It’s Never Safe In The Car: Top Three Action Episodes

She Only Responds To Action

She Only Responds To Action

Who doesn’t love a good backward car chase like in Chuck Versus The Intersect, or Chuck being dropped off a building, or dropping 4 stories into a pool while tied to Casey.  Or perhaps you’re more a fan of the more pro-active Chuck, taking down Roark’s men in Dream Job or five ring agents in Ring or again in Tic Tac.  Chuck features a lot of action to get the blood pumping.  We pick our favorites after the jump.

The action sequences on Chuck are a funny thing.  Some are almost comic relief, like Sarah’s single-handed assault on Fulcrum headquarters in First Kill.  Others really heighten the drama with only minimal action.  Think of Tom Sawyer’s cuts between Chuck playing Missile Command, Casey arming a nuclear missile and Sarah assaulting a terrorist held television station.  So many great sequences, but you know the rules.  Now we choose the episodes that start to finish bring the action at it’s best.

Ernie’s Picks

I really want to pick more, but I’d usually be picking them for my favorite fight scenes.  Which is all if them.  Casey and Sarah squaring off in Helicopter, or Sarah and Casey taking on La Ciudad and her minions in Tango, or even Sarah kicking terrorist butt in the aforementioned Tom Sawyer.  And Cougars?  Fuggedaboutit.  All great picks.  But to me there are three episodes that really stand out as action packed.

Chuck Versus The Ring OK, can anything beat a reception hall gun and knife fight followed up by a full tactical airborne commando assault through the skylight all to the soundtrack of Jeffster?  Sorry, even Chuck-Fu pales in comparison.  I know it’s almost as if I’m picking one scene, but to me that scene IS Chuck Versus The Ring and defines Chuck’s action sequences at their absolute best.

Chuck Versus The First Date Is that a Crown Victoria? Did somebody order drivethrough?  It’s OK, I was going for intimidating.  Start to finish one of the best Chuck episodes EVER.  But the stunts, the fights, and the action in this one make it one of my top picks for action.  And that doesn’t even count Thunderdome.  They almost make you believe Yvonne could kick Michael Clarke Duncan’s butt.

Chuck Versus The Intersect.  In a way it isn’t really fair to compare a pilot to a normal episode.  Budgets are bigger, shooting schedules looser, and the idea is to sell what the show can be.  But come on.  Bryce’s parkour escape from NSA headquarters, computer stealing ninjas and Sarah’s lethal dance moves all followed up by a backwards car chase and two, yes, two major automobile demolitions before we even get to the rooftop standoff and the last second bomb defusing heroics.  Action, yep, the pilot has action.

Amy’s Picks

Chuck vs. the Best Friend. It really isn’t safe in the car, especially if said car has a bomb in it.  This episode had action:  Sarah vs. Smooth Lau.  What an epic fight.  It had cool cars, car chases, and remote controls.  Oh, and exploding cars.  You can’t forget that!  The look on Sarah’s face when she thought Chuck had been blown up was priceless (why hasn’t Yvonne won an Emmy?!).  And the final scene in the Buy More when we are introduced to Jeffster singing Africa , well that is a favorite moment too.

Chuck vs. The Ring. What do paratroopers (btw, I am one), shootouts, a torn bridesmaid dress, and Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian have in common?  That would have to be the Bartowski-Woodcomb wedding, part 1.  Oh, and that’s only the first 10 minutes or so!  We get lessons on creative ways to turn wedding gifts into weapons, how to secure a wedding location, and field expedient decorating.  Then, add in a post wedding reception battle between good and evil, and you get Chuck-Fu.  Sweet!

Chuck vs. la Angel de la Muerte. “You and what army?”  “That would be Sarah, and her fists!”  “That is some woman, bro!”  “You have no idea.”  Embassy dinners, awesome dance number, coupe de tat attempts, and emergency surgery.  That is a pretty successful day for most spies.

Action-Joe’s Choices

I grew up with Batman (Pow!! Bop!! Bash!!). Scratch that. I grew up with Reeves as Superman. George Reeves, that is. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than… you get it. Action is where I’m at, and my great realization for the summer is that I really, really prefer Chuck standing up to Shaw saying – saved the best for last!, as opposed to “Girlish-scream Chuck”, who tends to wait for Sarah to save him and Casey to catch him when he falls. A lot.

A great action episode needs more than a great protagonist, though. It requires a great villain, too (duh!). And we’ve had ’em. Lazslo Mahnovski, Frank Mauser, Lizzy, Mitt and the Mighty Jocks… Be afraid. Be very afraid. So my favorite action episodes lean away from heavy emotional and personal conflicts, and get right to the bullets, fists and bombs.

Chuck vs. The Best Friend – I remember this episode first for Chuck and Sarah climbing to new level of understanding in their relationship, and second for Chuck telling Morgan to Grow up, Morgan Grimes. He did, too. Do you remember that Anna also learned that Sarah thought of her as a friend? Ack! All those important and poignant moments. Yet all of those are trumped by Sarah and Smooth Lau in one of the best fight scenes, ever (set to the music of Jane’s Addiction), and an exploding herder. Or was it Sarah’s heart that exploded? I’ll never know which.

Chuck vs. The Dream Job – Did I say great villains? Like Europe, Chevy Chase as Roark “is genius.” Chuck donning armor with Luisa’s Bones thrumming like a heartbeat in the background is wrenching. Stephen saying Now go, or we’ll be a little bit dead., stunning to the senses. Exciting, exciting, exciting!

Chuck vs. The Predator Oh yes, I like “action-jackson” Chuck. But sometimes it’s impossible to act. When Chuck constrains and limits himself he’s a loser. When events are tying him down and making him desperate, then you have to remember Bryce’s words, You always do the right thing, Chuck. He and Vincent are in a dark room, Casey and Sarah are nowhere to be seen, Orion has been taken away and Chuck is defeated. He has only his reputation and his past deeds to fall back on. Guess what – Vincent has heard of him. Had Chuck actually been a bumbling pretender before? In one sentence, in one moment, you forget that. Chuck is transformed from a fraud playing spy-games in the Buy More into a real spy.

Dave’s Picks

This is another hard category,  because there are so many good choices.  I look forward to the action sequences every show,  and unlike the romance,  this is something I was looking for when I first tuned into the Chuck pilot 3 years ago.   I have noticed the S3 picks are so far pretty light for this category,  I think this is something that was really hurt by the budget cuts.   There are still some excellent choices here (Angel of Death, Tic Tac, Honeymooners) but nothing quite as good as what they did before.

Chuck vs. The Undercover Lover – Great episode in every way.   But Casey taking on Russian thugs with Chuck and two chairs tied to his back is a thing of beauty.   Top it off with the long fall to the pool,  and this is first rate action work.

Chuck vs. The First Date – Between Chuck’s five story plummet, Sarah’s heart wrenching scream, and our 130 lb. (?) heroine taking on the giant Colt this was a dynamite climax to the S2 premier.   Still my favorite episode for introducing newbies to the show.

Chuck vs. The Ring – I think Mr. Roboto and airborne special forces make for the best TV wedding scene ever!   Seriously,  I smiled and laughed all the way through this scene.  Even more remarkable when you consider I wasn’t quite over the vacation/proposal scene yet.   I shudder to think what may happen when Chuck and Sarah actually get around to their own wedding!


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.
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20 Responses to It’s Never Safe In The Car: Top Three Action Episodes

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    Almost forgot to give a shout out to a so far unmentioned runner-up. Well I actually did forget, that’s why this is in comments not the main article. Chuck Versus The Tic Tac. There’s just too much good stunt work and too many good fights to not mention it. But for me there needs to be more than just good fights for an episode to be tops in the action category. There has to be thrilling heroics and tension and stuff ‘splodin’ and cars crashing and chasing and bomb defusing and falls from buildings and all the rest.

    • atcdave says:

      There are so many runners-up in this category. From “Intersect” to “Ring II” (how’s that for being inclusive!). I do think the look was noticibly weaker in S3, but Tic Tac is still a good candidate. I thought about Honeymooners because I loved the symetry of Chuck finally taking over Bryce’s role; and Angel of Death because I loved Sarah destroying the two guards while Devon watched. Fir S1 and S2 its actually easier to list the episodes without good action (like not a single episode from S1!)

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Honeymooners is such a great bookend to Nemesis. Just as Chuck looks on with awe in Nemesis, Morgan watches Chuck and Sarah in Honeymooners. And we see that the Charleses’s are every bit the spy couple that the Anderson’s were, even better, b/c they are a real couple.

        I also kind of liked Third Dimension’s chase and elevator dangling/fight scene, but I wouldn’t pick the episode as a whole.

  2. Bernardo says:

    You now what; I´m going to pick 4:
    4- Honeymooners: Chuck and Sarah shows that they could kick ass even better than Bryce and Sarah ever did.
    3- Tic-tac: If only because it was the only episode in season 3 that each member of team Bartowski get its own great fight: Casey vs. Keller, Sarah Vs the guards (the best Sarah we got in the first 13 episodes of season 3, IMO.), and a drug-powered Chuck vs the ring Agents. Plus, the whole chapter is Shaw-free!
    2- Chuck vs the ring, pt 2: while we got some really cool action scenes, like the rocket launcher at the crown vic and Shaw flying through a window (I´m sure many of us wished he missed that flag), but the highlight of the episode is the showdown between Chuck and Shaw, at the rythm of Jeffster´s Blaze of Glory!
    1-Chuck vs the ring pt1: The wedding scene represent everything that is great at Chuck: the action, the comedy and Yvonne kicking ass in a dress.

  3. JC says:

    First Kill- The debut of the Morgan shows its lethality. Sarah kicking someone through a cubicle wall. Casey appearing on the window washer platform with a shotgun. The whole shootout with “Were Not Gonna Take It” is playing.

    Tic Tac- Sarah dropping down from under the SUV, five against one no contest. Casey tossing Robert Patrick around like a rag doll and breaking his neck. And Chuck showing how dangerous he can be. Kicking the statue at the Ring agent. Him tapping the pieces of the broken staircase together before going after the Ring agents was awesome.

    Ring PT1- Everyone else pretty much covered it.

    • Merve says:

      Those are my exact choices. “First Kill” also had Bill Bergie falling from a building and Uncle Bernie chasing Jill and Chuck before succumbing to a heart attack. “Ring” also had Chuck’s first fight sequence, which certainly merits a mention.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        While I’m thinking about it I want to point out that Merve is presently engaged in his own project you may want to check out. While his site isn’t dedicated to Chuck, and thus not on our blogroll of Chuck sites he is doing a re-watch and review of Chuck. Chuck it out.

      • Merve says:

        Thanks. I appreciate the shout-out.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I also like that they almost unleash the Ellie at the start of everyone’s favorite sequence in Ring. Watching her bridesmaids scatter at the slight edge in her voice was hilarious.

  4. thinkling says:

    ACTION. I think this is a little easier category than comedy, drama, or romance. Those three overlap so much that it’s hard to find an episode without them. But for action there are a few standouts.

    1 (or 2). The Intersect. There is such a variety. Bryce’s explosive escape. Sarah’s deadly, sharp objects nailing bad guys all around a clueless Chuck. The backward car chase (computer emergency – cracks me up every time). Sarah’s knife throw to raise the barricade is one of my favorites for the visual effect of her squatting in front of the exploding car. The very tense final bomb diffusing was almost tame by comparison. What a great showcase for Sarah’s spy skills and Chuck’s nerd skills. Off to a great start. This was fairly intense action.

    2 (or 1). The Ring. This episode is strong in all areas, but I don’t know how you could pack more action into one scene than the wedding. This was hilarious action at its best. The Chuck-fu action was a mix of intensity, surprise, and humor. I have to put this one in my top 1 or 2.

    3. I could easily go with First Date, but I’m going to be different for my third. I’m going with Tom Sawyer. It’s not a start to finish action episode like Intersect and Ring, but it has a uniqueness about it. We’ve got the narrow escape from Morimoto’s office, with a ball of fire eating its way to the elevator – good action but pretty standard. What I like best is the parallel action with each of our heroes doing what he or she does best. Chuck is playing the most intense video game in history. He’s sweating, and the fans are going wild … if only they knew what was really at stake. Sarah is doing what she does best …taking out multiple armed bad guys with her fists. And Casey is romancing an Air Force ICBM … oooo. The high stakes (WW3) add a layer of intensity that is global in nature. It’s one of Chuck’s most heroic outings and a very satisfying episode.

    Honorable mentions go to First Date and Tic Tac. First Date for all the reasons already mentioned and Tic Tac for the balance action of Team B (sort of like Tom Sawyer).

  5. Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

    There is nothing wrong with any of the ones selected to date, but I’m going to go with the first 3 that popped into my head for no other reason that they were the first 3 to pop into my head, and I’m choosing to be different. I’m sure there are better choices.

    1. Marlin – for various reasons but the main one is the classic line “bring it on Pita Girl” and the ensuing chaos.

    2. Alma Mater – The chase through the campus, the classroom shootout and the way Chuck saved the day were pretty sharp.

    3. First Date – Mr. Colt was awessome, and Chuck’s rooftop entrance is still the best entrance of the series.

    Honorable mentions to: Intersect, Ring for all the reason listed above.

    • joe says:

      These are great choices, Joseph. All of them seem “of a piece”, as they say, light on the emotion (mostly, relatively speaking) and heavy on the action.

      I’ve seen Michael Clarke Duncan in a few things now (He played Charley’s neighbor in Two and A Half Men a couple of times). He’s rather underrated, I think.

  6. aardvark7734 says:

    As someone mentioned above, it’s easy to get lost when just picking out great action scenes. They’re peppered everywhere throughout every season.

    What’s tougher, and what I see others have tried to do, is pick episodes that they really liked but also contained actions scenes that they really liked. This strategy, unfortunately, eliminated large swaths of S3 for me. Oh, well.

    What it didn’t eliminate was the easy (for me) picks of Intersect and First Date. Those episodes not only reflected the exact tone I think is best for the show, but had outstanding and inventive action sequences that were genuinely fun.

    The third choice was much harder, but I eventually settled on Tango. It not only had one of my favorite Sarah fight scenes (on the roof with La Ciudad), but it had the Casey freezer jail and microwave projectile moments, the shootout in the hotel room, the standoff with MI6 on the roof and even some actual Tango action with Chuck doing the ladies part! And, it was excellent in so many other ways, with some great Chuck-Ellie talks and the “you know… and so do I” scene.

    • joe says:

      I have a question, Aardie. I’ve seen the pilot episode referred to as Chuck vs. The Intersect a few times, but never on the “official” sites. Makes sense, though. Was it called that at one time, early on?

      Love that flying microwave (Incoming!!!) in Tango. For a comedy, Chuck sure has a lot of great action scenes.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Great question, Joe!

        Truth is, I started using that title based on seeing other people use it and since it fit very well I saw no reason to verify it. But looking at the earliest doc I have, which is the original “Kayla” pilot, the title page clearly shows the title to be:

        “The Pilot”

        And even the BluRay discs are labeled that way, as is the episode on the WB streaming site.

        So unless someone comes up with something authoritative, I’m going to assume that this is the actual title, and that “Chuck vs. the Intersect” just got pulled into mainstream usage by popular sentiment.

      • atcdave says:

        I would ditto some of what Aardy says and add that the episode guide on Wikipedia calls it “Chuck vs The Intersect.” But of course, that has no official weight.

  7. OldDarth says:

    I like Joe’s picks.

  8. jason says:

    ring 1
    first date

    for action, the ring 1 was pretty great – 2 weddings sets, the fight vs the bad guys without weapons, casey’s men dropping in to save the day. all the wedding prep busy work, the card playing scene, hawaii beach, the dance, the new interesect scenes hard to top

    honeymooners may have topped ring for me, near non stop 42 epic gamechanging minutes of CS doing stuff, if only every episode were that good. I once blogged I would be happy with 42 minutes of the two of them reading the declaration of independence to each other, so I probably am a bad judge, but what the heck, it is my vote.

    first date (and the pilot) are the show that grabbed my attention, two episodes that you would tell someone to watch to make them a fan, then maybe a little delorean, best friends, colonel, ring, then on to 3.13 and every single episode that follows, all 133 of them – LOL

  9. Gord says:

    Hard to pick just 3 with so many great action sequences in this show. It might of been easier if it was a top ten list. Then again, I probably would still have a hard time just picking 10.
    Can we make it a top 50?
    I ended up picking the Intersect, Tic Tac and S3 finale, but it was tough. Helicopter, Tango, Wookie, Undercover Lover, First Date, Cougars, Best Friend, First Kill, Colonel (Yeah there was more than just the hotel room scene in that episode), Ring, Pink Slip, 3 words, Angel, Op Awesome also had some really memorable action sequences for me.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Gord, good call on Colonel. The fight outside the motel was a great one. Sarah actually bites a Fulcrum agent! Loved that fight.

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