This episode is about living the lie. If you miss it they’ll tell you, again and again, and again. Chuck has to go undercover as an alias, so he has to learn to live a lie. Chuck and Hannah are getting close, but he can’t tell her about his true self the spy, so he’s living a lie. Awesome is covering up with Ellie for Chuck, living a lie. Casey, we find may have been living a lie longer than anyone thought. If you miss that there’s a whole musical montage at the end where Chuck breaks Hannah’s heart because he can’t ever truly let her know him, Sarah goes to Shaw in Castle and Chuck wanders the streets alone to the song Living a Lie. Got it? Our heroes are living a lie. If you missed that 2×4 to the head we can discuss the rest of this finely crafted and highly popular episode after the jump.
Ellie is upset. Everyone seems to be keeping secrets from her, and Chuck, who used to be her closest confidant seems to have a whole other life she knows nothing about. Where did all these lies come from? They used to tell each other everything. On Awesome’s advice Ellie decides to go confront Chuck about his new secret girlfriend and life, and steps right into it. She gets what she wants, to meet Hannah. She also gets the answer to what was probably going to be her first question to Chuck; “Is it serious?” Well, we’ll see. For now it looks serious as a heart attack. The scene was however just pure light fun and funny Chuck.
Sarah, after last week allowing that she might allow something to possibly happen with Shaw is back on the defensive. Sarah wants to keep it professional with Shaw. She sees herself falling into old patterns with Shaw, and perhaps is starting to see her attraction to Chuck in that same light, attraction by proximity and opportunity rather than any sort of real feelings. But duty calls, and it turns out that the apparent date is a mission to grab up one Rafe Gruber, the worlds top assassin. It seems the Ring has hired him and Shaw wants to know why. Chuck is to be given the task. At first it looks like another of those Chuck moments of supreme self confidence ending comically, or he just doesn’t want Casey to torture Rafe if he can help it. But very quickly Chuck turns out to be the world’s greatest method actor, taking on the character of the ruthless assassin, with a few touches of Chuck, effortlessly and setting the meeting. And negating the reason for torturing Rafe. The meeting is set, Chuck is set. The mission is on.
But first a visit to the BuyMore, where we see Big Mike relies a bit too much on Morgan now, and needs to move some crock-pots and where speculation about Chuck, Buymoria’s and Burbank’s greatest lady-killer is rampant. Theories range from mind control drugs to sorcery. Well those would be Jeffster’s go-to approaches for getting a lady-friend, but Chuck apparently just has to be Chuck. Morgan is gone for an episode, sparing us the angst of him seeing his crush with his best friend. I guess that angst will be saved for another day.
Hannah is obviously quite smitten, and Chuck is loving it. Heck, who wouldn’t. Oh, right. Casey thinks Chuck needs to get his priorities in line. Mission first, ladyfeelings later. Perhaps that’s why Casey decides Chuck needs some backup for his meeting. I would say he’d come to regret that decision, but Casey being Casey, well it’s apparently just another day at the office.
Chuck is managing well, living the lie, much to Sarah’s chagrin. Shaw continues to insinuate himself into her life as both potential suitor and confidant, but with Sarah it’s still about Chuck becoming too much like her, and her losing the part of herself where she knew who she was. We can wonder when that was, and who she was when she decided that this was the person that was truly her, I think a lot of us have a guess that there was one morning cooking breakfast for her “husband” that might weigh heavily.
Back to the mission, this time it’s Casey, of all people who is the reason things go south and Chuck who has to step up and make the save. One painful tooth extraction and a beat up SWAT team later, Casey is safe and Chuck’s cover is preserved. And Casey is proud of Chuck. Imagine that. Well not the proud part, that he said it to Chuck’s face.
Remember when we were wondering when it was that Sarah decided who she was, that person she wants to remember? I think we get a hint in the next scene. Sarah and Shaw are covering Chuck’s cooking duties, preparing for his family dinner, and Sarah is beaming. She’s back in Chuck’s house, making a meal, and she’s beaming. Even Shaw notices. Of course he thinks it’s about him. But we’re once again reminded our heroes are living a lie. By Hannah.
Hannah: Actually, I’d like to make a toast. You know how, in life, there’s always something that just doesn’t line up? Like, either you’re working at the wrong job or dating the wrong guy, or you’re eating some really bad meal? But right at this second, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. And I want to thank all of you for making me feel that way. Hope dessert doesn’t suck. Cheers.
We’re immediately treated to a quick look into both our heroes souls, as they realize they aren’t where they are supposed to be. Chuck realizes he’s lying to Hannah, and Sarah realizes that it’s supposed to be her at the dinner table. Her quick shutdown of Shaw’s latest attempt to insinuate himself tells us, and him, everything. It wasn’t about him, the reason Sarah was so happy. It was about Chuck, being in Chuck’s house and remembering a part of who she was. Shaw will always come in second to Chuck in Sarah’s heart, whether she’ll admit it or not. This actually helps explain some of our climax scene and a few to come. Sarah says she doesn’t want to get involved and wants to separate her professional and personal life, but Shaw sees she’s really still in love with Chuck. Shaw, more and more in both the romantic and the spy world can’t compete with Chuck Bartowski. If you follow closely from this point on to the Final Exam Shaw never leaves Sarah alone with Chuck. The one exception was Tic Tac, and he wasn’t around to prevent it.
The inevitable twist to the spy plot surfaces with our bad guy escaping our sort of bad guys tracking down Chuck at the Buy More and disabling his watch with Shaw being the target, and finally with Sarah breaking down and confiding in Shaw at just the perfect moment. Sarah arrives at Shaw’s to unburden herself. She has nobody left to talk to. Shaw takes advantage of Sarah’s desperation to make it about them, clearly relishing the opportunity to know something of Sarah that “not even Chuck” knows. Chuck of course sees and hears everything, Sarah’s disappointment with who he is becoming, her new trust in Shaw as her confidant, and her desire to remember who she was… Sarah is still confused on this count. Chuck of course comes up with a plan on the fly, once again Shaw has to rely on Chuck to save the day, but he can’t resist pushing Chuck’s buttons, and the fight gets a bit too real. Shaw knows Sarah’s real feelings, based on the overheard conversation, Chuck doesn’t. Enter bad guy and the Deus Ex Machina known as Casey. I’m not going to dwell on this scene, largely because it never comes up again, other than Chuck not being able to flash (and only 5 people in the world being able to make a 900 yard shot, and the timing, and all the other plot holes). And quite frankly, though I know I’m supposed to feel great epic emotions, for me this scene fell flat.
So cue the end scenes. Chuck goes to Ellie who lays down some truth. You don’t love Hannah, you aren’t moving on. Chuck does the right thing, horribly, and breaks Hannah’s heart. Hannah does the right thing and lets Chuck have it with both barrels. Sarah, deluding herself, believes she can find the same sort of connection she felt with Chuck with Shaw, because he got her to open up. All to the tune Living a Lie. What they don’t notice is that Ellie told Chuck he was still in love with Sarah, Hannah told Chuck he was lying to himself, which is why he could be a convincing liar, and Sarah’s attempt to bring something real to her Shaw relationship is all based on things she learned from Chuck. Buy More for appliances and Bamboo Dragon for sizzling shrimp. Sarah has no real, and had no self she wanted to know or remember before Chuck. But living the lie will have to do for our heroes, for now.
If I wasn’t sure before I am now. I’m a masochist. I volunteered to re-watch 3.6 through 3.8, and then write about them. OK, probably because neither Joe or Dave is enough of a masochist, and I like to pride myself on being able to see both sides. Well I suppose I can see both sides, but as you may have noticed in my last few reviews my sympathies often get the better of me. I’m afraid they will again, because I don’t see any way to discuss this episode and it’s impact on season three without talking about something I think is undeniable. If Chuck is canceled, this is the episode that killed it. It had accomplices. The Mask and a two week break before this episode really didn’t help, but if you look at the numbers, not the ratings, the raw numbers underneath, from Operation Awesome to this episode Chuck pulled in a pretty steady 6.7 million viewers. The episode after Fake Name it dropped to 6.3 and the next week to 5.8 million, and it has never recovered. I think you can point to this episode, after which some 400,000 steady viewers tuned out, followed by another 500,000 the next week. Rationalize all you want, people stuck with this show through the Chuckopalypse and the Olympic Break, and then started to tune out after this episode. Why is a question I’ll leave for later. I’m sure some of you will have some ideas, but lets keep it clean and courteous please. As we always do.
As for my little review arc, I’m glad it’s done. I’ll be reviewing Final Exam solo and then Other Guy along with both Joe and Dave. As for this episode and this part of the season I think I got some new insight and was able to see the story TPTB were trying to tell a little more clearly. Yes, the story was intrinsically angsty, and I think I’d find a lot to dislike about it even if it was done extremely well. It was the direction I opposed even before the season started and the effect I feared happened. Characters were hurt to the point that fans didn’t feel connected to them or the show anymore. It wasn’t by any means a forgone conclusion, just a big risk. If TPTB feel it was absolutely necessary to get to the back 6, which will be a different show, a show we’ll all love, I’ll respect their decision and see if I think it worth the trip. As for me, these past days have left me a little less fond of the show, but oddly looking forward to 3.14, and hoping it is a piece of shippery fluff just to give us a break.