Monday, February 01, 2010

Chuck, "Chuck vs. the Nacho Sampler": Diversified assets

A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I write this off as a business trip...
"He's turning into a spy. That's a good thing." -Casey
"Is it?" -Sarah
"Chuck vs. the Nacho Sampler" is bookended by a flashback to Chuck and Sarah's first meeting (both the version we saw in the pilot, and then a new version from Sarah's perspective), and the main plot is very reminiscent of season one's "Chuck vs. the Sandworm," where Chuck also befriended an asset with a similar story to his own. But "Nacho Sampler" wasn't just a retread. Rather, it was a sign of how far Chuck and Sarah have come since those early days - and also of how much more confident the show has become over even a season one highlight like "Sandworm."

Back in the "Vicki Vale" scene from the pilot, Sarah was a shark and Chuck was chum. The roles haven't entirely reversed two-plus years later, but Chuck has gotten harder, and Sarah softer. The Chuck of season one would never have been able to go through with sending Manoosh into isolation for the rest of his life, and Sarah would have been annoyed with his refusal to accept the dirty parts of the job. Now, it's Chuck (who's slowly learning the emotional costs of his new career) swallowing his empathy to complete the mission, and it's Sarah (who has learned to let her guard down and value friendship and family) who's troubled to see nice guy Chuck - whom she fell in love with because he wasn't another Casey or Bryce Larkin - able to be as cold as she used to be.

At the same time, in learning how to cultivate and then burn an asset, Chuck starts to realize exactly how Sarah viewed him when they first met, and how their relationship might have gone if a few things had been different.

As I've said many times, the most frustrating part about shows that drag out Unresolved Sexual Tension between the leads is when artificial obstacles get thrown in the way, just because nobody wants the game to end yet. But even more than the introduction of Agent Shaw (who takes the week off) and Hannah (who's relegated to the Morgan B-story), I find it plausible that Chuck and Sarah are influencing the other to change so much that they're not meeting in the middle, but passing each other on the way to the other side. Even if it's, in fact, being done just because Fedak and Schwartz are reluctant to put the two together already, it feels like something that comes out of the paths these two characters have been on for the last 40 episodes, and it was very well-played (as usual) by Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski.

Outside of the Chuck/Sarah issues, the Manoosh story was also a good Chuck/Casey one. With Shaw absent(*), Casey is once again in the role of the Operation Bartowski member who represents the official, remorseless view of spy-dom. He mocks Chuck's initial stumbles, as always - and the two have a priceless bit of physical comedy when Chuck is trying to get the laser pen out of Casey's pocket while they're shackled in Dubai - but he's also the one who thinks Chuck can do it in the first place, and the one who suggests Chuck give Johnny Walker black a whirl to assuage his guilt (as I'm sure Casey has done a time or 50 over his career).

(*) With the budget so lean this year, I'm assuming the producers didn't want to waste Brandon Routh's fee on an episode that didn't really need him.

And we also see Chuck's web of deception not only hurt Manoosh and disturb Sarah, but start to create friction with the people from his "real" life (which, more and more, is becoming as fake as any of Sarah's aliases). Devon is still having trouble being awesome about Chuck's secret, and Ellie and Morgan are both alarmed to discover, independently, that Chuck went to Paris and didn't tell either of them about it. Perhaps worst of all, Morgan has now assigned Jeff and Lester to put their super-stalking powers on the case to find out what Chuck's hiding and why; those guys may be perverted idiots, but other than maybe "Missile Command," stalking is what Jeff does best, and they did manage to get their way into Casey's secret locker compartment at the Buy More, and to crash Castle's electrical grid. Could we be heading for a circumstance where suddenly everyone in Nerd World suddenly knows about Spy World? Or will Jeffster screw it up? (They did, after all, interpret all of Casey's gear to mean he was a fellow stalker.)

Ryan McPartlin continues to do well playing an out-of-his-element Captain Awesome, and Josh Gomez managed to turn Morgan's goofy attempt to seduce Hannah on a dime into an excuse for us to feel sorry for the guy, once again left out of the loop of his best friend's life. But until that moment, Hannah's first week at the Buy More provided some huge, uncomfortable laughs, be it Morgan clambering over the desk of his new "office," or Jeff angrily insisting, "It's my constitutional right to fornicate!"

I know many people automatically assume that anyone new in Chuck's life must be a spy, and it's entirely possible that Hannah will turn out to be exactly that. Right now, though, I buy her as another Lou - a woman drawn to Chuck, whose affections are then disrupted by his spy gig (here with him constantly disappearing for "Yogurt Time"), and she had an unsurprisingly easy time at seeming horrified by Jeff and Lester's leering.

We have only one more episode to go until the show takes a few weeks off for the Olympics. The season wasn't written with that break in mind (remember, it was originally going to premiere after the Olympics), but we seem to be building towards a crisis point in nearly all of Chuck's relationships. Two weeks ago, Agent Shaw watched, somewhat enviously, as Chuck basked in the company of his sister and brother-in-law, his best friend, and his two CIA partners. Tonight, we climax with Chuck drinking alone, Ellie and Morgan suspicious of him, and Sarah worrying that he's becoming something other than the man she fell for. And then, in the closing flashback, we're reminded again that the spy world Chuck is so eager to join is one not built on real relationships, but on deception and using other people for your own ends.

Not a happy place for Chuck, nor as jaunty and feel-good an episode as "Chuck vs. First Class," but "Chuck vs. the Nacho Sampler" felt even more important to our hero's development, and the unfurling of this season's story arc, as seeing him fly (sort of) solo last week.

Some other thoughts:

• This week in "Chuck" pop culture references: Chuck compares himself to celebrity zookeeper Jack Hanna. Chuck impresses Manoosh with his reading choice of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra's "Y: The Last Man." Sarah's "Frak Off" belly shirt is, of course, a "Battlestar Galactica" joke to play to Manoosh's pre-established "BSG" fixation. One of the items on sale at Weap-Con is the "EM-50 mobile interrogation unit," where in "Stripes," the EM-50 was a mobile assault vehicle disguised as an RV. Casey's line about Chuck bringing a knife to a gunfight is lifted from Sean Connery in "The Untouchables." The French film that Morgan and Hannah discuss, on the other hand, was invented for purposes of the show, and the art department put the name of several "Chuck" writers (including this episode's authors, Matt Miller and Scott Rosenbaum) and crew members on the credits if you look closely. Anything I missed?

• Songs this week include Datarock's "Amarillion" (Hannah enters in her Nerd Herd uniform), "Danny Trejo" by Plastillina Mosh (Chuck smoothing things over with Manoosh), Calvin Harris' "Merrymaking at My Place" (Sarah seducing Manoosh), The Clash's vintage "Rock the Casbah" (the team arrives in Dubai) and "40 Day Dream" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros (the final montage).

• Two candidates for the still sponsor-less "Chuck" Plot Hole of the Week: 1)Since General Beckman found out that Devon knows Chuck's secret in "Operation Awesome" (if not before that) and is still letting him roam free, why is Chuck so terrified that if Ellie finds out, they go into witness protection? 2)Why would the buyers at Weap-Con be so willing to believe Manoosh's story about the sunglasses? Isn't it entirely possible that he's a martial arts master posing as a dweeb?

• Also, were you disappointed that we never got a Chuck/Manoosh fight scene? Or are you happy that Chuck's Intersect 2.0 skills have mostly turned out to be used for minor action beats (like Chuck using the nacho plate to save Sarah) rather than the new focus of the show?

• With so many funny people around her, Strahovski isn't usually called on to deliver jokes, but I laughed out loud at Sarah's smug, sing-song "Thank you!" after Casey acknowledged that Chuck was in over his head trying to secure an asset. (Though, frankly, that didn't make me laugh nearly as hard as the sight gag of Sarah in the "Frak Off" shirt.)

• After he watched the end of "Chuck vs. First Class," Fienberg complained to me that the Buy More's wind machine wasn't turned on when Hannah entered the store the way it usually is for Sarah, Carina, et al. Well, her entrance at the top of this episode belatedly solved that problem. I guess they were just waiting to get her into her Nerd Herd uniform (in a version that fell somewhere in between Sarah's stripper-iffic version from "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer" and the anime-influenced one that Anna Wu favored).

• Manoosh was played by Fahim Anwar, in real life an aerospace engineer by day, stand-up comic by night. He wrote a bit about the experience of filming this episode on his blog.

• Which is more impressive and/or funnier: Morgan's new Ass Man office in the custodial closet, or Jeff's men's room stall office (from "Chuck vs. the Predator")? And should we assume that Jeff's office was a casualty of Emmett Millbarge's reign of terror over Buy Moria?

• I loved "Chuck vs. First Class," but in retrospect I realize that Chuck did very little to ensure the success of his first solo mission (other than the fencing match with Stone Cold Steve Austin), and that most of the credit goes to Shaw, Sarah, and the magical Castle joystick. And, having recognized that, Chuck's attempt to get General Beckman to compliment him on his work went over as well with me as it did with Beckman.

• While most of the episode's jokes were landing beautifully, the running gag about the Weap-Con organizer trying to play off all of Operation Bartowski's shenanigans as weapons demonstrations never quite worked, and became a distraction in a few spots. It either needed more time to set up that guy, or else should have been ditched.

What did everybody else think?

94 comments:

Anonymous said...

I loved it, but I love anything with that much Jeffster. Can't wait to see where their investigation leads.

Anonymous said...

Another plot hole that bothered me, because it seemed like a missed comic and/or tension opportunity: Chuck flashing on skills seems to have overwhelmed his capacity to flash on persons of interest. Shouldn't Chuck have been flashing left and right at Weap-Con? I was kind of hoping for an Intersect meltdown as almost everybody there would be significant to international politics or the spy game.

SCT said...

I enjoyed the episode, but I felt the entire story would have been more effective if spread across more than one episode. Establish the friendship in one. Discovery of the Intersect in the next. Finish the story in the third episode.

The episode was entertaining, but Chuck's "growth" as a spy came across as rushed to me.

Also, what was with this episode airing in Canada last night? Is that a regular thing with Chuck?

Anonymous said...

I thought this was the best episode of the season. Mostly because Chuck didn't really whine that much, and he took a break from lusting after Sarah the whole time. (Even during the seduction scenes Chuck seemed more upset that he wasn't the one handling the asset, rather than being jealous of Manoosh and Sarah). Chuck finally grew up.

Not sure if this is a real restaurant, but I thought Two and a Half Amigos was another shoutout to Chevy Chase and Three Amigos. And I loved that, once again, while Ellie was talking about Chuck and Paris she had a baguette sticking out of her grocery bag. Who came up with that rule?

My biggest plot hole from this season (that I keep forgetting to bring up on this site) is that I wish the show would explain why Chuck and Ellie's father isn't around anymore. I know Scott Bakula has another show to do and won't be back, but it feels odd that they haven't taken 10 seconds to mention that he took a job in another country, or something.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Mr. Bartowski said in the season 2 finale that he planned to disappear again because he didn't want to deal with the fallout from the creation of Intersect 2.0.

Anonymous said...

Geez, that whole thing was kind of depressing, wasn't it? It would have been easier if Chuck's hard spy-ness had manifested itself through killing a bad guy, not screwing over a good guy. I'm quite sure that's why the writers chose the second option.

Finn said...

Pretty good, but not my favorite. Ended strong, however, in the last 15 minutes. Enjoyed the getting the laser out of Casey's pants quite a bit.

Also, I like even more how they are making the characters grow and change and recognize that growth in each other.

Just a note, I think you typed Sarah when you meant to type Ellie above while discussing that "Sarah and Morgan were alarmed to ...."

filmcricket said...

I've been waiting for Morgan and/or Ellie to wonder what's going on with Chuck, given how involved they are (or want to be) with his life, especially since Chuck and Morgan moved in together. Captain Awesome finding out first has been great for comedy purposes, but it's long past time for one of those two to get suspicious.

I do hope it takes them a while, though. Don't want Chuck to go all Alias on us.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yeah, Sarah Lancaster's name causes me to make that mistake once or twice a season. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The guy who played Manoosh is one lucky MFer.

J said...

We bought all those hard drives! We stole all the guacamole! Scotty doesn't know Scotty doesn't know Scotty doesn't know.

Emily N. said...

I really enjoyed this one. Though I agree about the various plot holes, I was so engaged with the episode that I overlooked them. As you mentioned, really great work by Ryan McPartlin and Josh Gomez. I liked that the emotional elements of Chuck becoming a real spy were balanced by lots of comedy gold or else the episode would have been too heavy.

Lisa said...

Confusion first. The first thing I thought when Manoosh whipped out the glasses was how Chuck was re-intersected with those glasses from Bryce in either S1 or S2, I can't remember. Now, perhaps I missed it, but was there some dialogue that linked Manoosh's glasses to Bryce's, or was it clear that Manoosh invented those glasses by himself? I have to believe those two sets of glasses are connected, possibly with Pa Bartowski's fingerprints on them. But if they're not, then why would they bring that imagery back? It's a real continuity error, I think.

Re the Chuck/Sarah situation. I'm liking it, though I think the writing could be stronger. If I hear YS uttering that dumb line "Chuck's not ready for...." one more time, I'm going to heave my pillow at the TV. YS could do much more with the helplessness of Sarah's situation if the writers just give her the material. Meanwhile, I thought ZL did a great job with the predictable "I'm going to get drunk now" scene -- there was a certain violence to it that I suspect we'll see more of with Chuck in his most private moments. And if this is what is keeping Chuck and Sarah apart, I think it makes sense because it's a real existential crisis for both of them.

And though I know the investigation of Chuck by Morgan, Ellie, Jeff and Lester will be played for laughs, I will be desperately disappointed if there's not a heartbreaking scene in the future when Ellie finally discovers the truth about her brother and Sarah's somehow not part of it. After all, Sarah looked crushed when she watched Chuck lie to Ellie on that screen.

This episode was light on the surface, but I think a lot happened tonight that's going to make this show even better.

the2scoops said...

Re: The airing Sunday nights in Canada thing

Not sure about hte rest of the country, but the Toronto station that carries Chuck is airing The Bachelor in the current Chuck slot, so they play Chuck on the Sunday night before the normal Monday airing. I think it's back to Monday nights in a week or so.

Alan - thanks for the music notes. I think my "Songs from Chuck" playlist is the perfect tonic for sitting through the Grammys last night.

Finn said...

Yeah, when Alias "family" all found out the truth, it kind of started to hurt the show - or maybe that was when Francie became the Francinator.

Lisa, I think you speak the truth when you say that a lot happened tonight that will make the show better. It seemed light a more funny episode on the surface, what with the flying nacho samplers, but lots of storylines were kind of started. Morgan and Ellie starting to investiage, Chuck starting to feel the real weight of being a spy, Sarah being distressed at Chuck's changes.

chuck rabbit said...

I'm with anonymous on the downplay of Chuck's flashing on people of interest and I think they missed a chance for a funny with that one. Flashing on the correct projection of a plate really struck home with me because of the failed attempt by Chuck in the pilot followed by the wildly successful contrast of Sarah's plate hurl in Wookie. I always thought that was a subtle but effective way to highlight how different the two of them really are and then to have Chuck perfectly execute it thanks to the Intersect -- well, I like the small things, clearly.

I went off about no one doubting the "sunglasses intersect" when no one had the opportunity to use it. Casey getting Chuck a pen knife when he asked for a laser, especially just a scene after Chuck feigned no knowledge of Casey's shopping spree.

Chuck drinking alone. I wanted to see Casey and Sarah join him, actually, but it would have had a whole different symbolism then.

My favorite episode of this season and probably top five of the series.

Alyson said...

Confusion first. The first thing I thought when Manoosh whipped out the glasses was how Chuck was re-intersected with those glasses from Bryce in either S1 or S2, I can't remember. Now, perhaps I missed it, but was there some dialogue that linked Manoosh's glasses to Bryce's, or was it clear that Manoosh invented those glasses by himself?
Manoosh reverse-engineered them from scattered bits of the destroyed Intersect that the Ring had managed to corral.

Anonymous said...

What was with the emphasis on Chuck setting down and picking up the briefcase when he was confronted by Ellie in the Buy More? Weird visual emphasis.

PS: I have a huge crush on Sarah Lancaster.

-K

a42 said...

I feel like this episode was about 10 minutes short of being really really good. The content I don't have any issue with, but as a previous commenter noted, the pacing just seemed a little rushed.

Like with The Office, Chuck usually does a great job giving many jokes an extra beat to really settle in and hit home. This episode jumped a little too quickly between the A/B stories for me.

For example Hannah was in a couple good scenes, but at the end of the episode I didn't have a real solid feel that she was really important in this episode like I did after 'First Class.' Instead she was seems more like a plot device for Ellie and Morgan to have that agreement about Chuck being suspicious and not her own character.

The thing is though I have to agree with all of Alan's points about the actual show content. It really was a great push forward and sign of the show's development since season 1. I just wish some of the scenes had a little more time to breathe.

Stef said...

They've also made a definite decision to "cute Chuck up" this season, and seeing the flashback to the first ep really made that clear. Chuck no longer looks like a computer nerd - he's got good hair, better non-Buy More clothes, and a totally different physical manner about him. Levi's playing those changes well, but it's making it harder to make the superficial "Sarah wouldn't go for a guy like Chuck" claims.

Duvall said...

I'm just disappointed that we didn't get to see a Callahan full-bore auto-lock at Weap-Con.

Anonymous said...

If you were going to do an over under, are your thoughts on the Chuck/Sarah being a excuse to keep tension going. They seem to be painting themselves into quite a corner.

I must be dense but I have not been able to find the pattern with chuck's flashing. Most but not all of the flashes with a martial arts flavor have been related to defending someone else or non life threatening situations.

jxl said...

I can't decide if this is one of the strongest episodes of the season or one of the weakest. I loved the flashback sequences & the parallels it drew with Chuck's own story/development. On the Chuck/Sarah storyline it does seem they're heading in opposite directions, which I have no problem with as it means the story is moving forward.

Did not like the whole weap-con sequence. Seemed deeply implausible & actually looked very fake. For someone who usually loves the Buy More stuff the storyline just didn't work for me. Why would Jeff & Lester step aside on Morgan's say so?

Also what are we to make of the Ring? As of yet we know little of their aims, motivations or operations. Given that every episode has featured them in some form I find that very strange.

--Deb said...

@jxl--Because (thanks to Casey), Lester now thinks that Morgan is a good, kind, wonderful man... (grin)

Anonymous said...

He also bribed them (finding Lester a wife, letting Jeff sleep over).

Anonymous said...

Also, the writers have really not done a lot with Morgan and Chuck living together. It seems that those two have barely had any scenes at all this season. So, while I get that Morgan feels out of the loop, it also feels a little unearned since we don't ever see what their arrangement is like right now. I mean, Chuck is supposedly single AND under Morgan at work, so how is he explaining his absences not only at work but at the homestead (esp. overnight)?

MM said...

I love how 'Un-Awesome' Devon has become, royally freaked out and uncharacteristically uncool. Ryan McPartlin is selling it and striking comedy gold.

This episode featured the whole cast & was nicely balanced between spy stuff, family drama & Buy More antics. Kudos to the writers.

Karen said...

I thought this was a sad, poignant episode. I feel a little like Sarah; I am beginning to miss the sweet, innocent, nerdy Chuck.

After Casey counselled JWB, and Chuck went back to his place, I was expecting to see him unwind instead with a video game or something more Chuckable. Even after he took his first swig of Scotch, I thought he would choke and wheeze and turn to something else. I gasped out loud when he knocked back the rest of that glass, and felt like I'd seen the death of a friend. It's one thing to know that Casey may lose himself from time to time in an evening of booze and recreational gun-cleaning; I mean, he's probably been a sociopath since childhood. But it was heart-breaking to see Chuck in that role, and think of him becoming some kind of hardened alcoholic as the job slowly eats away his soul. It was just as painful watching Sarah watch Chuck lie so effortlessly and cheerfully to Ellie.

I agree that it makes the Chuck/Sarah split seem very organic. They've changed each other into people they may not know or like any more. But I don't want this to continue endlessly on this path. I really hope Fedak and Schwartz figure out a way to drag Chuck back from the brink, because I'm not going to like him any more than Sarah will if that doesn't happen soon.

Anonymous said...

One more pop culture reference..the "yogurt time" line has to be a reference to Burn Notice

WWWeaves said...

I wanted Casey to join Chuck for that drink. But maybe that's the future. I thought sending Manoosh off to isolation was understandable, the man has no inherent morals. He needs a keeper. That said, I hope they isolate him in a lab with suitable oversight.

Baylink said...

Hmmm.

Uncomfortable laughs, huh?

I squicked pretty hard at this episode too -- or at least the first half -- but not over *those* things.

I did it over Chuck torpedoing himself with Hannah (who seemed much less irritated about it than she ought to have, given how she got there), and him *almost* doing it with Manoosh in the store.

We'd mostly gotten over that sort of Look:-Chuck-Is-A-Geek crap, so it grated worse than it used to.

I particularly liked the "Piece of cake" they gave Sarah, in her version of the bookend shot, which mirrors Chuck's use as he heads into the bar the first time to see Manoosh.

And the episode not only echos Sandworm, but also one of my absolute favorite pieces of fanfic... though I'm certain that's just luck. Staff writers *never* read fanfic, right?

This was another episode where the task of Interrupting Chuck Just As Something Good Is About To Happen was reassigned from Morgan to Casey, as happened once before already this season, which is a nice switch.

"Jack Hanna". Oh: it's *not* spelled with a trailing H? :-)

On the Pop Culture front, I personally assumed that the "throw the plate" maneuver was a callback to Bond (, James Bond); Dr No?

You neglected, of course, to mention Swan Lake in the music list, but since they mentioned that, Alan, we'll let you off with a warning. :-)

I'm *very* happy with how they're playing Intersect 2.0, though I was a touch squeebly about Intersect 2.1. I wouldn't be at all displeased to see Chuck get to pass a few phone calls with Manoosh later all, though that's probably shut out by the way they took they story.

I personally thought Morgan's office was *much* funnier than Jeff's; after all, Morgan actually *is* Ass Man.

Regarding Chuck's reactions to Sarah and Manoosh, when I saw him in the van, right after they dragged Manoosh from the bar, my reaction was "he's not a disappointed teenager, he's an annoyed adult". He's still not *happy* watching Sarah all over Manoosh, but he played it as though she wasn't his anymore... which is where his head is supposed to be at, in case everyone's forgotten what he knows.

Papa Bartowski is in fact, supposed to come back this season (I believe I heard), but indeed, whatever passes for a Story Editor (since those are now just courtesy titles for staff writers, largely, to keep them above the line) really ought to make sure such lines get into scripts when necessary, even if reshoots are necessary to do it.

Baylink said...

I loved "stole all the guacamole", and the short callback to "bought all the i9 processors in a 30 mile radius"... though, while it *is* possible to fry hardware from software, it's not nearly as easy as they make it sound.

I don't remember Chuck ever being reintersected *by a pair of glasses, Lisa. Once by an email, once by suburbanites, and once in reverse at a drive in, but no shades. You got a reference?

I do concur with you that the writers are pulling a Katie Heigl on Yvonne this season so far, though. She seems to have been injected with, er, excuse me, "adopted" most of Chuck's whining.

Is this the Law Of Conservation Of Immaturity?

I've just flashed on something: I'll bet you we got a 3 hour premiere weekend specficially to set us up to cliffhang the Olympics because next week's good for that.

I agree with K: they pulled a reverse-Chekhov on us with that briefcase closeup; is there a deleted scene, I wonder?

I think that the edit pacing was a bit tight on this one, but what I call the Gilligan cuts, and most other people call red-dress cuts, mostly meshed well.

And to Stef: sure it is. But we aren't anymore, partially because Sarah *is* falling/has fallen for Chuck, and Chuck is now the one missing it... and partially cause, well, he hooked Hannah, right? Course, that was just packaging-that-failed-to-drive-her-off; *he* did most of the work on that one.

I, too, liked it; it had a good beat, you can dance to it, I'll give it an 87.

(Ok, ok, Alan; I'll write shorter... :-})

Anonymous said...

Baylink, Chuck versus the Break Up featured the "reintersect" with sunglasses left by Bryce.

Steve B said...

Loved, loved, loved this episode. Lots of laughter with Morgan's office and the pocket pen scene, and lots of sadness. Watching Chuck lie to Ellie, seeing how disappointed Awesome was with Chuck, seeing Chuck drink alone. Tough to watch at times, but a fantastic episode. I think the characters did more growing in this episode than in any other.

I'm putting this up there with some of the classics from last year.

Anonymous said...

Having Chuck betray Manoosh is pretty rough, and potentially borderline-irredeemable, for Chuck's character. Until, that is, it's realized that (1) if Chuck didn't do it, someone else would have to, or else (2) Manoosh would end up dead, or else (3) Manoosh would end up having to build the Intersect for The Ring, as Sarah said, and everyone would end up dead. I'm not sure Chuck really had a choice.

Bia said...

I believe the glasses Bryce gave Chuck were for updating the data on the Intersect in his head, a way for the writers to work around the idea that the info Chuck had would get obsolete.

Brian said...

This episode had unexpected affinities with Sam Peckpinpah's Straw Dogs, I thought: Dweeby milquetoast forced to turn into alpha-male violence machine. It's obviously less extreme here, and Chuck is still a long way from where Dustin Hoffman ended up, but there was definitely a Peckinpah vibe to the Casey/Chuck goings-on in this one.

Allison DeWitt said...

The good parts and not so good parts have been covered - IMO, it could have been spread out to a couple of episdoes - so I'll just give a word of appreciation (again) for naming the songs. It's so nice to look forward to the review and music recap.

I'd heard Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on Letterman and meant to get their album, and loved their song in this show.

And of course, "Rock the Casbah" by the Clash at Weap-Con was just perfect.

Attention to detail - that's a major reason I love this show.

Margaret said...

Speaking of Burn Notice, as soon as our team entered Weap-Con, I said to my husband, "Fiona must be here somewhere!"

dez said...

Yep, the glasses were an update (Intersect 1.2, I guess) from Bryce.

This episode had so much funny that the poignant parts hit especially hard. Loved Capt. Awesome taking off with the Paris tickets because Ryan McPartlin played that perfectly. Also thoroughly enjoyed Chuck and Casey having to get close so Chuck could get the laser pen. Did not love the end, though--too sad to see Chuck like that!

Rachael said...

I really liked this one. I laughed a LOT this week - At pretty much everything with Morgan (his realization of Chuck's Paris trip was priceless), everything with Jeffster, and every interaction that Chuck and Casey had. Though I totally agree with one of the other commenters on here that there's NO way Jeff and Lester would have backed down from chasing Hanna so easily, simply because of the bribes by Morgan. ;-)

Like everyone else, I also loved all the flashbacks to season one ... very nice. I see why some of you found this episode to be depressing, but I think it's leading to very interesting places, so I'm just kinda rolling with it and waiting to see where it goes.

I am also very excited to see that Ellie and Morgan are FINALLY catching on to all of Chuck's weird behaviors (or behaviors that would SEEM very weird to someone who doesn't know his secret, of course). But at the same time, I think if everyone in his life finds out his secret, it might ruin some of the fun. But I'm conflicted, because I feel like Ellie needs to find out for the sake of character/story development, now that Awesome knows.

Anyway, I was very pleased with this episode. I loved last week's ep, and I think I enjoyed this one just as much, especially with those flashback scenes. Great stuff.

George said...

I love the show, but it's reaching Alias territory when it comes to the ability to fly and be at a far flung location only 1 hour later...with no one noticing (I mean, he left Hannah entirely...)

Rachael said...

Oh and Alan, I totally agree that "the running gag about the Weap-Con organizer trying to play off all of Operation Bartowski's shenanigans as weapons demonstrations" fell flat haha. I was totally not into those gags, BUT all the other comedic parts in this ep were SO great that I barely even noticed that running gag at all. ;-) I noticed that my husband laughed a lot in this episode too, so that means it must've been pretty funny. :) And moreover it had just the right mix of funny and poignant scenes that makes me love this show so much.

cgeye said...

It woulda been nice for Casey to have had the same geek-out moments Morgan and Chuck would have had at Comic Con.... and for Manoosh to have realized that his knowledge had consequences, violent ones.

Baylink said...

It's just occurred to me that it was fairly "I'm really an agent" of Chuck to just *tell* Ellie he was sending them to a week in a flat in Paris, and assume he'd be backed up.

That was, what, a $10,000 gamble?

wv: Flonese: what you use when your legs can't breathe.

Pamela Jaye said...

@Baylink - Bryce left him the sunglasses, and when he put them on, he got his software upgraded.

What was that red thing in the suitcase?

>I am beginning to miss the sweet, innocent, nerdy Chuck.

I do too. That's what made me watch a show about a spy. Also that he was indeed a geek.

I also miss the wind machine, having recently seen the 30Rock ep where they not only use it but also mention it out loud.

No one can go in and mention Scott with the ep in the can... I think. And even if they could - is there a reason to?
(and can we have Mary Page Keller as Scott's wife? I'll explain later)

Of course, in the end Chuck had to catch Manoosh - he knew he was a threat to everyone with the brains to build an intersect and no conscience at all, even Chuck would see it was the needs of the many.

captcha: suburph

Pamela Jaye said...

Additionally I love the list of pop culture references (esp all hte ones I'd never catch) and wonder - how many shows do this much of it?
Buffy
Gilmore Girls?
What else? Veronica Mars?

Baylink always references two people running towards each other, arms outstretched - John! Martha! - and i'm assuming, missing each other and continuing to run. Odd he didn't mention that here. To be someone Sarah could be with, Chuck has to be *not* the person she fell in love with. Sad.

dave said...

I'm glad they're moving the story forward and not just working through bad-guy-of-the-week stuff. This episode felt appropriately sad, if a little rushed. I'm nervous about how they're handling Sarah & Chuck - their chemistry is my favorite part of the show, and I really want them to at least care deeply for each other. It feels awkward right now. I'm wondering how they'll recover and bring them back together.

My contribution to the weekly plot hole: Why was Ellie going through Chuck's luggage? Since they don't live together anymore, I couldn't think of one reason other than maybe laundry, but even then, did he really just hand her his bag? Seems strange.

Anonymous said...

I'm CIA-illiterate: Is it true that if you find out someone is a spy, you go deep underground somewhere? Seems like a waste of money.

Pamela Jaye said...

I totally forgot about Ellie and the suitcase, and I also wonder. (and did, when I saw it)

Baylink has liked Sarah since Scrubs (the only show I know she was in where she didn't wear scrubs) and I since at least What About Brian (she left, it was dull) so the name thing is very confusing here, too.

Anonymous said...

Flove this episode. Fun all around, despite the message behind the plot is a bit sad and frightening. My favorite part was when Chuck tried to get the laser pen as Sarah react to the whole process. Good stuff.

I realize that Chuck did very little to ensure the success of his first solo mission (other than the fencing match with Stone Cold Steve Austin), and that most of the credit goes to Shaw, Sarah, and the magical Castle joystick. And, having recognized that, Chuck's attempt to get General Beckman to compliment him on his work went over as well with me as it did with Beckman.

Thank you! But I also thought he was unnecessarily cocky about his successful "solo" mission.

Anonymous said...

I miss Season Two.

David said...

My issue with the sunglasses was the lack of explanation or even acknowledgment that Manoosh's intersect worked differently than Papa Bartowski's. Chuck (and Papa B) download intersect programming and the information stays in their brains unless overwritten, and Chuck’s inability to remove it was a primary plot point for all of S1-S2. M, however, needs to put on the sunglasses each time to be able to access his Intersect 2.1 physical abilities, and his only option seems to be martial arts. And were we supposed to assume he lost the "powers" each time he took the sunglasses off?

It's fanwankable, I suppose-- perhaps because it's only a prototype and Manoosh had to get it to work with one ability before adding others in? Though you’d think if he realized any ability could be learned he’d have used that as a selling point in his auction.
And if Manizzle can force himself to "flash" by putting on sunglasses, it seems to violate the previously established Intersect mechanics (that it responds to the situation a person finds himself, whether finding information based on a person Chuck sees or hears or giving him an ability based on the weapon he's holding).

I would have at least liked Chuck, Sarah or Casey to note or question the fact that the new intersect apparently didn't stay in Manoosh's brain the way it did in Chuck's. Or M could have said he didn’t think his glasses were at their full potential because he only got some of the tech to reverse engineer.

Despite that nitpick, I absolutely loved this episode with all its role reversals and forward plot motion.

Anonymous said...

I really thought the Cook Pu jokes were overdone. At the end I just disliked Ted for being kind of racist and a jerk, especially his main concern regarding the whole situation was how it embarrassed or reflected negatively on HIM rather than any cognizance of how he fucked up regarding the poor girl.

Anonymous said...

For the French movie : "Sans respirer". Not really invented, but a volontary bad translation of the classical "Breathless" (Godard, 1960). In French, the English title, itself a translation, could be (quite inelegantly) re-translated by "Sans Respirer" ("without breathing"). The original title is : A Bout de Souffle.
A very funny way to play with the limits of snobbery.

LoopyChew said...

For a Chuck episode, this was incredibly dark, and I'm glad that this is how Chuck loses his innocence--the metaphorical death of someone not too far removed from himself, instead of the actual death of an enemy agent (unless you want to count the two times he pulled off The Morgan as his kills). I was already kind of in a funk yesterday (off day at work), and while I thought this episode had whole new layers of awesome (and included whole new layers FOR Awesome) and probably the best of the season thus far, it had exactly the kind of downer ending which I was hoping to avoid.

Still, Sarah in a Frak Off half-tee! Sarah snuggling with the geeky kid! Casey as Trankenstein! Rock the Casbah! Kristen Kreuk's party-girl hair (which, Bee-Tee-Dub, makes her look better than the long hair on Smallville ever did, and that's coming from a guy who DIGS long hair) getting the Buy More fan treatment! Jeffster being incredibly creepy! The Ass Man Closet Office! Chuck using a nacho sampler as an improvised frisbee (which might not work in terms of logic, but Rule of Funny applies here big time)! Even Chuck's desperate "Call me!" at the end of the first act had me cracking up.

Thus far, each episode of Season Three has been progressively better, and I'm hoping this trend stays.

@David: My personal fanwank of the sunglasses is that not only do they embed the information into your head, but at the end they also provide the required visual stimuli to bring it out. Granted, it's inefficient (in that you'd keep "relearning" skills which were previously embedded, if dormant), but then again, I can't think of a way to communicate to the system that your brain already has these skills learned. Since there wasn't an interface as to which to choose the skill set needed, I'd assume kung fu was the only skill set available in those sunglasses. Either each set of sunglasses would have a new skill set on it, or he'd implement a skill selector into the sunglasses somehow.

An interesting way of playing with the Intersect idea, and one I like.

CAPTCHA: "wedgee." I don't think more has to be said.

Abhimanyu Das said...

Fun as this episode was, there was a lot that bothered me about it.

Firstly, Kristin Kreuk's character...this is a woman who was working at a job so high level and glamorous that she had to 'go to Paris to wrap up her office'. In first class. And now she's happy working at a Buy-more? Chuck may be awesome but he's not that awesome.

Also, the whole Intersect glasses thing...this is a MAJOR gamechanger. This whole show centers around the Intersect and now suddenly some MIT dropout reverse-engineers another one? And it turns out to be a Macguffin of the week? Perhaps I am wrong and the Intersect glasses will play a major role in the ongoing storyline? I hope so.

And why is everyone so broken up about Manoosh? This is a guy who was essentially willing to sell a WMD (which is really what those Intersect glasses were) to a roomful of rather bad people so he could get rich (and get laid). Are we supposed to feel bad that Chuck had to 'burn' him?

The nerd-stereotyping rubbed me the wrong way a little too (reminded me off the times that The Big Bang Theory laughs at its characters as opposed to with them. This ep felt too much like 'at').

I know the show is supposed to be ridiculous, plot-wise, but there should be Some internal consistency, no?

Maybe I missed something?

Anonymous said...

My issue with the past 3 episodes has been the complete lack of interaction between Chuck and Sarah. It's distracting in how unrealistic it is and inconsistent. After the first 3 eps, they act like they hardly know each other-let alone are supposedly in love and one of them has confessed that feeling. It's bizarre. Love Chuck, love the cultural references, don't love the C/S obstacles, but even more don't like how in between C/S moving forward, they rarely even look each other's way--at least on Chuck's part. Last night Sarah was in black lingerie pretending to seduce Manoosh and Chuck didn't even blink?? I can suspend disbelief and enjoy Chuck for what it is, but some consistency in feelings and how Chuck and Sarah interact(even if they are keeping some of their feelings secret still)would be nice.

guinness said...

I think it's believable that the intersect Manoosh built only temporarily imbeds the information in the brain. Didn't the regular intersect fry the brains of most people who tried to absorb the information? Maybe a temporary interesect is the only way that it works on normal people. As for Chuck, I seem to recall that Chuck's data retention abilities were tested off the chart and that's why Bryce sent him the intersect in the first place. He knew Chuck would be able to retain the intersect information in his brain permanently without frying it...

Lisa said...

Well, let's hope we haven't seen the end of the annoying Manoosh so we can figure out all this faux-Intersect stuff because it's either really relevant for future episodes or a big cheat on the part of the writing staff, which is NOT like them.

Going back to Dave's post about what Ellie was doing in Chuck's suitcase -- man, you could drive a truck through that one, couldn't you? Could Ellie really be that intrusive? Could Chuck be that careless? I mean, it would have made sense for Morgan to be looking through Chuck's bag than his sister WHO DOESN'T EVEN LIVE THERE ANYMORE!

I also agree with Anonymous' point about the uneven tone of Chuck and Sarah's relationship this season. If this is all about Sarah being mad at Chuck about not running away with her, then commit to that and re-reference it somehow. If this is all about Chuck himself drawing a line in the sand between the two of them because he's made his choice to become a spy (frankly the more logical angle), then the writers need to support that better than they have. I actually liked the brief moment where Sarah comes running into the surveillance room in her skivvies and Chuck doesn't give it the usual drop-jaw. That was saying something. But overall, I think the writers should reveal the uncertainty in their relationship a more forceful way rather than leaving us a vacuum to fill. They're missing a great opportunity.

The briefcase scene -- I was waiting for someone to steal it, switch it, and NOTHING HAPPENED. You know, I wonder if this episode really got hashed up in the editing room. This episode had the feel of a battle of wills between directors, producers, writers, who knows, where some important stuff got in and lots of normal-feeling stuff got left out. The weird feeling I've gotten about S3 is that they're doing so much new exposition due to Chuck's changed circumstances that I don't feel I'm in the same world anymore. Everyone's off-balance, including the audience.

guinness said...

Someone earlier commented that they were annoyed with Sarah constantly saying that Chuck wasn't ready. I actually liked that part because I think that she keeps stating he isn't ready because she hopes he isn't...

Anonymous said...

Ellie was probably borrowing Chuck's bag.

Anonymous said...

I'm personally seeing some parallels with when Chuck let Jill go after they went to that Fulcrum compound. I guess Season 3 Chuck would not have let Jill off as easy as in that episode.

Anonymous said...

I loved the moment when Chuck discloses his spy identity to Manoosh and Manoosh is all upset, saying he thought Chuck was a friend and he says the word "intercourse" when mentioning Sarah. Chuck just quizzically looks at him and mouths the word "intercourse" as if to say, "OMG. This guy is even nerdier than I am."

Teev said...

David I was thinking about the new temporary intersect too in that it seems like Chuck's 2.0 is also temporary since he remains helpless unless actively flashing but at this point he's flashed quite a few times so there should be lots of good fightin' skills to choose from (if the info stayed permanent after flashing). So why is that and what is the expiration of the knowledge?

I agree it is sad to lose our innocent bumbling Chick but I like the direction Season 3 is going. "What bad will you do for the greater good?" is always a timely and interesting question.

captcha is "bunsome" which is a Cute Overload word if I ever heard one!

Matt said...

Just wanted to let you know that in the WeapCon fight, Casey wields a golden gun. Might be another possible reference to Bond.

Lisa said...

I lost a bet: I was so absolutely sure you would open with "review after I steal all the guac from the kitchen."

Lisa said...

Self-referencing joke: "best wingman" - in Chuck vs the Third Dimension, another tranq-happy guest star, Tyler Martin/Dominic Monaghan promised Chuck to be the best wingman ever; now Manoosh claimed Chuck filled that role.

MikeS said...

I like the way that the show foreshadows events. And the end of this show suggests the way that Morgan and Ellie will pry into Chuck's life to figure out what's going on, while Sarah and Awesome are separately repulsed by who Chuck is becoming. And Casey now respects Chuck a little more, but can only offer advice in the form of hard liquor.

I don't think they'll let Chuck turn into a total jerk, and I have no doubt about Jeffster's ability to screw up their Chuck recon missions, and give Morgan and Ellie bad information, but it is fun to see where they are hinting at going.

The rest of the episode was pretty solid as well. A pre-season 3 Chuck would have whined a lot more about the unsavory task of handling the asset, and would have been hurt by realizing that this was Sarah's mindset when they first met as well...which like Alan said, how much growth has this show gone through, that Sarah would think back longingly at Chuck's innocence of season 1, not Chuck himself.

Brandy said...

This was my favorite episode of the season thus far. I like how we're seeing the evolution of Chuck and the impact on those around him. I'm looking forward to see what Morgan's "best people" find out and how it gets spun for the ridiculous... or not.

Sara said...

I agree with Abhimanyu - I did not feel bad at all for Manoosh getting sent underground - he was kind of geek-likeable at first, but then not so much with the WMD selling...

My pet peeve this season would have to be the overuse of the word "spy." I'd like them to get over it already. Phew, glad I got that off my chest...

Build A Better Fan said...

The Intersect glasses aren't a big plot hole, guys. I had no problem accepting it.
* Manoosh had to reverse-engineer the tech from the burned-out husk of the Intersect Cube. Considering that he didn't invent the tech, the end product was bound to be limited.
* Chuck is one of only a few who is able to handle the Intersect images -- see all of the images, and retain them. The Fulcrum Intersect that wiped out all the suburbs agents -- Chuck survived that and used the intel in it.
* Even Chuck loses his abilities a short time after accessing them. Not too hard to believe that Manoosh's new tech just flashes the brain temporarily, and then you lose it.

Ellie rifling through his bag is indeed going further than one would expect, even if she already suspected something was up between him and Devon.

I would have loved to see Chuck intel-flash like crazy at Weap-Con. Missed opportunity. And that one "guide" at the expo was unnecessary - just a step too far.

Don't mind them under-using Hannah for an episode. Still time for more of her.

Overall, enjoyed the episode. The season keeps improving. The progression does feel natural; Chuck has gradually become more comfortable with violence even before Intersect 2.0, and his family and friends didn't really have anything to suspect before the helicopters, Devon starting to lie, Chuck going really far from the Buy More on his missions, etc. The lies have finally become so big that they even begin to doubt good, dependable Chuck.

I've been waiting for the dark stuff for a long time, actually. I just didn't see that the rest of his family and peers would start closing in on him.

I can totally see Chuck and Sarah getting back together on new terms, more solid than the run-away stuff in "Colonel" and "Pink Slip" could have been.

And since the end of season 2 and learning that the new Intersect would be unreliable, I can see Chuck, in a protective fury, rapid-fire flashing on abilities to save her from some great danger at some late point in the season. I've been avoiding all spoilers, so please nobody confirm or deny, but that seems to me to be what they're telegraphing. Because Chuck's emotions haven't been the problem; when he's properly motivated (like protecting Sarah or just hoping to talk to her), he flashes right on cue.

mac35 said...

This season is really rolling now and while it was hard to watch Chuck turn into a colder, more heartless spy the shift is in keeping with this season's mantras of "Man becomes Spy" and "No More Mr. Nice Spy."

I don't think Chuck will ever become a heartless bastard (else the show loses its original appeal) just like I don't see Sarah ever being totally warm and fuzzy. I'm betting they realize that to keep grounded in the world they work in they need each and will meet in the middle. Chuck more of a realist and less an idealist and Sarah more in touch with her emotions and less cold.

Chris said...

"Danny Trejo" was ridiculously terrible!

Dan said...

Overall, I felt the first half of the episode was strong. I'm with others who are puzzled by Chuck's concern that Ellie and Awesome will be put in protective custody if Ellie finds out the truth...even though nothing's been done about Awesome knowing the truth.

Also, and I haven't seen anyone else mention it, why wasn't Team B, specifically Chuck, concerned about Manoosh being taking in by the Feds? Didn't Chuck destroy the Intersect 2.0 after downloading it, per Bryce and Papa B's instructions? So, is it now okay if General B and company can engineer a new intersect army, as long as the Ring can't?

cgeye said...

"And why is everyone so broken up about Manoosh? This is a guy who was essentially willing to sell a WMD (which is really what those Intersect glasses were) to a roomful of rather bad people so he could get rich (and get laid). Are we supposed to feel bad that Chuck had to 'burn' him?"

Dang skippy.... Chuck's Bad Guys of the Week have had less powerful weapons to sell, and the gang's had no compunctions sending them away. Why is Chuck so morally torn over a guy who'd sell *him* to the highest bidder, if he paid enough attention to see Chuck flash the same way he does with Intersect 2.1?

Manoosh wanted to sell to worse people to the Ring, because the weapon would be out there with no organization controlling its use -- it's selling suitcase nukes to anyone with the cash. Why would Chuck hesitate controlling such a danger to himself and his team? Even if Chuck had no powers, and let Manoosh walk, wouldn't Manoosh's new handlers execute any operative who knows about I 2.0, as a precaution?

Doesn't Chuck see that his hesitation about putting Manoosh underground places himself at risk, should Shaw or his superiors decide Chuck's aware enough of his powers to sell himself to the highest bidder?

That's where his morality should have been, not with a dude so similar in profile they could step into each other's lives without skipping a beat. This is where the refrigerator logic of this show failed -- I don't care about Charah, when something that refers back to the show's core gets handled sloppily.

Rachael said...

O.k. people, everyone keeps talking about why Chuck would be worried about Manoosh when he was clearly lacking in integrity. But we need to keep in mind that there's no way the writers could have made this character THAT likable, because if they did, everyone would be on this message board today complaining about the exact OPPOSITE thing - We'd all be saying, "Wow I can't believe Chuck was SO coldhearted as to let this guy get taken into captivity for the rest of his life!!" Everyone would be complaining that the show and the Chuck character has gotten TOO dark. IMO the way the writers wrote this Manoosh character was the only way they could have written him. We have to ultimately feel o.k. about Chuck's decision, BUT at the same time, we also have to understand why he might have had reservations about it.

Russell P. said...

On the pop-culture front, the volume of Y: THE LAST MAN that Chuck is reading is, intentionally, the volume entitled "Ring of Truth." I giggled when I spotted it.

Baylink said...

> Is it true that if you find out someone is a spy, you go deep underground somewhere? Seems like a waste of money.

No: they submerged him *because he knows how to build an intersect*. (which, of course, isn't really an Intersect; it's just a pair of tachistoscope shades -- the "Intersect" is all the *data*, which Manoosh didn't have.

George: LAX->Dubai on Emirates Air: 4:45pm takeoff PST, 7:45am landing Dubai time. So, not so bad, and even faster, likely, on a CAI G-5, which does -- I checked with my staff pilot -- have the legs to single-hop that trip).

"Bee-Tee-Dub"? Who are you; Barney Stinson? :-)

Chuck using a Nacho Sampler -- another double-entendre ep title; they like those, don't they, Loopster?

(See? I can do it too.)

> Last night Sarah was in black lingerie pretending to seduce Manoosh and Chuck didn't even blink??

Chuck had some *epically* unhappy looks on his face while Sarah was frezzing Manizzle; you missed them?

And wow; all this Ellie/Suitcase stuff is weirding me out, bigtime, cause I edited this video about 13 years ago for a local band:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jIJeQRC7QY

(No, I'm no Chris Payne, but I didn't shoot or direct, either...)

Lisa: I'm going to ask Matt and Ali on Twitter; see if either of them will cop to it; I agree with you; it seems like this ep will contribute most of the deleted scenes on the S3 DVD set...

> And Casey now respects Chuck a little more, but can only offer advice in the form of hard liquor.

"That brown liquor that only hunters, not women or children drink. I had acted as an adult, in his eyes... he treated me as an adult, in his eyes." Robert Parker; Spenser; _Pastime_. Betting one of the writers is a fan, though whether of Spenser or Faulkner isn't clear.

exacces: what you say about someone who now programs PostGreSQL instead.

Baylink said...

Damnit, I thought I fixed that: "A CIA G(ulftream)-5, which does have the legs..."

Dean Cornish said...

So I've read most of the comments here- interesting.

I for one liked this episode.

I grew rather tired of the "I'm a wannabe spy"
At some point, he had to become a spy, and that means the good with the bad.
He's now beginning to see and for once, feel the burden that Casey and Sarah shoulder disturbingly well.
To see him acquiring a taste for scotch at the end, was the epitaph. The bitter pill he willingly swallowed that completed the transformation.

There was so much conflict setup...
In direct relationship with his transformation- he also became noticeably incompatible with his former life. It really has now become his cover. It was interesting that both his family and his friends/co-workers both have teamed up to find what his secret it.
I presume that the direction is leading, is once again- Chuck must choose Spy life or Family. Not both. I think when Shaw looked at them all at the table having dinner, he must have been wondering how long that would last.

I also like the fact that Hannah came in, and he wasnt falling over himself with lust, more a casual interest- how odd compared to 3 years before where he would have fallen over himself to have time with her. She isnt that important in his life, and he's essentially told her that.

Lastly, the relationship between Sarah and Chuck isnt over. Far from it. If anything her perspective of him is changing. Not irrecoverably.
He is becoming more like her, less like he was.
To some, that's a disaster. To me, that's fresh.
She has always respected his ability to solve problems in unorthadox ways. That wont change, he's still chuck, still inventive. What is changing is his investment is larger, his will, is stronger, and the lengths he will go to are getting larger each week to prove he is a good spy.

I'm hoping Sarah & Chuck and Chuck and Family & Friends are the two story lines that are wrapped up when the show returns. They shouldnt linger, they have a purpose, deal with them and move along. If they drag it out, it will get old real fast.

Anonymous said...

@Dean Cornish: Great post


Really liked the ep, mostly for the very interesting character development. It had to happen sooner or later, and now Chuck has to find a balance between his spy life and his 'real life.' Compelling stuff. Loving this season so much.

Anonymous said...

I liked the episode and thought that the flashbacks to the pilot were effective. However, they seemed to introduced a continuity glitch that bugged me for the rest of the show. Did anyone else notice that the bookend flashbacks seemed to have been tweaked with new footage? Sarah was carrying and speaking on a BlackBerry, but in the pilot episode, Chuck makes a comment about the "Flip 180" having a screw that needed an adjustment. Was the flip phone just a cover and were there other shots from season 1 where she used a BlackBerry before getting an iPhone?
Other than that, I would really have loved it if WeapCon had featured an appearance by a gun called Vera!

Matt said...

Good episode. Not as good top to bottom as first class, but it did a number of important things plot wise that have to be acknowledged. As many have stated Chuck would have to become a bit darker for the overall arc of the show this season to work. If the show is committed to chuck becoming a fully validated intelligence agent he needs to deal with the moral and physiological baggage that comes with that line of work. His dilemma when it comes to the more damaging aspects of the profession is certainly going to be heightened. Unlike Casey with his military background where orders and objectives are placed above nearly everything or Sarah who learned to read people and lie at the knees of confidence man, Chuck was dropped into this world without consent and his journey in every season seems to be about him finding some sort of equilibrium.

This episode certainly helps Chuck start down the path of finding his new status quo vis a vis the intersect 2.0 and the responsibilities that come with it. I think Chuck as a character will continue to push on through for a while exploring the darker side of his nature. perhaps for no other reason than to find out what he is truly capable of. IMO Chuck isn't capable of being a brutal and remorseless spy in the mold of Casey or Shaw for good. But he can venture down those avenues for shorter intervals. The big difference between those two and chuck is that chuck views relationships as a source of strength, they view them as liabilities.

As for Charah, I think Allen is right that the effect that Chuck and Sarah are having on each other is causing them to pass each other without meeting in the middle. But I do think they will eventually get it together. Like I said every season is about Chuck being dropped into new and foreign situations in his second life, which invariably creates waves in his 1st life. eventually he figures out his comfort zone and strikes a balance between the two. So while he may walk down a darker path in the coming episodes, he won't stay there. As for Sarah I think that she likes the idea of a normal life far more than she would like actually living it. Ideally she would have some semblance of consistency in her personal life while not abandoning a profession for which she has a great affinity and aptitude for. Its hard to imagine her striking that particular balance with someone other than Chuck. I think I am in the minority here but a view chuck and sarah as an inevitability, and I don't particularly care what comes in the way or how long it takes as long as it is plausible. This dynamic that has permeated the first third of the season meets the criteria.

weiqin said...

@Anonymous I'm not sure about season 1 shots where Sarah uses a BB. But it doesn't make sense to damage her real phone and bring it in for repair. The flip 180 is probably just some random phone the CIA/she picked to get fixed, not her real one.

Jayme said...

When they were teaching Chuck how to be an asset, I couldn't help but think of how much of what they wanted Chuck to do reflected back to what Hannah had been doing.

Chuck wanted to see Paris, Hannah lived in Paris; Chuck wanted to be a bigshot techie, Hannah was a bigshot techie (or worked for one, anyway); Chuck admits that he works in a Buy More, Hannah no longer has a job and needs one. My memory an episode back isn't what it should be, but this episode made me more sure than ever (and extremely disappointed) that Hannah is somehow working for Shaw, possibly with the ring, but I still don't know for sure.

Geoff said...

Funniest moment?

The faces Chuck and Sarah make when Casey expresses near-joy at writing off Weap-Con as a "business expense."

Had to be freeze-framed to enjoy.

SJ said...

I first saw Fahim Anwar in his youtube video "Afghan Wedding" (very funny to people from South Asia)...such a nice surprise to see him on Chuck.

Anonymous said...

Sarah was carrying and speaking on a BlackBerry, but in the pilot episode, Chuck makes a comment about the "Flip 180" having a screw that needed an adjustment. Was the flip phone just a cover and were there other shots from season 1 where she used a BlackBerry before getting an iPhone?

The "Flip 180" is certainly for the cover, as we see later in the pilot that Sarah used the Blackberry to flip through her old photos of Bryce.

LoopyChew said...

@Geoff

Funniest moment?

The faces Chuck and Sarah make when Casey expresses near-joy at writing off Weap-Con as a "business expense."

Had to be freeze-framed to enjoy.


Oh, GOD, yes. Chuck's thumbs-up sealed it for me on rewatch, although Sarah's "woopartyhat" face was great in that you don't see her do that kind of thing, ever.

LoopyChew said...

@Jayme

My memory an episode back isn't what it should be, but this episode made me more sure than ever (and extremely disappointed) that Hannah is somehow working for Shaw, possibly with the ring, but I still don't know for sure.

Actually, I'm pretty sure of that, too. I don't think the fact that she's the one who pointed out Stone Cold Steve Austin is inconsequential, narrative-wise, and the way she was talking about how she fixes problems before specifically mentioning computer systems. I'm more than reasonably sure she's a Shaw plant, and if Shaw turns out to be more involved with the Ring than expected, then she's probably Ring too.

Anonymous said...

This is yet another entertaining episode. I like the turn that they are taking the Sarah/Chuck relationship. I hope the new girl isn't a spy or double agent or whatever. She simply could be a girl who got away because of Chuck's further immersion into spy life (no spoiler, just wild speculation). Curious whether anyone has thoughts about whether Chuck would do better as one of the USA shows. It's numbers would be solid and it would fit with the "procedural lite" vibe USA has going.

Dirty Frank said...

Small note in case there are any other music nerds like me who also love this show -- the track that Hannah walks into the Buy More to is actually by the band Datarock and the song is called "Amarillion," not the other way around just in case anyone tries to track it down. Other than that, great write-up as usual, Alan. This show is definitely firing on all cylinders so far this year and it's great that it seems to be finding an audience beyond us die-hards.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know the name of the "synth song" that plays on a couple occasions throughout the episode?