I honestly don't even know what triggered my desire to rewatch the show from the start. Maybe it was just the fact that it's been a little over a year since the show went off the air. Funny enough, I started rewatching it long before the Veronica Mars movie news hit, so it wasn't even the glimmer of hope of a Chuck movie that caused this.
I've gone on (at length) about the problems the show ran into the longer it was on the air. A lot of that can be attributed to the fact that it was constantly on the verge of cancellation; it was very clear that long term planning started falling apart after season two.
There were two major plot points over the course of the last three seasons that have always rubbed me the wrong way. The first was the Shaw storyline from season 3, made even more unfortunate by the fact that it made up the bulk of the season, bringing down a decent number good episodes.
The frustrating thing about the Shaw storyline is that there was a really, really simple way of making it work: Shaw should have known it was Sarah that his killed his wife from the very start. In other words, Shaw is a Ring operative when he joins the team, but the viewers wouldn't know that. Suddenly his every move has motivation.
Part of the problem that so many people had with the third season was the division between Chuck and Sarah. The fact that they were apart because Chuck chose being a spy over being with her was understandable, but they took it a step further and had the two of them start dating other people. It felt completely unnatural, particularly because a) Chuck's the kind of guy who would spend months moping over Sarah and b) Sarah jumping into a relationship with Shaw felt incredibly forced.
But if Shaw was a Ring agent from the start, trying to date Sarah would have been part of his plan. His reasoning would have been twofold: set Sarah up to suffer and keep Chuck emotional so that the Intersect wouldn't work. They could have taken it a step further by having Hannah work for Shaw, if need be, underscoring Shaw's plan.
Chuck undergoes his red test during season 3, and Sarah spends a lot of time thinking about hers. Say, for example, Sarah mentions how she'll never forget the distinctive necklace the woman she killed wore. Chuck eventually becomes suspicious of Shaw (which everyone will assume is just jealousy), and towards the end of the arc discovers the necklace with Shaw's personal effects -- like the wedding ring he still holds on to. Since Chuck knows that Shaw's wife was killed while deep under cover in the Ring, he pieces it all together and we get a big time reveal.
No forced relationships to keep Chuck and Sarah apart. No "Sarah's real name is Sam" (not that my idea fixes that, but it was an awful storyline). Actual, real surprise for the climax of the storyline. A cohesive story that works organically.
That last point is important for the second plot point that drove me nuts.
At the end of season 4, we meet Decker, a villainous CIA agent who drives Chuck and the team out of the CIA. Decker basically claims that everything that has happened to Chuck from day one has been part of a bigger story -- nothing that's happen has been a coincidence. He even says that Chuck receiving the Intersect was no accident.
When that plot point plays out, however, it turns out that Decker simply works for Shaw, and absolutely nothing from the beginning of the show is connected in any way. Decker is just helping Shaw escape so he can get his revenge.
It is, to put it mildly, a betrayal of trust. The writers set it up to be the big secret of the show, something that would pull all five years together into one, cohesive storyline, but it wasn't. It wasn't even close. And it's over halfway through season 5.
Shaw is the Ring's big gun, who was supposed to get the Intersect 2.0 at the end of season two. But when that went south for them, Shaw had to make his move, both to bring down the CIA that ordered his wife's murder, and to get revenge on the woman who murdered her.
Presto! Everything's connected. Even better, it's not a stretch to think that Shaw has shared intel with Quinn, the guy who was originally supposed to get the Intersect, the guy who is the final bad guy of the show, who actually does more to torture Sarah than Shaw ever does.
The kicker here is that it's not just a case of me wanting things to add up, it's a matter of giving fans what they were told they were going to get.
This is the problem with being me: these episodes have happened and the show is over. All of this "if only" business really only serves to drive me crazy.