The Colonel

Best Ever

You can’t watch vs. The Colonel in isolation. You must see the run-up, from at least Lethal Weapon and possibly from earlier, or it’s like drinking Dom Perignon alone, from a paper cup. Tastes good, but you’ve missed the experience.

Fireworks!

It's That Thrilling

Starting from the re-cap, which servers to quickly gets the three new viewers who hadn’t seen previous episodes up to speed, the incredible velocity and momentum of events, the passion of the characters, the darkness of the threat and the hero’s desperate run is matched by almost nothing I’ve seen on TV. Only parts of season 4 of Babylon 5 come close, in my estimation. Nothing has so effectively added comedy and pathos to all that while still showing a clear vision of the strength of family bonds, friendship and loyalty. Verses The Colonel relates all this with tenderness and even grace while bombs (and other fireworks) are exploding. Don’t ask me how. I just want to sit back and watch it unfold without taking it apart. The trick behind the magic should never be revealed.

This is the end of Chuck as we have know it, the highpoint. It’s all over, as they say, but for the shouting (never fear – plenty of that to come). And there are so many changes! Allow me to mention just one – the Buy More. As much as I enjoyed C.S. Lee as Harry Tang in season 1, I am truly going to miss Tony Hale as Emmett Milbarge if we don’t have Emmett in Season 3. Nope – no understated comedic acting here. Just straight-ahead funny, acting as the foil for the Buy Morons, especially Morgan. Between Colonel and Preditor (where he took a shot from Casey’s elbow), he became unforgettable. I only regret that we may never meet his girlfriend from corporate, Henrietta.

Not Bad.

Not Bad, for a frat boy.

Ryan McPartlin as Devon comes into a new phase of his relationship with Chuck, even as Awesome enters married life with Ellie. Not bad for a frat boy. The extended scene where he faces down a “cold school” Casey, followed by Chuck’s revelations showed that he is going to change as much as anybody in the coming season. He’s ready for it. He will protect Ellie the way that Sarah has been protecting Chuck, the way Chuck has been protective of Sarah, and the way Stephen has been protecting them all because now he is family.

An Officer And A Gentleman

Morgan Makes The Decision.

Josh Gomez as Morgan makes the decision to leave the Buy More before Chuck does. Have we noticed his maturation? No, of course not. But Anna’s speech to him shows us that he’s been on that path all along. He’s been the glue that holds the Buy More together, and now there are bigger things to be concerned about. Ah! If there’s a character we should worry will revert to type, it’s Morgan. Can the little bearded man-boy move ahead as Chuck has? Much to my surprise, I really hope so. I start to care for this character too, even though his loyalty and attachment have been one of the biggest things holding Chuck back.

Bonita Friedericy lets General Beckman be a menace, one that’s been growing. Up until the point where she called in “the 49B”, Diane has been more of a school teacher and mother figure, and it’s hard to know with a character who trusts nobody if she’s really, finally, on Team B’s side. The same person who can have Cosmos with Condoleezza, and clearly has a “thing” for Roan Montgomery, doesn’t always have Chuck’s best interest at heart. Of course, she has far bigger things to worry about, so putting Chuck in a deep, dark bunker (or a cozy little two bath, two bed cell) may be a kindness from her point of view. How much can we expect her to evolve? Chuck does trust her, after a fashion, but only so far. Should we?

Betrayal

I would NEVER betray my team.

Of all the characters who have evolved in the past 35 episodes, it is Adam Baldwin’s Casey who is the most surprising. He goes from “cold-school” to – yeah, “cold school”. When it comes to obeying orders or helping Sarah, he will. obey. orders. When it’s time to shoot Chuck in the head, he will shoot. And when he hunts down Chuck and Sarah, it feels deadly. And never does Casey seem more enraged then when Chuck accuses him of betraying his team. He’s not wrong when he shouts back that he “…would NEVER! betray his team.” They have betrayed him. But oh yes, everybody has made three crucial mistakes. We didn’t know that he was tailing Chuck for the past 30 minutes, we didn’t bring enough fire-power, and we didn’t ask him to help. Surprise! He is the Colonel of the title. I don’t know about you, but when Casey lowers the gun that was pointed at Chuck’s ear, my relief was palpable. Baldwin had convinced me. By the time Sarah asks “Was that a yes???” we the audience were looking at the light at the end of the tunnel and Team B. was together again. And don’t you forget that! This hero doesn’t evolve. He was born that way.

Yvonne Strahovski plays Sarah perfectly. Duh! We expect that now. Who else could convince us that Agent Walker can take out Agent Casey not once, but twice in a single episode? How can Agent Walker can do that, take out half a dozen Fulcrum agents, but still convince us that Sarah is a woman in love? It’s not her words. When Chuck wants to know why she’s chosen to help him, and wants to know what it means for them, she has no answer.

Sarah: You don’t have to thank me. It’s my job to protect you.
Chuck: And what about when it’s not your job? What happens to us then?
Sarah: (pause) One mission at a time, Chuck.

Sarah can’t – or won’t – make promises about the future, certainly not when their situation is most desperate. The lyrics echoing in the minds of “old-timers” come from Johnny River’s Secret Agent Man. The odds are you won’t live to see tomorrow. No, Sarah convinces us wordlessly, by the gentle touch of a hand and entwining fingers.

Dancing

Creature Fear

Speaking of which, I defy you to listen or think about Bon Iver’s Creature Fear and not recall the famous scene in the motel. I defy you to not be moved. Seldom has music been so sensuous, indeed sensual, while still remaining innocent and honest. The lyrics (see the link) are obscure, almost a tone-poem, where the sound matters at least as much as the words. But those are the words we hear when we hold lovers in our arms in the early morning, before the cares of the day come to stake their claim on us.

When the lovers (there’s no other word for Chuck and Sarah now) are captured and taken to the cell, Sarah finally answers Chuck’s question with only two words.

Two Bed?

Sarah Leaves No Doubt.

Chuck: For whatever it’s worth, if I have to spent the rest of my days in a dark, windowless room, I can’t think of a better person to spend it with.
Sarah: That’s not really how this works.
Chuck: Well – we can’t request a cozy little two-bed, two-bath cell?
Sarah: (smiles) Two bed?

She’s made up her mind, and just like that, Sarah Walker has entered into a new phase of her relationship with Chuck. The old phase is over and done with. Forget “will they/won’t they”, my friends. You might as well say “they already have.”

Torque You, Casey

Applying the appropriate torque.

I started by saying This is the end of Chuck as we have know it. It’s not, however, the end of Chuck as we’ve known him. Despite all his been through, all the changes and growth, Chuck is still the character who delivers lines like You can’t kill me with that radiator. It is far to confined in this car for to get the appropriate torque.

[Chuck pours Devon a glass of whiskey.]
Devon: You’re a spy, Chuck?
Chuck: Yeah – more or less – yeah.
[Chuck downs the glass of whiskey.]

Only Chuck could bumble his way around Casey, and still be awesome with Awesome, selfless with Sarah and face down Fulcrum agents, all while being a hero to Ellie. Only Chuck could find the right way to mock and skewer Casey with his own words – “I don’t care.”

Every character has changed from season one. And yes, Zachary Levi’s Chuck is so much more now than he was. But when he brings Stephen home, Chuck is still the same guy who saved the ballerina’s day. That much survives.

It IS real.

Oh, It's real, alright.

There is an epilogue. Sarah looks gorgeous in her blue dress.

Sarah: So how does it feel?
Chuck: It feels great, actually. Like everything is finally real.
Sarah: It is real.

But that tinge of – what? Sadness? Regret? Uncertainty? – is still there in his voice. In the car, when Chuck recovers from losing the intersect and both he and Sarah discover it’s finally gone (just as he’s always said he wanted) what is it that we see in his eyes? And what is it that we see in Sarah’s? What ever it is that the actors and writers are trying to convey, it certainly isn’t joy and relief.

Chuck Feels Lighter

"I feel - lighter."

But it is real.

– joe

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About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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25 Responses to The Colonel

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    In the car, when Chuck recovers from losing the intersect and both he and Sarah discover it’s finally gone (just as he’s always said he wanted) what is it that we see in his eyes? And what is it that we see in Sarah’s? What ever it is that the actors and writers are trying to convey, it certainly isn’t joy and relief.

    I agree Joe, but you just answered your own question. It is real. Or perhaps reality. Chuck just had what he thought was his fondest wish granted. It is real. Sarah just completed her mission, and Chuck is no longer the intersect. It is real. All those questions they put on hold and fought answering for two years are still there needing answers. As Sarah says, looking radiant and taking Chuck’s hand, it is real, but not a fairytale.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I guess I should expand on that thought. As Dave mentions below the Ring is a rather unsatisfying ending after having gone this far. We’ve all talked about it. I see the look in the car as portent of how poorly they managed to answer those questions before being plunged right back into the same situation.

  2. atcdave says:

    No doubt this is a great episode. In a completely non-scientific reading of the Chuck forums, I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would disagree (I’m sure dissenter will now reveal themselves). Just as Beefcake seems a malfunction on every level; Colonel seems to get it all right on every level. Funny, exciting, and….
    Morgan is at his best (although I agree, it seems likely he will revert in S3); Awesome plays a real, and fun, part in the story; Casey makes an epic decision; Roark is an outstanding and utterly evil villain; and things are looking good for Chuck and Sarah.
    Just a few minor complaints. A one step promotion from Major is Lt. Col.; not full Colonel (double promotions are extremely rare, but not impossible). The explosions from the F-16s attacking the Fulcrum base are underwhelming; obviously just gasoline explosions, not a shock wave in sight; I understand TV budgets are tight, but surely they could have spiced things up a little in post production. And finally, I wish this really had been the season finale; The Ring would have been massively frustrating if the show had been cancelled, Colonel is a much better end point.
    Finally, just a couple stray thoughts. On first viewing, when Sarah first emerged in her blue dress in the last scene, I think I gasped; because I quickly had my wife’s hand clasped over my eyes. I said “I’m pretty sure she’s dressed”, to which she replied, “she’s just too pretty.” It was all in fun, and she knows I re watch episodes whenever I want, but I thought both of our first reactions were amusing. Secondly, leading up to this episode, many of us were encouraged when CF stated Chuck and Sarah would “reach a point of no return later this season.” This episode certainly seemed to be that. We’re all hoping that is a true statement; but later remarks from JS would tend to suggest that CF may not be familiar with English as a primary language.

    • joe says:

      Aaaarrrrggggg!!!! I failed to appropriately praise both Chevy Chase and Scott Bakula for their roles! Especially in this one, Chase. You may use whatever despicable means are in your nature. Eat them if you want.

      And the interaction between the two – No, no. You had it right the first time. I’m going to KILL YOU!” is a tour de force.

      I am sadly unfamiliar with military ranks and promotions, Dave, so you’ve been very enlightening (and helpful)! Thanks.

      As for JS & CF, they have a very difficult task ahead of them. They have to top this. I envy them not at all!

      PS – Great story about your wife! ;>

  3. Rick Holy says:

    Agree totally that this was one of if not THE best episode. I’m short on time and am not able to say everything I want to, but as “high” as I was about “Colonel,” with “The Ring” it all (well at least MOST of it) came crashing down.

    I just never got how in a period of less than 24 hours (Chuck time) Charah goes from “it’s real,” to “I’m sorry, I’m leaving in the morning to work on the new Intersect project with Bryce.”

    As I’m not one to us the “F” word (at least I try not to), my response was WHAT THE HECK?? Honest to God, if the writers are/were willing to have their relationship torn apart (again) by “the job” (promotion or whatever you want to call it), will it be any surprise if they’ll resort to tearing it apart again with more “potential love interests”?

    That’s the problem I have with this show. I love it to death – but the up and down, back and forth, on again/off again, yo-yo stuff just gets ridiculous.

    I hope, Hope, HOPE that this season the writers really are able to raise the bar and deal with the relationship (and it’s likely difficulties) in a mature, reasonable, progressive way – not these “super highs” one moment and “super lows” the next. Truthfully, how many of those can a relationship take?

    The end of S2 left the “Charah” thing at a point where there’s no turning back. I sure as he** hope that the writers (and TPTB) recognize that – but by the interviews that we’ve seen – even the recent ones – it sure doesn’t seem to indicate that they do.

    Let’s just get the episodes going already!! The more I ponder the “possibilities” with CHUCK S3, the more crazy it drives me. It could be soooooo good – like a Baileys on the rocks after a 16 hour work day. Or it could really suck! I’m hoping for the Baileys! 😉

    • joe says:

      “The end of S2 left the “Charah” thing at a point where there’s no turning back. I sure as he** hope that the writers (and TPTB) recognize that – but by the interviews that we’ve seen – even the recent ones – it sure doesn’t seem to indicate that they do.”

      Ah! Finally something we can disagree about! ;>

      Well, Okay. We’ll all stated our views on this many times in more than just this forum, but I’ll say mine again, just for grins. Mostly thanks to the promos and interviews I’ve seen, I’ve become more certain that TPTB recognize that C&S have reached that famous point of no return. But that doesn’t mean the pressure is off them.

      In fact, when two objects are joined (or stuck together, for that matter), it takes *more* pressure to separate them. Not less. I expect to see C&S endure just that – more pressures and difficulties – in their relationship.

      Much like Leonard said in the first episode of TBBT this season, they can’t can’t catch a break!

      But who doesn’t expect them to endure? Not I.

      Bring on the Baileys! – uh Chuck!

      • atcdave says:

        It is interesting the NBC promos are pretty Sarah heavy. It is clear the network sees Chuck and Sarah as the heart of the show. Whether we can infer anything from that is hard to say, but I’m certainly feeling better about where things are heading.

      • Rick Holy says:

        Joe, my friend. I HOPE you’re right and I’m wrong. I’m just more nervous and less confident about it than perhaps you and some others are. I do think the promos have given us some “positive” stuff to hold onto. BUT – and this is a BIG BUT – history has shown us that things can go from looking “Great” to “Really Sucking” in just a matter of one episode to the next.

        I think they’ll endure, just don’t want to see the “same old, same old” that we’ve seen already when it comes to “keeping them apart.” More pressures and difficulties I don’t think I would mind either, but PLEASE, not such godforsaken alternating back and forth between EXTREME highs and EXTREME lows.

        There’s a difference between a logical progression of dealing with “difficulties” and the kind of up and down stuff we’ve experienced in the past.

        If they can deal with the relationship in a more logical, sensical, mature manner (which they HAVE shown at times that they’re quite capable of doing), I – and I think many others – will be much more happy campers!!

        There’s a BIG/HUGE/GINORMOUS difference between overcoming difficulties along the way as a relationship progreses – and going from “we’re on”, “no, wait, we’re NOT on,” “Oh, hold on a second, Yes we ARE on,” “Did I really say that?, What I really mean is we’re off!” That in a nutshell is kind of what we’ve experienced in the past with the Charah thing – and it’s way past old, and even farther past stale!

        So, my friend, I’m hoping for good things and a great season. But the proof will be in the pudding – so Bring on Bill Cosby!!

        By the way, would a Baileys go well with a Subway footlong?? 😉

  4. OldDarth says:

    Second favourite of the final four episodes.

    This one frustrates because what is there is sooo good. The big problem? There is too much in this episode.

    This is the poster child for stuffing half a dozen episodes into one.

    First up we have Chuck and Sarah going off the grid with Sarah disobeying orders. This storyline could easily occupy multiple episodes on its own. What doe we get? A few scenes that touch briefly on this and one of those was in the previous episode. The full ramifications of Sarah’s and Chuck’s actions are dealt with at the 50,00 foot level and far too quickly resolved and glossed over. Wasted opporunity #1.

    Next is the whole dynamic between Chuck and his dad. Orion’s sacrifice of going off the grid to protect his family is never followed up here. A path that Chuck could have very well taken himself. The fallout from Orion’s decision to leave Chuck and Ellie is, once again, glossed over.
    Wasted opportunity #2.

    This is the one that cuts the deepest for me. After almost two seasons of Chuck doggedly pursuing the removal of his Intersect there is no payoff again. A brief scene between Chuck and Sarah at the end acknowledging things are real is all that is shown. This is THE big payoff moment, to date, of the series and again little time is given to examine and reflect on what has just happened. Wasted opportunity #3.

    The Colonel is the ultimate iceberg tip episode. So many great story arcs and themes are brought up. None of them properly explored.

    Obviously what IS shown works. Works very well. But there is no breathing space, no break in the pace, and no time to reflect. Too much of a good thing, even love, is not a good thing.

    Because of this, Dream Job ends up my favourite of the final 4 because it is more self contained, far much better paced, and has time for reflection.

    The Ring ranks second because, while it has so many awesome moments, it has too many of them, and none of them get the proper story time to be fully explored.

    • Rick Holy says:

      Great insights. Perhaps you have some experience with writing for book, stage or screen??

    • atcdave says:

      I do agree about your “tip of the iceberg” comment. I guess it left me more disappointed with The Ring though, for failing to live up to what was started here. Maybe another way of looking at it is, it screams for another episode between Colonel and The Ring.

    • joe says:

      I really grok this. I came off the episode dizzy, like “What just hit me?” Days past before I could fully wrap my brain around what I had seen. At the time, I was really hoping that The Ring would provide some clarity and even relief from what you rightly describe as the jam-packedness of The Colonel.

      The problem was (and is), the whole experience was like an illegal drug. You just want more. 60 minutes of this was waaayyy too much to absorb all at once, and it wasn’t enough. I wanted more and I wanted it NOW!

      Oooffff. Chuck addict is right.

      Of course I want more of that in S3, but I also hope for the well placed “light” episode to provide some relief. Not just Buy More type comic relief, which I find very effective, btw, but – let’s call it – relationship relief. Shipper relief. Just a bit of that, please!

  5. Ernie Davis says:

    So there was something about THE SCENE, you all know it so I won’t belabor the point, that only struck me later. A theory if you will. I always thought the initial part more natural. Sleepy, awaking,, fingers intertwined, comfort with each others presence. Then, there seemed to be a realization. We’re alone. Nobody else will ever see or know what happens here.

    Now I hate to go back to a poor opinion of JS et. al., but frankly his comment, which he undoubtedly thought of as oh so clever, that Chuck and Sarah will reach the point of no return most likely was about their run and Sarah’s comment that they couldn’t go back. Hey, maybe he’s smart enough to play that game, and just thinks we’re all idiots that need to be led by the nose (FEEL TENSION, FEEL ANGST, FEEL WHAT I TELL YOU), or maybe he understands what the point of no return really was.

    • joe says:

      Oh man. You write too well, Ernie. Yes, sleepy, awaking… fingers intertwined – and then they brutally attack each other about the face and lips. Uh – sorry. I’m getting too old, and I only *wish* I had that kind of energy that we saw.
      But anyway, I have to admit that I didn’t pick up on what you describe as their realization. To me, it was much more that they were totally in the moment, and the rest of the world was just not there, or did not matter at all.

      Question for the ages: How can that scene possibly qualify as good acting? What acting??? – ;>

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Joe, I think there was some actual acting going on there, interspersed among the violent liplocks and heavy breathing. I thought it a very telling pause where Chuck looks down at Sarah smiling, obviously overjoyed that this is finally happening. Sarah, in the same moment looks up at Chuck, seeming almost nervous. To me this seems like a replay of the bomb scene in Hard Salami. Chuck, once again, is totally comfortable, Sarah, well this seems a bit awkward again, but she’s not stopping this time. Then there is the moment where Chuck gets up to, ahem, go to the bathroom. The camera lingers on Sarah for a moment and to me it looks like she decides at that point her feelings have won, and she’s not going to fight it anymore. A smile spreads across her face.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah, that smile spoke volumes; to me it was better than the “two beds” line.

      • joe says:

        Ernie, I didn’t even have to look at the links to know exactly the FRAMES you meant. That’s 1/30th of a second, IIRC.

        Talk about you picture speaking 1000 words!

  6. Ernie Davis says:

    How far do you think you’re gonna get?”

    I can’t believe I missed that.

  7. Faith says:

    I’ve seen this episode 4321.4 times. Estimated, maybe more lol. I loves it. No question it’s the best epi of the 2 years (for me).

    • joe says:

      Faith, I have a question, just for you. If you had to, what is the one thing you would change about the episode? What could possibly make it better?

      Would it be Sarah’s answer to his question? Would it be the kiss they didn’t have in the cell? Would it be Morgan?

      What about Sarah’s “It is real.”, and all the things implied by Chuck’s response to “How does it feel?”

  8. Gord says:

    After I saw this episode the first time, I thought don’t tell me they are ending the series. It seemed so final. This episode was the catalyst that got me involved in the blogs and the Chuck boards. Until then I was just happy tuning into the show every Monday night and enjoying each episode more or less on my own.

    So I guess you can say that this episode amongst all others had the greatest impact on my Chuck addiction.

    Speaking of the music in the hotel at the beginning. It has always driven me nuts that I could not make any sense of the lyrics. That being said, the tonal qualities of the song do seem oddly appropriate for the moment.

    • joe says:

      Gord, I think that’s quite right. I was introduced to “Tone Poems” decades ago by a music teacher. It was quite an “art form”, I understand. Creature Fear bears only some of the marks – it’s almost too melodic compared to others of that form. But Justin Vernon seems to have chosen the words carefully to match the music in tone and mood, more than for lyrical content and consistency. That’s why I consider it to be an example.

      Of course, back then, I would have given it a 6, and said that it was “hard to dance to.” ;> Funny how our tastes change.

  9. OldDarth says:

    “Of course, back then, I would have given it a 6, and said that it was “hard to dance to.” ;> Funny how our tastes change.”

    LOL – an inveterate Snoopy Happy Dancer too, I bet!

    And you were probably a heavy duty air guitar player as well. Mayhap you still are.

  10. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Colonel (2.21) | Chuck This

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