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'Chuck' controversy: Chuck and Hannah versus Sarah and Shaw: Where do you stand?

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There’s no new Chuck tonight, because of NBC’s Olympics coverage, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the current Chuck controversy. Some of you are pretty steamed about the way the most recent episode, Feb. 8’s “Chuck Versus the Mask,” pushed Chuck into the arms of Hannah (guest star Kristin Kreuk), and Sarah into the arms of Daniel Shaw (guest star Brandon Routh).

I have to admit I watched last week’s episode not really considering the idea that the series was making some major romantic chess moves in having its key couple become attracted to other, new characters. I assumed this was just a case of the producers saying, “We’ve got a couple of attractive guest stars for a few weeks, let’s use ’em to the max.” But then my TV-critic colleagues, James Poniewozik at Time and Alan Sepinwall of The Newark Star-Ledger, pointed to the irritated, even angry, fan reaction to this new love rectangle. Sepinwall even got Chuck creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak on the phone to explain and justify the direction the show was taking.

Schwartz and Fedak basically responded to fans by basically saying — in the kindest way, and with gratefulness toward the audience that bought a helluva a lot of Subway sandwiches to keep Chuck Bartowsky flashing through more adventures this season — “Trust us.”

That is, they recognize that pulling Chuck and Sarah apart would be something fans would probably have a strong reaction to, but they also have the season mapped out — they’re already plotting this season’s final big twist.

Me, I think Hannah and Shaw are around for as long as Kreuk and Routh serve out their guest-stints. (After all, didn’t the final scene imply that Shaw is a target for murder?) These two new characters are well-written amusements that serve to show us different aspects of the characters we really care about: Chuck and Sarah.

Second thought: To focus on Chuck and Sarah and their matters of the heart is to ignore one of the most interesting aspects of last week’s Chuck, which is the new, ongoing collusion between Morgan and Ellie to figure out just what the heck Chuck is up to these days. I like this new dynamic between Joshua Gomez and Sarah Lancaster; they’re playing it just right. (Personally, the more Ellie the better, I think.) Even though they think they’ve solved the mystery — that Chuck’s “secret” is his new “girlfriend” Hannah — Morgan and Ellie’s suspicions ought to continue.

But I’m straying from the subject: What do you think about Chuck and Sarah’s new love interests, in what the Olympics have inadvertently structured as a cliffhanger?