Or: How to recycle a Hot Shots reference joke that was only barely funny the first time. (um, sorry Ernie)
Another week, and another chance to discuss what Shaw may, or may not, be up to. I have to admit my bias on this up front. I love the buddy genre and the whole idea of a close knit team of friends. So from the very start, I’m not going to like a character whose primary function is to completely mess with an established, and fun, group dynamic. Add to that, we heard a stream of unpleasant spoilers for 6 months during Chuck’s off season. So my goal in writing this is to gain some understanding of what’s really going on, and maybe even look forward to it a little more. I will try to present theories I find palatable, or at least not be awful. I do believe the writers think their show ought to be fun, so extreme worst case scenarios are probably unlikely.
I mentioned last week how Shaw was determined to wean Chuck from his overly protective handlers. We clearly saw that to be true this week. His statement that Casey and Sarah had been holding Chuck back for two years was pure idiocy; Casey called it exactly right. Prior to intersect 2.0 and Chuck willingly embracing the career, their job was 100% about protecting the asset. So we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, Shaw is either a blathering moron or a scheming manipulator. The only person who could have been fooled by his comment was Chuck. Casey sees plainly right through it, and Sarah seems to be mainly hurt; especially when Chuck leaps at the opportunity to prove himself. It would have been nice to see a more rational Chuck here, or at least if he’d stood up for his partners who have done so much to protect him for two years, but no luck. To me, this is a massively character damaging scene. Chuck will need to do a lot to redeem himself in my eyes. Neither Casey nor Sarah seemed to hold much of a grudge though, which actually does speak well of their characters; perhaps they just know how much Chuck wants to prove himself. Had Shaw simply judged Casey and Sarah had too much baggage with Chuck to give him a fair chance to show what he can do; Shaw and Chuck both would have come across a little more favorably.
Shaw does then show some confidence, mixed with tough love, in preparing Chuck for his mission. This part is believable and appropriate. I like this part of Shaw’s character. If he can get Chuck to trust in his own capabilities, both intersect and conventional, we may yet see real growth from him.
Next up we Shaw effectively putting Sarah on the defensive. We learned a little about her three days off the grid; but perhaps not the full truth. In fact, I’m not sure we learned anything true except for Lisbon. Sarah may have handled Bryce’s remains, which may say a lot about her current attitude towards the spy world. But did Shaw really buy this as the full explanation? My guess is no. Will the half-truth come back to haunt Sarah or will she simply divulge more info when the time seems right? I do think Shaw knows the full story; and I think the wife story is presented carefully to weaken Sarah’s defenses. She has indeed fallen in love with a spy, and this is likely a connection Shaw will exploit later. I’m not really considering the option of this being sincere. Even if the story is “true”; it was presented in a way to get a response from Sarah.
Last week I mentioned being quite sure Hannah was a tool of Shaw’s, being used to weaken Sarah’s influence. While I must admit we saw no indication of that this week, that is certainly the role she will play, at least in the short run. We may not learn more until 3.07. But I stand by most of my previous prediction here; even if, in the end, she is just an agent doing a job; that job is all about Chuck and Sarah. I am also fairly sure, when the dust settles, Chuck and Hannah will actually part as friends, and nothing more. I’m not sure what her final impact on Chuck and Sarah will be, but I’m leaning towards Sarah realizing she may loose everything she wants, due to her reticence.
As I’ve mentioned all over the comment sections of this blog, this episode (Chuck vs. First Class) was not a favorite of mine. There were some good moments; but there is much to be concerned about, with Chuck’s willingness to betray his team (I know, it wasn’t mean spirited, but I didn’t like it anyway!), and flirt with the next pretty girl he sees. My perception could change a great deal depending on how things play out, but with ugly episodes like this, it makes the required pay-off that much higher. The ratings this week were fairly good, hopefully this will continue; and hopefully Chuck will remain on the air long enough for us to get well past this arc.