gallery Impact Players Chapter Two: Quinn vs Shaw

Yes, we have an interesting discussion for readers in this one. The last time I took the time to write about impact I chose to discuss Justin and Tommy. Two baddies that left impact for different reasons.

Tommy 2Justin came to manipulate EllieWhile Tommy was vicious in his own right, Justin was able to manipulate Ellie beyond recognition. However, Chapter two will discuss two of the major players from the series. Two baddies that would be on the Mount Rushmore of  bad guys from the series.

While we often discuss Chuck and Sarah, the focus isn’t on them, but more on the impact Nicholas Quinn and Daniel Shaw had on the characters as villains of the show. This means we won’t discuss the first twelve episodes of S3, but when Shaw returned in Subway. Shaw listening to Chuck's planShaw and Quinn both did damage, but the overall cake goes to Nickolas. Here’s why.

It’s no secret on this site how much I love Daniel Shaw, but when I think of impact I think of doing significant damage that decapitates the spirits of others and nothing can be more devastating than messing with a man’s family. Chuck510-00764

chuck318_00490Quinn and Shaw’s moves were calculating and with purpose, we shall start this discussion with the impact on Team Bartowski and those around them.

Introduction to Team Bartowski

When we talk about impact nothing can be more vicious than building a wedge between members of a team. Daniel Shaw’s manipulation of Chuck and Sarah makes his turn in the latter part of S3 so much fun to watch, but the reality is Shaw’s actions started on this day. chuck312_00836 chuck312_00841 chuck312_00834

The fact that Shaw believed The Ring was the one behind his wife’s murder comes with a lie and manipulation from his part. Was he right to turn? Most men would in that regard. How could one go on working with the one who pulled the trigger and work alongside the agency who ordered the hit?

You can say Shaw was a pawn in a bigger picture, which was never explored by the writers of Chuck. Decker made you believe Shaw was apart of a bigger conspiracy, but the fact is Shaw used information to make Decker become a foot soldier. Thus, Decker did what Justin was doing in S3.

However, Shaw’s manipulation of Team Bartowski occured while still on good terms with Chuck and Sarah. Michael pointed out how Shaw’s arrival on the scene could be interpreted as being in position to steal Sarah from the team, but I disagree because a file doesn’t tell you what the eye can see.

Shaw needed to see the team in action. Chuck was a liability because of his emotions. Sarah went through a crisis of  sorts with Chuck performing Kung Fu and Bryce being killed and even Casey had a rogue agent on his team. The team was ripe for the pickings. Shaw knew this going in. Shaw’s ability to use information to his benefit was why he comes of smug in the beginning. It’s why I like it. Not ever good guy is a moral driver character like Chuck. Most people like the outlaw good guy because of the darkness the hero is willing to go. However, Shaw never claimed to be a hero just a spy out for revenge.

Shaw never hid the kind of person he was. He was a dangerous man that was sort after by the Ring. They did more to try to kill Daniel because he was close to defeating them. The Ring knew he had The Intersect at his disposal now which made Shaw that more dangerous.

Sydney wanted to hire Charles Carmichael to eliminate Shaw, but since she knew Carmichael was company loyalist. Sydney would force the issue by placing a explosive in Devon’s ear. We are dealing with pros here not the Lazlo’s of the world.  chuck304_00590

Shaw drives the team apart in First Class. He could of used Sarah here from the outset, but that would not due. The focus was to get Chuck working again. The motive was to get Chuck to act like a spy the program was designed to do. Chuck in Rome was ideal for Shaw, but not because he disliked Chuck, but all for the purpose of destroying The Ring. I agree with the motives here.

Sarah was apart of a group called The Cat Squad. Langston Graham’s wildcard enforcer. Chuck was known as the bumbling idiot. He said it best, “Sometimes he is Bond other times a Jerry Lewis comedy.” Shaw used information to drive the wedge you guys have talked about.

Look at how he broke Sarah, He systematically brought out her events in Lisbon. It’s easy for Shaw to gain information like spreading Bryce’s ashes over their first mission together, but Chuck being in Prague at the same time makes one question her. He does and Sarah begins to crack.

In our time of knowing Sarah, she never was directly questioned by anyone. It caught Sarah off guard. chuck305_00326 chuck305_00328The same can be said about Quinn, Quinn’s attack never was about Chuck only. He would end up destroying her from a different perspective. Quinn’s motives was the same as Shaw’s but revenge was not revenging a wife’s murder, but being left for dead, Quinn’s actions are revenge motive based on hatred. Chuck510-00764 (1)

He explains how Bryce stole the Intersect from him, and how Team Bartowski shut down his three big clients, which angered Nicholas even more. Thus, Quinn was out for revenge for a different reason.

We know how dangerous Quinn is right from the start. His introduction was very cool. Thus, Quinn wins how he was introduced to the team.

Quinn comes off smarter than Shaw. He knows the Intersect and what devices to use to combat it. For example, We first are introduced to Quinn. He was in midst of dealing with Morgan and his frosted tips ego.

Quinn mentions the use of X13. A device that would make Morgan forget the past 24 hours and how confident he was in that would reveal his face to Morgan. What do we see in Quinn’s eyes that make him more dangerous than Shaw. We see hatred and seeking destruction already. Chuck510-00760

We don’t get that from Shaw. Daniel knows everything about the Intersect and it’s function, but he doesn’t know it like Nicholas does. Quinn knows the ins and outs of it. chuck304_00528Quinn informs Chuck of this in their initial meet. “I’m former CIA, too. The Intersect was supposed to be mine.
But then Larkin stole it for you, so I went back out in the field, and I got captured. Oh, and tortured in a hole the ground, for 378 days. In a hole! That was the best. And then I was broken.
Dismissed. And all because the Intersect wasn’t mine.” Chuck510-01008Chuck tries to tell Quinn how dangerous the program was, but Quinn reminds Chuck of his biggest doubt. How Chuck’s wife was apart of what The Intersect brought him. Thus, Quinn’s gripe was with not being the Intersect and Chuck shutting down three of his biggest clients. Chuck510-01016

Quinn wins in a landslide over Daniel Shaw in the impactful introduction to the team.

Breaking Down Team Bartowski

When it comes to breaking down Chuck and his team, it’s a fair fight, but again Quinn wins based on one thing we know matters most to Chuck. Bartowski’s passion lies within his friends and family.

When Shaw comes to town, Sarah was manipulated and voiceless in the presence of Shaw, it builds fire and forces Chuck to use a real gun. It makes Sarah lose focus on how Shaw kept manipulating her into doing things Sarah normally didn’t do. Shaw toyed with Sarah in every possible way. He did it because he could. chuck313_00968 chuck313_00969chuck313_00989chuck313_01014 chuck313_01029Chuck would make the save and use a real gun in doing so, but it wasn’t over here as we know. Shaw would reveal Chuck’s secret about his brain condition and used information to cause Sarah and Chuck to have rift afterwards. chuck318_00509 chuck318_00517 chuck318_00518It would backfire on Shaw because Sarah would strike soon afterwards, but it was all apart of a plan to make her a fugitive. chuck318_00894 chuck318_00895Shaw’s success would also be his failure. He would drive motivation out of the team when he kills Orion. It all but ends his hold on Sarah. The team would take down Shaw only to have to take him down again in S5. (more on this later)chuck318_01073 chuck318_01075 chuck318_01301 chuck318_01302On the other hand, Quinn’s manipulation of Sarah begins here, Chuck510-01189Casey and Sarah were in a dire situation with no outs a tactical team was closing in on them. The only choice Sarah had was to put on the glasses. (This is my personal moment in which I reset the series.) The jump the shark moment for me really, but we shall save that discuss for the appropriate time.

Quinn did this with a plan soon after. He would systematically destroy Sarah as we know her. He first captures Chuck and forces Sarah to act. Sarah using the intersect a lot in a short time span caused problems. Quinn knew this. He told us about the side effects in the design. Thus, breaking down Team Bartowski by destroying Sarah. The moment that would kill the series in my view. Chuck511-00024 Chuck511-00025The moment I am talking about is here, Chuck511-01076 Chuck511-01080 Chuck511-01087This would be the last time we see Sarah the same way. The woman who walked into the Buymore was soon going to be suppressed. While Shaw was able to be stopped, Quinn would take Sarah to a place which it would take too long for them to save her. The moment when Chuck’s friends and family would be altered forever. Chuck511-01112 Chuck511-01113Sarah’s memories being wipe away essentially broke the spirits of Chuck. He was lost without her. Shaw may have been able to lure Sarah to Paris, but Quinn trapped her and essentially killed the Sarah we all knew because the results were this. Chuck512-00100 Chuck512-00102Quinn broke Sarah by making her believe Chuck was the enemy. He manipulated Sarah to the point of returning her to the assassin we knew her to be before Burbank. A deadly enforcer Quinn used to kill her own husband and sister in law. Chuck512-00607 Chuck512-00609However, what Quinn didn’t account for was how Chuck and Sarah were soulmates, but Quinn had a plan in place for that too, He would blow up the CIA building himself.

So, we can continue Quinn’s story, but we need some ammo for episode articles and Rewatch.

I don’t understand the idea of leaving a major character like Quinn for the last four episodes of the series. A character with this much value is wasted and really should of been the leader of the conspiracy. Quinn knew a lot about the intersect over Shaw and for that he is a better adversary for Team Bartowski.  What do you guys and gals think?

So tell me your opinion below. Who had more impact Quinn or Shaw. Leave a comment below.

Remember Chuckaholics is your site so play, engage but most of all remember it’s hard to say goodbye because we didn’t.




  1. Chris, nice article.Considering that you wrote in your introduction that you won’t discuss the first 12 episodes of s03 you wrote quite a bit (actually more than about the second half of the season;) ).

    Clearly Quinn’s impact was stronger. I am actually not sure if he and Shaw can be compared. Sure Shaw manipulated TB and broke Chuck’s spirit by killing his father, but taking away/kill his soulmate, that’s next level. Friends and family are important to Chuck but Sarah became more important to him.

    If we want to compare impact characters who took away the most important thing, in my opinion, the only one who came (kind of) close to Quinn is the Belgian.

  2. I do believe Quinn had more impact …. it’s easy to say this because he did what he did in 4 short episodes, and Shaw was dragged out way too long.( But impact is a bit of a misnomer, IMHO ….. impact on what ? The story ? The characters? The viewer ? ) I think that Quinn was more inherently evil than Shaw due to a much longer time in a mentally unstable state. He was more dangerous …. at least until he was killed.

    But, he really doesn’t have a lot of impact on the story, just as Shaw didn’t really impact the story. They were mere bumps along the way in a story fraught with danger. Whatever the story was supposed to be, it ended up being about Chuck AND Sarah ….and their relationship. It was not about Chuck’s Hero Journey …it was not about Sarah’s Journey of Redemption. Those stories were told by the end of S4 ….. if not S3. Shaw, Quinn, Volkoff, Bryce, Jill, etc, etc were roadblocks to the true story that was told by the series …. does love withstand the most arduous of journeys ? In the end, it does….no matter the obstacles.

    • Captain,

      We both agree the Sarah we grew to love was not the same Sarah once Quinn was done with her, but it’s still the same person. You once said, I can’t separate Agent Walker from Sarah Walker. It’s the same here.

  3. I think Gary’s right, ultimately this is a love story. It’s sad that Fedek and Schwarz didn’t quite seem able to accept that. Quinn is a mildly interesting character, but there are so many holes in his arc I can’t even bear to rewatch it. It’s bad writing to produce a contrived ending allowing Fedek to thumb his nose at some of the most devoted fans in television history. Bah!!

    • That’s my biggest gripe with Quinn. The character comes out of nowhere to inflict permanent consequences on a show that never had lasting consequences (except once).

      I mean even falling out of a bullet train (while it was at full speed) wasn’t consequence to kill Quinn.

      Of ALL villains after Fulcrum, Decker was the best and most believable.

      I also think that most people (including me) see the finale as being about Sarah or maybe even Chuck & Sarah. The finale of this show was solely about Chuck. It was meant to show how Chuck was no longer the man he was 5 years ago (Fedak said as much in post finale interviews). It didn’t matter that Sarah was the same person as she was 5 years ago.

      These two can’t “fall in love again”. They’re both in different places than they were 5 years ago.

      • And yet, the series ends with Chuck and Sarah in a lip lock …….

        The ending wasn’t about Chuck….the question on everyone’s minds was….” Does SARAH remember ?? ”

        The ending was about Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. How long did it take her to willingly kiss Chuck at the start? 3 years ??? How long does it take her after her memories are suppressed ? A week ? Different places…yeah. But really she isn’t …..Chuck is a much better fit for her at this point ….much more confident.

      • “….the question on everyone’s minds was….” Does SARAH remember ?? ”

        Yep. Except Fedak.

      • Captain …. I agree that the Misery Arc was about Shaw….. to the detriment of the story of Chuck or Chuck and Sarah. Quinn was introduced so quickly and so poorly ( he could have been so much more to the WHOLE story if the writers weren’t so caught up in the Morgansect) that he did become secondary to the story …which is sort of OK in my books. The series was called Chuck ….. I have no problem with the story being about Chuck, no matter that all the males in the forum would rather the focus be on Sarah. IMHO, the story of Chuck could never be complete without Sarah, and that’s an OK way to have it. However, I felt the final 2 episodes were Sarah centric, which is odd if Fedak wished to make the hero journey of Chuck his focus. Maybe you can make a case for it being about the relationship as well….but, contrary to Fedak’s words, the final episodes were about Sarah.

  4. Here’s my take on these two characters.

    Shaw had minimal impact on the story. The show required a reset episode to introduce him, and a reset episode to get rid of him. However Shaw is likely easier to remember or recall (for reasons either good or bad) because his character quickly overtook the story to the detriment of everything else. The “real” story was on hold until Shaw was gone. He was a questionable (I’m being very nice) character in an extremely poorly told story.

    Quinn was a decent (again being nice) character in a very well told, if incomplete, story. I’ll even kind of agree that Quinn brought much more serious consequences to the show. Quinn’s problem is that because of these consequences, he quickly becomes an unimportant part or afterthought to the story. He’s a character that is easily overlooked because the story being told is so much bigger than the villain.

    In both cases, the principle character of the story being told is not Chuck.

  5. One of Chuck’s main weaknesses as a series is their portrayal of villains ( personally I think the buymore gang sucked ass and I skipped all their scenes in my rewatch).

    the villains were very poorly done. Take Jill for example. No motivation for being in Fulcrum was given, other than them pretty much forcing her to be there. But given how she was depicted as incredibly smart and resourceful, she could have broken free at any point she liked, given that she eventually betrays fulcrum and escapes with Chuck’s help, never to be heard from again. She’s depicted as manipulative when she gets Chuck to release her from castle, yet this was never really utilized at all. She wasn’t fully “evil”, but she wasn’t “good” either. Her intentions were never confirmed and there was no damage really done to the team ( which can be argued, though being held at gun point was a thing that happens to the team in pretty much any episode). Fulcrum and the Ring as a whole didn’t really have any clear goals. The closest we got was that Fulcrum was upset that the CIA’s technology was outdated ( a bit ironic since the CIA had the intersect which Fulcrum weren’t able to complete).
    The Ring’s goal was to get the intersect, which they did but after that they wanted to take over the CIA with nothing else revealed before their defeat.

    Vivian was upset that Carmichael arrested her father, yet she leaves her father to die anyway. Seemed pretty odd for a “stranger” to cause such a drastic turn.

    With Shaw at least you got revenge as a motivator, but his obsession with Chuck made no sense. He was originally sympathetic towards Chuck when Shaw took Sarah to Paris to kill her, telling him that none of this is his fault. But when Chuck protected the women he loved ( certainly something Shaw relates to), Shaw spent the rest of the series just obsessed with Chuck.

    As for Quinn, he had the potential to be by far the best villain they show had to offer. Like you said, it’s a shame they didn’t use him for more than a few episodes. Even with the little time he had, the writers weren’t able to make sense out of anything. For starters, practically every interaction in their initial meetings Quinn was outmatched and they just…. let him go? So in season 1 Chuck gets the intersect, which apparently caused Quinn to get captured and put in a hole for a year. Why does he wait another 3 years before appearing for his revenge? If Chuck “ended him”, how does he have so many henchmen and the resources to constantly follow team Bartowski around? I would have preferred if Quinn was more hidden and do things like blowup the buymore, kill Ellie and just leave Chuck wondering why, then get to Chuck at his lowest. Instead we just get a resourceful guy who was defeated in almost all of his appearances, no explanation as to how he rebuilt after being left for dead or even how how he got out of the hole or even how he got a hold of those cards he used to destroy Sarah or where he got them. Like you said, he could have been presented as the top of the whole “conspiracy”, yet we just got a mix of incompetence and sudden bursts of too much competence for a person in his position.

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