A Chuck This Blog Group Post
Schwartz and Fedak claim in all their recent tweets and interviews:
Episode 4.13 builds to “the most epic possible moment in the history of Chuck as it was designed to be a season and possibly series finale.”
The last 10 minutes of episode 13 are the best 10 minutes of Chuck EVER.
That’s a pretty bold claim, but also a fairly easy one. Push Mix has been declared as the best 10 minutes of Chuck, ever … by fiat. How do they know? How will any of us know?
Chuck has had some really great moments … lots of them, in fact. For the last 10 minutes of Push Mix to be the best 10 minutes of Chuck, ever … well, that’s quite a claim. Not only that, but these last 10 minutes comprise “the most epic possible moment in the history of Chuck.” So I started thinking, what moments do they have to beat to make good on the claim?
We at ChuckThis have decided to make it measurable. We’re going to “Set The Bar,” and we want you to help us.
What would Push Mix have to beat to earn the title and wear the crown? We’ll talk about the best Chuck moments to beat, must have elements for such an epic moment, and our standards for the best 10 minutes of Chuck, EVER.
Trying to pick a best 10 minutes ever is actually fairly tough. Never mind the fact I have so many favorite moments on Chuck. Its really hard for me to separate the moment from the episode. I could rattle off a top three episodes pretty fast right now. But then I have to ask, “are there any scenes or acts that are greater than what I think of those three episodes?” Well I did come up with one (see if you can guess which favorite moment doesn’t come from one of three favorite episodes!):
1. The end of Honeymooners. This is kind of a no brainer. I still say the last scene of Honeymooners is likely the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen on television. I’m not exactly sure where the 10 minute timer starts, but I’ll say all the way from Beckman saying “release Agent Walker!” to the camera fading out is about as favorite a stretch as I’ve ever seen.
2. The ruined wedding from Ring. Basically the whole duration of Jeffster performing “Mr. Roboto.” Knife throwing, special forces smashing through the ceiling, massive shoot out, and indoor fireworks ruining a wedding. Wow! Still a total blast to watch.
3. Again the 10 minute timer is imprecise here (this time I’m probably running a bit long); but I’d say Phase 3 from the Sarah/Morgan bedroom scene (now it just feels wrong saying that!) until the pit fight in Thailand. I’m sure that’s cheating 10 minutes badly. What’s worse is I really want to extend it all the way through the actual rescue and Sarah’s awesome, tearful speech to Chuck. But that’s more like half the episode.
Part two of this is what elements do we need for a best 10 minutes ever? You all know I’m an avowed ‘shipper. But for most of my life I’ve been more an action/effects junkie. So that provides the first two required elements; Something awesome for Chuck and Sarah (engagement at a minimum, marriage is better. I could certainly enjoy the episode if they stop short, but it can’t possibly be a best ever)
The second most important part is just explosive action. Especially if it means Sarah causing insane amounts of destruction (I can never get enough of that). Some great combat involving Mary, and Chuck annihilating Volkoff must be involved too. After all, I need some visceral satisfaction as well!
To guarantee best ever status a sweet family reunion is also required. I like sweet and sappy family moments, and with a season long set-up involving a dysfunctional estranged family; the only way to make it right is with everyone together and happy about it in the end (any reflection on the horrors of the last 20 years disqualifies the scene and the moment! sweet sap is required!).
Other things could be fun; new Intersect tricks, birth of baby Awesome, cool set-up for the next villain. But none of these are required for me.
Here’s my five favorite scenes in reverse order.
5. I like it when Chuck stands up for himself. That’s rare. But can you even think of a time when he stood up to Sarah in anger, when he really risked her wrath and stood his ground? I can. The dialog is from Crown Vic and goes like this:
Sarah: Things have been a little off since “the incident,” Chuck.
Chuck Really? And what incident are you referring to, Agent Walker, huh? Could it be the incident where you planted a kiss on me, right before a bomb was supposed to go off, ending our lives? That same kiss right before your boyfriend Bryce came back from the dead? That kiss?
Sarah: Stop saying kiss! It happened, okay? What’s done is done. Can we just not talk about it, please?
Chuck Okay, fine. Absolutely, of course. Just answer me one little thing.
Chuck Did you kiss me that night because you thought we were going to die and mine were the most convenient lips around, or was in actually about me?
4. That’s not the only time Chuck has spoken his mind to state his desires clearly. He spoke up, not in anger but decisively during my favorite fountain scene in Lethal Weapon as Bloc Party’s Signs plays in the background:
Chuck Please. Let me just finish. Sarah, I’m not gonna move in with you. Because, I can’t. And you know why I can’t. I’m crazy about you, and I’ve always been. But, having a fake relationship, that’s one thing. But living together is… I mean, every day, being around each other and – and that’s why I can’t do it. And I hope you understand.
Sarah: I do.
Chuck Thank you. Oh, and, uh, just so you know… I am gonna get this thing out of my head one day. I will. And when I do, I’m gonna live the life that I want with the girl that I love. Because I’m not gonna let this thing rob me of that. I won’t.
It’s the music, the mood, the way Zac says “I won’t.” and Yvonne’s subtle facial expression that makes this scene stand out. You believe every word. Despite that fact that it’s absolutely hopeless and Chuck appears to have taken a step back, you just know inside that the two of them have taken a step forward.
3. It’s true that in a screenplay it’s better to show than to tell. For my next favorite moment, Chuck uses only three words and a smile to drive home his point to Sarah and to us. It’s from Best Friend and occurs when Jeffster amazed(! is that the right word?) us all with their cover of Toto’s Africa.
Sarah: I wanted to apologize. I could’ve been more sensitive before about your friendship with Morgan. It’s just — It’s difficult. I don’t really have anyone in my life like that who cares about me.
Chuck Yeah, you do.
The scene is great because of what they don’t say. It comes through loud and clear.
2. One mission at a time, Chuck. The dirty motel room in Barstow where there had been no hope – only despair – was different in the morning. The sunlight was warm and golden to match Sarah’s hair. Chuck had not been aware that Sarah had nestled close to him sometime during the night and in his dream, he had protectively placed his arm over her body to hold her. Only slowly did he begin to realize that Sarah’s fingers gently touched and entwined with his and that it was not a dream. They both surrendered to the hopelessness and the promise of their situation. We could talk for hours still about those moments; the contrast between Chuck’s shy question Why are you doing this?, Sarah’s non-answer and the morning’s passion, the frantic pace of running and gentle pace of the morning, captured in the gentle guitar strum used in the music, Bon Iver’s Creature Fear. No fan is going to forget that scene.
1. I chose my favorite scene because of two things. The first is the incredible amount of information that we learn about Sarah, and the second is the unique techniques used to create the scene’s impact. It’s from Phase Three, where Sarah, in tears, is desperately trying to wake Chuck while calmly reassuring him (in his dream) that she is there. Chuck starts walking to the shattering glass of his consciousness and only Sarah’s voice turns him. “I have so much I want to tell you. I found your proposal plan. You were going to do it on the beach in Malibu, where we watched the sun rise after our first date. Chuck I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I don’t care if you have the intersect or not. Without you, I’m nobody, I’m nothing but a spy. Come back to me, Chuck. I want to marry you.”
She’s nothing but a spy? We’ve watch Sarah struggling with newfound emotions for over a season. This is the moment where she breaks with her past and becomes someone other than who she was. The scene is not carried by the music, but by the doubling of Sarah’s words, Chuck’s beautifully violent struggle to join the living world (a struggle we knew he would lose without her help) and fantastic acting from everyone involved.
In those five scenes there are two main themes, two main elements that for me are key. If I see them in Chuck vs. The Push Mix then the 10 minutes that contain them will be my favorite of all time, guaranteed. Else, well, we’ll see if they live up to their billing.
I need to see 1) Chuck asserting himself and 2) a large step forward in Chuck & Sarah’s relationship. I’ve been lobbying for the engagement to happen sooner rather than later, so that would obviously take care of my second criterion. The first has room to be a bit more nuanced.
For instance, Chuck can assert himself by standing up to Volkoff the way he did to Shaw in Shaw’s office during The Ring Pt. 2.
Shaw: No. What are you doing here? What’s your plan?
Chuck: I’m sorry. Are you asking me to make the classic villain mistake of explaining my dastardly plot to you? Know what? I’d love to!
I confess, we had no idea who the Elders were or how to ID them. So we let you do that for us when you warned them to leave the theater. So on behalf of the NSA, the CIA and of course, your local Buy More, I’d just like to say thanks a lot.
He’s smart and snappy and even arrogant. That’s what I want to see. But Chuck can assert himself in other ways, especially to Sarah. He could do that just like he did in Crown Vic, challenging her to prove that she has not changed and deserted him the way his mother did. Or he could show her that no matter what, he still has to do the right thing, like he did when he asked Sarah to meet him in Union Station to run to Mexico. Don’t answer, just decide.
But that would not be the biggest indication that Chuck has finally grown up. You see, several people have made Chuck their own personal puppet, and General Beckman is only one of them. Mary Elizabeth and Stephen’s legacy hold the strings too.
To cut those strings and finally be his own person, Chuck must confront his mother. He must make her start to undo the damage her twenty year absence has done.
There’s one way we’ll know for certain if Chuck has succeeded. We’ll see it in Ellie’s eyes when he tells her.
10 minutes is a lifetime. And I just don’t mean in basketball (heh). I’ve said this before but if you measure the minutes precisely (which, judging by JS’ freudian slip of 5 minutes, perhaps we shouldn’t) we’re talking more than this:
In Ring pt 1 from the canceled (aka Jeffster ruined wedding) to the end of the beach wedding (complete with Casey rescue in the middle) was 7 minutes and 22 seconds.
So what would it take to be the best 10 minutes ever? Well first it has to compete with the:
1. romanticism of Honeymooners‘ “Feeling Good,”
2. the unwitting intimacy that built to a frenzy in the motel in Colonel,
3. the simplicity of Colonel’s “it is real,”
4. the emotional punch of Wookie‘s “it’s Lisa, my middle name is Lisa,” and (finally)
5. the winning speech in Break Up.
To do that it needs to involve Yvonne’s captivating facial expressions, Zac’s charm and Adam Baldwin’s grunt. And oh! Did I mention it has to have a wicked ballad as well?
In some ways my best 10 minutes ever would be an amalgamation of Colonel and Ring pt 1 complete with wedding, but not Ellie and Devon’s, Chuck and Sarah’s. That’s the best 10 minutes ever. It doesn’t matter if there are other things going on for the other 8 minutes (how long does it take to get married?), that one scene, one event will be king.
Two bars to clear. First, this epic finale (10 minutes) must combine the signature elements of Chuck and do them better than they’ve ever been done before. Second, Push Mix must not only do justice to the mythology and main story lines, but do so in unprecedentedly epic fashion.
Chuck the Hero. The best and greatest episodes of Chuck feature Chuck at his hero best, including his heart, his bravery, his side-ways thinking, and his full complement of Intersect tricks. So, Chuck must out-hero himself in bravery, smarts, planning, and Chuck Fu. I set the bar with Other Guy and Ring Part 2.
Family. I anticipate the family goodness of Ring, not only the sweet moments, but also the unparalleled excitement of the spy world intrusion on the event and the action that followed. A series benchmark for sure.
Action. There are lots of places to set the bar for action, but I’ll go with the final fight in Ring 2 and the Thai rampage of Phase 3. For heroic action, both of these are hard to beat. Add in the Ring action, mentioned above, for good measure. (Of course, I’d like some ring action of a different sort, but more on that later.)
Mythology and Story
The mythology reveal has to be jaw-dropping. I’m talking better than Alma Mater’s reveal of Chuck’s past, Dream Job’s Orion reveal, and the basement reveal from Ring Part 2.
Finally, my deal breaker. Chuck and Sarah. Their story is as much a part of the Chuck story as the mythology and Chuck himself. There are so many romantic relationship moments to beat, like Colonel or the end of Honeymooners; the final moments of Suitcase or Coup d’Etat; or the final rescue in Phase 3. High bars, indeed. However, there’s only one forward direction left for Chuck and Sarah. Only one move can be considered epic in their story. Only one can do justice to their S4 arc. Push Mix has to beat the last proposal of Balcony. It doesn’t have to beat it by much, mind you … just by 3 words. Of course, Faith set the bar even higher, and that would just be Icing on the Epic Cake … wedding, anyone?
In TV land the last 10 minutes of Chuck essentially includes the climax and the epilogue. In terms of Chuck it is two to three scenes, depending on the kind of scene. My fellow bloggers have mentioned a lot of those great scenes and the elements that make them great. I think there will be three of Chuck’s signature types of scenes. And I also require a wicked ballad to remember it by. So here are the types of scenes that always capture me, and what I’d need to see in the best 10 minutes of Chuck.
The Musical Montage.
From the start of “Keep Yourself Warm” to the end of Fat Lady is about 5 minutes of almost entirely intercut scenes of our heroes, and scarcely any dialog, but the emotional impact…wow. The entire getting ready montage in Tango, with Chuck learning to tango lasts about a minute. I consider the wedding shootout to Mr. Roboto to be in this vein, even though it also qualifies under the next category. I’m guessing with Ellie giving birth and Chuck facing down Volkoff while Mary and Sarah are potentially capturing his database there will be rich opportunities for this type of scene.
Yes, the first wedding shootout qualifies, but it can be epic without a cast of dozens. Think Sarah taking on Colt, or Smooth Lau. Think Casey losing his calm and taking down his sensei. But also think Sarah taking on all of Fulcrum headquarters or Chuck taking on Shaw, the first or second time. There’s gonna be a showdown.
Epilogue (As Prologue?)
This is a tough one. There are certain scenes that Chuck often ends on that suggest both the end of something and a new story. I think my favorite of all times is the beach scene at the end of the pilot. In close competition was “it is real” or the end of Honeymooners. When done right these are some of the best scenes Chuck produces. Chuck refusing to move in with Sarah and then revealing the back of the Tron poster. The breakup, and Sarah’s sudden look over her shoulder, and a seeming realization. Sharing a cheeseburger, or holding hands while Jeffster butchers Africa.
So I’m not too picky, or specific. I’m not too hung up on when they deliver it, but I always feel like the best 10 minutes of Chuck is still to come. Always.