Alan Sepinwall snagged both Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak for a phone chat today to talk about the controversy over last night’s episode of Chuck. Here’s an excerpt from the transcript:
There’s also been a lot of speculation about why she might have gone from being so annoyed with Shaw to being interested in him within this one episode. Some people suggested she went running for a rebound guy when she saw Chuck with Hannah, while others think she might be checking Shaw out because she doesn’t fully trust him.
JS: We don’t want to answer everything. Some of the fun of being an audience member, I hope, is projecting onto the scenes and reading between the lines. There’s such pressure, anyway, on a network show to spell everything out and leave everything completely unambigious, and then that pressure is doubled by fans who want an answer and want it now. And, look, we have been saved by our fans. We will most likely need to be saved by our fans again. We are incredibly invested in and respectful of our fans and their response. We are receptive and read almost everything that’s out there. This is a show that we’re doing as much for us as we are for them. That being said, we still have to tell the story that we’re going to tell.
CF: A lot of the questions that you’re asking, we actually address, but we address in upcoming episodes.
Well, in terms of being receptive to the fans versus telling the story you want to tell, is there a danger in just giving the fans what they want?
JS: Absolutely. Having been raised in the slums of the teen drama – just kidding, it’s not a slum, it’s a beautiful part of the state – those kind of shows, they just exist on the relationships that people are invested in. It’s what they drive on week in and week out. As you stated yesterday in your blog, Chuck and Sarah is but an element of our show. There’s a lot of other storytelling imperatives that are driving how these episodes unfold. Chuck and Sarah is a critical element of the show – we have said before that it is the heart of the show, and we stand by that – but there are other factors that are driving the story here. Given time, I think you will see this is a story that’s unfolding not just on a romantic plane. There’s a lot of Chuck and Blair fans on the “Gossip Girl” sites who’ve heard that couple’s in trouble and are up in arms in a similar way, and it’s like, if people are only happy, there is no conflict, therefore there is no storytelling, or drama. We’re not arbitrary about it, we don’t do it to drive conflict, We’re not just going, “How do we keep them apart?” Part of your job as a storyteller, part of the writer’s jobs here on the show is to mine all of these characters for maximum conflict and drama. There is an overarching design to the season, these stories are more than just romantic stories, and people have to trust that the journey we are taking them on is one that is designed to give audiences both what they want and what they need.
CF: The other thing, Alan, is you know us, we’ve watched way too much television growing up. We’re very familiar with all the will-they-won’t-they romances out there. It’s an equation that we’re always constantly thinking about. We realize there’s the pitfalls as well as the successes.
JS: And to whatever fan out there who thought the way to get the story back on track was to boycott the show, we’re about ready to start writing the finale, which is 12 episodes later than the one last night. Look, we are in a dogfight for our survival once again, and it would be a shame if people reacted in a way that was scorched earth.
CF: Who closes the book after chapter seven? That’s the thing.