Monday, February 23, 2009

Chuck, "Chuck vs. the Best Friend": Automobile safety

Spoilers for tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I block a door with my hand...
"Don't you know who you are to me, what you mean to me, all that you've done?" -Chuck
"Think you could butch it up just a bit, bro?" -Morgan
"Chuck vs. the Best Friend" may not have had fancy 3-D graphics or easily-promotable guest stars, but it was the strongest episode of the new year because it focused so much on the core relationships, and because it brought spy world and nerd world together again.

Of all the improvements made between season one and season two, my favorite has been the way most episodes have strengthened the ties between Chuck's two employers. What makes "Chuck" more than just an action show or a goofy workplace comedy is that he has a foot in both genres. It's not a coincidence that many of this season's best episodes either climaxed with nerd world providing a spy solution ("Chuck vs. the Seduction"), took place primarily at the Buy More ("Chuck vs. Santa Claus") or both ("Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer"). So after having Morgan and company functioning independently of Chuck for most of the last two episodes, it was nice to have a show where the mission of the week was largely an excuse to explore Chuck and Morgan's friendship, with some well-played, sweetly bromantic moments between Zachary Levi and Joshua Gomez.

Morgan's stalking of Anna also gave us yet another creepy window into the life of Jeff ("Does it shock you that eighty percent of my encounters with women have been completely without their knowledge?") and set up an amusing parallel to Chuck's government job, with the Buy More gang just as dubious of Chuck's ability to play spy as Casey usually is. And because so much of Chuck's existential angst comes from which parts of his life are real and which are only pretend, it felt nice to have a referendum on his friendship with Morgan -- along with Ellie, the biggest constant in his life and one of the few relationships where the reality is never in question -- in an episode where Morgan has a genuine reconciliation with Anna while Chuck's stuck playacting with Sarah. Even Chuck and Sarah's friendship is built on false pretenses, since both are crazy in love with each other and would be much more than friends if circumstances were different.

Though this was largely a Chuck/Morgan episode, Sarah was at the center of two of the standout moments. The first was the fight in the car, which was one of the best action sequences the show has done to date. I'd probably put it just behind the foot chase in the Gravitron, and only because that had an added layer of comedy that this one didn't. But even without laughs, it was very cool to see Sarah and Smooth Lau going at it in such an enclosed space, and using all the elements of the car -- a CD in the stereo, the seatbelt, the bucket seat, and the airbags -- as weapons.

The second was the fakeout with the exploding Nerd Herder. Even if you hadn't figured out Chuck was using the just-introduced remote control to pilot the car without being in it (and I'll confess to missing that), you knew the show wasn't going to kill off Chuck. But Sarah doesn't know that, and Yvonne Strahovski sold that moment so well that my assumptions about Chuck's safety almost didn't matter. Geez, she's good.

While Morgan got inadvertently sucked into spy world for the week, we still got a relatively self-contained -- and completely hilarious -- subplot with the rest of the Buy More crew, as Jeff and Lester unveiled their epic musical side project... Jeffster!

The name alone is genius, but Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay kicked the subplot up several notches with their gonzo dedication to Jeff and Lester's feelings about their awful band. I loved Lester's panicked monologue about all that could go wrong if they succeeded (including his own death by auto-erotic asphyxiation) and his demented rock faces during their performance of Toto's "Africa."(*) And Jeff's paraphrasing of Eminem's "Lose Yourself" was a nice touch.

(*) "Africa" is kind of a great song, isn't it? Toto's an easy early '80s punchline, just because of the name, but when the soundtrack shifted from Jeffster! to the actual song, it gave Morgan and Anna's kiss -- dare I say it? -- an epic quality. Maybe it's just the chorus. I don't know. But the balance of '80s cheese and '00s alt-rock continues to be perfect.

If I have a complaint about the Jeffster! story, it's that Ellie and Awesome's wedding planning strife was solved way too easily. I'm not saying this show should turn into "Chuck vs. the Bridezilla," but if they're looking to give those two something to do, I think they missed a chance to get more mileage out of the idea of Devin having to deal with the extremely non-awesome ordeal that is planning a wedding. Having him somehow take care of Ellie's half of the list by the end of the episode seemed not only too easy, but a waste of an ongoing source of comedy.

Still, good times all around. Some other thoughts:

• Episode writer Allison Adler (or someone else in production) was obviously amused by the idea of the characters saying "Wang" early and often by naming Anna's bad guy boyfriend Jason Wang. And, really, who can blame her?

• I thought it was a nice touch that Anna was so excited to realize that Sarah has ever had a thought about her -- and how eagerly she referred to Sarah and Chuck as her friends immediately after -- showing how insecure Anna is around her.

• No stunt-casting in this one, but I suspect we'll be seeing a lot more of Jennifer Jalene (who played Smooth) elsewhere. Lots of screen presence.

• Also, one good '90s music cue: Jane's Addiction's insanely catchy "Been Caught Stealing" playing over the brief flashback to Chuck and Morgan's childhood.

• Though this episode was originally supposed to air before "Chuck vs. the Suburbs," the only continuity problems I could spot were within the episode itself -- specifically, the way the Awesome/Ellie scenes often seemed to be dropped into the episode regardless of when the other action was happening. We cut, for instance, from Chuck in the Castle being ordered to befriend Jason Wang, to Chuck waking up the next morning with Awesome by his bed, to Chuck back in the Castle reacting to Beckman's orders like he just got them. Meanwhile, we cut from Chuck and Sarah at the party to Ellie calling the Nerd Herd the next morning, then back to the party. Just some very strange editing choices.

• This episode finally gives us some more concrete info about Chuck's mom, who apparently bailed on the family when Chuck was in the fifth grade.

• Though most of Casey's one-liners are deliberately groan-worthy, he had a couple of genuinely clever ones here: "See if the skin-covered robot flashes on anything," and then "Bartowski, you're like the poster child for friendly fire."

• I liked the introduction of more Bond-like gadgets into Chuck's world, including the Nerd Herder remote, the tennis ball grenades and the knock-out breath spray. It not only suits the show's less-than-realistic look at espionage, but seems an easy way to make Chuck less of a goober when the fighting starts.

• This episode also seemed to feature General Beckman slightly more than usual, most notably with the bit about her being friends with Condoleeza Rice. Do you think we're heading for a juncture where she has to come out to Burbank to personally supervise Operation: Chuck?

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

just the greatest episode ever

Unknown said...

Cute and all, and the car/catfight was cool. Even though it's toned down, I will never be able to stand how feeble and one-note Chuck's helpless routine is, and stuff like screaming "I've godda help my betht fwiend!" made me think I was watching tween TV. But, like, whatever. The ending was great, and the show it is what it is.

I really think the promo department should find a different angle than this "Apply at Buy More" thing. With so many people losing their jobs every day, throwing out lines like, "I hear they'll hire just about anyone!" might be cute in terms of the show, but -- just like Ellie dumping whole turkeys in the garbage -- shows a sad disregard for stuff happening on the other side of the screen.

Mac said...

You know, Vic's singing wasn't bad at all.

I had convinced myself that Chuck's reference to "our mom leaving us" last season was a euphemism for death. I guess not. It's interesting that Ellie shows no desire to have her mother at her wedding. Suggested ChuckMom casting: Lynda Carter.

Anonymous said...

The Morgan/Anna relationship suffered from the episodes airing out of order. Unless I'm forgetting something, the last time we saw Anna, she was being forcibly kissed by Lester on a stretcher, and Morgan was pissed about it. Then last week it appears that they're still together. And then this week they're split up. Big Mike's opinion that they "break up every other week" notwithstanding, we hadn't really seen major problems in the relationship between the episode with Anna's parents and the hostage taking at the Buy More. And, of course, we're left hanging on the Big Mike/Mama Grimes issue.

Otherwise, though, I thought this was a great episode. Huge love for the use of Jane's Addiction, great action sequences, and nice integration of all the elements of Chuckworld. And yeah, Yvonne Strahovski just keeps getting better. I also thought Adam Baldwin did a great job of letting Casey's dual concerns - the safety of the Intersect and his never-to-be-admitted fondness for Chuck the person - cross his face during the explosion.

Jesse said...

Loved the "Spies Like Us" reference (GLG20!) and the Toto--I'll confess to owning the original "Dune" movie soundtrack--and agree that this was one of the best episodes.

I will say that the "Chuck controls exploding car with RC controller" was, for me, obviously telegraphed, but I'm going to side with Alan that YS did a lot to sell a moment that could have been eye-rollingly cheesy. The promos for next week aren't making me hopeful that they'll maintain this level of quality, but NBC does such a crappy job with those that I'll keep an open mind.

Anonymous said...

Great minds think alike. I agreed with almost all of your points in my review.

My biggest difference of opinion would probably be on Anna. I felt her character was inconsistent for the sole-purpose of advancing the plot.

It is true that she is perhaps insecure and thus acts confident and catty, but I just didn't feel that that got across as well as it could have.

Nonetheless, I agree it's one of the better episodes of the series, and definitely the best of the new year.

Mo Ryan said...

I just loved it. Had a grin on my face from beginning to end.

If I were of a mind to nitpick, I could wonder why the Chinese ambassador rides around LA in a Bentley with the windows down, but never mind. I'm so not of a mind to nitpick.

So many great moments, but one standout had to be Casey's TJ Hooker moment of hanging off the Nerd Herder. Hilarious.

Plus, what show could give us the massive cheese that is Jeffster! Yet ground that goofball rendition of a Toto song in the lump-in-throat-inducing relationship between Chuck and Sarah?

At the end, I was both laughing at Jeffster!, feeling a bit sad for Chuck and Sarah, then enjoying Jeffster! and then actually digging the Toto song.

So many levels of awesome.

And how about the Burn Notice element of Chuck having to buddy up to a bad guy and not blow his cover?

Anyway, I'm off now to see if the NBCU store is selling Jeffster! T shirts. I want something to put in rotation with my Crucifictorious shirt.

Anonymous said...

@filmcricket: Please bear in mind that this episode was meant to air before last week's episode, and the Big Mike/Mama Grimes storyline will likely continue in future episodes.

Bobman said...

Seriously considering downloading Africa right now. NOt sure if I should be ashamed of that or not....

Anonymous said...

"Have you ever had a dream that didn't come true?'

Awesome was in peak form tonight.

Anonymous said...

@Fia: as I said in the first sentence of my previous comment, I'm aware they aired out of order, and I'm agreeing with Alan that not much suffered as a result, except the Morgan/Anna/Big Mike/Mama Grimes parts.

Anonymous said...

Chuck was awesome this week. The case is just completely clicking. My personal favorite moment was Casey's look of pain during Jeffster, followed by the earplugs.

Anonymous said...

Loved the episode. I have one quibble, not with the episode, but with the Intersect flashes: How long has Chuck been flashing? And, he still acts surprised and terrified each time? *shrugs* I don't want them to take away all of Chuck's innocence or his everyman quality, but the flash reaction is getting tired.

Anonymous said...

Surprised Alan,you didn't mention the great chuck and sarah moment at the end. Put a big grin on my face.

Nicole said...

I forgot that this was aired out of order because I was checking for the Fulcrum red on the flashbacks.

So many great moments, and I think Africa is a great song... it's just too bad the group called themselves Toto.

Hoof Hearted said...

Regarding the first bullet point, I'm glad that I wasn't the only one to notice that the writers were sticking "Wangs" in every chance they got.

Anonymous said...

In the moment after the car exploded, the look on Sarah's face was even more somber and horrified than the scene where Chuck is dropped by Colt in Chuck vs. the First Date (when Casey catches Chuck, but Sarah doesn't know) and even more powerful than her devastated reaction to Chuck at the end of Chuck vs. the Break-up. I'm hopeful that the show can keep the levels of intensity and emotion at the level of this episode that seemed more consistent with the first few episodes of the season, but dropped off towards the middle. A strong finish into April and a graet lead-in to next year would be nothing short of "awesome".

Unknown said...

it had it's moments, but honestly I was annoyed by the whole thing.

Probably because i absolutely cannot stand Morgan.

Yeah he was a great friend to Chuck in the fifth grade and apparently has been coasting on that ever since.

Nothing against Gomez, but I was rooting for the Triad.

Anonymous said...

Out of order...Aww...for a moment, I thought they were trying to show us that Sarah held onto her wedding ring - in that scene during the car fight, when the Triad woman bent down to pick up a ring... So then, what was the significance? Did I miss something there?

Anonymous said...

I just loved it. Had a grin on my face from beginning to end.

Same here. And Casey's reactions to everything were my favorite parts of the ep.

Anonymous said...

Loved the Eminem shout out "one chance, one opportunity...."

Anonymous said...

Good episode, but there was one major plot hole that annoyed me. Why couldn't Chuck just tell Morgan that he was going to go undercover and get dirt on Anna's boyfriend? They know that Morgan is stalking Anna, didn't anybody figure out that he might see Chuck and do something stupid?

Anonymous said...

Alan, I think Jeff and Lester went over to Ellie and Awesomes the same night as the party since it was night at the apt too. The whole Eminem speech was hilarious. And Jeffster just made the episode.

Loved Morgan recruiting Jeff and Lester to spy and Chuck only being there for moral support - to the caravan of spies following Anna to her date. And the whole Rube-Goldberg thing of Chuck almost getting caught in the garage. Classic stuff.

I don't get all caught up in the shipper stuff, but the moment Sarah thought Chuck had exploded really tugged at me. Yvonne is simply amazing.

The show just sings when the two worlds collide, and like Chuck v. Tom Sawyer, this is one of my favorites of season two. Bravo!

Pamela Jaye said...

maybe it was must my innocent mind or maybe it was that combined with the captions that spelled out his name as Huang (didn't they) - it just went sailing right over my head.

also, the mom on House was recently a mom on Scrubs and one of the diseases I thought I'd never heard of before was mentioned in both episodes.

Anonymous said...

Yvonne Strahovski is damn good.
Like, really really good.

This ep was great I must say. I enjoyed every single second of it. I found my self wanting one scene not to end, then having it followed by something even better. Great!

Anonymous said...

One other great Sarah moment - at the beginning of the episode where the general thanks Chuck for flashing on Jason Wang, and Chuck launches into a monologue and slowly runs down as he realizes the general doesn't care... they show a one second shot in passing of Sarah cracking up silently, which I thought was just brilliantly played by Yvonne Strahovski in showing how fond Sarah is of even Chuck's nervous tics.

Loved the Eminem shout-out as well as the chain reaction Honda ad reference, down to the rolling nut.

Anonymous said...

Smooth Lau seemed like a character straight out of Tarantino.... Was her fight scene with Sarah intended as an homage to "Kill Bill"?

Given what we heard about Anna's experimental past, I thought maybe her shyness in the presence of Sarah would turn out to be for a different reason... because anyone who's even a little bit attracted to women would be nervous around her. (Okay, maybe not Casey... but that's just one of his many superpowers.)

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Yvonne Strahovski is really good.

This episode has unexpectedly crept up on my favorite episodes list, though I wouldn't say I'm not that surprised; Allison Alder's other episodes in the show are among my top favorites as well ("Wookie", "Truth", "Cougars").

The B-stories in the past few episodes have been underwhelming for me, so it's nice to finally not have to skip their scenes this week. The Buy More subplots have been nothing more than a distraction for me, and they're pretty much meaningless. Particularly because it seems like there are two different shows going on in the hour, in which one of those is starring Morgan, Lester, Jeff, and Big Mike, with occasional guest-starring Chuck. This B-story is one of those rare ones in which I thoroughly enjoyed. The episode shines when both of Chuck's worlds interact. Plus, the supporting actors really stood out in this one.

And someone mentioned about Chuck's reactions after every flashes are getting tiresome? I agree.

"Its gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
Theres nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do"
. I TOTALLY digg'd Jeffster (and I want their shirts!)

Bruce Reid said...

I have to agree with Devin McCullen; since Chuck's supposed dilemma could have been easily avoided by playing along with Morgan's undercover plans, I was never emotionally invested in this episode. Thus, even with the terrific fight scene in the car, it actually came off as one of the weaker efforts to me.

Morgan's desire to accept responsibility for his own screwups should have been introduced earlier, to at least provide narrative cover for Chuck not leaping to the obvious solution.

Still enjoyable enough though. If they continue to mix-and-match the supporting characters for B plots, I confidently predict that the Casey-Captain Awesome team will be just about my favorite thing ever.

Anonymous said...

Fun episode. The ending of this one makes Sarah's Ice Queen mode at the end of Suburbs seem even more blatantly manipulative though.

Love the low tech version of Jeff's spy van in comparison to the one Chuck is usually accustomed to.

Jay said...

So how do you think Sarah explained looking all beat up at the end of the episode. If no one at the Buy More knows about the fight with Smooth, it can't look good for Chuck that she was at the Jeffster performance all bruised up the next day, right?

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

Alan, while I understand your disappointment at the missed opportunity for potential humor when it comes to Captain Awesome handling Ellie's share of the wedding planning, I thought it was an appropriately Awesome action for him to casually knock out her share as well as his with no effort. It seems to fit him better that it went down that way.

Anonymous said...

I loved this episode, even though I agree that Chuck could very easily have used spying on the new guy as his excuse for hanging out. That said, I don't believe that would've deterred Morgan from spying himself.

I snickered at the deliberate mispronunciation of "Wang", even though it's a bit of a cheap gag. It really worked here.

It was a little odd seeing the fictional Chinese ambassador since I just saw the real Chinese ambassador at a lecture not two weeks ago.

Alan, I missed the Chuck using the remote control on the car as well, though I assumed he jumped out of the car while the street car was passing behind it. And I thought both Yvonne and Adam played that scene wonderfully. Sarah's reaction was very moving, but Casey's restraint was equally impressive, IMO. Like another poster mentioned, I really enjoy his reluctant affection for Chuck and how much it frustrates him.

I nearly choked when Lester mentioned 'death while pleasuring himself.'

The fight in the car was fantastic, one of the best I've ever seen. Very well done.

I really love this season. I find myself re-watching these episodes on Hulu and still laughing at the jokes. I don't pay much attention to ratings, so I don't know Chuck is performing, but I hope it's good enough for a third season.

Alan Sepinwall said...

even though I agree that Chuck could very easily have used spying on the new guy as his excuse for hanging out.

The thing is, while that might have absolved Chuck for being there in the first place, the much greater offense was Chuck humiliating Morgan by calling him a stalker and a loser in front of Anna. That one's a lot harder for him to justify to Morgan without explaining what dangerous people are working with Wang, and how Chuck knows about them in the first place.

Michael 8-) said...

I actually thought this out-of-order episode made more sense of last week's.

After all, we know that Sarah is in love with Chuck; but he doesn't necessarily believe that at the moment.

He could just as easily have interpreted her reaction as shock at failing her mission if he dies. (And to be true to her character, that would have to play a role in her reaction.)

More importantly, I feel like her and Casey's reaction to Chuck's concern for Morgan is another reminder to Chuck that their priorities are to the government and not personal relationships, which is something Chuck just can't accept.

That could easily lead not only to some renewed awkwardness between the two in their fake relationship as compared to Morgan and Anna's renewed love, but also to Chuck being rather annoyed at how much he wants the suburban fantasy but how fake he believes it to be...

Alan Sepinwall said...

I thought it was an appropriately Awesome action for him to casually knock out her share as well as his with no effort. It seems to fit him better that it went down that way.

I see what you're saying, but then I think they missed the opportunity to tell that joke. Planning your wedding is a pain in the ass, and was clearly getting to Ellie, and I think either a quick montage of Awesome easily handling all of it, or just a more prolonged beat of Ellie being surprised/envious that Devin was able to do it when she couldn't, would have been very funny. Instead, it was just a throwaway line to put a bow on that part of the subplot and bring us to the glory that is Jeffster!

Anonymous said...

Love the Jeffster. :D

Finally some guy love between Morgan and Chuck, which was sorely needed. :D

Are the episodes hereonafter in the correct order? Am looking forward to the aftermath.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Yes, the remaining episodes should air in order. This one just got messed with because of the Obama press conference, and because NBC then thought that the Richter/McCarthy guest appearances would be easier to promote after the show was missing in action for a week.

Instead, last week's show was the lowest-rated in "Chuck" history -- even with the CBS comedies, which appeal to a similar demographic, in reruns. I really hope there was an uptick last night.

Steve B said...

Loved the episode. Yvonne was simply heartbreaking at the end. So was Chuck's little, "Yes you do" when Yvonne said she didn't have any good friends like Chuck and Morgan have. It wasn't the best episode ever though, that still belongs to Chuck vs. the Santa Claus, that was television perfection.

My only quibble was how easily Morgan got over Chuck saying those things about him. Those are some pretty terrible things to have to say about your best friend, especially right in front of that person. Besides that it was fantastic.

Steve B said...

Last week's was the lowest rated episode ever? They really need to move this show away from Monday nights, it is just being suffocated there. Does anyone else think it would work out on Thursday's? Kath and Kim needs to go, and I've thought Earl's been off its game for almost two years. It would also open it up to an audience that I think doesn't watch the show merely because they see it as a nerdy show for teenagers. A Thursday combo of Chuck, Office and 30 Rock would be required NBC viewing for 2 straight hours for me.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Sigh... even lower than last week, even with the CBS comedies still in repeats.

Nicole said...

I think Steve B's idea is great... Chuck should definitely move to Thursday before the Office and 30 Rock. Chuck is a comedy and fits in better than with the Heroes "drama".

Peter said...

Chuck sits in one of the worst timeslots on TV. It isn't going to beat House and when Gossip Girl is new I am sure it beats Chuck as well. Even last night a re-run of HIMYM beat it.

Another ratings point, Heroes was trounced too. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

That is a shame because Chuck is easily my second favorite hour long show behind Lost. And if Lost throws up a few more snoozefests like last week that ranking can change.

Chuck doesn't take itself too seriously or try to be something it isn't. It will never be smart like Life or a thrill ride like Lost but it is an hour of just pure entertainment.

JakesAlterEgo said...

I couldn't help thinking of the scene in [i]Can't Hardly Wait[/i} when Breckin Meyer and the other members of Love Burger fall apart because the one band member is wearing their own shirt.

Anonymous said...

So the Bachelor moves out of the 8pm timeslot after next week, but Dancing with the Stars moves in. Doesn't seem like Chuck will do any better with that swap. I agree that Thursday at 8 would be a good place for Chuck.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Looks like I had the numbers slightly off. Last night's episode was roughly flat with last week's numbers. That's still series-low (and not a good sign when Big Bang Theory and HIMYM are repeats), but it didn't go down any further.

JakesAlterEgo said...

Does anyone else think that the fact that this was aired out of order affects the 'ship?

At the end of the Suburbs episode, Chuck has his "This is all we'll ever be" line. And it's actually kind of defiant and final-sounding. Now, we end on the "Yes you do" line and the romantic hand holding.

If the episodes aired as originally planned, it would seem their future is a lot bleaker. But now, it still seems inevitable.

Jeff L said...

Coming in a bit late to be the Nth person to sing Yvonne Strahovski praises. She not only sold the rush of pain at thinking Chuck was dead, she also nailed the relief and anger at seeing he was just fine. A terrific moment.

I dunno what the future of Chuck the TV show will be (how have the ratings been since the Super Bowl?), but with looks, athletic ability & acting chops like that, I predict a huge TV & film career for Ms. Strahovski

JayZee said...

Alan, as many of the posters have commented, Yvonne just nailed the car explosion scene. I, for one, would like to know what kind of thoughts she used to create the myriad of emotions crossing her face, and then to just wipe it clean when she realized that Chuck might think that she cared too much for him. WOW! Do you think that she has a chance to at least be nominated for an Emmy this year? There are so many so-called actors and actresses nominated that really just phone in their performances. You can tell that Yvonne has really stepped it up this season. Give us your expert thoughts on the possibility.

Anonymous said...

@Jay - I had the same reaction to Sarah at the end. She looked pretty beat up. Felt weird that she would even go into the Buy More under those circumstances. Why not stay at home and heal up?

I really enjoyed most of the episode, but some of the plot holes bugged me. But whatever, still the most fun show on TV, and usually the best.

Anonymous said...

I found JEFFSTER t shirsts here is the link

Lisa said...

We get Sarah in skimpy outfits often enough, how about some Adam Baldwin cheesecake for the rest of us? Awesome is awesome, but he's no Adam Baldwin.

steph said...

just rewatched this and it's still golden. probably an episode i'd offer to show off "chuck" to a new friend.

oh, yvonne strahovski. how do you do what you do

Anonymous said...

after watching season 3. It seems like the flashback scene in Chuck Vs the best friend is actually Chuck saving Morgan from Sarah "Samantha".

I haven't finished catching up yet, but it seems like an interesting background for the trio.