gallery Shaw’s actions from a new perspective

When I began with what now turned into this article, I was actually just formulating a response to some of Chris comments and especially to his articles The misunderstood Daniel Shaw, Was Chuck a Better Spy then Sarah, Shaw’s Training of Chuck Part II and Shaw’s Training of Chuck: Final Chapter Part One (I am still wondering what happened to Part Two?), because – although I enjoyed reading those – I couldn’t agree with a lot of things that have been written there. Well, my response got longer and longer, turning into my first article which focuses on Shaw’s actions during the misery arc. I hope you will enjoy it (not the arc, this article!).


Although my initial hate of Shaw turned into me liking the character over time/re-watches, much like Chris, still, in my opinion most of his deductions are simply wrong or incomplete.

As mentioned above I have no problems with the Shaw character, just with the arc itself. (Ok, it is a little weird to watch the ‘romantic scenes’ between BR and YS when there is clearly no chemistry at all between them; but then again it kind of works because there was also no real love between Shaw and Walker). And apart from the manipulation – in which he is a master – Shaw in his ‘good’ incarnation is really not a great spy (first I wanted to write ‘the worst spy of the series’ but that title belongs to Frost without any doubt). And I really enjoyed Shaw as a villain (yes, even in Santa Suit).

In this article I don’t want to discuss Sarah’s & Chuck’s interactions during this arc (I would probably get too upset anyway! I still consider the whole misery arc a huge failure. The way Sarah and Chuck acted was simply wrong. I will never forgive Fedak for how badly he fuҫҟeḋ ủp these wonderful characters; ok, time for me to stop here before it gets any worse…). Consequently, I will not go into episodes in which Shaw is not present. Furthermore, I will not go beyond the point where he turns.



Let’s start:

 Three Words

First time we learn that Shaw even exists is in Three Words, even if don’t get to see his face. And already here begins my first disagreement with Chris: I cannot understand what processes in Chris’ brain convert Beckman’s “We can’t keep this a secret anymore. It is too dangerous. We need to tell them, they need to be prepared. Shaw… please” to ‘Please Shaw, go to Burbank, help them and train Chuck’. This doesn’t make any sense. It is way more likely that Shaw has told GB that he wants to either take over the team (because TB was most successful against the ring so far) or that he wants to disband the team and use Walker in his war.


(Just very wild speculation here, but maybe Shaw told Beckman that he wanted to use Devon as a tool for a strike against the Ring. Maybe Shaw let the ring somehow know that Devin was a spy that could be turned. It always seemed weird to me that the ring would just try to turn a spy because they know that he is a spy. I would guess they would at least have to expect that there was a chance to turn that spy. In my opinion the Ring was smarter than trying to turn just any spy they get to know of. But since there are no facts or indications to support this theory, well, let us just blame all of this on my overactive imagination.)

Anyway, the most important misconception is that Shaw’s aim was to train Chuck/the Intersect and weaponizing him. I don’t think that was his goal to begin with. The whole Shaw story was about Sarah, not Chuck.


Operation Awesome

In Operation Awesome we and Chuck finally meet Special Agent Daniel Shaw for the first time. Shaw instructed Chuck to shoot him in order to protect Devon and himself before the Ring agent Sidney arives. He knew that Chuck would not be able to shoot him. If he had any doubts about it he would have given him the ‘save me’ letter earlier. I am 100% positive that Shaw didn’t want to die here. Besides, apparently every character could see in Chuck’s eyes that he wouldn’t be able to kill anyone (well, of course except for Sarah in Final Exam, but… Ok, ok, I promised that I will not get started). Shaw knew exactly what he was doing and that Chuck wouldn’t be able to shoot him; it was all about manipulating Chuck. Remember when a spy works a mark he should find something in common; Shaw: ”Truth is I hate guns too”. Besides, he can already introduce himself to Chuck as a superhero, which I believe was supposed to gain some trust/appreciation from Chuck.



Next step for Shaw was learning more about the team and its dynamics: When Sidney (lured by Chuck) entered the Buymore both Casey and Sarah wanted to help Chuck but Shaw threatened them with his guns not to.


He claimed that he believed in Chuck (“Ye of little faith”) and was curious to know what Chuck’s plan was. But that can’t be all: As a special agent he was superior to Casey and Sarah, so he could have just said “You stay down, that is an order!”. But no, he pulled out his guns. He wanted to see how far TB would go in order to protect Chuck. And he was successful: When Chuck failed Sarah went to save him (telling Shaw “I’m going in. Shoot me if you have to!”) and Casey aimed his gun at Shaw (Aiming a gun at your superior? I am pretty sure that this could be considered treason). So in conclusion Shaw already learned a lot here about TB.


During the final debriefing when Sarah sided with Chuck (“sometimes it helps to know that you’ve got something to loose”) have you noticed the look on Shaw’s face?


He was shocked and not happy. That was the moment when he realized a) Sarah was not in true spy mode anymore b) he has to split any connection between Chuck and Sarah to make her a spy/weapon again.

Moreover, he learned that Chuck was useless for him. Nothing Chuck did during this mission or said during this briefing was what a real spy would do. Shaw’s face again told a lot (ok, let’s say a lot considering that he was played by an actor with limited abilities in displaying facial expressions).


(Just another comment: Chris suggested in one article that the team should have invited Shaw for the dinner. Really? The guy who just told you that friends and family are liabilities, and then you are supposed to invite him to dinner with your friends and family? Come on, I know how much Chris loves Shaw but love and brain activity don’t need to exclude each other!)


First Class

Shaw didn’t want to train Chuck in First Class. This was just a side-effect. (It was definitely time for Chuck to leave the car and Sarah & Casey would have never allowed this, but also I don’t think that this was Shaw’s primary objective). What I want to point out is that Shaw was a really good manipulator. He just told Chuck anything to boost his self-esteem. I don’t think this mission was about Chuck but more about Shaw interrogating/manipulating Sarah. Sarah was the only one of TB Shaw deemed a valuable asset in his fight against the ring.

Let’s face it; the Mission as Shaw saw it was: Chuck get on the plane, tranq one guy and get the cypto-key; mission done. This is not really education/training in my opinion. Plus: Chuck wasn’t ready for this mission. Chris asked a couple of times in his articles and comments: When not now, than when? I don’t think that is the important thing to ask here. Chuck was ready for a solo mission but he was not ready for this kind of mission. If you give someone his first solo mission (or any first dangerous task for that matter), you don’t give him something without a safety net. If you really want to train someone then you are also prepared for him to fail and make sure he has support in that case (on a mission things can always go south; every character in this series knows this). Shaw didn’t install any real safety net/ back-up for Chuck. You could say he had his satellite thing (which was cool, I agree) but Shaw was lucky there. I could instantly think of half a dozen different outcomes where this wouldn’t have saved Chuck.

Chuck was easily to controlled/diverted by Shaw just claiming that he believes Chuck is field ready.
But Sarah was the prize. Shaw knew her history/files as well, he said as much. He knew that there was a problem with Chuck already and that she cared about him. And she was the only one of the team he could utilize as a weapon for his war (Chuck was useless to him; Casey was immune to manipulation, therefor Shaw never even tried). Time for the manipulation of Sarah:

What do we learn in Graviton and First fight: “A good spy knows what his mark wants” (Sarah wanted to protect Chuck). “She will test you when you’re emotionally exposed” (Chuck on a mission where no-one can protect him; not Sarah, not Casey, not the agents in Paris). Tuttle: “Weaken the enemy emotionally than take the power”. (This is what Shaw does here and what he will do after Chuck’s red test.)

Sarah went through an emotional roller-coaster during Chuck’s mission, leaving her emotionally completely vunerable. After Chuck was finally safe, Sarah told Shaw the truth about Lisbon. This marks the first time in this arc that Sarah was sharing one of her secrets with Shaw (Sarah will reveal two more of her secrets to Shaw in this arc; every time a secret more significant than the one before). We all know what powerful bonds between two people can be created when they share a secret.

After this Shaw admitted: “I need you”. We also get the dialog: “And now, do you believe me” – “Every word, Sarah”. Shaw was working the mark pretty well by establishing a foundation of trust between them.

Back to ‘if spy works a mark he should find something in common’: After saving Chuck with the satellite Shaw claimed he cares about his agents (like Sarah cares about Chuck); Eve’s ring: both have lost someone they cared about. By admitting that the ring in the envelope belonged to his dead spy wife Shaw did actually even more: He shared one of his secrets with Sarah. This has significance because Shaw admitted earlier in this episode that he likes to keep his secrets. Not to mention that “a spy doesn’t want you to know anything about them that’s real”.  And within one episode both have already given away a secret.

First step of Shaw’s manipulation is in full effect.



The sexual harassment scene at the museum: I took me a very long time to figure out why Shaw did this. It was tough because I usually skip this episode during my re-watches. Seriously, it is a disgusting scene in the most terrible episode of the series. Finally, I think that Shaw was testing Sarah here; trying to figure out where she was emotionally. Although Shaw acts like a creepy rapist (I know, I should try to be objective. Sorry for that…My bet. Professional faux pas), a normal agent wouldn’t show emotions – especially not the annoyance or disgust that Sarah was showing. By this Shaw learned that Sarah was not 100% in control of her own emotions anymore, although a spy is supposed to be.


The result was: Shaw learned that Sarah was already emotionally compromised so he can take advantage of this in future and manipulate her emotions directly.

What about the coffee? Well, in my opinion Shaw played this very nicely. Especially the second time when he got Casey a coffee too, so that Sarah outburst would look ridiculous (That the outburst would come would be easily foreseeable for Shaw considering how she acted when he gave her the first coffee). But what else: Shaw noticed that she likes a double Americano and to chew on the plastic stirrer when she gets nervous. He acted like he tries to get to know her. It would be something a potential girlfriend would want, plus we know already from Wookie (when Chuck brings the pizza without olives) how much Sarah was charmed by someone who tries to get to know her. Who knows, maybe some affection might have started at that moment.


Let’s talk about the scene where Sarah and Shaw where poisoned and alone in castle: Shaw admitted that he was hitting on Sarah and that it was unprofessional, even apologized. But still he conveyed the message ‘I am interested’. (If you watch his face you can observe that no real emotions are in play.)

Shaw doesn’t show real affection

How was Sarah reacting? In this scene Sarah was definitely lying (I don’t want to discuss the motivation behind her lying here – because I am also not really sure why she did it). During the whole series we can observe when she is lying by her non-verbal communication: She would always look away from the concerning person before telling the lie, showing how uncomfortable she felt about lying. She did it with Chuck a lot during s01 and s02 and she did it here (actually quite often during this dialogue). But again there is more to it: Sarah did not have problems with lying in general. She only showed discomfort with people she cared about. This is further indication that some feelings for Shaw were developing. So Shaw was able to establish an emotional connection with Walker.

His next move would come during the debriefing, this time concerning TB. He congratulated Chuck on his performance and he boosted his ego in telling him he will be soon ready to work alone. (That Chuck was not really happy about this didn’t matter at this point, because Casey was completely on board and Sarah’s words were also supportive). First step in breaking TB.

We have reached the final scene of this episode where Shaw touches Sarah neck. After Shaw established an emotional connection earlier, it was only logical that the next step has to be physical. Chris likes to convince us that Sarah is not enjoying this and that there is no real emotion from either Shaw or Sarah. I think this is partly true but there is more to this. In my opinion, it started that way but this scene was supposed to show as well that Sarah’s defenses were starting to break down. I side with Gary here that they probably slept together that night. And there is nothing wrong with that. Sarah was always able to separate between physical attraction/interaction and real emotions (unlike Chuck).


Fake name

We got the scene in which Shaw punched Rafe for saying offensive stuff to Sarah. I guess it was supposed to show Shaw posing as someone who was defending her honor/fought for her. But his actions didn’t come across as a romantic gesture; that was just creepy. Punching a defenseless cuffed guy, a perv for sure, but… (But maybe I am missing something here; I just don’t get what the writers wanted to tell us here. But then again I am not sure they knew what they were doing half of the time during this arc…sorry again). First I thought that this scene is supposed to show that Shaw was somehow losing control of himself. But that doesn’t make sense because he was always able to control himself and his emotions, with two exceptions: directly after he finds out that Sarah killed his wife and after Chuck busted his plans in Ring II. So, I admit I have no idea. Let’s just stick with the shiny-hero-defending-the-helpless-girl’s-honor-theory.


Could be creepy Shaw, could be Shaw the gentlemen, the writers may know…

Sarah spiraled about losing her home and being replaced personally during this episode. Shaw took full advantage of her emotional breakdown by further manipulating her emotions. In the hotel room Shaw was further pushing her emotionally thus accelerating the breakdown. (“You are ok with that whole Chuck/ Hannah thing?”; “You can talk to me Sarah”; “If this is you, I like you. I want more”).

Sarah close to her breakdown

I never heard anyone saying that he/or she liked Sarah telling Shaw her name and there is a lot of dispute if Sam was really her true name (I belong to the group of people who don’t think it is). But what is really important here is that Sarah wanted to open up (in my opinion she gave a fake name because even at the edge of an emotional breakdown she probably still wouldn’t be able to tell the truth). Anyway, if the name was fake or not doesn’t matter. What we have here is a moment where Sarah desired to share a secret about herself (it is the desire that counts not if that secret is true or not); another moment of bond formation between them (this marks the second time in this arc that Sarah gives away a secret).



As I stated before, I don’t believe that Shaw cared about Chuck or the Intersect. He just needed Chuck to become a real agent to get rid of him. (Ok, granted, he needs the intersect up and running, but not because he needed the intersect for his revenge, but because the intersect is the spy, not Chuck; at least at this point of the story. If he wants to get rid of Chuck, the Intersect has to work). So, benching Chuck just meant to put pressure on Chuck to figure out his problem on his own and to become a spy again, “I push my assets to perform”.

Shaw didn’t look like someone who cares about his spy; just annoyed that his spy is not working

The assumption that Shaw didn’t care about Chuck is further supported by the fact that the first time he wanted to contact Langley to self-destruct castle was actually before he even knew if Casey was successful or not in getting into castle (reminds me of Agent Forrest’s “I can’t risk this going any further” without even considering alternatives). Then again, I also wondered if this was maybe one of Shaw’s attempts to test where Sarah’s loyalty was at this point (with Chuck or with the Agency). If this was the case or not, Shaw learned that (if Chuck miraculously survives this) a major change/event would be needed in order to detach Sarah from Chuck completely.


Is Shaw testing Sarah’s loyalty?


Final Exam

The briefing in Castle was most telling. Beckman told Chuck that he will be send to Rome if he succeeds in his final spy test.


Now to the most important point: If Shaw really wanted to utilize Chuck (or the Intersect for that matter) in his war/revenge against the Ring why would he allow/want Chuck to go to Rome. The Ring task force was in Washington! Where Shaw and Sarah were heading. If he really wanted/needed Chuck to go against the Ring, than why shouldn’t Chuck be there as well? No, no, no, he wanted Chuck out of his way (and separated from Sarah)! You have to keep in mind that all that Shaw cared about at this point (and for the last 5 years) was his revenge on the Ring. There was no mentioning that Chuck was supposed to go after the Ring in Rome (so we have to assume he will have a different assignment). So Chuck was going to work on something that Shaw did’t care about anyway. This can only lead to the conclusion that Shaw never cared about Chuck the spy/intersect (not that he cared about Chuck the civilian) and that he never thought that Chuck could have any value in his revenge mission!

I am usually not a big fan of referencing future episodes because how are we supposed to know about them when we watch an actual episode. Anyway, it can tell a lot about the writers take on an event/character (although they failed to mention it at the right time, or didn’t really know it yet). In Santa Suit Shaw told Sarah there was nothing that Chuck could do against him and that compared to Chuck she was by far the superior spy. And this after Chuck busted his plans or took him down 3 times (other guy & twice in Ring II; two out of this three times even without the use of the intersect ). This in mind it is easy to imagine Shaw’s opinion of Chuck’s abilities as a spy before these events even happened, that is between AO and the middle of OG.

The red test was just the final manipulation of Sarah causing her to break all ties with Chuck and becoming again the weapon that Shaw wanted (Right now I am really glad that I promised not to go into Sarah’s actions concerning Chuck or vice versa… Since I am new here I don’t know yet after how many swear words you get banned for life). Back to the story: By telling Shaw about her own red test she shared her third secret with Shaw (Have you noticed as well how often things happen exactly three times in this series?).

Again no emotonial reaction from Shaw depite his ´girlfriend´ having a breakedown

Now Shaw’s manipulation was complete. It was all about her. The one Shaw was weaponizing wasn’t Chuck (or the Intersect). He re-weaponized Sarah!

(And a weapon is nothing but a brainless tool…sorry, I had to write this! Feeling much better now.)


There is not much to say about American Hero that concerns the topic of this article, in my opinion. The romantic dinner was only supposed to further deepen the connection between Shaw and Walker. The toast during this dinner was quite interesting because it was directly opposite to what Chuck said in the pilot. Shaw: “To a new life, a new start. No Burbank, No baggage.” Sounds to me like ‘you are a spy, ignore the fact that you have baggage’.



A closing remark: I really can’t see how Chris can say that he loves Shaw that much and ignore most of the facts. By just focusing on the Chuck/Intersect-training (which was not Shaw’s primary objective but just a diversion anyway, plus Shaw failed to make the first mission a real training; ordering Chuck to assume an alias and giving him his red test; all in all not much contribution to Chuck becoming a spy) he diminishes the Shaw character even more. So, all that would remain is a not really great spy that steals/gets the girl. Shaw was far better than that.


And with this I’d like to end this article. I am aware that it is highly controversial, so feel free to comment, disagree or tear it apart in the comment section!

(I promise I will read all comments and I am going to partake in the discussion. But please also keep in mind that compared to most of you guys my current time zone is 5+ hours ahead. So if I don’t answer for some time I am probably asleep, not on a satisfying blood-caffeine-level yet or I just have to take care of a reation in my lab that would otherwise explode)



  1. Bravo! Michael loved your analysis on Shaw and I do believe that Chris did mention once that Shaw wanted to weaponize Sarah again.
    Loved this paragraph:”He was shocked and not happy. That was the moment when he realized a) Sarah was not in true spy mode anymore b) he has to split any connection between Chuck and Sarah to make her a spy/weapon again.”

    You are so right that Shaw wanted to separate Chuck from the team because Chuck’s emotions made them week and Shaw needed ruthless. At the end of the day, Chuck’s smarts and not the intersect defeated Shaw.

    • Carol,

      thank you for your kind words.
      Yes, you are right, Chris mentioned it. But there is a huge difference: I believe that weaponizing Sarah was his only objective, while, in my opinion, Chris believes that training the Intersect was his main objective and weaponizing Sarah was just a side-objective.

      • Good job, Michael. If you ever get a chance to read through the voluminous replies to several other discussions, you will see that we long believed Shaw was there to recruit / restore Sarah to the cold-blooded assassin rather than weaponize Chuck. Not sure if Chris ever agreed with that concept, but you have managed to point out several of the points that show what Shaw was really after. I think Chris may be onside with this, if I remember. A lot of those articles were from a different viewpoint, from a long time ago.

        Just the fact that Sarah was going to Washington with Shaw and Chuck was going to Rome is enough to show that Sarah was the prize, not Chuck. I’ve always maintained that the Final Exam was Sarah’s reaction to Chuck, not Chuck’s Red test per se. Even getting Sarah to agree to ask Chuck to complete the Red Test ( and verifying that they couldn’t be together no matter what his choice was), was really the “test”. It was the final nail in the coffin of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. How it ever went from that point to ” You’re still my Chuck” is probably more fantastical than the idea of an Intersect !!

  2. Thanx, Gary.

    I have just started to read some of the older articles and extensive comment-sections. It’s really a lot. This also the reason why I just refer to the four articles that chris wrote because I still have a lot catch up to do.
    You are totally right about the red test. This was only for Sarah, not for Chuck. For a long time I tried to find smth to apologize Sarah’s actions there. But there is nothing that could forgive this.
    I don’t know how Chuck can, makes him look stupid.

    But then again I also can’t see how he can forgive his mom so easily. Lying to him, manipulating him, blowing his father’s house (where probably still some inventions were hidden that could benifit mankind), removing the intersect and almost getting him killed. And then he is all ok with it (ok she saved sarah, but she is the reason that Sarah was in danger). Actually even blaming himself ‘I should have trusted her’. Really? Seems like the writer believe that a good guy has to forgive any crap no matter how much he gets hurt by it

    • You can chose your friends, but you can’t chose your family !!! LOL

      The Volkoff tale was a good one, but the redemption of Volkoff as Agent X wasn’t well done. It tried to pull everything together, but it did make Mary out to be a very poor spy. In essence, her conundrum was between taking Volkoff down and possible exposing the CIA secret. So it showed she was willing to sacrifice a LOT to keep the Agent X secret, but it put her family at risk and led to the death of a LOT of people !! Not a very “fulfilling” storyline. A lot of the problems, as you say, are the writer’s fault ( especially Fedak ) who couldn’t seem to draw a straight line in any of the patterns or plot lines. He ended up making things so convoluted that there was no way to actually make any sense of them. Add in that you brought in a lot of new writers for S3 -S5 and there were a ton of plot holes as a result. This isn’t a knock on a lot of the talented writers they had, it’s just that there was no consistency. I think Ali Adler ( a very talented writer ) lamented ever putting Sarah and Shaw together romantically, as it wasn’t necessary to move the plot forward. ( there may be an argument there that it isn’t really the case…..), but it was in the outline, so they went there. There were a lot of regrets afterwards, but not from Fedak !!!

      • But other series have also the problem of changing writing staff and it usually doesn’t result in so many plot holes. Someone just needs to supervise the authors and their work, make them rewrite if necessary. I blame Fedak that he didn´t do it or hired someone to do it if he was unable to.

  3. Well, Michael quite a debut article. Don’t worry not offended by some of the words used in the article. I understand the concept of weaponizing Sarah. I like the idea as well. It makes Shaw’s role that more interesting from an impact perspective.

    When we sit back and think about what matters most to Chuck was his friends and family. We know Chuck considered his team as family, but S3 also was a telling aspect as the team and agency gave up on him. Pink Slip is a strong episode in it tells you how far Chuck fell in just six months. What does this mean? Well, Chuck was sent home. Casey and Sarah continued to work. They still had their operations in Castle, but if you recall they were packing for Lisbon.

    Now, let’s take this discussion away from Chuck and Sarah and more from a spy perspective. How good is Team Bartowski? and why the need to bring Shaw in the first place. I been thinking about this after prepping for my Rewatch of Ring I. We often claim Chuck had a hard time becoming a spy since Chuck had a high Morale Fiber way of thinking. (Nothing wrong with it.) However, when Chuck was working a mission like in First Kill or Dream Job when he storms into RI. I think Chuck’s actions in Nacho Sampler also was a great moment for Chuck as he didn’t hesitate in burning Manoosh, but killing Hunter was something Chuck wouldn’t do. That being said,

    Shaw’s motivation in coming to Burbank boils down to two words for me. “Please…Shaw they need to be prepared.” What does this mean? The reality is Fulcrum was dangerous, but The Ring was for real. I mean they were able to plant a operative on Casey’s team and was able to really break the team up when showing Shaw the footage from his wife’s murder. All calculating moves. Sydney owned Sarah. Hugo Panzer would of killed Chuck if it wasn’t for Shaw’s assistance, but the fact is Shaw needed to prepare the team for a war they were losing.

    Shaw knew the in and outs of The Ring. He was working on the case for five years. When I talk about training Chuck I mean getting Chuck to focus as a spy. It was the only way Chuck would be eliminated from the ultimate goal and that was defeating The Ring. One words comes to mind for the faction calculating.

    They didn’t just send operatives like Mauser into the Buymore. No, they were strong enough to break Casey when it came to getting the fearless pill. Shaw needed an A game when it came to beating them. Sarah’s A Game at that, but with the dysfunctional nature of the team. It was important for Shaw to bring Sarah back to Washington.

    When I Say training. I meant getting Chuck to work without the emotional break downs because as Shaw said “That would get him killed someday.”

    • Chris,

      I am happy that you like my first article. And thanx again for inviting me. After 4 months on this page, just writing comments on an irregular basis, I felt that it was time to actively contribute something.

      That reminds me that I wanted to include a paragraph about our email conversation, where I stated that I hope that you’re not offended by my criticism of your statements and that I am aware that Germans sometimes come across a little too harsh or too direct, although it is not meant personally (glad that you are ok with it).
      Reminds me of that year I lived in the States (in a frat house where I made a lot of friends). Whenever a new guy would move in, they would cite the NOFX-song ‘Insulted by Germans again’: “We call it arrogance, they call it making friends”, and sometimes something like: ‘we use guns, Germans don’t need guns, they use words. Be careful, his mouth can also go off accidentally’. Loved these guys, we had a great time, especially after I revolutionized their beer pong rules.

      Back to your comment:
      I agree on the fact that the ring was dangerous and very capable. Still, in my opinion, Beckman just wanted Shaw to tell TB what he was up to. It was his own choice to go to Burbank, Beckman had nothing to do with it.
      And I also don’t see how Shaw was training Chuck or getting him focused on being a spy. For me it is more like Shaw’s approach was saying ‘Chuck you want to be a spy act like one, but figure it out on your own’. That wouldn’t even help a regular spy candidate. If you want to train or improve someone, show/tell him how it’s done. Shaw didn’t do anything like that. I just don’t see Shaw making any real contributions to Chuck becoming a spy. That was all himself; even Casey contributed more than Shaw.

  4. OK, let me preface this by saying I am not a fan of the character Daniel Shaw. In my opinion, no single character has ever done more to ruin a TV show than Daniel Shaw. In that way I choose to disagree with both Chris and Micheal. Also, please understand, I’m a huge Sarah Walker fan.

    So let’s start.

    **”During the final debriefing when Sarah sided with Chuck (“sometimes it helps to know that you’ve got something to loose”) have you noticed the look on Shaw’s face?”**

    I don’t think I’ve ever read anyone wanting you to read the expression on Shaw’s face. It was a general consensus during the misery arc that Shaw had the same look of constipation during all of his screen time. If fact that was one of the big reason fans didn’t buy Sarah connecting with him, he was charmless.

    **”But Sarah was the prize.”**

    Yes. And that is a huge problem with this arc. By having Sarah be the prize and only the prize her character is not allowed to grow. Having Shaw “giving” her back to Chuck in American Hero is the highlight of an epic romance.

    **”How was Sarah reacting? In this scene Sarah was definitely lying (I don’t want to discuss the motivation behind her lying here – because I am also not really sure why she did it). During the whole series we can observe when she is lying by her non-verbal communication:”**

    The big / huge problem with the misery arc is that Sarah is “non-verbal” throughout. With this being the case reading Sarah’s expressions to interpret the story is totally different for every person watching. I don’t see her lying in that scene. I may want her to be, but she has no reason to, therefore for me she’s not. A lot of people say she lied at the fountain in the finale – again I didn’t see it.

    **”I never heard anyone saying that he/or she liked Sarah telling Shaw her name and there is a lot of dispute if Sam was really her true name (I belong to the group of people who don’t think it is). But what is really important here is that Sarah wanted to open up (in my opinion she gave a fake name because even at the edge of an emotional breakdown she probably still wouldn’t be able to tell the truth). Anyway, if the name was fake or not doesn’t matter. What we have here is a moment where Sarah desired to share a secret about herself (it is the desire that counts not if that secret is true or not); another moment of bond formation between them (this marks the second time in this arc that Sarah gives away a secret).”**

    Yes, it was her real name. YS had told fans prior to the season that they would learn something about Sarah they always wanted to know. After the name reveal, many fans would have preferred never knowing.

    I agree, the point of the scene was to show Sarah on the edge emotionally by trying to connect to something real. This scene completely backfires. By having Sarah give her real name to someone other than Chuck, fans are left not liking the character (to put it mildly) instead of sympathizing with her. Shaw is totally irrelevant in this scene.

    And yes the name matters. Tour name is the most personal thing you have. It matters.

    You didn’t talk about Beard much so I’ll be brief. Sarah was despicable in this episode.

    **”The red test was just the final manipulation of Sarah causing her to break all ties with Chuck and becoming again the weapon that Shaw wanted (Right now I am really glad that I promised not to go into Sarah’s actions concerning Chuck or vice versa… Since I am new here I don’t know yet after how many swear words you get banned for life). Back to the story: By telling Shaw about her own red test she shared her third secret with Shaw (Have you noticed as well how often things happen exactly three times in this series?).”**
    Sarah was despicable in this episode.

    **”American Hero”**

    Sarah Walker was the dumbest she has ever been in this episode. She’s no smarter in Other Guy.

    **”Shaw was far better than that.”**

    I suppose I lived this as someone who had extremely high hopes for S3 that were dashed at 2010 SDCC and when the words “potential love interest” were spoken by the showrunners prior to the season. To me they were pushing the story uphill before it even aired.

    Shaw certainly doesn’t “weaponize” Chuck or Sarah. And even if he did. The show had to dispose of the characters we knew in order to have Shaw around.

    Did Chuck grow in S3 – sure, kinda. He became a bit of a douche and a lot more like most of the other guys Sarah had previously associated with. Certainly most of his endearing qualities were transferred to Morgan after this arc. I would like for Chuck to have really killed Shaw (the point of the arc in the first place) – that would have been growth. But they had to take that back.

    Did Sarah grow in S3 – Not one bit. By having Sarah all but physically attached to Shaw during his time on the show, she’s not allowed to grow. She’s eye candy and nothing more. This is what Shaw did, or didn’t do. Shaw, and his story, prevent the show from telling Sarah’s story. Something that is more important.

    The showrunners were so in love with the character of Daniel Shaw, that they treated the series regulars like guest stars and the guest star like a regular. The payback from this character wasn’t worth the effort put into him. The show never recovered.

    I apologize for the length.

    • Captain…no need to apologize for the length …it was a good read!! Personally, I can’t stand the Misery Arc, and it has a lot more to do with Sarah than with Shaw. Let me expound….I hated Shaw and loved Sarah, but it was Sarah’s role in the misery arc that bothered me the most. Shaw actually doesn’t do much at all ….he’s just there taking up space.

      What I think this discussion was about was refuting that Shaw was there to turn Chuck into a spy ( which should have been the storyline ), and pointing out that he was there for Sarah ….to get her away from Chuck and help Shaw take down the Ring. With either storyline, though…he failed…..and screwed up the most important part of the Chuck story…… Sarah and Chuck’s relationship.

    • Captain,

      I also think that Sarah was despicable in most episodes of this arc (and yes, I am also a huge Sarah fan in general just not in s3). But since this was not the focus of this article I tried as good as I could not to judge her or her actions.

      Sarah’s non-verbal communication is very important throughout the whole series; especially in s3 where she is almost non-verbal the whole time. Without paying attention to/interpreting the non-verbal part a lot of scenes (not only in s3) get a different meaning than intended. I actually love the non-verbal part of this series, makes it more compelling. Especially in scenes where the non-verbal part is so expanded that the true meaning can only be understood by the lyrics of the supporting background music.

      In the hotel room Shaw is not irrelevant. He is the catalyst that finally pushes her over the edge.

      • “In the hotel room Shaw is not irrelevant. He is the catalyst that finally pushes her over the edge.”

        Yes and No…… seeing Chuck with Hannah in the apartment pushed her over the edge. Seeing Chuck take on the persona of Rafe so easily, pushed her over the edge. Bottling up her emotions and never talking about them pushed her over the edge. Sleeping with Shaw just previous to this just allowed Shaw to be the sounding board for the dam bursting, and the vessel for the outpouring of emotion.

        But, like Captain says….. that should have been a scene in which we sympathize with Sarah’s plight. If I read most commentators correctly, and I add my voice to those accounts…it’s the scene where we get so pissed at Sarah that I couldn’t really stand her for the rest of the Misery Arc. And I can’t stand that she gets to dismiss it all by saying that “You’re still my Chuck”.

        IMHO, that beautiful face let her get away with way too much…..

      • But I don’t think you can treat Shaw in isolation as you’re trying to do. Because Shaw had a affect on Chuck, on Sarah, on the show, and on the fans.

        Maybe Shaw was trying to weaponize Sarah (I don’t think so), but taking the show’s favorite character and making her unlikable in order to do this, AND NEVER REDEEMING HER in any way, is pretty crappy storytelling.

        When the character of Shaw was announced he was to be there for 4 episodes.

        It’s easy to see that he was scheduled for episodes 3, 4, 12, 13.

        But all of a sudden it was said he would be in 8 episodes. And it’s not hard to see which were changed to shoehorn him in. 7, 8, 9, 11.

        I get the weaponizing arguments that have been made. But to you these points are being made in the “vacuum” of watching the show after its run.

        S3 of the show was much bigger than the episodes being shown on TV. Fan reactions to the lead up of the season and Chuckapolypse that happened after Mask were a tangible part of the experience.

        The hashtag #IBlameShaw still exist to this day.

        The showrunners even said, after the season, that they had a hard time writing for the character, until they made him a villain in eps 17 & 18.

        I don’t begrudge anybody for trying to explain Shaw, I just wanted to add some “real time” perspective.

        Fans didn’t get the character because the showrunner didn’t know what they wanted from him. Even those that wanted to give Shaw the benefit of the doubt until the arc was completed said he served no purpose.

        It comes down to the discussion above about Sarah never saying she was sorry and Chuck just accepting her. The show wanted to do very dramatic themes, but it never wanted to pay off those themes. It just wanted to move on to tbe next piece of drama.

        As far as leaving it up to the fans to read and interpret facial expressions of the otherwise silent actors in order to tell the story. Well you should be prepared for fan seeing and understanding a completely different story than the one you’re trying to tell. By silencing Sarah Walker, a mysterious enough character as it was, in order to insert Shaw into the story her actions (or inacations) can be interpreted anyway the fans want. And that’s a shame because the story of Sarah tegaining her humanity would have been just as compelling as the story of Chuck becoming his own type of spy. Unfortunatey neither happened.

      • Captain,

        I think treating Shaw in a vacuum is the best way to analyse his motivation and actions. When analysing his goals and how he persues them, the interaction between Sarah and Chuck is only secondary.

        I don’t argue about his effect on the fans. And I completely agree that the showrunners ruined s3. As I mentioned in the introduction of this article in the beginning I hated Shaw as well. But now I realize his impact and what master in manipulation he was. And yes, there is something seriously wrong with the storytelling if the fans don’t like a charater that is a favorit of the writers and when we need a dozen of rewatches to get Shaw’s true intensions.

    • Lets remember that Fedak was surprised of Sarah Walker’s popularity with the fans and S3 is an example of removing the character’s fondness to raise Chuck’s, but it didn’t work because of Shaw and the misery arc. In fact they had that him “pill” in Chuck vs Tic Tac in order to make Chuck braver since in the story of his fearfulness in certain situation was getting old considering he had the intersect & was in his late twenties. The writers weakening of Sarah’s character continued since then and until the last two episodes of the series.
      I believe you all mentioned that changed many writers the last 3 season causing this inconsistency.

      • Carol,
        I agree with you that the writers completely weakend Sarah in s3. But I don’t see weakness in Sarah’s actions during s4 and s5. Finally accepting her emotions, not just hiding behind her spy-self and learning that she can be spy and girlfriend at the same time, are strong moves. And I always got the feeling that the writers tooks this strength away in the last two episode because she didn’t know how to act on her (re-)developing feelings, and lost her trust in her own potential.

  5. Captain…. I get that you don’t like Shaw and how his story and influence became bigger than the Chuck and Sarah story, but just from your perspective, what was Shaw sent to Burbank to do ?

    And Michael…I still don’t see any great role for Shaw, other than being an OLI. Casey was the guy who trained Chuck and made him a spy, so there was no need for him in Chuck’s “growth”. So, it seems that the only reason he was there was for Sarah …. either to recruit her for his fight against the Ring ( I agree with this reasoning ), or just to create the “drama” of a Charah split. While there may have been an impact on the fans’ reactions, he really had no impact on the story …. Sarah and Chuck are slapped back together with a stupid line ( You’re still my Chuck ), with NO repercussions from the torment that they’ve been put through….and not one apology to each other.

    Until he becomes a villain, he has no real impact on the storyline at all …..just on the angst of the viewers.

    • Gary,

      In my opinion Shaw’s only target was to recruit Sarah for his war against the Ring. Sarah was not his love interest in the beginning. After realizing that she was not in control of her emotions and still cared for Chuck, he hit on her and manipulated her to get her under his control and to replace any feelings she might still have for Chuck.

      Concerning the Story, you’re right, he had no impact at all to the story itself. Any contribution to the real Chuck-story that I could think of would be farfetched. That is why he is often considered redundant.

      Using the word impact in the other comment was the wrong choice.

    • I really don’t know why he was sent to Burbank. The ominous discussion with Beckman is never revisited.

      By listening to the show, he was sent there as some sort of Ring expert. But again after episode 3 and 4 and until 12 it’s never mentioned again, and even then just kinda is passing. Although we’re told he’s a superspy, the evidence is to the contrary. So other than just delaying the real story in episode 7, 8, 9 and 11 he’s not required.

      Actually if you get rid of episodes 6 to 11, the story plays (somewhat) better, Shaw doesn’t ruin the show and Sarah doesn’t look as daft. She’s still up for a Darwin Award in 12 and 13 however.

  6. Guys and Gals,

    I think if we are going to discuss impact. The only villain with a true impact on the series would be Quinn. I will be opening that discussion with Impact Players part two, but I want to get some S4 episodes in so we can continue with that part of the site. I also need to start writing about Arrow, but thats for another day.

    While Shaw offers a great deal as villain by killing Orion or nearly blowing up Castle in Ring 2. Shaw never was able to break Chuck spirits like wiping the mind of his wife. Quinn was by far the most wasted character in the series other than Decker. BTW, Captain we understand the gripe a fan would have watching the series weekly. Believe you me I was sickened when Joey ends up with Pacey rather than Dawson. It was like what did we watch for 6 years.

    However, I do agree with you Chris Fedak and the writers did more to destroy Sarah Walker by the end of the series than help her. The whole concept was for Chuck to come out on top. I am not dumb to know the show’s title would mean Chuck would come out on top, but what Dawson Creek writers understood over Chris Fedak was how the fan base wanted Joey and Pacey together. Joey and Pacey’s relationship took on a life of it’s own and left the fan base happy with the ending.

    When we watch Chuck and Sarah go through so much as a couple. Things that would destroy relationships in real life. It shows ego and it’s shows hatred for one’s own creation.

    It also is evident in how Chris Fedak would make sure Chuck and Morgan’s relationship was intact by series end a man and his best friend, which shouldn’t be as important as a man and his wife.

    Shaw’s role in the series really isn’t as important as some of the other key characters like Orion. Why kill him off?

    Decisions like these are results of what happens behind the scenes. Matt Bomer’s departure ruined S3 in the writers didn’t adapt to that change. If the writers kept Shaw as a spy related story. Everything would be fine, but they waited four episodes to introduce him. Arrow’s decision to introduce him in the beginning of the season allowed fans to get use to him from the start.

    I also don’t blame Shaw’s need for revenge on those who killed his wife. How would you feel chasing essentially a ghost. Would you be able to go on hunky dorey. I know I wouldn’t be able to work with the woman who shot her and continue a working relationship with the agency who ordered the hit to begin with. The story is cool because Brandon’s role in Arrow was essentially the same character, but instead of using revenge in a negative way. Ray Palmer used his anger to help others. Writers get the need to create a character for people to relate by providing a reason for motives. Shaw’s motives were selfish and clumsy because of that need for revenge.

    I am sorry for the long response

    • And yet Ray Palmer and Daniel Shaw have the same effect the their show’s respective female leads.

      Both Sarah and Felicity were turned into “ditsy” blondes by Ray or Shaw.

      With Chuck, I was invested in the show and stuck it out (although I don’t think the show ever recovered). With Arrow, I quit and never returned.

      • If you don’t think Shaw is there for Chuck then why did Shaw send Chuck to retrieve the key to Eve’s Spy will which contained the intel to take down the Ring? Kind of an important mission to send someone who’s a throwaway on. As for Chuck being sent to Rome, Eve was in Paris undercover so obviously the Ring is very active in Europe. And since Beckman said Chuck could choose anyone for his team, he could force Sarah to come with him to Rome; where is Shaw’s plan then? I always go back to S1 and S2 as Chuck’s prime. Pink Slip started S3 off on a wrong foot. The Intersect is too important a tool for the CIA/NSA to abandon Chuck this way. Even if he can’t function as a spy, he still has all their secrets and needs the protective detail to be sure the Ring doesn’t get him, but they just let him go off on his own. How is he suddenly useless and not worth protecting? I agree that Fedak had his little story about a Nerd/Spy and didn’t like the fans fixing on Sarah. Chuck’s story is really a pretty basic fish out of water tale that Hollywood has done dozens of times; like Danny Kaye in “On the Double”. Sarah has a lot more going on as a character. She’s mysterious, she’s fighting 2 different sides of herself, spy vs girlfriend, and she’s embarked on a quest to redeem what she feels is her soulless unworthiness as a human. Redemption tales always grab viewers. They created her, they made her the more interesting of the two, they hired Yvonne who was really magical in the part. Smart showrunners would have just gone with the flow. But there are a couple things at play here; Fedak’s apparent dislike for his own creation (Sarah), and the Moonlighting Effect. It is accepted in Hollywood that the show Moonlighting failed because the leads got together thus reducing the sexual tension of the show. Enter Shaw. I agree with Chris that it might have worked better with Bryce instead of Shaw. I disagree with Michael that Sarah sleeps with Shaw before Chuck sleeps with Hannah. I think Chuck bouncing into Castle and Casey saying he got lucky drives Sarah the final steps to Shaw. Hannah is the character I don’t get. She really is just an OLI and totally unnecessary to the show. How does Chuck just abandon 3 years of pining for Sarah and devote himself to Hannah? Kind of makes me question how deep his love for Sarah is. The misery arc is just wrong on so many levels it’s astonishing.

      • Lonny, good point on how Chuck and just turn off 3 yrs of pining for Sarah especially if Sarah had started to come around in forgiving him. Especially when she practically begs him not go and Chuck vs First Class. Also demonstrates a little jealousy when they are putting the harnesses on in Chuck vs the Mask besides that smile of approval when she and Chuck would be working together to get the mask and not her and Shaw. Besides the Sarah dislike of Shaw come ons.
        It was Chucks’ interest of Hannah that pushed Sarah to Shaw. Remember in S2E2 Casey told her that she fell for every guy that she worked with so I guess that Shaw knew that and tried to use that as an advantage by doing his best to get rid of Chuck. I think it was Michael that said it was more physical than emotions when she got together with Shaw and she reveals that at the stake out in Chuck vs the Final Exam. She was still flirting with Chuck at that point even though she was supposedly with Shaw again demonstrating that these professional spies did not have a loving relationship but a physical one.

      • Lonny,

        Chuck was not important to him. Chuck’s whole first solo mission was tranq a guy and get the key. No training. He sent Chuck because he thought that the mission is just an easy diversion, to get him out of the way and freak out Sarah. Considering what was in the lock-box beside the important Ring information, there was Eve’s ring (very personal for Shaw and he knew that it was in there, that’s why he took it without opening in front of the team), I would think if he would have known how difficult this mission would be he would have rather gone himself, alone.

        Chuck and Rome: Well we only hear that Paris is important for the Ring, so why not send Chuck directly there if he is supposed to go after them. I don’t think that he was. If Beckman wanted him to go against the Ring she would have mentioned it.

        As for Sarah: Sure Chuck has his pick, but how to force her? Top-pick doesn’t mean that he can force anyone, just that he can ask anyone to be on his team. Shaw is also special agent; he could have overruled Chuck anyway because Sarah was in his team. And anyway Shaw has made sure by then that she is his puppet.

        I also never understood why they would fire Chuck in Pink slip and final exams when he has still the intersect with all the secrets, especially when he can still flash on these secrets (in PS). Stupid idea from the writers.

        I still think Sarah slept with Shaw that night, but it was just physical, not emotions, while it is clear that in Chuck’s case emotions were involved. That is why Sarah was hurt.

        And I completely agree on Hannah!

      • Oh Hannah was totally useless. No question. Her only reason for being, is to make it OK for Sham to hook up.

        It became very apparent early in the Shaw / Hannah arc that The epic romance story that was Chuck and Sarah’s would not happen until both had slept with someone else. (That’s epic)

        It’s Hollwood’s trope of “you don’t know what you had until you’ve had meaningless sex with someone else and only then can you “recoonect” and have a proper relationship with the one you’re meant to be with”, and it’s disgusting.

        Arrow did the same thing and everyone knew it from Ray Palmer’s first appearance.

        It’s cook book TV. Something Chuck hadn’t been until S3.

      • Capt Mediocre, thank you picking that up on Hollywood writers; in fact they love destroy relationships especially if they get married. Remember Lois and Clark that last season was an insult to all viewers. I guess the writers can not deal with two main characters working together as a married couple like Hart to Hart. Funny, if they are living together it is okay, but once they are married it changes everything. What’s up with that.

  7. The Captain has done a better job of describing the Moonlighting Effect than I did and he’s right, it’s disgusting. It’s also kind of insulting to the viewers. I think what really turned the viewers off was Cybill Shepard’s character running off and getting married to and pregnant by someone off screen. On Gilmore Girls, Luke and Lorelei broke up because the network took over the show and brought in a new show runner who decided to “spice things up”. I think Hollywood writers have trouble writing about relationships because their long and odd hours make their own relationships difficult.

    It’s possible Chuck would not be going after the Ring, the CIA deals with a lot of different threats. But if the agents are stationed where the Ring is, why were Shaw and Sarah going to DC? No mention of the Ring being in DC was made except that they had infiltrated the CIA/NSA. Eve was in Paris and the HQ that Shaw destroyed was in LA. The only way Shaw was going to get Sarah was to make sure Chuck could function without her. I’m not convinced Shaw’s ultimate goal was to reacquire Sarah as a killer agent. The DC job was more of a desk job than a field agent job. Beckman said Shaw and Sarah would be coordinating the attack on the Ring. It was odd to me that Shaw came in and called the team dysfunctional. I don’t recall that they had many mission failures. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And why did Beckman seem to defer to Shaw? She should have been his boss. I think the writers just kind of panicked after S2 and pretty much went off the rails with S3, losing the focus of the story and creating many continuity problems.

  8. Because Sarah was so non-verbal in the misery arc, it’s obvious that many viewers saw the show very differently. I never saw Chuck running to Hannah until he saw Sarah with Shaw in the museum …. and Chuck realized that Shaw had taken over his professional relationship with Sarah ( as The Carmichaels ). Since Sarah had constantly either belittled his efforts to become a spy, or pulled back as he accomplished the steps to become a spy, it just seems that Chuck saw his relationship with Sarah had slipped away. ( And this was after he committed himself to uploading the 2.0 to try to win her back ….he was stuck in no man’s land here ). He HAD to finish his journey to becoming a spy ( due to having / being the Intersect ), but I think by the time of Mask, he felt he had no chance with Sarah again …..he had blown it and she was never going to forgive him for Prague. ( Carol…I never saw her as being supportive and trying to get close….she looked relieved that she didn’t have to work with Shaw at the museum gala…..not that she was getting to work with Chuck ….but that’s what I mean by seeing things differently ).

    What I never understood was the line from Beard, when Chuck realized he still loved Sarah …he mentioned that he tried to tell himself he didn’t love her. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN ??? I saw the downtrodden look on his face as Sarah was comforted by Shaw after receiving the anti-toxin ….. and Chuck was all about saving Sarah when he hatched the plan to get to the museum to confront the Ring agent. I guess that was just the final nail in the coffin for Chuck…and so he gave into Hannah that night. But, like Michael, I see Sarah and Shaw having slept together that night as well. The next morning, Sarah made it out to be just a physical thing and told Shaw that she didn’t want to continue with any relationship. So I base that on Shaw and Sarah’s body language and conversation at the outdoor cafe that morning. And yes….. when she found out Chuck had slept with Hannah….and then Hannah ate at her spot at the table…..that did Sarah in. She knew Chuck well enough to know he would have had an emotional attachment. Oddly enough, it was Sarah that formed the emotional attachment to Shaw, and Chuck who didn’t have any emotional attachment to Hannah. Once again, they made the main protagonists look like douche bags.

  9. Wow this was an interesting read, as well as the comments. This is much more analysis than I have made. My analysis was simply Sarah was hurt over being rejected in Prague, Chuck tries to make things better, Sarah eventually warms up to him, then Shaw and Hannah come in, and both Chuck and Sarah think the other has moved on. Though I never did get how Sarah could like Shaw, even considering she was in a bad place. She just seemed way too smart of a character and they had to dumb her down. From eww you’re sexually assaulting me and you’re creepily spying on me while I drink my coffee, to “MY BAD FOR BEING MAD AT YOU ABOUT SEXUAL ASSAULT, I KIND OF LIKED IT”. It feels like the romantic interests of girls in TV shows are like always terrible. I liked Bryce, he’s charming and caring despite the other complications. The British guy came off as pretty sleazy and gross, especially before they got acquainted. Then all the times he got shot and tortured to exaggerate how heroic he is was pretty cringe worthy and last but not least you get Shaw… who we already discussed. Meanwhile, Chuck has Lou, despite her not being the most interesting character, she was kind and good with playful banter. Even Jill who was straight up a villain, had her redeeming moments like when she was helping Chuck find Orion, she could have easily escaped when she got out of Sarah’s view, but still went to help Chuck. And Hannah was just pretty good overall imo.

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