Layers — Chuck Versus the First Fight

Chuck vs The First Fight = One Fantastic EPICSODE

First Fight had it all! How can one episode swing from the high humor of the airplane to the deep drama of the Woodcomb living room? How can such a great fight/action sequence effuse both the humorous and the serious without ever missing a beat. Can one episode deliver the light tone carried by the harmless Tuttle and innocent, bleating sheep as well as the heavy tone imposed by dark strains of Russian music and the very, very dangerous … Volkoff … Alexei Volkoff. In the space of an hour can we be warmed by a mother placing a strand of hair behind her daughter’s ear and chilled by that same mother binding her son for execution. First Fight pulled it off without a hitch, gave us everything that Chuck has to offer, and entertained us mightily. The episode was as layered as any I’ve ever seen, a fitting playground for the layered characters that deliver the story. Read on to explore the layers of First Fight.

Top Layers

The character layering was most evident among the Bartowski women, and masterfully portrayed by YS, LH, and SL. Brilliant! And speaking of brilliant, Timothy Dalton’s layered performance as Tuttle/Volkoff was exactly that. His utter believability as Tuttle made his Volkoff that much more sinister. Perfectly done. I can’t wait for more of Dalton’s Alexei Volkoff, but I’m a little sorry to bid farewell his quirky Gregory Tuttle.

Linda Hamilton played us all as the enigmatic Mother/Spy. From all we’ve seen in Anniversary, Aisle of Terror, and First Fight, Mary Bartowski’s spy and mother personas are tightly intertwined. For now, it appears that her spy actions are heavily motivated by her mother love, unconventional as it has become after 20 years undercover in a world where love is considered a weakness, if it’s considered at all.

In the aftermath of Mary’s return, Yvonne portrayed Sarah’s heart struggle as Lover/Protector. These two aspects of Sarah’s love for Chuck are as inseparable as the ingredients of a cake after it is baked. In this particular circumstance, though, Sarah finds herself trying to sort them out. And she’s not the only one sorting them out. MEB is sizing up Sarah as much as Sarah is scrutinizing MEB.

Sarah Lancaster showed us Ellie as the Woman/Girl accepting her past and taking charge of her future. Ellie spent her life as an abandoned girl trying to raise a man. Her anticipation of becoming the mother of her own little girl has spurred Ellie to possess her life, rather than being possessed by her past.

From the first pan down to Mary Bartowski in custody until she walks away with Volkoff, MEB is the focus of this episode, which is fitting because this is still her mission. Almost every thing she does from start to finish is a calculated part of carrying out her mission. It is the “almost ” that intrigues. The question isn’t if it’s a mission, but rather is it a Spy mission or a Mother mission? Where does Frost leave off and Mary begin?

The first time we see Sarah after the arrest, she is watching Mary/Frost so intently that she completely ignores General Beckman. “Agent Walker, you made the right decision bringing in Frost.” Sorry, GB, but Agent Walker checked out after the arrest.

Since then, Sarah has been parsing her feelings as she tries to figure out the Mother/Spy before her. As Lover, Sarah is feeling the pain of it all, especially arresting Chuck’s mother. In spite of all Frost has done, does Sarah want to find some good in her, whatever Chuck sees in her, something of the mother that once loved her children? Sarah cares about her on some level, because Chuck does. She doesn’t want Mary harmed (look at her face at the mention of “black site”), because that would devastate Chuck.

As Protector, her love compelled her to do what she did. She can’t fathom why a mother would hurt her own son, especially this son who is everything to her. Sarah’s conundrum: she can’t protect Chuck from his mother without hurting him, but if she doesn’t protect him, someone else will hurt him. Either way Chuck gets hurt and she’s to blame. She voices her struggle later on. “I don’t understand why he keeps trusting her. She just hurts him.” If only he didn’t trust and care about her, Sarah’s struggle would go away. Lover and Protector could be friends again.

When Chuck sneaks in to talk to his mom, we have one of Mary’s few overt Mother moments toward Chuck. “You shouldn’t be here.” Typical mom advice, you know, like Don’t forget your sweater … Always activate your tracking device … And … Never consort with enemy agents. Well, those are mom sayings in a spy family anyway.

However, once Chuck says he’s going to prove her innocence, Frost takes over to put her mission back into play. She says she burned her CIA ties to keep Chuck and Ellie safe from Volkoff (I believe that much is true). She admits only what she has to and omits as much as possible. What Chuck believes to be a mission to prove his mother’s innocence is really Frost’s setup for her original mission — to get Volkoff away from her family, protect her cover, and take him down. She uses Chuck to put it in play by sending Carmichael to Volkoff, knowing Volkoff won’t hurt him until the end game.

One of my favorite mom/Chuck moments was her hesitant pivot from Spy to Mother when Chuck told her about his fight with Sarah. “Do you … want to … talk about it, or …” A perfect bit of awkward bonding.

When Casey and Sarah confront Frost, she continues to execute her plan by stipulating her part of the bargain — to talk to her daughter. I don’t doubt that she wants to see Ellie. It was that one Mother action that landed her in CIA custody. At this point, though, the spy reasons trump her personal ones for wanting to see her. Meanwhile, she continues her evaluation of Sarah by baiting her about the fight. She is met head on by Agent Walker and Protector Sarah. The Protector appeals to the Mother, “I can’t protect your son, unless I know where he is.” And the Mother responds, “I’m trying to protect him too.” On some bizarre level Sarah and Mary are connecting across the wide synapse of suspicion between them. Enter Morgan, and Sarah realizes that he may be just the man they need to get around the spy dance. Behind her Mother facade, the Spy negotiates her deal.

Mary, Ellie, and Sarah — The 7 Layer Scene That Seemed Like 8.

Ellie sets out lemonade. How do you entertain the mother who walked out on you 20 years ago? What does she expect? (The only up side is that with 20 year intervals, you don’t have to keep the house clean in case she drops by.) But lemonade and coasters are just a cover for what she’s feeling. The Woman wants to be reserved, show her that I’m an adult, that I’ve been just fine since she left. But deep down inside there’s the Girl who’s been waiting 20 years for her mom to come back … The other part of me just wants to hug her. But one thing is clear. Both the Woman and the Girl want answers.

Sarah leads Mary to the door, Sarah’s family’s door. Love/Protect Chuck = Love/Protect Chuck’s family. She looks at Ellie Is she ready for this? With understanding and emotion in her voice, she apologizes for having to stay. Ellie accepts Sarah’s presence without any hesitation. The exchange can’t be lost on Mary/Frost, who is still studying Sarah.

This scene gives us as much of a glimpse of the Mother as we have had thus far. The Spy is still there. She has to be, but for the most part, this is an awkward, poignant reunion for Ellie and her mother. The Spy hands off the ball to the Mother and disappears for the rest of the visit. The Mother tries to connect with the Girl she remembers, the one who stands before her as the Woman. She confers understanding and validation when she stills her daughter’s fretful hands and tells her It’s OK!

The car is the mission’s main objective; so, the conversation starts there, but the delivery is all Mother. With the image of the burgundy, ’68 Mustang, with blue leather seats firmly planted in Ellie’s mind, the Mother continues, “Watching you sleep in between us, on those long drives, was one of my favorite things.” This is where she got me. It’s a universal mother-thing — the pleasure of watching your child sleep.

But here the Woman takes charge of the conversation “I just want to know what happened? I want to know the truth” The truth is a tall order for the Spy, but the Mother takes a sip of lemonade and gives Ellie what she needs to be free … the truth. After Casey’s quiet interruption, neither one knows how to say the forever good-bye. The Mother pushes a strand of hair behind the Woman’s ear. The Girl smiles.

And what of Sarah, the Lover/Protector? From her discreet perch, she is riveted to the scene. The Lover watches, eager to learn more about her family. The Protector keeps her eye on the Mother, still trying to understand her. But Sarah brings another layer to the room. I’m going to call it Daughter-too. We don’t know anything about Sarah’s mother, except that she is no longer part of her daughter’s life. However that happened, even if it always was, her absence is a void in Sarah’s life. Whether acknowledged or not, this is a bond between Sarah and Ellie. Sarah’s emotional connection with Ellie is palpable from the moment she apologizes for her intrusion until the last look she exchanges with Ellie. It’s a side of Sarah, we’ve always known about but never seen … until now. Sometimes an absence is a presence we have to learn to live with. Sarah and Ellie have this in common.

Yesterday upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today.
How I wish he’d go away.

Once the Woodcomb door closes, the spies take over. Frost continues to execute her mission, but only after one last appeal as the Mother, “I know you don’t think I care for my family, but I do.” For some reason, Mary wants Sarah to know that she cares about Chuck and Ellie. Perhaps because Mary is beginning to see Sarah as an ally.

The Fight — Layers of Fun.

This was a perfect scene on so many layers. It is a Frost deception inside of a Frost/Volkoff deception that will continue to the end. It is a C/S argument within a C/S fight. It provided the levity we needed after the Woodcomb living room. Watching Sarah lead Chuck and Mary and Tuttle from pillar to post was pure fun. Watching the Mother/Spy watch her kids’ first fight was spy family entertainment at its finest. I loved the Mother moment “Kids, kids. You need to stop this now. We need to do something.” Following, as it did, on the heels of Sarah’s explanation, “Oh what, and watch you commit treason and go to jail,” I suspect it was also the Spy’s way of steering clear of any mention of family ties. Sarah’s reply drew Mary into her first Bartowski family fight in years, “You’re not doing anything.” And let’s not forget the round of Fine’s. I predict family fun in the Bartowski home for years to come. The fight was a C/S dynamic-duo fight scene worthy of Honeymooners, except this isn’t the honeymoon; it’s the first fight. Do I detect a pattern?

The fight within the fight was perfect. They said what they needed to say. In the end, Sarah has an epiphany about her man. She was giving Chuck love in the form of protection (a natural for her), when he needed love in the form of trust (less natural). Sarah doesn’t wait until a more propitious time; she loves him on his terms … because she does love him. Does that mean she trusts MEB? No. But she believes in Chuck, because he asked her to. There’s a time to lead and a time to trust. This is her time to trust (but not without her gun, of course).

Orion’s Base — The Layer At The Bottom Of It All

I love a nostalgic, walk in the family basement. Except our family basement had toy trains, a few Civil War relics, and a pretty cool stereoscope. We did not have next-gen laptops, weapons guidance systems, or a cool PSP Intersect device. Oh, and ours wasn’t nearly so organized.

Except for the contents of the basement, it all starts out as that typical family outing. Mother, Chuck, and Sarah exploring the old homestead together. Mom goes exploring one way, while Chuck and Sarah (Lover in the lead/Protector at the ready) go find the computer. When both disks turn up empty, Sarah eases into Protector mode and goes looking for dear old Mom. Mom finds Chuck and speaks the last family words uttered. “Chuck, your father never wanted you to see this.”

With that the Spy returns, “But I know now he was wrong.”

Sarah the Protector to the rescue. Well … almost. Just when you think a basement can’t get any darker!

Chuck awakens to his mother tightening the ropes that bind him to a chair and watches Alexei Volkoff set the explosives that will destroy the Bartowski legacy.

Sarah is unreadable. However, since things have turned out as she feared, that is, Chuck is hurt and she’s to blame, Sarah the Protector is right back where we first saw her … wondering how a mother could hurt her own son, especially this son who is everything to Sarah.

Chuck’s last words to his mother, “I believed in you” … I loved you

Mary’s last words to Sarah, “Protect him” … Love him

And her last words to Chuck & Sarah, “Shall we finish this” … Time to finish my mission, together

As Chuck feels his world crumble around him, Sarah begins to hope. Maybe, just maybe, the Lover/Protector has found what she was looking for in Frost, something of the Mother that still loves her children … and perhaps a Spy who isn’t a traitor.

Parting Shots

Sarah’s stiletto in Morgan’s jugular. Her perfectly delivered But he always wants to talk about … anything and He told Ellie, too? Too great a scene not to acknowledge.

The last shot of Chuck and Sarah — Chuck saying the Intersect is gone, Orion’s base blown to smithereens, and the house burning in the background — calls back the end of Colonel — Orion saying the Intersect is gone, as Fulcrum’s compound burns in the background. Young Chuck entertained the possibility of a normal life with Sarah. Grown-up Chuck dreads the possibility of losing the extraordinary life that he and Sarah now share.

Looking back we see that the Intersect story is as layered as the lives it touches. Right now I can’t wait for the next layer of the Intersect.

Thinkling’s thoughts

About thinkling

In my [younger] youth, I was a math teacher, basketball coach, and computer programmer. In 1984, we moved to Brazil, where we serve as missionaries. I like to design things and build things, read things and write things. We now live part-time in Brazil, part-time in the US. Love them both. Wife, 37 yrs; mom, 30 yrs. I am blessed.
This entry was posted in Analysis, Inside Sarah, Observations, Season 4. Bookmark the permalink.

106 Responses to Layers — Chuck Versus the First Fight

  1. joe says:

    Great post, Thinkling!

    I’d like to add a layer of frosting, right on top.

    The opening scene of Chuck yelling like a mad-man – CALM??!!! HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO STAY CALM,??? SARAH, I HAD EVERYTHING UNDER CONTROL! Followed by a calm How was that? to Morgan.

    It was like Chuck knew he had every reason to be really, really angry and just couldn’t quite get it there. 😉

    It was a great bookend to Sarah saying Fighting is really exhausting! as they worked together perfectly (and almost effortlessly) in the bank to subdue Volkoff’s men.

    Oh – and an off-topic thought. I studied the martial arts for a dozen years and never once realized how deadly a stiletto heel could be!

    • Sarge_87 says:

      The stiletto heel scene could be a reference to “Single White Female” where the antagonist Hedy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) kills Sam Rawson (Steven Weber) with a stiletto heel to the eye.

      • thinkling says:

        Maybe, Sarge. I’m unfamiliar with the reference. But we know that Casey stabbed one guy with a stiletto … the Yves Saint Laurent incident (Suitcase). Either way I didn’t catch it. Nice.

    • thinkling says:

      Good thoughts on Chuck, Joe. I hadn’t noticed, but you’re right. Chuck is almost trying to work up his anger and justification. In one sense he can justify some anger, but in another sense, he knows Sarah probably had at least some good reasons for what she did.

      It was so funny that she wanted to talk and he wanted to … talk to everybody but Sarah.

      Yeah. Fighting is exhausting and they hate it. Good growth I thought.

    • Tamara Burks says:

      Most men wouldn’t.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        I mean most men wouldn’t think of a stiletto heel as a weapon.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Trust me, most men know stilleto heels are deadly weapons when used properly. 😉

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Tamara – On the contrary every man knows the dangers of a stiletto heel – it’s in the guidebook of how to survive in a long term relationship 😉

        Book Name : Watch out for her Improvised Weapons by Toomanytimes Blindsided

      • atcdave says:

        Not to mention, when you’re only 5’6″ and your wife is 5’8″ you just generally frown on any use of stiletto heels.

      • joe says:

        Not me, Dave! Since I am never going to be “tall and rather lanky of build”, I go for the George Burns look, myself. You know, a statuesque showgirl in heels on each arm…

        Well, one arm, anyway (Hi, honey!)…

      • Tamara Burks says:

        I’m 5’10” . If I wore heels I’d hit the door frame.

  2. atcdave says:

    Thanks for your take on an excellent episode. It is amazing to me how nuanced an action/comedy can be. So many good moments. I’m almost sorry we got the Volkoff reveal so quickly, I will miss Tuttle. I’m particularly horrified at how he befriended Chuck then simply decided to kill him; I know, these things happen in spy stories. But it struck me as particularly cold. Loved the balance of drama and humor; from Chuck and Sarah’s rather amusing fist fight, to the far more serious mommy issues.

    This was a cruel place to take a week off; my excitement had just gone up to an eleven, now we wait.

    • thinkling says:

      Is that an 11 out of 10, like mine, Dave?

    • Paul says:

      If your anticpation and excitement has gone up, then NBC has succeded strategically. Get folks slobbering for more right before sweeps by witholding their crack…. 😉

      • thinkling says:

        Are you implying in any way that we are … ahem … addicted???

      • atcdave says:

        Not me, I can quit anytime I want to…

      • thinkling says:

        You just don’t want to … 😉 Yeah, yeah.

      • odysszeuss says:

        Hey Dave, I kind of do not believe you here 😉 (I really must LOL reading your comment, as if anyone her could possibly quit anyhow 😉

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah, if I watched through S3, I think its safe to say I’m hooked!

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @Dave – we are the survivors of the anarchy that was the Shaw story line. No way we are going anywhere now.

      • atcdave says:

        I have nightmares about my satellite going out on a Monday night!

      • Bellatrix says:

        Actdave, that actually happened to me during the season 2 finale. It was like “Nooo! why is this happening today?” (my satelite dish goes crazy when we have really big electric storms)

      • atcdave says:

        yeah same here. Fortunately for me, Most of Chuck runs over the winter here when the weather is more stable. But of course, the very end and finale come just as spring weather is getting more exciting; so if I’m going to loose it that’s when it will happen. So far, it only happened once, way back in S1 during the airing of Helicopter; fortunately I was watching the night after anyway, so I just went iTunes and downloaded it. It would cause me considerably more frustration now! (between not waiting a night to watch, and iTunes not even having S4).

      • Bellatrix says:

        Yeah. I hate when that happens! The worst monent to watch tv here is during the yearly “santa rosa storm”, its a non stop electrical storm wich usualy lasts like a week. (and most of buenos aires gets flooded) it like our own (much softer) version of the monsoon

  3. odysszeuss says:

    I really like your Style of interpretation of Scenes, Dialogues and single lines in the sense of the big picture. It’s kind of nit picking (in a positive way) and sort of the way I think of in the same way, with the big difference your analysis are really enjoying and entertainingly to read.

    Mary’s last words to Sarah, “Protect him” … Love him

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Odyssezeuss. It was such a meaningful episode. So much character stuff and still so much fun, drama, action, and spy stuff. It fairly boggles the mind. (But my mind is easily boggled).

      Mary’s last words to Sarah … well I think they have connected, even though things are still very complicated. I don’t think they’re going to do lunch anytime soon, but they are on the same side on at least one big issue … Chuck.

      • jason says:

        I have slowed down the words, I still hear and see when reading mary’s lips, ‘protect them’, it probably is protect him, but ‘them’ would be so cool, it would be mary realizing that ellie is in danger too, and that sarah is the first line of defense for both of her children. I predict sometime in the next few eps, mary saving sarah’s life. My perfect spec, sarah emerges from a mud pit in thailand to save chuck armed with a knife, she takes out a dozen baddies, but is ready to be shot, when a sniper rifle rings out and the last baddie drops. Sarah later thanks casey for saving her life with the shot, casey goes, a shot, wasn’t me, I was pulling grimes out of the mud pit. Sarah and chuck look at each other, similataneously go ‘well then who was it’, pan to volkov and mary having dinner and cut

      • thinkling says:

        Cool idea, Jason … Mary looking out for her kids, including Sarah. I like either one of them saving the other.

        On the him/them, I hear him (and my subtitles say him). However, I think Mary has observed enough of Sarah to know that her protection extends to all of Chuck’s family. But Chuck is the one who’s going to be going through we-don’t-know-what and doing spy stuff. He is the one who is going to really need her.

        I also think Mary PSP’ed Chuck based on her evaluation of Sarah. That’s part of the I know now he was wrong.

      • odysszeuss says:

        (and my subtitles say him).

        …mine, too 😉 😉 😉

  4. Ernie Davis says:

    I love this post. Just reading it made me want to watch the episode again just to look for all the things you mentioned and see them in a new context. It’s a wonderful thing when taking an episode apart actually lets you enjoy it more the next time.

    It is very interesting one part you brought up, the Bartowski women talking and Sarah, who we’ll include as a Bartowski (she has been for quite some time) looking on. There is a point where Sarah is framed by Mary and Ellie and it almost seems they are literally telling you that Sarah is the fusion of these two women. The woman who would give up everything to protect Chuck, including herself and her happiness, and the woman who has mothered and raised him, yet has unwittingly held him back from who he is meant to be and could be. Both of those are present in Sarah, we’ve seen them manifest themselves repeatedly.

    I also hadn’t noticed something in that scene before reading this and re-watching. Sarah is clearly so wrapped up in the scene where Mary brushes Ellie’s hair back that she has to snap herself out of the daughter and go back to spy. The transitions in Sarah and Mary are both apparent and telling.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks Ernie. I can’t remember as powerful a scene in any episode. Maybe there are, and feel free to name some, but this is clearly one of the most layered and powerful of all time. The whole episode has got to be one of the all-time best.

      I hadn’t thought about Sarah being a fusion of these two women w/ regards to Chuck, but that’s a good insight. I have thought about how much she has in common with them.

      It is such a loaded scene. You have to watch it several times and pay attention to a different woman each time.

      In the end, when Sarah stands up, it almost looks like she wipes away a tear, can’t tell. But she can’t look away.

      The mood chills about 20 degrees in the courtyard. But I think it’s interesting how Mary and Sarah are studying each other, and I wonder how they will give that continuation. I really hope they don’t drop the ball on these women.

    • atcdave says:

      That is an intriguing thought about Sarah as the combination of Mary and Ellie, I like it. I do hope they do this relationship (all three ways of it really) justice; there already seems to be some measure of respect between Mary and Sarah, it would be nice to see some affection added to that at some point, but respect is a good start.

      • thinkling says:

        Well, I think Mary has respect for Sarah. And now that Mary gave Sarah the blade and asked her to protect Chuck, Sarah may see Mary in a different light … enough to build some respect.

        I think Sarah will figure things out faster than Chuck, in that she has a clearer picture of Mary and can start putting the pieces together.

        But they have a gold mine in these relationships. Maybe this scene means they finally realize it.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree about Sarah figuring it out first, she likely relates to many of Mary’s issues; while Chuck views things a little more black and white. Mary just doesn’t fit the black or white very well. She makes Sarah herself look uncomplicated.

      • thinkling says:

        Chuck only has one angle on Mary. Sarah gets the big picture.

        Mary makes Sarah look uncomplicated … very true … scary thought.

      • jason says:

        a spitball spec here, what if mary needs help to defeat volkov, real help on her mission, and decides sarah is the more able to help her than chuck, but mary makes sarah swear secrecy – i.e. that she cannot tell chuck or casey, I don’t even know how I would want sarah to react, I mean as much of a shipper as I am, even I see some logic for leaving chuck out of such a mission – could really ratchet that old angst meter up a few notches – taken a step further, what if mary is really evil, and sarah has to kill her, or chuck has to kill mary or lose sarah – holy cow – that is what I get for having to wait till 7 for the packer game.

      • atcdave says:

        Geez Jason, a little dark there! I really don’t want a major mission that keeps C/S apart for long, certainly not if its used to crank up the angst again (et tu Jason). Now if Mary TELLS Sarah no Chuck, but Sarah involves him anyway, that I could deal with!

      • thinkling says:

        I think with the souped up whatever in his brain now, Chuck will be real help.

        I would want Sarah to include Chuck, especially after the whole believe in me fight behind them.

        And I’m pulling for none of them to kill each other. Call me crazy, but we really try not to do that in our family. I would love for MEB to survive the season and be on next season, too.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Thinkling, that’s the very definition of the sort of dark I dislike. No matricide please!

      • thinkling says:

        I think the arrest was traumatic enough.

        I’d love for MEB to be a regular next season, or at the very least a frequent guest for great missions.

    • herder says:

      One thing about the Morgan/Sarah scene that no one has mentioned is what he is saying when he puts his hand on her chest. He is telling Sarah that he has discussed Chuck and Sarah with Ellie, when she says that she was just trying to protect him he says that Ellie said the same thing. He then goes on to say “contrary to popular belief, we think that there is a heart of gold beneath this cold exterior”.

      First of all Ellie supports Sarah’s actions in protecting Chuck from his mother, so there is no animosity when Sarah brings mom to speak to her. Secondly Ellie beleives that Sarah has a heart of gold, she sees that what Sarah does is motivated by love for her brother, a pretty good starting point for a relationship. I had thought that Sarah being a spy might be a point of contention between the two “is my husband safe with you?” instead her personal qualities make it a plus on the family side.

      • atcdave says:

        Wait, Morgan was talking during that scene? I must have blacked out or something I didn’t notice…

        But seriously, Ellie and Sarah to seem to have some sort of respectful relationship. It would be nice to see more signs of actual friendship there; but certainly our pre-season worries about Sarah/Ellie seems to be a non-issue.

      • thinkling says:

        Nice analysis Herder. That comment went unnoticed because of … other things. But you’re right. It’s a pretty nice offering of Ellie’s opinion of Sarah.

        I liked the party scene at the end of Couch Lock. Ellie and Sarah were having a very animated conversation. Warmed my heart. I think all is well there, for now.

        Lots of other stuff could blow up when Ellie finds out that Chuck is still CIA.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        I am willing to go as far as to say that Morgan and Ellie’s view about Sarah having a heart of gold was brought about by the way Chuck has always talked about Sarah in front of Ellie and Morgan. (for ex: In the first two seasons with Ellie and in the third season with Morgan). We know that both Ellie and Morgan haven’t had a lot of time speaking with/getting to know Sarah. They have seen her/heard about her good qualities from Chuck’s eyes/mouth.

      • thinkling says:

        Well, we know Ellie was always pro-Sarah. She was around her quite a bit in the first two seasons and picked her as a brides maid.

        She told Chuck early on I’ve seen the way that that girl looks at you, and trust me, she is into you. Then the whole You didn’t go far enough. Sarah’s special you know it and I know it … start acting like a Bartowski.

        I think there’s lots of groundwork for good Ellie/Sarah vibes. The worry to me was, did Sarah’s being a spy change any of that. It appears not.

      • thinkling says:

        Sorry, continuation. Morgan is a little harder, but he told Ellie in Beefcakes that Sarah’s the one, because when Chuck is with Sarah, he’s the Chuck we know he can be … or something like that.

        So, at least by observation, they have a very favorable opinion of her.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Thinkling I was thinking the same. Ellie has always been a huge Sarah supporter; I had feared the S3 finale might have damaged that, but indications are everything is good. Even in Anniversary Ellie was mentioning she knew Chuck was good because he had Sarah. I think Ellie accepts Sarah’s personal qualities as a given, the career revelation only confirmed that Sarah was not some sort of underachiever apparently (so it may have actually elevated her standing in Ellie’s eyes). I can imagine that the food service career might have bothered a doctor more than a sophisticated CIA agent does.

      • thinkling says:

        That’s true. I hadn’t thought of that aspect. So, now that she’s not serving yogurt, I’ve been wondering … what do they tell people that Sarah does now, like Woody and Honey and the Buymorons?

      • atcdave says:

        They just say Harvard educated CIA assassin, no biggie.

      • thinkling says:

        Seriously? She doesn’t have a cover?

      • atcdave says:

        Not that we’ve heard. She may just say “government work” and allow for no further explanation. I know in the summer interviews we heard from one of the writers “everyone knows what Sarah does now so there’s no need for a cover.” I’m not sure how far we’re supposed to take that. I can’t imagine telling Lester that Chuck’s girlfriend is a spy.

        We may learn more about it soon when they start digging into Greta.

      • treecrab says:

        Uh…Ellie also told Chuck to break up with Sarah in S2.

        My impression of the Sarah/Ellie relationship has always been that Ellie likes Sarah because Chuck likes Sarah. That is not necessarily to say that Ellie doesn’t like Sarah as a person, but that her interest in Sarah seems to primarily be because she’s Chuck’s girlfriend. When she’s not Chuck’s girlfriend, she doesn’t quite seem to care as much.

      • atcdave says:

        If I remember treecrab, she started that discussion by saying she loved Sarah, but if it wasn’t meant to be he needed to end it. Then she changed her mind awfully quick when Morgan and Devon said Chuck would be nuts to dump her.
        No matter how she feels about Sarah, she loves Chuck first, that can never be disputed. And I’d say that’s par for the course when dealing with a sibling’s significant other; no matter how much you love them, you’ll love your sib first.

      • JC says:

        Sarah not having a cover is one of those things you have to ignore like nobody questioning why she drove a Porsche.

        Also the Sarah/Ellie relationship might be one of those things that happened off screen unfortunately. We the fans think its important but the TPTB don’t.

      • atcdave says:

        Exactly right JC. Its amazing how much we ponder over it here, and yet it is subject to so little screen time. This season’s biggest Ellie/Sarah moments were the party at the end of Couch Lock when we never actually heard what they were talking about; and the discussion between Ellie and Mary where Sarah said nothing. Funny.

      • thinkling says:

        Maybe with the laptop under the seat and Ellie more drawn into the spy world, Sarah and Ellie will Interact more.

      • thinkling says:

        Oops. Hit submit too soon. I would love to see Sarah freaking out with worry over Chuck and Ellie be the calm one to comfort Sarah.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        If all of 4×09 is devoted to Sarah saving Chuck from the “Belgian” in South Asia- the only time that a possible Sarah/Ellie interaction may happen is right towards the end – where I am hoping that Chuck’s problem gets rectified by whatever secrets the lap top holds. Or on second thought – maybe we will see Chuck becoming more better at spy stuff (action) without the Intersect even after 4×09 -if his problem is not rectified.

        @thinkling – Just saw your post – I would love to see Sarah freaking out with worry over Chuck and Ellie be the calm one to comfort Sarah.

        Hmm. That would open up the chance for their interaction early on in 4×09.

      • thinkling says:

        Right, Genie. Like before she takes off after him. It would be nice to see Sarah let her guard down with Ellie, and worry over Chuck would be a great bonding moment for them. She needs to be able to let it out with somebody.

  5. jason says:

    4 other little things, I am sure they have been mentioned, but my last rewatch thinks some or all will really come back to mean something:

    1 – tuttle asked chuck if the reason he is trying to rescue frost is because he is having an affair with her (tuttle used some british word for ‘it’, best I know there are 1000’s of british words for ‘doing it’) – volkov obviously knows he is missing some part of the frost – chuck equation

    2 – sarah asks chuck how he knows he can trust tuttle with the some of the details of their relationship – expect at some point sarah to be used against chuck by volkov

    3 – volkov brushed sarah’s hair back b4 killing her, seemed out of roan’s seduction school, plus, it was my tell that volkov – frost may not be a romantic connection at all

    4 – right at the end, volkov made one more attempt at figuring out chuck’s relationship to frost – wonder if he already suspects mary – chuck’s real relationship, especially when chuck sarah escape

    going to be interesting how and when mary / volkov show up again, I do not see them in either of the 4.8 or 4.9 credits, I would guess they might be in either or neither or in any combination possible????

    • thinkling says:

      Chill …brrrr. I wonder if it will dawn on Chuck how his mouth may have gotten them in trouble. Of course, as long as he thinks they are dead, she’ll be safe.

      I thought it was interesting when Volkoff asked tied-up Chuck who Orion was to him, you could see in Mary’s and Sarah’s expressions that they hoped he wouldn’t slip up. I was proud of Chuck the way he stood his ground without giving any info.

      I expect some more of at least Mary by Thanksgiving. But who knows?

      I just wish more people would tune in. How can you not get hooked with this arc?!

      • atcdave says:

        I thought I’d seen somewhere that LH was in 4.10. At this point I’m so over-saturated on spoilers I’m really not sure.

      • thinkling says:

        4.10 is Leftovers, so that should be the Thanksgiving episode. Just the Monday after because of the break. From the LH interview, I assumed she was in that one.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah that’s what it was, she called it the best Thanksgiving episode ever or something. Kind of suggests she knows something about it.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        How about this – the whole Bartwoski clan along with Casey/Alex and Morgan sit down for Thanksgiving dinner – they are almost through with the dinner when there’s a knock on the door – and surprise of all surprises it’s Mama B just in time for some Leftovers.

      • thinkling says:

        I wonder if Chuck & Sarah are off rescuing Mary (or any combination of something like that) and don’t make it back until leftovers. That would leave Morgan and Casey making excuses for everyone.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        @thinkling – It would be awesome if it happened like that. Call back to Season 2 where Chuck showed up with Papa B – before the rehearsal dinner.

        One more thing – Sarah has now been present both times when the Bartowski siblings met their parents. She was with Chuck when he met Papa B in 2×18 and she was also there when Ellie met Mama B for the first time in 20 yrs. I love the fact that she was present at both the meetings.

      • thinkling says:

        Right Genie. I love that, too. I love that Sarah found Chuck’s dad and has been such a constant partner in his search for his mom.

        Her ease at saying “let’s go to Orion’s space” and Chuck’s comment about how much time they had been devoting to his search (Coup) makes me think they really have been at it together like real partners. I love that.

        And don’t forget that Sarah was with Chuck at his first face to face with his mother. In fact Sarah had the first face to face with her. 🙂

      • atcdave says:

        Or was that muzzle to muzzle…

      • thinkling says:

        Yes, I believe that would be accurate.

        So much has happened since then. Wow.

  6. amyabn says:

    I love your article, Thinkling. It inspired my latest, to be honest with you, although I think you area far more articulate schnook than I!

    I agree that the Sarah/Ellie relationship seems to be firmer than I had feared. I would love to see some more interaction, but the scene with all three of them was amazing. I’m looking forward to what I hope is an awesome Thanksgiving episode and that everyone can truly be thankful for the family they have.

    • thinkling says:

      I’m really relieved at the latest Sarah/Ellie scenes. Maybe we all just read the Ring II comments the wrong way.

      Glad you liked the article. The whole identity, layers of the characters topic is one I find so fascinating.

      I just read Identity and Balance. Great job. I think you’ve been hitting the chocolate croissants.

  7. rac2873 says:

    Excellent post makes me want to go rewatch it now. Cannot wait to see how Sarah and Chuck deal with the aftermath of the supposed betrayal.

    • thinkling says:

      Me too. It seems they will have a lot on their plate over the next two weeks.

      There is so much in the works. I also wonder what GB is going to say/do. yikes.

      • atcdave says:

        Oh yeah, I think Beckman will seriously blow a gasket.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah. But I don’t get the impression that there’s an imposed separation of TeamB. Maybe the loss of the intersect will be traumatic enough that she won’t do anything worse to them. The consequences are punishment enough.

      • atcdave says:

        At one point, I thought we had heard Sarah would be benched for some period of time. If that’s true, I could see it as fall out for letting Frost and Volkoff escape. Perhaps she’ll be benched until she goes rogue to rescue Chuck. Or do we have better spoiler info now?

      • thinkling says:

        That would make sense. But I don’t know what’s official.

        It looked to me like she was in on stuff in the previews, though, so I don’t know. It would make sense that she would be the one to catch most of the flack, which would make Chuck feel guilty, as if he doesn’t feel bad enough already. If that’s the way it goes.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        I am guessing that the loss/suppression of the Intersect will be enough to delay/nullify the expected flak from GB. She would be all concerned about how to get the Intersect back using any means necessary. AS for the mission with the CIA ninja – maybe Chuck thinks that he may start flashing in a real life situation instead of wasting time going through rigorous and extreme ways in training.

        In all probability, 4×08 ends with Chuck captured. So, what happens to the CIA agent who partners him on the mission – does he turn out to be a traitor and ends up handing Chuck over to the “Belgian” or he escapes and reports back to Castle with the news of Chuck’s capture/disappearance. If Chuck’s capture is known to GB, why would Sarah feel the need to go rogue in 4×09. Unless,maybe GB orders the team to stand down and do nothing – instead telling them that if Chuck is a good agent he would come out of that crisis. Cue Sarah deciding to go rogue. What would be interesting to see is – will Casey and Morgan join her quest at the last minute or they are ordered by GB to go after her? Should be interesting.

      • JC says:

        Sarah being benched could just refer to her not being involved in Riggle’s attempt to get the Intersect working again. Seeing his methods it wouldn’t surprise me if she’s excluded.

      • thinkling says:

        I just thought of something. Does GB even know yet that Chuck et al have been looking for MEB? I mean, Chuck’s been stringing her along since Couch Lock. But I wonder if she even knows that yet.

        Do you suppose she’s still sort of in the dark in Fear of Death … thinking that Frost showed up for the weapon deal with Wheelwright and bumped into Chuck? She may really not know that all of this is because of Chuck’s rogue search.

      • atcdave says:

        That could be JC, if the technique is to scare Chuck into flashing; not only would she not like it, but Chuck would likely just not be scared of Sarah (um, not that she couldn’t give him cause to be, but no one is that clueless about relationships!)

      • thinkling says:

        @JC: That’s possible, but in the preview, she’s sitting at the table with TeamB telling GBTV that this is ridiculous. So she’s around for at least part of it. And from the look of his methods, she would not be cool with it

      • odysszeuss says:

        YEAH!!! GBTV !!! LOL 😉 😉 😉 sometimes I’m really easy to please 😉

      • thinkling says:

        Well we do aim to please! 😉

      • JC says:


        I’m sure she’s aware of what the training is and her reaction makes it clear she’s against it. So if Chuck, Beckman and Riggle are all on board it would make sense she’s ordered to stay clear.

      • atcdave says:

        Also when I was saying benched I didn’t mean suspended; I’m just thinking she’ll excluded from the operational part of the next mission. As a Fed I have to say the most dreaded assignment one can ever get is “administrative duties”; well except for the odd few who actually like paper work. So believe me I would feel Sarah’s pain!

      • jason says:

        u all think mary or volkov will be in 4×8 or 4×9? I thought I read that linda h said she was signed for 7 eps, which I think she has 3 already, 4.10 thru 4.13 would make 7?

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah I don’t think we’ll see LH for a few weeks. 4.10-4.13 makes some sense; that be a home stretch of main arc episodes to finish the original order. I’m just eager to see if she’ll be extended with the back order.

      • alladinsgenie4u says:

        If Sarah is not in the mix regarding Chuck’s forced training and the upcoming mission, any educated guess as to what role she will play in the episode.

        Maybe the major part of the episode is dedicated to the training – which would showcase Sarah’s concerns and the mission part only happens towards the end – thereby setting up the events of 4×09.

      • JC says:

        It could also work like the premier in a way. Sarah and Casey are tasked with investigating the Belgian while Chuck is training with Rye( I think that’s his name). Near the end of the episode the missions cross paths.

      • herder says:

        I thought that I had read an article where Linda Hamilton said that she had done three episodes, was signed for three more and was optioned for four more. So she has done Aniversary, Aisle of Terror and First Fight, I’d guess she isn’t in the next two then in three of 4.10,11,12 & 13. The option for the four I would guess are in the back eleven.

  8. thinkling says:

    @Dave: If they said TD may be in more b/c of the back order, it would make sense that LH would be, too. I sure hope so. Bring her on board!

    • atcdave says:

      Oh yeah, I’d love her as a semi-regular. TD is obviously limited by when they bring Volkoff down. My guess would be 4.13, but that is purely a guess (based on them thinking it might be series finale at one point). Maybe they’ll retool so he gets to escape (assuming my previous assumptions!). Although I do hope we get some lower intensity stand alones; Volkoff would be a wonderful long term villain.

      • atcdave says:

        Oh and I would add, the extending TD talk might have been pure misdirection; when I saw that buzz we weren’t even supposed to know he was Volkoff yet. I hope he does stick around, but we know very little right now about the back order.

      • thinkling says:

        I hope they extend his villainy longer and of course get MEB back as part of the family and TeamB.

        Dave, did you catch my question above … about GB maybe no knowing yet about Chuck’s rogue mission? What do you think?

      • atcdave says:

        Oh yeah, it is true we don’t KNOW Beckman has found out about Chuck’s personal mission yet. But it will be hard to keep it quiet, especially with the house exploding. I mean, who’s house is it? How did the team come to be there? How did they hook up with Tuttle/Volkoff?

        I just suspect Beckman will know all in 4.08.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, when you put ALL the pieces together, it’s hard to invent an alternate explanation.

        But as of now, the end of FF, I don’t think she knows.

      • jason says:

        that assumes that beckman has been in the dark all along, in the past, she has been somewhat inept (shaw, the turners, etc) at her job, wouldn’t it be nice if she is ‘playing’ in this game all along somehow? My one spec called for her to have a handler relationship with orion, but I can think of dozens of ways to have her on the ‘inside’ of this highly twisted arc

      • thinkling says:

        I would actually love that Jason. GB would have been playing them, instead of the other way around. That would be a great twist.

    • jason says:

      I’m guessing they still are planning as if season 4 is the end of things, only makes sense to try and get dalton to be the big baddie all season long, that is of course unless mary is the big baddie – LOL

      • thinkling says:


      • Judy says:

        It would be a fantastic story if in the end the final twist was that Mary, not Volkoff, was the big bad. She could be very bad and still not kill off her kids.

      • thinkling says:

        I admit that would be a fantastic twist. Mary is really Volkoff, and TD is only window dressing (albeit very nice window dressing).

        As much as I like it for story value, I still want to see LH as a regular in all things Bartowski. So I’ll be happier with the happy ending. But the other way is also a cool way to go.

  9. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The First Fight (4.07) | Chuck This

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