he never gave her reasons not to trust him. So that thing, I believe it wasn't handled well by the writers. Chuck impressive as always with his rescue mission, and I have no idea what the writers are trying to do with Sarah. She is such a great character, I just hope they will make her be again the enjoyable character she's been in the past.
And the kiss should have been longer and more passionate to satisfy me, but I guess it was better than nothing :D.
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I did love the look that Chuck shared with the ring agent just before the flashbang went off. It just said: No matter agency your with, this is going to suck. It was hilarious. Although I do agree that Sarah changing her mind about Chuck three times per episode is getting rather dull, and Shaw has become a bit stereotypical. But all in all I still love watching Chuck
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