Has Chuck Stretched its 'Will They or Won't They?' Thread to the Breaking Point?

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If you aren't a regular commenter on the blog of Newark Star-Ledger television critic Alan Sepinwall, then you probably haven't realized that Chuck, of all series, has become one of the most polarizing shows on television. The perennial bubble-dweller (where it dwells once again) is well into its third season, and yet lead couple Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) are still playing a game of will-they-or-won't-they-or-what-other-obstacle-can-they-throw-in-their-way. And you thought the courtship of Jim and Pam was drawn out.

For the uninitiated -- and judging by the ratings, that means most of you -- the second season of Chuck ended with the couple finally consummating their relationship, only to have it put on hold when Chuck became an even more important spy. Or something. Season three began with some more convoluted attempts to keep them apart -- Chuck isn't the man Sarah thought because he wants to be a spy! -- and took a turn for the worse when new love interests were introduced for both characters in the form of Superman (Brandon Routh as Agent Shaw) and Lana Lang (Kristin Kreuk as Hannah). In fact, the mere possibility of new love caused such a ruckus amongst the Chuck faithful that co-creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak had to literally explain themselves. They even went so far as to promise that the star-crossed lovebirds would eventually become uncrossed. Phew!

Like Bones -- another series that has been loath to connect its two main characters -- Chuck has tried so hard to keep the sexual tension alive that the series has suffocated everything that made it so much fun in the first place. Watching last night as Schwartz and Fedak found new ways to keep Chuck and Sarah apart (e.g. now Sarah has been kidnapped by a revenge-crazy Shaw because she killed his wife years before) felt like sitting through the contrived third act of a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy.

Chuck and Sarah getting 2gether 4eva should be a triumphant moment for Chuck, but instead, it has become increasingly harder to care. Even the cast can't get excited anymore. At this point, Levi has better chemistry with his on-screen sister (Sarah Lancaster) than with his supposed true love. And, well, that's just gross.



Comments

  • Lee Reed says:

    Although the writers continue to draw out the "will-they-won't-they" motif (which I agree has gone on too long), at least this episode did some of the things the show did in the past. Moreover, I thought this episode tried to get loyal fans to see a role reversal for the Chuck and Sarah characters. That is, in the first two seasons it was Sarah telling Chuck to trust her and Chuck being locked away (e.g., handcuffed in the restaurant) to keep him out of harms way. You didn't like the final scene, but I thought the parallels between Chuck's storyline with his old girlfriend Jill and this scene cemented the character's differing dynamic. In addition, they did not drag out the issue of Chuck killing the traitor, Adam Baldwin's character reveals the real killer. This is similar to how the writers quickly addressed a situation where Chuck witnesses Sarah killing an unarmed agent who plans to reveal Chuck's secret in season two. Of course, they could mess this up next week, but I thought despite the continuing angst,this episode had more of the feel of the first two seasons.

  • Ambaryerno says:

    I disagree entirely with your assessment of the ending. This isn't a contrivance at all, this is a cliffhanger to keep the plot tension up going into what was planned as the season finale prior to the Back Six extension.
    Chuck and Sarah have already made the decision to be together. While it remains to be seen what happens next week, the "contrivances" are done with.

  • caslab says:

    I don't understand the appeal. It's like a Nickelodeon show for grown-ups.

  • Old No.7 says:

    Luckily, this situation will never happen to Kate & Richard on Castle, as ABC will probably cancel the show before it has a chance to garner a steady viewership.

  • Martin says:

    Frankly, I can't understand the enthousiasm for this episode from some fans. Again Chuck has to grovel to get Sarah and initially she still choses Shaw and rejects Chuck in an incredibly blunt manner. This episode is again an angstfest and it would have been nice if for once Sarah had to do the chasing. Not only the WT/WT made this season almost unwatchable, the complete OOC portrayals of both Chuck and (especially) Sarah made me sad at first. Now I've come to a point that I really don't care anymore.
    I read somewhere that if Moonlighting is the example why the main characters should NOT become a couple, than Chuck is the example why the main characters should!

  • M from Canada says:

    Let's put the blame squarely where it belongs - NBC - whose track record this year has been pathetic (Jay Leno/Conan debacle). One is reminded, for those who are old enough to remember, what the Peacock executives did to Remington Steele - another show which had a huge following and whose main characters suffered from "will they or won't they syndrome" that was similarly cut at the knees by NBC.
    This season of Chuck was written after NBC supporting only 13 shows at first - after a concerted campaign by loyal fans across the world! We were given a bone. The producers and writers given half a season to work with. Given that Chuck story lines overlap, characters come in and out of the show, they have done a remarkable job. Yeah it would have been better to have the story line tighter for Chuck and Sarah to finally be on the same page on an equal footing not only as spys but also emotionally - and gotten there much earlier. But given the time constraints to write and film the show, they have done a remarkable job. The one thing (among many) that I love about this show is the character growth of the main characters - to see how Chuck becomes a spy -not over night but over a period of time and the decisions made along the way and with it the realization that the geeky preconceived notions of what a spy does is not what is on a tv screen but "real life" with real consequences for friends and family and others. As well to see how the Sarah character longs for a normal life after all that she has been through. Thank you to the cast, in particular Yvonne, Zach and Adam and the producers and writers for giving us the past 3 seasons. Lets hope that the show will be picked up for a full 22 episode 4th season and let the show really shine like it was meant to do.

  • Cayraa says:

    I also totally disagree. While I don't like the introduction of Shaw, I think that the character development of Chuck and Sarah has been good - I love that now in many cases the shoe is on the other foot - Chuck couldn't accept Sarah as a killer, now Sarah can't accept Chuck as one. Admittedly, the plot is a bit unrealistic, but if we accept the premise, is it that unlikely that characters in this situation would act as Chuck and Sarah have? I even liked bringing in Hannah as the kind of girl Chuck would probably have ended up with if not for the Intersect. She offered a nice comparison to Sarah.
    Next week we'll see what would have been the season finale and I can't wait. I think we will see Chuck and Sara headed back together for good this time. I trust in the creators to bring us a satisfying conclusion in the end and I'm happy to be patient during the ride!

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