S3 Revisited: Nachos Anyone?

Stop The Presses

Morgan: Remember when Sarah first walked into the BuyMore?  What was it like?  Was it love at first sight?

Chuck: I don’t know, but whatever it was it changed my life forever.

And those changes, and what it was, are very much on Chuck’s mind lately.  Chuck is becoming a spy, but before he was a spy he was an asset.  Sarah’s asset.  We open this episode with a blast from the past.  Sarah and Chuck’s first meeting.  How it turned out is what Chuck is about.  How different it could have been is what this episode is about.  After the jump.

Hannah Needs Her Jack Hanna

Back in the present day our newest Nerd Herder, the enormously overqualified Hannah, enters Chuck’s world.  The Wild Kingdom indeed.  I’m not one who ever saw Kristin Kreuk in anything, never developed a strong opinion, but her initial reactions to the Buy More and it’s denizens are absolutely wonderfully played.  A mixture of shock, horror, curiosity fear and disbelief plays across her face nearly as well as some of Yvonne’s work.  Chuck, charming as ever manages to protect her, temporarily.  The gruesome twosome that makes up Jeffster has identified their next target.  However, before Chuck can start the full Bartowski tutorial, it’s yogurt time.

Call me! Or not!

So Team B is back in action, and Shaw is absent, leaving Chuck’s original mentors the job of training him.  This weeks mission?  Develop an asset with ties to The Ring.  Chuck’s initial attempt is hilarious.  With both Sarah and Casey in his ear Chuck whipsaws between a weird semi-seduction, cool, hard to get, disinterested, and finally enabling felony theft in an attempt to quickly befriend his mark, Manoosh.  Not exactly the piece of cake Chuck predicted.  More like epic fail.  Epicly funny too.  At least Chuck is managing to keep the wolves at bay for Hannah, when he’s around.  Yogurt time again means Chuck has to enlist Morgan to protect Hannah from the attentions of Jeffster.  Morgan’s motives it seems may not be entirely altruistic.

Back in Castle Chuck is getting half-time instructions from his spy coaches.  He’s also getting his eyes opened.  Thanks to Morgan’s question Chuck’s mind is on his recruitment into the spy life.  Casey and Sarah’s advice, and recollections of Chuck all those years ago take on a new and somewhat alarming meaning to Chuck.  Whatever their relationships now, Chuck can’t help but think about how clueless and manipulated he was all those years ago.  And the hits will keep coming.

Two Geeks in a Pod

Luckily Chuck is a quick learner.  Armed with some good advice and some geek-friendly tools of the trade Chuck’s second contact goes far better.  It’s almost alarming how easily Chuck brushes off his earlier behavior and earns the trust of Manoosh.  His second attempt is going as well as his first attempt went poorly.  Nachos, beer and bonding over common interests is the order of the night, and Chuck is well on his way to a new asset.  Unfortunately we only have 43 minutes and Chuck isn’t closing fast enough, so a Ring call and Sarah intervene to hurry things along.  Manoosh’s night of male bonding is soon (he thinks) the best night of his life.  Sarah’s seduction, both at the restaurant and back in Castle is hilariously over the top, and sadly unsuccessful in getting the information needed.  A few tranq’s from Agent Trankenstein later and Manoosh is left to his fate with the Ring while Team B has apparently obtained the weapon they sought.

Of course it can’t be that easy, we have nearly 20 minutes left and Sarah has had only three different outfits this episode, there’s got to be a twist.  And it comes in the form of a pair of Oakley sunglasses with the custom Intersect 2.0 option.  So it’s off to Weap-Con for Team B, to re-acquire Manoosh and prevent him from selling off the Intersect technology.  Two intercontinental flights, an escape, a fight with the only two Chuck flashes of the episode and one Charles Irving Bartowski save via a last minute tranq’ing Chuck is facing a tough decision.  Chuck has to do to Manoosh what Sarah would never allow to happen to Chuck.  Although it’s only metaphorical this time, Chuck pulls the trigger.

Sarah:  Do you want me to handle it?
Chuck: Yeah, I would.   But I have to do it.

Chuck is a good guy.  He always does the right thing, and he does the right thing again here.  Manoosh, while not evil is not a good guy.  Manoosh represents the darker side of a Chuck.  Where Chuck is bright and talented and his potential isn’t recognized too often he turns outward and uses his gifts and talents to help others.  Manoosh turns inward and grows bitter toward a world he feels slighted by.  Manoosh is building a weapon and (even though it is the Ring) betraying his employers to make money.  He is as Casey said, no innocent.  Chuck does the right thing.  But that isn’t to say it’s easy to do it.

Chuck’s life is getting a lot more complicated.  His casual lies to Ellie and his spy life are starting to affect others.  Both Morgan and Ellie are growing suspicious, Awsome is ready to crack, and Sarah, seeing the things Chuck does, seemingly with ease, things that she never thought he could do is pulling away from him.  Only Casey seems to have his back.  Casey’s sympathy and growing respect for Chuck seems to be Chuck’s only remaining connection to the life he’d known for years.  He’s becoming a spy, but at what cost.

Chuck and Johnnie

We end this episode with an interesting bookend to Chuck’s entry into the spy world.  At the end of Operation Awesome, the last episode before Shaw pushed Chuck fully into the spy world over Sarah’s protestations Chuck had everything he could want at the moment.  He had his extended family safe and around him, and he still had Sarah to support him, even if there was still some work to be done there.  At the end of this episode, where he has crossed fully over into the spy world, he has a bottle of Scotch, and a lot of doubts.

Sarah: They thought you and I could connect.

So we end where we began.  Sarah walking into the Buy More with Chuck as her mark.  Piece of cake?  Clearly not.

For Sarah, watching from a distance it must finally seem that she’s pulled the trigger.  She’s burned her asset.  The Chuck she met, the Chuck she fell for and the Chuck she’d worked so hard to protect  and to keep from the spy world said it himself when he burned Manoosh.  I’m not your friend, I’m a spy.  The hidden text is there.  We do cruel things to people to get what we want.  You were a pawn in someone else’s game.  Whatever she felt about herself, and whatever she did, Sarah had one thing to be proud of, she’d saved Chuck from Manoosh’s fate.  Chuck had a life and friends and family rather than a cell and handlers, and it was because she made it happen.  But what did he have now?  Doubts about her, a web of lies, and a bottle of Scotch and that too she made happen.  He took this path for her.

Casey: The trick is to find the hole in their life and fill it.

Sarah found the hole in Chuck’s life all those years ago.  It wasn’t a girlfriend, as she probably thought at first.  It wasn’t a need to be loved, or someone who believed in him.  Chuck had all those things, and as we’ve seen has no problem with the ladies when he wants one.  What Chuck lacked was a purpose in his life.  And Sarah gave him that.  And Sarah now suspects that the greatest thing she ever did for Chuck may cost her the only thing she’s ever really loved.  Chuck.

Casey: Our boy’s growing up, huh? When we first met him, You ever think he’d be able to burn an asset?

Chuck is growing up.  He’s learning that a lot of what it takes to be a spy isn’t particularly fun or glamorous.  It’s not all stakeout mixes and sizzling shrimp.  It’s a willingness to lie and to hurt people, even sometimes the ones you love.  And it’s a lot of wondering if you did the right thing, or could have done it better.  If you’d been smarter, or tougher, or … something, some poor guy wouldn’t be spending the rest of his life where you should have been, if it weren’t for people who did it right, like Sarah.

When even success feels like failure it’s gonna be a rocky road for both Chuck and Sarah.

– Ernie

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About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
This entry was posted in ChuckMeMondays, Observations, Season 3. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to S3 Revisited: Nachos Anyone?

  1. SWnerd says:

    Wow, this is really profound for a Saturday. 🙂 You know when you guys analyze the subtext of the episodes, I do feel slightly better about them because I understand them more. Maybe that means that TPTB are just really good at deep subtext. Or we just read too much into them, seeing things that aren’t really there. But I like the first option better, so I’m gonna stick with that one.

    Anyway, this is a fantastic analysis. And this was an episode I actually liked fairly well because the angst came from the legitimate obstacles of spy world hazards rather than love triangles.

  2. Gabbo says:

    Forgive me, this is off topic. But did you see the Tweet that just went up on that @CIASarahWalker thing? The songs could BE in an episode of Chuck. Whoever is doing this has clearly thought this out. (By the way, my French ain’t great, but the translations from one song to the next are not exact. The French version is slightly more, er, angsty…)

    #Chuck always has new French songs. Today: It Was Me in French (http://bit.ly/ap67vE) and English (http://bit.ly/bM7wtp). They make me cry.

    http://twitter.com/ciasarahwalker

  3. John says:

    This episode is the only time prior to 3.13 that we get any idea that the Ring is after the intersect. Frankly it makes The Ring look a little weak and foolish.

    There is also a couple false starts in this episode like Hannah being jealous of Chuck going to the OO and Lester and Jeff spying on Chuck that go nowhere.

    But in this season everything else only exists to move the Chuck/Sarah A story forward and this one forshadowed what was going to come rather well. When Chuck seems to recover from his trauma a little bit fast it does make you start to wonder, like Sarah, is this still the same guy.

    Anyway alot of funny stuff in this episode also. Of all the hilariously over-the-top ‘sexy Sarah’ scenes this one has one of the best.

  4. joe says:

    Man, Ernie, you’re being spooky, channelling my thoughts like that.

    Or maybe I’m just flattering myself again.

    I would have written exactly one half of one sentence differently. I would have ended the last sentence with “… and a rocky road for Sarah.”

    The rest, I wouldn’t dare to change a word!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Wow, that is perfect. My last sentence, intended to be about Chuck does equally apply to Sarah and what she’s feeling.

      I’m actually going to edit that in.

  5. Merve says:

    This was simultaneously one of the most hilarious, most dramatic, most suspenseful, and most heartbreaking episodes of the series…and they did it all without love interests.

    Both Zac and Yvonne got to show a lot of range in this episode. They don’t let Sarah be funny all that often, but when they do, they make it count. Hearing Sarah say “secrets turn me on” will never stop being funny.

    One thing that I think worked particularly well about this episode (and it’s also the reason that “Sandworm” worked particularly well) is that even though it was dark, it was also funny, sometimes all at once. It was funny to see Chuck mouthing “intercourse?” while revealing his true identity to Manoosh. It was funny to see Devon come up with the most ridiculous excuse ever not to got to Paris ever while he was fighting with Ellie: “You have to obey me!” It was funny to see Morgan climbing over his desk past Hannah when he found out that Chuck had hidden something from him.

    Overall, this is one of my favourite episodes of the series. A lot of laughs, an excellent guest star, believable drama not fuelled by outside love interests, Casey being simultaneously badass and hilarious, Sarah in lingerie, Jeffster being creepy…I really couldn’t ask for more from an episode of Chuck.

    • joe says:

      Heh! You got that right, Merve. For me, Sarah singing “Thank you!” makes me smile uncontrollably.

      And the episode is poignant. Chuck sees himself as Manoosh, but also has to see what Sarah has been going through.

      And Sarah just has to see how much she’s responsible for what’s happened.

      My hat’s off to Fahim Anwar as Manoosh, too. I understand that he’s a newcomer to Hollywood. Seriously amazing first job.

  6. Yeefiver says:

    I really enjoyed this episode for many reasons, Casey’s promise to Chuck if Chuck changed him into an eunuch, finding out that Casey goes to Weap-con every year, Chuck feeling sorry for Manoosh when he was mistakenly reading his own file, but especially for two different views from Casey and Sarah as they watched Chuck’s development as a spy.
    I realize that many people were upset with the C/S break up in ‘Pink Slip,’ and would have preferred instead for the two to be together and Team Bartowski to remain as a unit without Shaw.
    So let’s pretend that ‘Pink Slip’ never happened and instead of being trained in Prague for 6 months, Chuck spent that time in Burbank being trained by Casey and Sarah, and Shaw was never stationed in Burbank.
    So, in the course of training Chuck, Manoosh comes along and Chuck has to learn how to develop him as an asset. As Sarah and Casey go about teaching Chuck about finding the hole in Manoosh’s life and filling it, how to manipulate him as an asset, etc., do you think Chuck will start to remember how he was manipulated by Sarah, how Sarah found the his hole and became an integral part of his life?
    As a result, do you think Chuck will then start to question his relationship with Sarah, is it real or is it just another manipulation to keep him happy and content as an asset, to string him along? Would Chuck start thinking that he could no longer trust Sarah? How much angst would there be if Chuck could no longer trust the girl he fell in love with?
    It seems to me that instead of ending up in a hotel in Paris with Sarah, Chuck would be in a dark hole somewhere trying to break out ala ‘Sandworm.’
    What made me think of this scenario was Chuck recalling that day when he and Sarah first met.

    • joe says:

      Precisely, Yeefiver.

      So much of S3 is like this. We’re being taken where we just don’t want to go. But as much as we resist, each step along the way can’t easily be called a false one.

      I know people can’t and won’t agree with that kind of assessment. I won’t even say that they’re wrong, especially considering the plot holes and dropped threads. But I will say that S3, even if it’s the worst season of Chuck they ever make, is not trivial.

      • Yeefiver says:

        Joe,
        This season certainly is not as awesome as last season but I would still take this season of Chuck over a more popular show such as ‘Bones.’ There are some similarities between the two shows. Like ‘Chuck’ there is a nerd (Dr. Brennen) and there is an experienced federal agent (FBI agent Booth). There is also a lot of angst as the two leads are also infected with the WTWT disease. However after 100 episodes there is still no resolution (though we know it will eventually happen, just not when it will happen). At least in ‘Chuck’ there apparently has been a final resolution and it occurred in less than 50 episodes, not 100 and still counting.
        IMO the ‘Bones’ stories are not as interesting as ‘Chuck’ and the characters are not as compelling as ‘Chuck’ but ‘Bones’ is a hit show and ‘Chuck’ is a bubble show. Go figure

      • joe says:

        I can agree with that. Bones is a quality show, entertaining, and has an attractive cast. That show deserves the success it’s had.

        I do find it a touch formulaic, though, and more frustrating than Chuck for the pace of the romance between the leads. And isn’t that odd? What could be more frustrating than the pace of the romance between Sarah and Chuck?

        Well, when the movement is glacial, well then…

        You get it.

      • Jason says:

        i hope / wish / possibly even think that TPTB will come out and somewhat reveal the thought process that they went thru in arriving at season 3’s arc, would love to know why routh was extended, how that changed the plan, were the unhappy 13 episodes the plan6 or did the episodes just fall flat, if there is a cancel, was the plan to keep CS together therefore the 6 episodes with sarah having a BF, or was shaw even considered a BF? My guess is they did think this thru carefully, would love to hear some of the why’s?

      • Merve says:

        Not to make this all about Bones, but that show really went downhill after its second season. They got rid of a main character in the least ceremonious way possible. They introduced annoying rotating interns. The quality of the cases dropped. They started getting sloppier with characterization. They destroyed the series’ secondary romance. The only comparable misstep that Chuck has made is that perhaps the quality of the spy missions has dropped slightly, and even that point is up for debate.

        If Chuck in its third season and Bones in its fifth season have made a similar “mistake,” it’s that they both brought the primary romance of the series to the forefront, and then proceeded to tear it apart before it ever had a chance to go anywhere. To be a little clearer about it, that in and of itself isn’t necessarily the mistake; the mistake that Chuck made, in my opinion, (and I know that many people might disagree with me on this) was taking too long to rebuild after tearing down. The verdict is still out on this development in Bones, but given that that show is approaching trainwreck status, I don’t have much confidence in it to resolve the issue in a satisfying manner.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Yeefiver, you committed the heinous sin of getting my imagination going. I’d exercised a few neurons over the last few months contemplating what changes I’d make in S3 to make it more palatable, but until I followed along with your post I hadn’t really crystallized some key elements.

      Now you have to sit there and listen to them, and if you don’t agree just remember – it’s all your own fault. 😉

      Let’s go with your premise: Pink Slip never happens, Sarah and Chuck have a small tiff over him reintersecting, but they reach an armistice at the end of 301. With Beckman’s mandate, Sarah and Casey begin to train Chuck.

      Over the next seven to eight episodes we’d explore all of the facets of becoming a spy, some of which (Chuck lying more and more effectively to his friends and family; his manipulation of Manoosh) could run more or less as we saw them. But instead of what we saw on the show, what would be happening to Chuck is a steady build up of confidence coming not – surprisingly – from his increasing ability to operate Intersect 2.0, but from the realization that it is his innate intelligence that saves the day when the Intersect fails. He gradually recognizes that the spy he wants to be was always in his grasp had he only had faith in his abilities. Unfortunately, while Chuck follows his journey of self discovery, he forgets about one very important part of the life he dreamed of.

      Sarah is trapped in a slowly tightening vise. On one side she knows she’s responsible for Chuck’s determination to be “that guy”. How can she reverse that position now without undermining his confidence and trust? Besides, some part of her revels in his successes. This isn’t the Chuck moping over his failure at Stanford, this is a Chuck making his dream happen, however misguided she thinks it is.

      The other vise jaw, of course, is that as enamored with the spy life as Chuck is, she’s quickly following the opposite trajectory. This was stated quite aptly in ‘Fake Name’: “…it’s like I’m watching Chuck disappear, and the further he gets from who he is… the more I want to remember who I am… who I was before all of this.” Seeing Chuck follow her path to who she is makes her reevaluate her life choices, and the dissatisfaction and self-loathing grow. Still, she clings to the vanishing hope that Chuck will somehow defy the odds and retain the warm and caring heart she loves.

      I would throw out the ridiculous “if Chuck kills someone he is no longer My Chuck” idea, it’s a puerile oversimplification that cheapens the characters. Chuck would kill, and Sarah would commiserate with him. She’d understand it came with the territory. The man she loved was still there, she’d believe, crying on her shoulder. And, by episode nine or so, he’d become a spy for real – not because he killed someone, but by showing his leadership and competence. He’d request Sarah and Casey (and Morgan) as his partners, they’d be getting ready to go to Rome… and then it would happen.

      A little girl would come into the Buy More with a problem. And Chuck, in his last 5 minutes of working there, would put on his spy smile and tell her, right through her sad face, that he couldn’t help her and pass her off to Skip. Completely unaware of Sarah watching, in tears, from the side.

      Later, Sarah would come to Chuck and tell him she wouldn’t be going to Rome with them. That she’d put in her resignation and was relocating to another city. That she’d lost her way as a spy and if she kept pretending she’d get them all killed. She’d smile, kiss him and leave. And episode nine would end with Chuck sitting on the steps of his Rome villa coming to the tragic realization that his goal of being a spy meant nothing to him without Sarah there to share it with him.

      And then I’d spend the next four episodes getting them into that hotel room in Paris. 😉

      Too maudlin? Too cheesy? Maybe so, but it’s how I’m wired. 😉

      • Yeefiver says:

        I think imagination is good. In fact, in ‘The Ring’ when Bryce told Chuck to destroy Intersect 2.0 because it was too powerful but before he did, Chuck loaded it into himself, I started to imagine what upgrades were made to 2.0 that caused Bryce to tell Chuck to destroy it. Then there was Beckman’s warning to Sarah about saving the world from Chuck 2.0.
        I thought of one situation where Chuck could no longer control the Intersect and instead the Intersect would start to totally control Chuck’s action. (Confirmations on his not being able to control the Intersect came when Chuck flashed Kung-Fu and inadvertedly kicked unconscious the assasin in ‘Pink Slip’ and kicking Lester in ‘Operation Awesome.’
        This train of thought also led me to another wondering what if the Intersect could retain a person’s personality, something along the lines of ‘Dollhouse.’ Since Intersect 2.0 was originally meant for Bryce, maybe it was customized for Bryce. It would be interesting if Bryce’s personality could live on in Intersect 2.0. and Chuck started to realize that his nemesis was still living inside him and he was slowly becoming more like Bryce and less like himself and Sarah was the only one who noticed the reincarnation of Bryce through Chuck.
        How’s that for doing some thinking or imagining outside the box?

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Yeefiver, if it’d been Bryce instead of Shaw this season, Chuck’s upcoming nightmares would have lined up with the Intersect 2.0’s personality matrix being Bryce’s. Sarah could notice and be unwilling to tell Chuck, instead guiding him into professional care in 3.16.

        I’m not saying it’d necessarily be a direction I’d want to go, but it would have synchronized with the established plot more smoothly.

  7. Jen says:

    So for the first time in this Chuck break i got to re-watch the ep before reading the review. This is a fun episode, even as we get into the dark side of being a spy. In this ep we have one of the few honest moments between C&S when they are reminiscing about when they first meet. Too bad they get interrupted… as it’s the tradition.
    Sooner or later Chuck had to realize that being a spy isn’t pretty. It hurts at the end, though, when chuck’s dealing with burning Manoosh. I’m sure it hurt Sarah too, but she doesn’t go to him.

    Who knew there was a bedroom in Castle? i like it when we get to see areas of Castlr we didn’t kno were there.

    My favorite parts?
    Lester telling Monrgan “next hire, you find me a wife!” that had me rolling!
    Chuck “seducing” Manoosh… yeah, coming on a little strong!
    Casey’s excitement over weap-con
    aaaand, Chuck reaching into Casey’s pocket for the laser. Casey’s line “Get in there, don’t be shy” was hilarious!

    I’m off to bed now, but i look fwd to reading everyone’s comments tomorrow during work =P

  8. Crumby says:

    I felt so bad and sorry for both Chuck and Sarah in this episode. But I liked it.

    The only thing that othered me was the Paris thing. I get that Chuck has to lie to Ellie, but he xas cold with Awesome. And the resolution of the all thing? Did Ellie just obeyed?!

    What I liked what that Chuck got more understanding of what Sarah did for him by being his handler. And how much he ows her. She didn’t just save his life by keeping him alive, she preserved his life as he knew it, preventing him from being put underground and keeping his family and friends safe too.

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