In the words of TPTB, season 4 of Chuck will be all about family. So it seemed appropriate to kick off our top three series with a look back at Chuck when it does family well. The Bartowski clan does family well for such a dysfunctional one. More to the point Ellie and Chuck have learned to make a family and how to expand it. Morgan has been family for years, and Captain Awesome has the little brother he always wanted, despite having two younger brothers… Come to think of it Captain Awesome seems to prefer the Bartowski clan to a somewhat overachieving and awesome one located on the opposite coast. Maybe there’s a reason Devon got through his teen years with tequila and sports, and decided to go to UCLA. But through the seasons, despite some rough spots, this patchwork dysfunctional family has always had each other in the end. Our picks for the episodes that show that best, after the jump.
Chuck Versus The Santa Claus – This one is easy. Bartowski family holidays and Sarah invited to join the family, and she accepts this time. Everyone is looking out for family. Sarah doesn’t want to blow Chuck’s cover so he can stay with his family. Chuck doesn’t want Awesome to be Awesome and risk getting hurt. Everyone makes sacrifices for family. Awesome swallows his awesomeness, Chuck is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice and turn himself over, and Sarah re-lives the worst night of her life, all for family.
Chuck Versus The Ring – Nothing brings families together like a wedding. Or two. Again, Chuck does what’s necessary to protect the family, then does what’s necessary to make it right. Devon trusts his newest brother on the most important day of his life, and Ellie gets her dream wedding, and forgives her brother. True, Sarah, however briefly, considers leaving her new family, and Chuck manages to do something that will cost his family all dearly in the next year, but for a while on that wonderful day everything almost seems right with the Bartowski-Woodcomb clan.
Chuck Versus The Subway/Chuck Versus The Ring II – Yes, I’m cheating, but I watched them as one episode, and they remain that way in my head. Yes, a lot of bad stuff happens to the Bartowski-Coburn/Casey-Grimes-Walker-Woodcomb family, but they all manage to come through for each other in the end. Bitter sweet to be sure, but as Chuck says, in the end nothing is more important than family.
Ah, but what are the episodes that speak “family” to the audience? I think the first two are easy. I’ll agree with Ernie.
Chuck vs. The Santa Claus – What says family like the annual Salvation Army Con Job? Hum? Seriously, it’s about everybody trying to look out for everybody. It’s about Devon learning when to take his soon-to-be wife’s advice and when it’s time to act the way he believes is right. It’s about Ellie caring about everybody’s welfare. It’s about the Buy Morons acting not so moronic for a moment and finding the courage to stand up for themselves (if only a little). And it’s about Sarah realizing that she’s part of this tribe. Yes, the bracelet is as real as it gets, and despite her own upbringing, she knows it.
Chuck vs. The Ring – A wedding really does say “family”. If the visuals of Chuck and Stephen giving away the bride aren’t enough, and if Morgan Fairchild acting like the quintessential Mother-in-law Honey Woodcomb isn’t enough, then the music played at the second venue (no, not Jeffster, but Slow Club doing Christmas TV) puts it over the top.
For the hard choice, I pick Chuck vs. The Nemesis. It’s set during the Thanksgiving Holiday, with the Buy More facing “Black Friday,” and the possibility of a pineapple situation. There is a rather traditional family dinner given by Ellie and Devon, attended by Casey and Sarah and Morgan and Anna where a good time and Sweet Potatoes covered with Marshmallows was had by all. Oh yes, and Bryce was there! You may also recall a rather special toast given by Chuck (that was – dark. And specific.)
I guess I’ll be a little different. Almost from the beginning this has been one of my favorite recurring themes on the show. But most of the time we’re talking about just a scene, usually at the end of the episode, that constitutes “family time.” So my picks will be more about favorite moments than an entire episode.
First choice is Chuck vs. The Helicopter. This episode really establishes what the core “family” of the show will be. Even as far Casey being sort of a sometimes family member. We see the six main characters together for the first time at Casa Bartowski, and then five of them together for the end scene. I love both moments; from bad magic tricks, to Sarah bouncing Chuck off the bathroom door, to a burned corndog. I laugh and feel heart-warmed at the same time.
Second choice is Chuck vs. The Graviton. I’m surprised I’m the first to pick it. The Thanksgiving meal is not only a very sweet scene, but it felt so good as a conclusion to the Jill arc.
Third choice I’ll be more normal; Chuck vs. The Ring. Wonderful episode for family time, and epic shoot-outs.
This does leave so many honorable mentions. Although I’d only list two from S3 (Operation Awesome and Ring II), but the closeness of the whole crew was a special part of the show through most of the first two seasons.
Chuck vs. The DeLorean. What can I say? I love the interactions between Sarah and Jack, Chuck and Sarah, Jack and Charlie, uhhh, schnook, uhhh I mean Chuck. Jealous, over protective Chuck warmed my heart and the comfort level between the two was great. Chuck had $20 million reasons to leave, but one really good reason to stay. I liked the willingness of Casey to try help the situation and I loved the heart to heart between Jack and Chuck. We got backstory on both PapaB and Sarah.
Chuck vs. The Ring. Weddings, shootouts, wrist computers aiding our heroine, stalling of weddings, trying to choose love-only to be cut off mid-sentence, and the ultimate decision to upload the new Intersect 2.0. ‘Nuf said.
Chuck vs. The Subway/Ring II. I loved it all. I loved that the family came together to save Team Bartowski, I love that Sarah finally picked the right guy (and got credit for it), I’m thrilled that the scheme to nail Shaw didn’t involve the intersect-we got smart Chuck-that guy before the intersect. Sarah was willing to do whatever it took to save Chuck, both from the CIA accusations and to get her hands on the governor. Casey acknowledged Alex and we almost got a real hug from our Sugar Bear. There
* Due to a rather busy schedule Amy mailed her picks but didn’t get to expand on them yet. I’m sure we’ll hear about her reasons for her picks in comments or in this space when Amy is able to take the time out from that little defending the nation thing she does in her spare time. In the mean time our best wishes are with her as always.* Thanks as always to my co-bloggers for their infinite patience with my crazy life.
Have Your Say
We know you’ll have your say in the comments, but just for fun pick your top three family episodes in our poll, and then tell us why in comments.