Whenever Sarah’s past collides with her present, the results are dangerous, tempestuous, hilarious, and eventually heartwarming. Anger, frustration, and punching bags (or punching people) are usually involved. Chuck almost always gets caught in the storm before he winds up being the real hero … and Sarah’s very own baggage handler.
Chuck Versus the Cat Squad has all that and more. We get Sarah’s old team, an explosion, a cat fight, and a mission to Rio. Plus, Cat Squad has more collisions than Rio rush hour. Major collision alert. Sarah’s past collides with her present, while Chuck’s good intentions collide with reality. Morgan collides with his ex, Carina. Casey probes his reality, after his new life collided with the dead end created by his past choices.
As for the heartwarming, there was so much. We got some l-o-n-g anticipated Ellie/Sarah bonding, a sorely missed Ellie/Chuck conversation, and yet another “best” C/S moment. What begins as an unwelcome intrusion ends up giving Sarah the very things she didn’t know she missed, didn’t know she needed, and didn’t know she wanted.
Random alert! Did Cat Squad give you dreams? nightmares? My husband dragged into the kitchen Tuesday morning, prompting me to ask how he slept. Not great, apparently. All night he dreamed he was in Rio fighting the drug lords. He said he kept having to fight and had to drive a bus and a get away car (hilarious, because he hates driving in Rio) and he just couldn’t stop the dream. I’m afraid I wasn’t very sympathetic. I couldn’t stop laughing.
Well, Rio was a new place to go on a mission. The Carnaval footage was ancient, but Chuck and Casey’s “Catch of the Day” Kombi, complete with fishing nets inside, was a funny touch. In the cramped interior of the Kombi, Casey actually talks about his lady feelings, without being asked. What is the world coming to? I think the universe really may collapse on itself. Casey’s new life recently collided with a dead end created by his past. Remember when we all wondered why Casey stuck around the Buymore after GB canned him? Turns out he was getting to know his daughter on the sly. Remember he told Sarah that the Ring would go after the people they cared about … then went to save Alex. When Clara was born, the odd family of Casey, Alex, and Morgan vowed to stick around forever. The next logical step would be to talk to Kathleen. Sadly, when he went to do just that, he collided with a family picture that he could never be a part of. At least that’s the way it looks now; so Casey is suffering whiplash from his own collision. A future mission for Agent Charles Fixit Bartowski, I’m sure.
Inside the smelly fish Kombi, surrounded by the deafening noise of Carnaval, Chuck digs into the past and the Cat Squad mystery. What say we leave Rio for now and do our own digging into this colossal collision with the past.
Cause and Collisions
There’s always something that causes collisions: fatigue, distractions, fog, deer, speeding … something. What caused all these collisions?
Who am I going to invite? Who’s going to come? and … Who’s going to walk me down the aisle?
Chuck wants Sarah to be happy. That’s it. That is all. he. wants. Her family situation is complicated, but the minimum he can do is track down her old team, so she’ll at least have a friend at the party, right? Being a good fiancé, he’s nudging, trying to help fix things.
For once Morgan had a solid piece of advice. Ask Sarah. But Chuck by-passed Sarah’s reluctance and decided to arrange a wonderful, terror-inducing surprise for her.
That’s the cause.
Without knowing exactly what awaits her, Sarah parks her Porsche, walks into the courtyard, and runs into Ellie, who is leaving to face her own terror. I loved! this brief Ellie/Sarah encounter. Their affectionate, knowing exchange about Chuck’s sometimes-annoying/sometimes-endearing quality of diving in to fix things is so … sister-in-law-ish … fantastic post-engagement exploration of new territory. Ellie offers a listening ear. Sarah’s thanks and admission that it feels good to talk about things is real progress. This is something they both need, Sarah perhaps more-so, but Ellie, too. Hurray!
Sirens In The Distance
Sarah walks in on Chuck preparing for … a quiet evening with friends? He seriously doesn’t know Sarah’s old team. He may even have a couple of board games picked out. Sarah can see the collision coming. She’s changed … a lot. Her life couldn’t be more different now (unless perhaps she entered a convent). You just don’t know what to expect with this team. But it’s pretty safe to assume that board games are out.
Cue the thunder of chopper blades, the glare of a search light, and the blare of the loud speaker. … Let the collisions begin.
OK, one of the funniest lines was Morgan’s. “It’s my ex.” Seriously? He and Carina had a double date and a one night stand. Only Morgan would think that qualifies her to be his ex.
Speaking of Morgan, this is a good place to open a parenthesis to talk about his collision with Carina. I thought it was funny. It wasn’t dragged into all the muddy corners of Carina’s past (for which I’m grateful), and Morgan’s discomfort was great comedy. His waking up with Carina, the scene at the door, and his hiding behind the kitchen counter … funny. My favorite scene, though, was his phone call and air-kisses to Alex and the immediate appearance of General Beckman on the monitor … hilarious. I’ll probably never not laugh at that one.
The Fender-bender. The morning wake-up scene sets the stage for the coming collision. Hungover Sarah was so funny. (Perfect scene from the first groan to the last hand gestures, one more scene that will never cease to make me chuckle.) Chuck’s PJ’s and Sarah’s outfit give visual reference to the contrast between the bridge-club snacks and quiet evening Chuck had prepared (which would have been fine with Sarah) and the evening that the Cats drummed up: clubbing in Hollywood, Vegas, and Miami. Chuck takes Sarah’s muffled admission that the evening was OK as a sign that the band is back together. He is so happy that he made her happy and is only somewhat dampened by her story of a traitor in the ranks. Nothing that a quiet coffee and conversation can’t resolve … for normal people, anyway.
Breakfast. Exciting-adrenaline-fueled-spy-life sits down with If-a-yawn-could-yawn … and Sarah’s worlds begin to collide: her old life, old self, old team, with her new life, new self, and new team, all of which center around Chuck.
How do you explain Chuck to these super agents? Well, you can’t, not without compromising national security. He’s an agent? Yes, and a really good one, but he’s not Bryce or Cole … or James Bond. Level-6-clearance, presidential-go-to-guy Special Agent Charles Carmichael is well hidden behind his every-guy persona. What has gotten into Sarah Walker!? … Awkward.
Their perception is predictable … a doofus. Wasn’t that Carina’s appellation?
Carina, however, will not be a problem. Notice, she never joins in the sarcasm or the doubts, because she, perhaps better than anyone else, knows their story. She realized, even before Sarah herself, that Sarah had fallen for Chuck. Then on their last shared mission, all the gaps were filled in. By perception she knew Sarah had fallen in love with Chuck. When GB put the success of Carina’s mission squarely on Chuck, she had to figure that there was more to Chuck than meets the eye. Sarah wouldn’t tell Carina what happened, but her timid question about a different life told Carina that Sarah had gone way beyond the cardinal rule of spying. The video from the vault answered every last question … even giving Carina clues about Chuck, himself. She may be a cat, but Carina is a good friend, so she leaves Chuck and Sarah alone and takes her matches to Morgan’s fireworks shed.
Breakfast digesting and the Cats on their way, it appears that Sarah will escape with only a fender-bender. It wasn’t all bad, but I’m glad it’s over. … Ka-boom! … Guess that’s a no on the fender-bender. … Let the collisions continue.
The Ten-car Pile-up. The dreaded micro-collision with her past escalates into something more like real-life bumper cars, and Sarah is getting slammed from every direction. Her Porsche explodes next to her house, nearly killing her friend. Gaez is back. The traitor is involved somehow. Old grudges resurface, and she is forced, from the top, to go on a mission with her old team, whom she clearly does not trust (General, we’re not a team anymore).
And Chuck has an idea.
Oh no. Chuck’s last idea gave her the mother of all hangovers, turned her Porsche into shrapnel, and landed her in the middle of the mission from hell with demons from her past. All because he wanted to make her happy, to fix her past. Can we please ease up on the ideas.
In addition to the obvious external collisions, there are also some internal secondary collisions. First, the mission is colliding with her personal life, largely thanks to Chuck. For Sarah the end game is nailing Gaez, bringing down the traitor, and getting the heck out of Rio. For Chuck the end game is still Sarah’s happiness, which he believes is tied, in part, to her reconciling with her past. Chuck plans to use the Intersect to review all the data and find the traitor. Sarah knows his plan is valid. It’s his end game she’s having trouble with.
Second, who Sarah used to be is colliding with who she is now. Sarah learned to be self sufficient early in life. She didn’t need any one or any thing. She could take care of herself … and did. That’s the Sarah the cats knew … the wild card agent, who liked life a little on the wild side. The reunion has got to be a wee bit stressful.
She has changed … a lot. She loves Chuck. She needs Chuck, and she’s comfortable admitting it. Her world has expanded enough to fit one more, and that has been a stunning expansion! Chuck’s family and TeamB are in there too, but Chuck is the only one she really needs. She doesn’t need friends at her engagement party. She doesn’t need her family. Above all, she doesn’t need her past fixed. Needing Chuck doesn’t mean needing all his help to fix things. … Does it?
That independent, self-sufficiency is an old-Sarah trait that bubbles to the surface in this episode. See, Sarah is a fixer, too. She just operates in a different arena. Remember her conversation with Graham in the Pilate? But I can fix it. … Just give me 12 hours. Sarah does not need help fixing things.
After all these collisions, Sarah is a wreck. By the time she leaves on the mission, she is frustrated with Chuck, angry at her circumstances, and suspicious of her team. Still she has a job to do. Nail Gaez. Bring down the traitor. Get out of Rio. Done.
Her mood is not improved by the turn of events in Rio. Now, she is angry at Gaez, angry at the setup, and angry at the traitor, whom she assumes to be Zondra, of course. She didn’t cause this, but she will fix it.
That’s what Chuck fell into. He interrupted her fixing things. At least that’s her perception. Gaez could just as easily have lied, so Chuck’s fall could have been a blessing in disguise. Amy and Zondra looked properly taken aback at Sarah’s outburst and even seemed to sympathize with Chuck. Must have been a chilly flight back from Rio.
She’s still stewing when she sends him to clear their home of kitty luggage. Despite her protests, however, she looks at his report, which helps her and Zondra figure things out … not over quiet coffee and conversation.
I loved Chuck’s talk with Ellie. How I have missed them! Most of their talks this season were overshadowed by Chuck’s secret. It was so refreshing for them to talk about life and love again. Ellie offers bits of wisdom and some astute insights into Sarah. Chuck’s good intentions collide with reality. He blew it … big time. Sometimes it’s enough to be understanding. He doesn’t have to fix everything.
Meanwhile, back at Castle, Sarah’s frustration and anger flee, when she realizes Chuck may be walking into trouble.
Chuck, the baggage handler, arrives just in time for trouble. I loved the Buymore scene. Chuck with an apology in one hand and a plan in the other … so Chuck. I also liked Zondra and Sarah’s brief conversation.
Z: He’s a dead man.
S: Well, he’s got a plan. At least I think he does.
Z: Is he shopping? What’s he doing?
Notice, Carina knows better than to question TeamB. She just watches.
Chuck’s plan was genius (remember this is Chuck). DVD’s + a waffle iron = throwing stars. Don’t try this at home, kids. (Doesn’t the Buymore sell knives? I know. Where’s the fun in that?)
All in all this was good Chuck fun. Chuck bobbing and weaving and apologizing. Sarah equating her happiness with him getting out of this alive. Chuck would have totally saved the day if one of the bad guys hadn’t been a bad gal. Chuck still can’t hit a girl. Chuck takes out Gaez. Zondra lassos the mole. Day saved.
What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You
The rest is the icing on the cake.
Sarah and Zondra making amends was so well played: sincere, friendly, but not syrupy or overdone. Sarah regains something she didn’t know she missed. Friendship is real in both worlds, and it feels good to have it back. I loved their eager acceptance of Sarah’s soft-spoken invitation to the engagement party and to be bridesmaids at her wedding. They may not know how to be bridesmaids without machine guns, but they will give it a shot. Maybe Sarah’s spy friends wouldn’t mind an occasional taste of real life, after all. Who’d’a thought that Sarah would ever be anyone’s guide to real life? Scary. Of course now, I can hardly wait for the wedding. Come on. We already knew there would be machine guns. But maybe we can forego the pink taffeta. Call Casey the wedding planner, quick.
The ring scene is another one to add to this season’s growing list of perfect Chuck and Sarah moments. The mirror shot of Sarah fingering her ring is so … real girl, woman-in-love. What’s in an engagement ring? A name. Family. A future. The forever love of the man who put it on her finger. Her perfect match. A love that is the air she breathes. Chuck’s devotion to her happiness. … How could she have ever imagined that she didn’t need his help? He always has her back, always protects her blind side.
In her first words, Chuck, no more apologies. … I, I want to say thank you, is the asking and giving of forgiveness. But the words that follow rival her Suitcase confession:
No, Chuck, please … don’t ever stop helping me. There are a thousand ways I need your help every, single day, and … you’re perfect.
The engagement party is a far cry from her clubbing with the Cats, but it’s where she belongs … let’s party.
The episode comes full circle for Sarah with another conversation with Ellie. Was Sarah really thinking about her family or just the maid of honor question? I don’t know; it doesn’t matter. Either way, Ellie’s spidy sense zeroes in on long-buried hurts … ones that Sarah didn’t know she wanted to talk about. Ellie’s offer to talk about them and involve Chuck later was received with humble relief and gratitude. This is the new Sarah, who has finally realized that it’s OK to accept help.
There’s family in that engagement ring. Sarah has been welcome in Chuck’s family for a long time. She has fought for and protected his family just as she has fought for and protected Chuck, himself. But now it’s different. Now, for the first time, Sarah will be a part of a real family, have a real family name … one she will keep for life. She will be a Bartowski. She and Ellie have always liked each other, but now Ellie is practically family, her soon-to-be sister. Ellie is also a daughter. More than anyone else, Ellie can understand Sarah’s pain. Has Sarah ever had a woman to talk to? My guess is no. Either way, she has one now, and she is ready to talk.
Maybe you wonder why I chose a picture of Chuck as a banner for my thoughts on this very Sarah-centric episode. … Chuck started it all. As much as this is a funny spy tale about Sarah and her former team, it’s just as much about Chuck wanting to make Sarah happy and learning how to help her. It’s the story of her coming to recognize her need for his help and learning to receive it as part of his love.
As Chuck watches the scene through the window, things have come full circle for him, too. All he wanted was to make Sarah happy. He still needs to work on his technique, but in spite of his blunders, he seems to have succeeded. He can’t hear the words exchanged between his fiancée and his sister, but he knows it’s all good. His two best gals have found each other.
Sarah is happy.
All’s right with his world.