…now isn’t that special (credit to SWNerd for the title phrase, inspired!).
Let me preface this review by saying that I don’t feel right writing a review for a painting that is only half finished. Imagine if you will the Mona Lisa (we can only hope right?! Chances are this is more of an Edvard Munch Scream piece), with only the scenery and facial shape drawn–certainly not fair to judge correct? Well that’s what Chuck vs. the Gobbler was, a tease, a half-finished painting that serves best to be the foundation to what is most likely going to be one of Chuck’s best of originally intentioned finales. Nevertheless we bravely march on.
Gobbler had some nice moments, some not so nice moments, aforementioned angst stupid sticks, some heat, and as always the puzzling. What more could you ask for? Well maybe a little less on the bo.
Let’s start with the nice moments first. It’s lovely to see Alex and Morgan together. It almost feels like a parallel universe in which Morgan Guillermo Grimes is no longer getting beat up by a girl or stalking her but rather in a somewhat mature and what we find to be “love” relationship. I don’t know how far this relationship will go, I don’t think Alex is Morgan’s “the one” (sorry!) but it’s an interesting and refreshing dynamic to see on screen. We’re so used to the unusual and difficult but so rewarding relationship (oh so rewarding!) with Chuck and Sarah that when it’s easy, you almost have to take a pause and say, what? That’s weird! It’s an upside down world sometimes. Time will tell on when Morgan will express to her the big 3 words but I think Casey’s not done being Casey. Gotta love Casey’s POV though, you don’t tell someone you love them that’s stupid! You show it. Makes me think that Casey isn’t and wasn’t all that different from the Sarah Walker we met and fell in love with in seasons 1 and 2. Show, don’t tell. Also on tap? Casey to tell his daughter the big 3 words. I think we’ll find that sooner than Morgan though, being put in a coma kind of gives you a fresh perspective on things you miss out on and words you didn’t say.
Also nice, the Ellie-Chuck-Devon interaction. I am a flaming heterosexual and I can say confidently that Sarah Lancaster has never looked more beautiful than in this episode. Her hair was fabulous and they’ve really done a great job giving her the pregnant glow (though I do think that baby is about to pop out!). We see in this episode that she’s a Bartowski after all! It’s not just Chuck or Orion or Frost that can plan and accomplish a spy mission–a mission unrelated to danger or fate of the world sort of situation but one that’s equally devious and inventive: baby names. Tricking Devon (the ultimate worrywart) into her decision is brilliant. A true Bartowski. I also loved how the Buy Morians got in on the fun. It’s amazing to me how in episodes where the B-plot excels the A-plot often falls behind, not always mind you but more often than you’d think. The B-plot in this one worked for me.
Honorable mention to the heartwarming scene with soft-hearted Chuck who only wanted to be with his girl. That kissing his fingers and putting it on her cheek scene is so…Chuck. So lovely, so simple and yet so poignant. They’re freer with the Big 3 words, that’s always a plus. I also loved the unexpected “Honey” Chuck called her when she invaded Castle. Subtle details are the best (kinda like the hand hold in Leftovers). And we mustn’t forget the passionate kiss right before Sarah takes off from Castle. That’s how you express some latent passion after what can only be construed as weeks if not months of separation.
Not so nice? Volkoff. But not the way you’d think! Not awful but evil. Timothy Dalton is a god among men. I don’t say that lightly with this show but he really shined. In Hollywood there are often references to actors stealing the show, often at the expense of other actors so it’s not necessarily a good thing, but TD can steal the show all he wants. Fantastic performance. The man teetered over being psychotic, romantic, devious and brilliant all in 42 minutes. Every scene, every change of tone, personality was a sign of true professional on display and I bought every single one. I’m most impressed with how much I don’t buy him buying what Sarah is selling and I’m waiting in anticipation for what comes next. I won’t go into the preview here but I think he’s liable to just lose it, true villain fashion. Can’t wait.
Now for the painful part, angst stupid sticks. They come in pairs now didn’t you know? Awhile back Ernie and I had a post about the use of the stupid stick and how in film it’s one of the most often used plot tools. While I understand the motivations of all the characters and even appreciate them I couldn’t help but groan at its most blatant use. I’ll try to explain (in an attempt to convince myself) each characters’ motivation in hopes that the stupid stick loses its stick-ness (root for me!).
Chuck was told that nothing in the spy life is real but one thing is, how Sarah feels about him. So is he out of line in believing (I think he will at least and angst ensues!) that Sarah has changed like his mom did? His main source of comfort was the belief that she wouldn’t change, that she wouldn’t be lured, “that’s never gonna happen to Sarah, she will always remain the exact same Sarah Walker.” And his greatest fear is that she’ll abandon him much like his mother did. Chuck’s a guy that has grown from his insecurities but not all of it. He may believe that Sarah loves him, and wants to marry him but he can’t help but think history is repeating itself and he’s helpless to stop it. So no, in my opinion he’s not out of line in thinking she almost killed Casey. I hope he had more faith in her, and maybe he will. This would most likely be resolved shortly and swiftly as soon as Casey awakens. Still a tough stretch for a guy who we have now confirmed to be a The View watching, chips eating basket case when Sarah’s away. Love, what are you going to do?
Sarah goes into the dark side. She didn’t go willingly, she was full of altruistic motives and yes she obviously never meant for Casey to really get hurt but like Chuck said to his mom not that long ago, “there’s always a choice!” Choose she did. She didn’t answer his call. The phones are encrypted, couldn’t she have found a way to at least communicate with him and express her own worry and pain? Well that’s where I understand but groan comes in. “Distance,” was the reason given to us as to why she didn’t answer the phone and really it has merit. Hands shaking, caught in a life she didn’t want and into an action she definitely didn’t want to commit, all she can do is feel. Sarah Walker of the “I’m not like you Sarah, I can’t turn my emotions on and off like some robot” (Ex), feeling, perturbed and definitely shaken. But she has a mission one that for her means the world so, “distance” it is. Rightly or wrongly.
Still there’s something to be said for calling this angst for angst sake. The CRM has reared its ugly head with a pair of stupid sticks, c’est la vie. I hate it.
Now for the most puzzling. I wrote a week ago about this Mary-Sarah parallel and how brilliant it is. So well thought out, constructed, executed. Inspired really, but after this episode I’m quite confused. I should probably repeat that this story isn’t yet fully fleshed out, nor are the events quite as clear without Push Mix in the mix (pun intended) but still puzzled. I don’t really see how Sarah can save Mary at this point, nor do I see how they can (both) get away from Volkoff’s clutches. Plus her reasons to join Volkoff was pretty much nullified when she threw Casey off the building with Chuck looking on, so the reason to defect now seems off. The logic is puzzling. (Side note: mentioning Prague is never fun, and I actually like the emotional punch of that scene.) It seems–though I love it–that Sarah is going almost down the line to Mary’s fate. “It gets easier after awhile,” says Mary. The life, the deception, the separation. Similarly Chuck is too. He’s now tasked to not just bring down Volkoff (brilliant!) much like Stephen did but he also has to get his girl back. My biggest confusion stems from what will be different? What will change for Chuck and Sarah that did not for Stephen and Mary? I’ve said before it’s the decisions they will make and I can still see that, Chuck will be the big sweeping hero because well, it’s his show and they’ve so brilliantly constructed an opening for Chuck’s hero moment here against the most formidable villain we’ve ever had on Chuck, but yet I can’t quite imagine how it’ll take place. That’s the fun I guess, only 1 week to go to find out. Can’t wait for Chuck Bartowski, hero.
All in all not one I consider the best of season 4 (short review: did not like), nor was it really very genius but again that painting.