Where to start. The end of American Hero and Beginning of Other Guy reminded me of a spy version of the Fat Lady/Gravitron transition for Chuck. Unaware of the danger the new LI poses Sarah, like Chuck heads out of town into unknown danger. It kinda made me miss the bigger budget and more stylized episodes of season’s past. Sigh. But I can’t really find a thing to complain about in this episode. Well I could, I’m just tapped out on complaining. But really, with the fun back complaints seem to be pushed to the background. Did I say fun? Yes, fun. I know it’s a dark episode, but they used to know how to do dark and fun. Think of the torture scene in Beefcake or Tango. Dark, but funny. This is much the same. Casey giving Chuck the strike team contact; “You’ll be forwarded to Col Sanders” The priceless look, “Don’t make fun of his name.” And when has a full tactical strike complete with armor ever been a visual punchline. And who but Chuck could pull it off. They had me at “cancel the tank”. It’s all uphill from there.
Back at Castle, Beckman is in her default mode of exasperated and angry. Thank god for Dianne Beckman. When I think of the scenes Shaw took from her… Sorry, I was going to the dark place again. Still, I’m going to love to see Beckman as the new team forms and tests her boundaries. Comedy gold. Shaw comes to Chuck’s defense and Sarah, still working on that whole communication thing thanks him for the tank. Such a softie that Chuck. What girl doesn’t dream of a guy ordering a full armor assault for her. But, at last, to Dave’s relief we start to see Shaw’s evil plan come to light. Ok, not before one last bit of angst, but it’s played for laughs, and it is Sarah’s moment to shine.
Chuck, being an emotional guy has a skillset other spies lack. He can read people, like Karl Stromburg or Daniel Shaw. He doesn’t buy the whole consummate professional bit. His call to Beckman is another great moment in Chuck and Dianne history. Too bad the Love Bunker™ just isn’t in the cards.
Chuck: General if I could speak freely?
Beckman: That’s not a good idea.
Ahhh Chuck. Once again you’ve tipped Dianne to your feelings, and she decides her nemesis Sarah Walker needs to be moved to DC, sending Chuck into a tailspin. (Beckman will be there to pick up the pieces, she’s been slow playing Chuck for years) It’s Morgan however who is the first to try to pick up the pieces, or more precisely the bottle. Morgan will learn, as he does here, what the intersect wants, the intersect gets. Poor Morgan, thankfully he has a heart and a forgiving nature as big as Chuck’s.
At Chuck’s low point Sarah arrives, and we find out a few new fun facts. First Sarah stuffs her bra. But being Sarah it’s with a 6″ lock blade. Morgan is freed, the Bartowski-Grimes man-cave needs a complete new set of game controllers, and Sarah is working on this whole communication thing. Bless you Sarah. Yes, we know its tough, and yes, you were a few seconds late, again. But this time you did it. You made sure that when you saw Chuck start to fall apart and everything crash and burn, you stepped up, and your Chuck was your reward. Was that so hard?
Chuck and Sarah on a mission. Sigh. Oops, Shaw is there too. Still I love the little Chuck and Sarah code. It reminds you just how well these two know each other. Something you might not get from this season. Anybody else notice how good Chuck has become at this spy thing? For a guy with vertigo rappelling down an elevator shaft sans intersect as if it’s nothing is pretty significant progress. And we don’t think twice about it. My how our nerd has grown.
OK, the tranq gun. Chuck, can we talk? Use it. Doesn’t matter that you’ll give away that it’s a tranq gun if everybody other than the director is snoozing. Sarah has her real one. But still, the setup was needed and Shaw, the big “Hero” saves the day, except that he doesn’t. Morgan does. Yes, Morgan saves the day. My how our nerd has grown. Of course Beckman doesn’t want to hear it (love the clapper), and Morgan steps up and becomes the Alfred to Casey’s Bruce Wayne, or is he the Q to Chuck’s Bond. I get confused.
One more nice moment. Casey, Chuck’s true mentor, helps Chuck over that last hurdle. “Before you were the intersect you were smart.” Casey and Sarah have recognized Chuck’s innate gifts all along, and come to appreciate them. And finally, Casey returns a favor. The gun was his idea. Casey knows Chuck. Chuck isn’t a killer, but he also will not let anyone hurt Sarah, ever. Chuck can pull the trigger when it matters. Chuck is a spy, and Sarah has her guy.
I came to Chuck late, and some of the context of the vernacular still eludes me, but I think there is a exclamation that applies in such situations. I’ll leave it for one of the ladies however, cause you know us guys aren’t in to that romantic stuff.
OK, but just once. SQUEE!
Now I need to go watch some hockey and eat a steak.
From Joe – Enjoying My Old Life
You just know I believe S3 ended with the previous episode, with Chuck waiting for Sarah at Union Station, discovering late that she’s with Shaw. We’re about to begin something new, but we need a transition, and Chuck vs. The Other Guy is it.
Chuck thinks – he knows – Sarah is in danger. What Chuck doesn’t quite know yet, is that she was about to join him to run away. It would have been glorious, really; lovers on the run, romantic Mexico, then Paris and then who knows where. We’d see the occasional running into former colleagues and bad-guys triggering a fight-or-flight response, big time. Magical! We’d see a fight for survival that could be either intense, or clever, or even humorous, maybe, as Chuck and Sarah struggle together, overcome and celebrate the week’s victory. It would have been a ‘shipper’s dream.
We didn’t get that.
No, Shaw has taken Sarah to a Ring stronghold, a warehouse, and has apparently taken her there to show Sarah one thing; that five years earlier, she killed Evelyn Shaw. Sarah didn’t know it at the time, of course, and in fact, had very nearly not done it. Sarah had nearly failed her red test, and never knew anything – nothing at all – about the person she shot. Ignorance is no defence. Sarah’s ignorance never, ever saved her from the knowledge of what she had done, or the guilt, and that always had consequences. Chuck felt those every day he knew her, every bit as much as Daniel Shaw.
Chuck mounts a furious counter attack, with complete tactical support, to save Sarah from the evil Shaw, which is very cool because you see how Chuck is now a real take-charge kind of guy. I sort of like the idea that the bill was bigger than the General’s copy of Atlas Shrugged. Too bad for him that Shaw wasn’t trying to kill her. And too bad the General wants to move both Sarah and Shaw to Washington, while Chuck stays in Burbank. Ohhhh – that’s so very Chuck-like, just the way we met him. So Long and Thanks for all the Tanks, Chuck.
But Sarah does look at him rather sweetly, doesn’t she. Still, there’s this awful Washington job for her, and maybe Rome for the lemon. If you can’t be with Sarah Walker, there’s always Johnny Walker, video games, the works of John Hughes and sugar free, mint ice cream.
Lucky for us, Morgan the Ewok isn’t having it. Not any more. Well, that’s a great scene that we would not have had if Sarah had met Chuck at Union Station – Chuck flashing and hog-tieing his friend, only to be freed by Sarah (who’s still producing major weapons from nowhere, btw, just as she did in that British S1 promo…). Don’t you love it?
Finally, the ‘shippers get another moment. It’s a great one because we get to relive the pilot again, and ask, like we used to, when Sarah first fell in love with Chuck.
I fell for you a long, long time ago, after you fixed my phone, and before you started defusing bombs with computer viruses. – Sarah
It was Ernie, I believe, who posed this exact question in the NBC Chuck group last summer. I’ll bet you didn’t think TPTB would weigh in, did you, my friend. So much has happened, but he’s still her Chuck, and they kiss. We’ll take any tender moment we can get, of course – kisses between them have been so rare in season 3. But it’s not lost on us that they kiss, not like hormone addled teens on a second date, but more like survivors of a war. They’re like combatants who have already given every ounce of their strength for the cause and are bleeding, bruised, but alive. The word “mature” comes to mind. If we called Chuck a boy and Sarah a girl before, we cannot any longer.
We saw at the end of American Hero that Sarah and Chuck are – what? Together? A couple? Not exactly. But wow, are they comfortable now. They’ve found new strength in each other, and they work together well too, don’t they? Chuck should not envy Bryce that teamwork he saw in Nemesis. Would we have seen that in Mexico? I can’t say. The fact that the mission in the Ring stronghold is a hoot (especially in the elevator) is a bonus. I was just enjoying watching Chuck and Sarah enjoying working together! In fact, I began to wonder if Sarah was still planning to go off to Washington. “Just one more mission.”, she said. Maybe not!
The Other Guy started out alright! We-who-call-ourselves-shippers were happy. The story was… hey? Shaw didn’t kill that Ring director? Morgan – Morgan? Morgan! spots the clue. Shaw is demented after all and – Wait just one moment, this is getting good! That’s what I’m saying to myself as I watch. It may be just a stupid line, but then I notice I’m grinning from ear to ear when Morgan tell Casey that he’s been “Buy-Mored”. It’s a great line! And this episode is just full of those.
We all saw Sarah in grave danger. In what would have been an inexplicable plot complication in any other show, everyone is off to Paris to either kill or save her, and as I watch I am happy about it. The intersect is not going to help; it’s going to be useless. I don’t say “bah”. I say “good!”
Did You Think I’d Be Okay With That?
Oh yes, my distaste for Shaw is great enough that I was glad to see him finally revealed as insane and absolutely evil for the third time. Chuck is much more understanding of him than I. No one watching would have expected anything less than Chuck coming to the rescue of a helpless Sarah, but even I didn’t think that what I’d see in her face at exactly the right moment would be – regret and sadness. The camera is out of focus so that we see through Sarah’s tears, and it’s perfect that the only thing that is clear, is Chuck. As obvious as it is to us now, I would not have it any other way.
Tell me, please. Which of these things would we have seen if Sarah had met Chuck at Union Station?
No Morgan martial-arts scene expertise. No teamwork in the elevator. No Casey chiding Chuck with “Before the intersect, you were smart.” No hidden weaponry. No Shaw, revealed. And no Chuck discovering that the intersect was never, ever going to help him win Sarah, that this was only within him. No understanding that the intersect only had the power to keep them apart, if he let it.
Don’t kid yourself. It almost did. When Shaw threatened to kill Sarah, it wasn’t the intersect that found the strength to pull the trigger.
In American Hero Chuck said that he hated himself for not knowing what he wanted to do with his life, and not knowing who he wanted to spend it with. Now he knows that wasn’t exactly about being a spy – it was about making a difference. Funny that making a difference isn’t dependent on whether it’s General Beckman or Big Mike signing his paycheck. Making a difference is how the nerd gets the girl, though.
We might think that it’s foolish to even bring up the ‘who’ that Chuck wants to spend his life with. It was always Sarah, right? The thing is, Chuck could have been happy with Jill, or Lou or with Hannah, and that would have been alright. It certainly is for most of humanity, if not for us romantics and dreamers.
But then, with Jill, or Lou, or Hannah, then he would not be making a difference, would he.
I’m not going to restate the end of the episode, which we shall always refer to as “Paris”, I know. The retelling is for our private moments, because we’re each going to experience again it in our own ways. We’ll share it in intimate groups and with close friends because it’ll be an intimate thing, at least, for a while longer. And in larger groups, well, we’ll have many one-on-one conversation, not one-to-many like this, to talk about what it personally meant to us. The words will have winks and nods and obscure references, but we will know what the other person means.
Because I’m the one who kept saying “have some faith” months ago (you remember the days when we barely knew how to spell PLI), you may be surprised to find that I don’t think any of this was a sure thing. I don’t think any of the things we saw in season 3 that we consider successful were inevitable, and failures were always possible. Chuck has always taken gambles, and many in S3 were major. I’m happy that in the end, the gamble paid off for most of us, if only in the sense that we’re willing to lay our money down again. I’m more than ready to continue this ride, just to see where it goes.
The story of Chuck and Sarah coming together is over, and we’re about to begin something new. Clearly there’s some fun times ahead, starting with the very next episode.
This was supposed to be up from the start, don’t know why it didn’t publish. Anyway, My wife and I are celebrating our 13th anniversery this week, so I have little spare time. My review of The Other Guy is: Good episode.