That Was Fun!
I’ll repeat myself. After nearly three full seasons of Chuck and Sarah dancing their dance, falling in love (despite their best efforts) and making us love them, I went into this episode just knowing that there was going to be yet another big something coming between them. And there was, right off the bat.
Well almost right off the bat. The opening segment Chuck vs. The Role Models was recognized by almost all of us “old-timers” as a wonderful homage to Hart to Hart, a joyous (if lighthearted) adventure vehicle for Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers in the late ’70s. If you pester one of those old-timers enough they will even admit that everyone thought for a bit that Ms. Powers was actually married IRL to Mr. Wagner. Not that *they* believed this, of course. Ahem.
In his dream, Morgan cast himself in the role of Max, as played by Lionel Stander. If you saw the old show, you recognized that Josh Gomez did a pretty good Stander impersonation with that gruff voice. I couldn’t help it – with Chuck as Jonathan and Sarah as Jennifer, the whole thing made me smile like a kid with candy. Uh, wait a minute. Wasn’t I a little nervous 30 seconds earlier, wondering what romantic calamity was going to befall the cursed couple next? This was so – happy! How were TPTB going to mess with my mind this time?
“Why Would We Do That?”
Oh! There it was. After Sarah’s words, the world righted itself and things were back to (ab)normal. She wasn’t going to move in with Chuck. Can’t have it too easy for them now.
But wasn’t Chuck taking it rather well? And didn’t it look like Sarah really thought that it was better for them, right now, and that they would still be okay? Didn’t it seem to be not that big a deal? Very strange.
Sarah: We’re not a normal couple. So why do we have to pretend like we have a normal life?
Chuck: Who’s pretending?
Sarah: Oh – I didn’t mean it like that.
It almost sounds like Sarah doesn’t want to mess with a good thing. Okay. That seems like normal for Sarah. I think… Something has to keep them apart, after all, or this wouldn’t be Chuck.
And something else is back to normal. With the Ellie and Devon in Africa, Awesome is once again – awesome. Despite all the doom and gloom we had in the front 13 of season 3, the respite given us in Chuck vs. The Honeymooners is starting to seem – well, present. And continuing! Hum… Dare I think it?
General Beckman has news for Chuck and Sarah. She tells us that if they are to have a personal relationship, they must learn “how to go about it properly. Your mission,” she says, “is to watch and learn from the best couple the CIA has produced.”
Then a fabulous tune starts. It’s a song by Mel Tourme, of all people, and into the courtyard walk the Craig (Fred Willard) and Laura (Swoozie (also spelled Swoosie) Kurtz) Turner to teach them the ropes.
Craig Turner: Dear God it’s us 30 years ago.
Chuck: Look, Sarah. That’s us in 30 years.
Giggle. Oh, so lighthearted. In fact, who’s the bad guy? Oh yes. It’s Otto Von Vogel, played by German actor Udo Kier. Do you remember what he did? Something about software right? And a tiger? It hardly matters, and it doesn’t need to. The only question is, will the Turners succeed in showing The Charlesssessss “the ropes”? Please please PLEASE???! – before they have a fight and break up or do something stu… – hang on. Deep breath now, Buckley. Chuck and Sarah still seem – fine.
Chuck: See? Consumate professionals. I mean, what do you think makes them such a great spy team?
Sarah: Uh – a lifetime of training?
Chuck: Very funny. I’m talking about them being a couple. I honestly can’t believe the CIA doesn’t hire more of us.
Sarah: They’re not that great.
Chuck: Don’t be jealous.
Sarah: I’m not jealous. I’m just saying they’re not that great.
Not as spies? No. As a couple. Craig and Laura are quite able to smoothly divert Otto from questioning Chuck and Sarah at the soiree, and Sarah knows a professional move when she sees one. It’s the lechery and drunken jealousy she sees in them that raises her doubts.
Sarah: We should get out of here before they blow all our covers.
Chuck: But what about the software?
Sarah: Let’s show the Turners how it’s done. Hum?
Something’s wrong here, and I know what it is. It’s the fact that NOTHING’S WRONG HERE! Chuck and Sarah seem to doing great; they’ve even joked about his asking her to move in, and kissed on it. Aren’t the Turners supposed to be role models? Chuck and Sarah should be teaching them!
Chuck: Okay, okay. The Turners aren’t perfect. I’m willing to modify my opinion.
Sarah: She’s a drunk and he’s a philanderer. As a team, they’re a total mess.
Chuck: Oh, com’mon. They’re not completely without their charm. I mean, there could be worse couples we could turn into.
Sarah: I would rather be eaten alive by a tiger!
Trust No One. Except Your Partner, Of Course
In the mean time, Ellie and Awesome meet Justin (Scott Holroyd). He’s about to become a familiar dark shadow, but let’s concentrate on the Turners for a moment. You see, they do have something to teach Chuck and Sarah. As the spies leave the soiree, they pull a gun on the younger couple. Chuck protests, but Laura Turner tells him not to feel too bad. “We’re the best at this.”
Chuck: This is great. Not only did the Turners sell us out, they made us look like amateurs.
Sarah: Chuck? Why are you doing dishes?
Chuck: Please. I’m a Bartowski. This is what we do to deal with stress. We clean.
Sarah: Okay, I can see you’re upset.
Chuck: I am upset. The Turners were supposed to be our role models. Instead, they turn out to be these cold hearted, double-crossing traitors. And now, now you’re never gonna move in with me.
Sarah: Chuck, we’re not the Turners.
Chuck: Yeah, I know. But I kinda liked the idea the we could become them.
Did I hear that right? Was there a hint here that maybe, just maybe Sarah will move in with him, since they are not the Turners?
Chuck and Sarah may still be figuring out how to deal with life together, but as spies, they’re doing all right. It takes them only one clue to figure out where the Turners are staying.
[Sarah cock her gun.]
Sarah: This is how I deal with stress.
Chuck: Here we go!
Indeed. Here we go! In the very next scene it’s Chuck & Sarah who have the drop on the Turners. Can it get any smoother than this? Why, yes. Yes it can. In the B-story, Morgan has been struggling (and mostly failing) to become a spy, and Casey is failing (badly) at training him.
Morgan: You’re going to fire me, aren’t you? This is worse than when I got canned at Underpants Etc.
Casey: It’s not the end of the world.
Morgan: Com’mon. That’s what you all say when you fire me. I blew it. I blew my one chance to be a spy. And the thing is, Casey, all I wanted to do is to be part of this team.
Casey: I know how you feel.
You know, Morgan? You were there for me when I was out on my ass with the agency. I just want you to know I’m here for you now.
Morgan: Really? Not just my spy-world or Buy More ‘here’? – like a friend?
Casey: Let’s just keep that on the down-low. Huh?
Okay, that makes it official. This is the same feeling I had in season 1, but with different characters. Where’s the angst? Where’s the desperation? Gone! And I love it!
And if the bromance between Morgan and Casey wasn’t enough to convince viewers, Chuck dressing down the bickering Turners should. Chuck has become a take-charge kind of guy, yelling at the Turners like that. And remember? He had an issue with Sarah earlier that caused him to put his foot down. It was something about a “thirty foot rule.” Oh yes.
Chuck: (to himself) No gun – no flash…
(to Sarah) Honey? Darling? Would you mind telling me what you’ve done with our small cache of weapons?
Sarah: I got rid of them, Sweetheart.
Chuck: You actually listened to me???
Sarah: I can’t quite believe it myself.
Chuck: What have you done with the guns you had at the hotel?
Sarah: I left them in the car!
Chuck: Why would you do that?
Sarah: Because you TOLD me to…
Craig Turner: (under his breath to Laura) Rookies.
Any resemblance between Chuck & Sarah’s conversation and one had by actual married couples everywhere is strictly intentional. And it would have been so easy to get that wrong. But no, it’s done in a way to make it clear that this is not going to stop them. As I watch, I realize that my brow is not furrowed with worry about Chuck & Sarah. I’m smiling. For almost the entire duration of this episode I am smiling.
Bad-guy Otto comes in with his kitten, and gives our couple an ultimatum; give up the Turners or die. It’s decision time, and up to now Chuck and Sarah have not been doing very well coming to agreement about the little things (like weapons caches and living arrangements).
Chuck: I say we hand them over.
Sarah: We can’t do that.
Chuck: Why not? They sold us out!
Sarah: Because then we’d be no better than the Turners.
Chuck: Well, maybe they’re right. Maybe we’re gonna end up just like them – a couple of traitors.
[Sarah looks at Chuck, Chuck looks at Sarah.]
Sarah: Do you really believe that?
See? Told ya they had it in ’em. Was I worried? Naw! Chuck and Sarah can get by anything. All Sarah has to do is talk it out sometimes and all Chuck has to do is compromise about weapons caches in the apartment and…
You bet I was worried. I have been set up for three seasons to be doubtful and fearful. But this episode more than any other (including The Honeymooners) is the proof that what Chuck and Sarah had to deal with before is over and done. What we the audience had to suffer through, angst and PLIs, are gone. Just like that.
And just like that, Sarah decides to move in with Chuck, if his offer still stands. Was there a doubt?
We know already that more adventures are coming, and there will be difficulties and “big somethings.” As amazing as they are, Chuck and Sarah, they will never be normal. These things are not going to come between them or change their minds any more, though. The worst that happens is that their course is changed. Chuck and Sarah stay on that course together regardless. After Chuck vs. The Role Models, we know that, and we can believe it. Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers have nothing on this couple.
Once again I’d like to specially thank Faith for the space used for the music. The tunes were Mel Torme’s Comin’ Home, Baby and Miike Snow’s Sans Soleil.
You know, he really does look like Warren Beatty.
Well a young Warren Beatty, a bit. Morgan is right though, Chuck is killin’ it with the ladies. And now that Chuck has his true love, the leggy Valkyrie with an aversion to clothing, he’s finally happy. Morgan is in hell. But I digress. I will never watch this episode without thinking of something. What happened to the bathtub scene?
I’m going to get a bit into the weeds here so be patient. If you followed our back 6 spoilers you know what I’m talking about. If you didn’t, check them out and note that the originally scheduled first scene of Chuck Versus The Role Models involved Chuck, Sarah, Morgan, and a bathtub. The mind reels. Every other scene revealed on that shooting schedule made it to air as far as I can tell. Not mentioned however are the first two scenes of the episode. The Hart to Hart homage Joe mentions, and the OJ incident. Joe’s article got me thinking about this. Some of us needed light and fluffy, and I think it was pretty clear TPTB realized the front 13 were playing way too heavy. The mix we all look for was off and the excess of dark and the overdone angst were not playing well with the fan base. It might have been OK if they managed to lighten the mood a bit in that arc, which I think was the intent of Chuck Versus The Beard and Chuck Versus the Tic Tac. Unfortunately neither played as well or lightened the mood as much as they probably hoped. After the disconnect at the end of Chuck Versus The Fake Name handing Sarah the stupid stick (love that phrase) in Beard, having her suggest to Chuck “You can always come to us.” when he can’t flash wasn’t a great move. While the episode ended on an up note for Chuck it didn’t last. Even with the fun, admittedly darker fun, of Chuck Versus The Tic Tac it ended on a very down note, undoing all the angst relief they’d managed. This had already sort of happened before. The over-angsty Chuck Versus The Pink Slip and Chuck Versus The Three Words were for the most part redeemed by the “Awesome Episodes”, but for some Chuck Versus First Class and Chuck Versus The Nacho Sampler were dark enough to spoil that balance. Following them up with Mask and Fake name pretty much doomed Beard and Tic Tac to not being able to restore the balance for a lot of fans. The lighter tone at the beginning of Final Exam then was not enough for the dark end and depressing beginning of American Hero. In short, they’ve been struggling with the tone and balance a lot of the season, and they knew Role Models had to be light, even following Honeymooners. I wouldn’t be surprised if Role Models was in production right about the time of the Chuckopalypse. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it, for now. Which brings us back to the bathtub scene.
Past experience shows that some of the cut scenes that show up on DVD as special features would have really affected the tone of the show in perhaps unintended ways. Think the bouquet toss in Ring, which was probably just supposed to be a sight gag since by that time Sarah had decided to stay. Other times I think it was a deliberate decision to change the tone. Go back to Season 1 and a scene cut from Chuck Versus The Crown Vic. In the scene Casey goes a lot further explaining to Chuck about exactly what happens on seduction missions, and Sarah’s reputation. It ends with Sarah essentially, as far as Chuck can tell, confirming his worst fears. This scene changes the whole dynamic for Crown Vic and the end. Instead of Chuck being insecure (after the kiss) about Sarah going to seduce someone and hurting over her recent distance and coolness it basically makes Chuck’s fears real. He has no idea who Sarah is and what she is capable of. Does he even want a relationship, a real relationship with someone like that? Note how it also plays into the scene where Sarah tries to confront Chuck over his jealousy and he turns the tables on her. Her last line, “It was a mistake, one that will never happen again.” plays as if Chuck blew it, but if you notice that line was dubbed in. I think it’s pretty clear this episode played even darker originally. The last scene, with Sarah attempting a reconciliation and Chuck deferring the mistletoe and the kiss for friendship and a dance now seems more like Chuck deciding he doesn’t want someone like Sarah for a girlfriend, real or fake.
Now go to a Season 2 deleted scene. At the beginning of Chuck Versus The Breakup this scene has Chuck and Sarah having pizza and the wine from “The Montgomery” Chuck delivered at the end of Seduction. In other words Bryce didn’t stop the date Chuck had planned, just delayed it. The scene and the dialog make it pretty clear there is a real relationship that they both acknowledge developing, they just never seem to get their chance. Sarah even calms Chuck’s Bryce insecurities directly, saying that what they had is in the past. Put this scene back in, and the breakup becomes far more devastating for Sarah. Chuck isn’t just putting some distance back before something happens, he’s taking away the real thing Sarah was on the verge of having, something they both saw coming and wanted as soon as they got their chance. Carry this forward and it does a few things. Chuck is a bit of a jerk for calling it off the way he does, knowing how just a short time ago they both were acknowledging they wanted what was on the verge of happening. Bryce is a bit more of a jerk for playing on Chuck’s nice guy nature and desire to protect Sarah. Also in Cougars, Sarah is a LOT more justified telling Chuck, violently, to back off about her past.
In general, using these two as an example, deleted scenes have tended to serve to lighten the mood a bit. In the two cases above, I think the first was probably right, and the second, I’m not so sure. I think the deeper relationship and the real breakup could have been done. Most of the fans pretty much assumed that anyway, so I don’t think that deleted scene gained them much. Now the question, what did they gain in Chuck Versus The Role Models? How did removing a scene involving Chuck, Sarah, Morgan and a bathtub actually lighten the mood? Of course it has to do with angst, just not the kind they’ve beaten us with most of the season.
Chuck and Sarah have just returned from their Honeymoon, having resolved to be together and to be spies. Suddenly it seems they both have everything they want. Real happiness can be theirs. Is there anything that can stop our formerly star crossed lovers? The Morgan. Imagine Sarah returning to life with Chuck only to find that at every turn, there’s Morgan. Sarah wants a relaxing bath (with or without Chuck) suddenly, there’s Morgan. Sarah wants a late night snack? There’s Morgan. A moment on the couch starts to turn romantic? You got it, Morgan. If this is Sarah’s first foray into something real the formerly mildly annoying Morgan who broke up a few fake dates and played the part of third wheel would now be… more annoying? How would Morgan react to the situation? We saw, sort of. How would Sarah? We saw, some. But what about Chuck? Anybody else notice a distinct lack of Morgan presence in Chuck’s apartment from about the end of Role Models on? Tooth? No Morgan. Living Dead? Chuck actually calls Morgan from his kitchen first thing in the morning and tells Morgan to meet him at the Buy More. Anyone else’s head snap on that one? We twice see Morgan visiting the Awesome’s, but from the end of Role Models on I can’t recall a scene with Morgan in Chuck’s (and now Sarah’s) apartment. Did we get a bit too angsty and dark? Was there a Morgan eviction? Was Casey there for Morgan? Were TPTB gun-shy about a Morgan/Chuck/Sarah confrontation so soon? I think Joe raises an interesting point. A lot of us needed light and fun. More than a kiss in a Paris hotel room and a honeymoon. TPTB were trying to re-balance the show in a new more dramatic place, and for the front 13 their efforts failed with a large portion of the dedicated fan base. Chuck Versus The Beard and the beginning of Chuck Versus The Tic Tac were not enough to remove the bitter taste of Chuck Versus The Fake Name, and the dark parts of Chuck Versus The Final Exam came too quickly and heavily on the heels of the downer ending of Tic Tac. Without the frothy light one-off fun of Role Models following the fun of Honeymooners, would Chuck Versus The Tooth have felt different, been too dark? I’ve got my Season 3 DVD pre-ordered. It may be interesting to see those deleted scenes.
I know this went on for far too long and probably too deep into the weeds, but we’ve had a lot of discussion lately about the balance and tone of the show, and Joe just got me thinking far too long and hard about some of this. That and I’m on vacation and had time to watch and write. Some consider this episode a light frothy nothing and seem to think that is just as bad as some of the earlier episodes some others consider a depressing dirge. It’s a tough thing to get that balance back once you lose it, or even to find that fan center-of-mass again once you’ve changed the shows premise and direction. But I think it’s clear TPTB are trying, sincerely trying, to get us all to that place where we can agree, maybe for different reasons, that was a great episode of Chuck.
As fort the episode? I loved it and I probably have another 1,000 words on that, but that I’ll leave for the discussion in comments.
Passing the torch.
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and have re-watched it many times. I crack up with Mrs. Turner claiming to be a professional, only to fall on her ass. It makes me smile just thinking about it! Ernie and Joe hit on a lot of great points but I want to touch on the passing of the torch between the Turners and Team Bartowski. We saw the hotshot spy couple, their illustrious exploits, and their relationship-I’m talking about the Turners. What a hoot those two were. And Beckman’s drooling all over herself with praise (like what a great spy Shaw is/was) just automatically tells me to be on alert. I love that they illustrate for Chuck and Sarah the pitfalls of spy life, whether as a couple or not. Cynicism, lying, selfishness, and sheer pragmatism overcame the Turners sense of duty and responsibility, both to the country and to each other. Chuck and Sarah met every curve ball the Turners and Otto threw at them with aplomb, their dialog a realization of their commitment to what was right, and to each other. The last scene of the debrief was very classy, imho. Chuck and Sarah could have thrown them under the bus. They tell the general that the experience was “humbling” but surely not in the way Beckman thought it was. They offered redemption by example and solidified their love for one another. My quibble in the last scene with Sarah putting up pictures was that it felt rushed-the dialog, that is. Where is her killer wardrobe? Where is the heavy bag? Where are the arguments over the decor?
Diamond in the rough.
My other favorite part was Morgan and Casey. I loved Beckman giving Casey his assignment to train Morgan. “He’s a diamond in the rough. Very rough. But you can make him……sparkle!” I was rolling on the floor, I must admit, when she said those things. It was payback for blackmailing her into putting Morgan on Team Bartowski and she relished the thought of torturing John Casey with training Morgan. Once again, I’m reminded that the best spy team is also the most unconventional, and I hope the writers capitalize on that in season 4. I wish I had deeper thoughts for you all, but it has been a long, hot day! Cheers!
I’d have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. Its not something anyone would call deep or important, its simply fun. I don’t think any of us really want the show to turn into this. But I thought it was great to get a two episode break from the dark and angst filled main arc this season; before we plunge into final mini-arc. Honeymoners, Role Models, and Tooth (kind of a transition episode, leading us into the end game) establish Chuck and Sarah as a couple. They suddenly seem pretty mature and secure. Its a little surprising after the tortured journey of the front 13, but oh so refreshing to see.
I don’t know how much pure fluff like this we’ll have to look forward to in S4, but I will always enjoy this episode for what it was. A few things really stand out to me:
I think leggy Valkerie suits Sarah nicely (um…. I won’t worry about the rest of that line!)
Loved the tiger, I was really disappointed he (she?) didn’t make Ernie’s list of villains. Favorite exchange: Chuck “why didn’t you shoot him?!” Sarah “you said he was majestic!” And did I mentioned this was right after a girlish scream from Agent Walker? Never thought we’d see that!
I’ve always been a Fred Willard fan. He manages to pull off affable but not quite all there perfectly.
Although Sarah seemed a little grumpy through much of this episode; kind of like she knew she was way beyond anything the Turner’s were going to teach her, and annoyed that Chuck was soooo impressed with them. But in the end it was clearly a good Chuck and Sarah episode. I know I’ve said before I don’t quite get how “moving in” was a big deal after almost running off together, but that seems like a minor quibble for such a fun show.