Lead On MacChuck — Chuck Versus the Muuurder

CHUCK ME!

More. More Chuck’s, more TeamB, and more Intersects (maybe). More Mrs/Dr. Awesome, more Clara, more Orion legacy. More Bentley. More chaos, more danger, more explosions! More Buymore madness. More mysteries than any one episode can solve. Oh, and a cute little pig. (The real Kevin Bacon was unavailable.)

The chaos and murders and bombs became both the proving ground and the showcase for Chuck’s leadership. It was his first big project. Three bombs exploded in Castle, two agents were killed, the project was scrapped, and someone is out to kill him. I don’t know about you, but I consider that a pretty bad day. The bad day was a much bigger test of Chuck’s leadership than the project itself ever would have been. Time and again, Chuck has proven himself in life and death situations. Chuck Versus the Muuurder is no exception.

The Ellie Plot

The first pan of Orion’s computer amid Clara’s toys looked sort of like Darth Vader goes to nursery school … a little out of place. We soon know, however, that the computer is exactly where it belongs … in Ellie’s capable hands. It’s a bizarre meeting of the minds, Bartowski style, and a heartwarming reminder of the genius himself, Stephen J Bartowski. I can’t decide which is more amazing PapaB’s technology, Ellie’s awe-struck admiration of it, or the fact that she understands it … or maybe it’s that Clara said arthroscopic yesterday.

Devon holding Clara with Ellie sitting behind the Orion computer struck me as three generations of Bartowski’s together. OK, so it’s a little different from the average family multi-generation portrait, but they are Bartowski’s.

One thing I know. No matter what strides Ellie makes in neuroplasticity, she would probably make more money if she could get 4 month olds to quit pooping in their pants.

Devin: “What if it’s dangerous.”
Ellie: “What’s the worst that could happen?”
So many things come to mind.

For now, though, it’s creepy enough to have Big Bentley watching.

Chuck’s In Charge

General Beckman, still basking in the after glow of her victory over Dir Bentley, announces the agency’s new agenda, Find Intersect candidates who are as similar to Agent Bartowski as possible. New agenda indeed.

Along with this bold new agenda comes the refreshing acknowledgement that Chuck is the only man who really knows what it’s like to be an Intersect … and therefore the best choice to lead the search for more Intersects.

Even when we first met Chuck, he possessed innate leadership qualities. Everybody around him recognized it, and they were inspired to follow him. Big Mike wanted him to become assistant manager. All the Buymorons looked to him as the leader, the one who would know the right thing to do in any situation:

What would I do? I just ask WWCD. What Would Chuck Do? ~ The chain of command? Well, there’s like, Chuck, and then there’s like, the rest of us. Oh, and then there’s Jeff. ~ Chuck is brave … loyal … courageous … and has the wisdom to not eat garbage from the break room crisper.

Who represents the Buymore ideal? Who makes the trains run on time? Who provides your moral compass? Who holds the team together?

Chuck. Chuck. Chuck. Chuck.

However, the Chuck that Sarah met in the Buymore, though he was a natural leader (ballerina, anyone?), eschewed leadership positions, “Maybe one day I’ll be assistant store manager, and I don’t even know if I want that job.”His next test of leadership came with the Lazlo incident. He demonstrated the courage to lead over the desire for the position. Chuck led through inspiration. By contrast, Harry Tang led through intimidation. 

Though Chuck often inspired, led, and exhibited leadership qualities, even taking point on a mission or two, this mandate from GB gives him his first leadership role on a project of this magnitude. And Dir Bentley is his Harry Tang. Chuck leads by inspiration. Dir Bentley leads by intimidation. The Bentley’s and Harry Tang’s of the world always resent that the Chuck Bartowski’s inspire what they have to take by force.

For Chuck, leadership comes naturally … management not so much. So, if Chuck comes off as less than Patten-like, I cut him some slack.

GB: Chuck, we need you to find more Chuck’s.

Chuck Me

I really enjoyed the nonverbal subtext of Muuurder. Much of the story is communicated through facial expressions and gestures … beginning with everyone’s reaction to Chuck’s promotion. Sarah radiates adoring pride and confidence in her man. Casey wears a bit of a wait-and-see look, but without one whit of the contempt plastered all over Bentley’s face.

Chuck values relationship as much as function (remember Cat Squad). He cares about his team, and wants everyone to be comfortable, so he starts in a somewhat awkward, conciliatory manor.

Bentley reciprocates with disdain, “I hope you enjoy this. I’ll be back in charge, as soon as you and your … stupid pocket protector screw it up.”

Chuck lets it roll off his back. Sarah is only amused. She knows/trusts Chuck. Morgan is the funny one in his adamant defense of … the pocket protector? It’s incomprehensible to him that she was actually insulting Chuck.

The project is off to a fine start. Chuck has a plan. He compiled a profile, based on his own, and asked Langley to send him spies that match the profile.

The Candidates. Faith did a great job in her review showing the parallel of the candidates with each of TeamB. So, I need only say that these 4 candidates are two dimensional sketches drawn from what TeamB might have become, individually, had they never met.

The first 3 candidates share a common trait or experience with Chuck, but are really more similar to another member of TeamB. Brody is the Chuck doppelganger. We know this before we even see him by Sarah’s expression and her one word. Wow. Indeed! The expressions of TeamB in that moment tell us how each one feels about the existence of another Chuck. Classic.

The Tryouts. Chuck’s team conduct the testing, while Chuck and Dir Bentley observe. One week of tryouts is condensed into 2 minutes with minimal dialogue. Again the facial expressions tell the story of who’s winning, who’s losing and who is impressing whom. … Or not. A funny sequence.

The physical training highlight was Casey taking out Lewis with one kick. Second place goes to Chuck’s reaction to Brody, whose Kung Fu so closely resembles his own.

Morgan testing for [pop] cultural knowledge was funny in and of itself. My favorite candidate was Josy, “Why do men care so much about these things? Nothing you’re asking me matters at all.” Touché. Pan to the faces. Bentley totally agrees, and Chuck and Morgan think she’s from another planet.

The funniest were the psych questions. Again, the reactions are gold. Josy’s honesty is admirable, but her answer about manipulating her partner wins her no favors with Sarah, scores some points with Bentley, and drops her from Chuck’s short list. As for Lewis, Sarah clearly wonders what planet he’s from. And then there’s Brody. Hilarious. “I’d talk about it for as long as it takes. Nothing should ever wait or be left unsaid. Sometimes it’s best to say things two or three times, even.” Now it’s Bentley’s turn to wonder what planet Brody is from. Sarah is flabbergasted. Someone just like Chuck? He always wants to talk about … everything. Her look at Chuck is priceless. As for Chuck … Well, Brody shoots straight to the top of his short list.

Done.

With his team gathered around him, Chuck makes his decision. But not without feeling badly for the ones who weren’t chosen … and one last attempt to reach out to Bentley. Her response establishes Chuck as her nemesis. Nothing that can’t be solved over coffee and quiet conversation, though, right? It will probably take more than that.

Buymore Parenthesis. Tryouts over, Morgan returns topside and gets embroiled in his own leadership struggles. While Chuck solves a double homicide and nearly gets blown up … three times, Morgan negotiates the return of Big Mike in exchange for Kevin Bacon, Large Mart’s porcine mascot. Morgan has come a long, long way from his early Buymore days. I was proud of him. I like the new Morgan of more mature relationships and the ability to solve his own problems. It was nice to see him do his part for TeamB and then deal with his Buymore troubles, while Chuck dealt with his own set of troubles. The Buymore plot worked well, in that it paralleled the spy world below, in its interrogations and its mystery solving. Jeff and Lester were not creepy (my main measuring sticks for Buymore antics). My favorite from the Buymore, though, was Lester feeling the blast in Castle. It’s fun when they get so close to what’s going on, but remain clueless, like Jeff in A-Team. Oh, and the pig was cute.

Three bombs a blasting, two grisly murders, and a pig in the Castle ducts.

And things were going so well. Nothing like a murder (or two) to ruin your day. Through all the Castle mayhem, Chuck alternately leads and reacts. His insecurities surface, but when someone’s killing your recruits and bombs are exploding all around you, that’s to be expected, especially your first time out. I thought he recovered well, and did what a leader needs to do: take charge, solve the problem, and protect his team.

After the first explosion, Chuck panics and wants to abdicate to Casey or Sarah. Every leader at one time or another feels this way. Not every leader is as honest about it. Casey and Sarah (always Sarah) encourage him, push him back to the front, and get behind him. Every leader needs friends like them. Sarah is indeed his first mate, supporting his authority, squelching the slightest rumble of mutiny (Casey), and watching his back. The relationship is understated this week, less couple-y and more partner-y. In A-Team, Sarah took the lead and Chuck was there to help and support and watch her back. In Muuurder, she gladly reciprocates. Nice.

Ok. I don’t care for Bentley, but I had to smile at her wisecrack, “I feel calm.” Every leader has people like her, always taunting.

The Inquest. Chuck and Sarah’s partnership and complementarity shine as they interrogate the suspects.

We have a humorous reprise of Cubic Z’s tough cop/silent cop, except that Chuck is the tough cop. It’s almost better this way. Sarah is plenty threatening as the silent cop. She lets Chuck lead until he nods for her to jump in, like her discreet nod that everybody did indeed know that Brody was his first choice (I loved that) … and her calm intervention with weepy Josy. Best of all, though, was her subtle yet menacing, “although there is no clear … definition [of torture].” Chuck was perfectly appalled. Good thing he missed her interrogation of the kidnapped Thai diplomat. OK, maybe Chuck needs a little more practice at tough cop, but I loved the way they worked together, Sarah letting him lead and backing him up.

It’s all good. … Well, except for the bomb.

Leadership Styles

Bentley is still goading Chuck at every opportunity. Is he a man of talk or action? A real leader wouldn’t care whether people liked him or not. The confrontation is friendly on Chuck’s part, until he sees Ellie on the Bentley’s monitors and goes ballistic. That’s when the yelling starts. You don’t mess with Chuck’s family. The conflict ends abruptly when they find the killer, who ceased being the killer when he became victim #2.

With everyone back together, Bentley tightens the screws … again, “OK, leader. Wha’cha got? Who’s the killer?”

Chuck comes through with his super brain. Whether it was a flash or the vestige of the Alpha Intersect or just his natural genius, I don’t know; but in a matter of seconds, Chuck replays all the events in his head, tests every suspect, and solves the case.

By the time he names Damian as the killer, Bentley no longer loathes him, mostly because he didn’t name her as the killer. He could have. He could have gotten rid of her for good. But Chuck does the right thing. The team is together, flanking their leader to take down the killer.

It’s all good.

Well, except for the bomb.

Chuck is a negotiator. It’s one of his best leadership skills (Santa Claus). Bentley doesn’t negotiate. She’s more of a shoot first kind of leader. Maybe that explains her Intersects. She imposes her leadership style, with disastrous results. Didn’t she learn anything from Vicky? If people would just quit shooting the guy with the detonator.

As the bomb ticks down, Bentley shows genuine bravery and falls on the grenade, so to speak. She locks herself, with the bomb, in the Intersect room to save everyone else. It shows both bravery and stupidity. Had she trusted her leader, the whole scenario might have been avoided. Either way, Chuck (and his stupid pocket protector) comes to her rescue. Sarah is right where she will always be … by Chuck’s side, no matter what.

One critical piece of information came from Chuck’s negotiations, right before Bentley and her stupid side arm screwed things up. Six little words with big implications. I came here for you, Chuck. Cue the creepy music and the heartbeat in our ears. This was the great dramatic moment, swallowed up by the crisis caused by Calamity Jane.

Accolades

General Beckman congratulates the team, with a special commendation to Chuck for his leadership.

Chuck’s not finished as a leader. “Thank you, General. But I’m only as strong as the team that surrounds me, and … as always, Sarah and Casey were my eyes, ears, and more, today.” It was a nice call back to Tango and a reminder that Chuck exercises his leadership with humility and shares his success with his team. He even shares his success with his enemy, “Directory Bentley was invaluable today.”

Leaders like Chuck are few and far between. Some leaders will share praise with their team. But a leader who openly praises his nemesis? That’s a rare gem.

WWCD? In the spy world, as in the Buymore, there’s Chuck and then there’s every other spy. He runs toward bombs, not away from them (bravery). He’ll do anything for his team, his friends, and his family (loyalty). He does the right thing, even at great cost or risk to himself (courage). He would rather win a friend than defeat a nemesis (wisdom).

I buy Bentley’s change of heart and tone. Chuck was fair to her and showed her a lot of grace, even though she was never fair to him. He saved her life at risk to his own. According to her that’s what a real leader does.

She came as an enemy, but she left as a friend. It’s all good. She planted a seed in Chuck, as Mary did in Ellie, “Your sister is incredibly smart. If anybody can figure out the Intersect, it’s her. You might want to reconsider keeping her away from her path.” I liked that.

Full Circle

Double Blind Secrets. Devon hands over the hard drive to Chuck. Suddenly I am bone weary of the manipulation and secrets between siblings. I silently plead for Chuck to heed Bentley’s advice. He doesn’t, but it’s clear that the seed is sown. It won’t be long.

The camera cuts to Ellie typing away on her father’s laptop. My heart soars. Devon did the right thing. He let Chuck follow his path. He let Ellie follow her path. Until their paths converge, he is the guardian of double blind secrets.

Team Bartowski. I loved everything about this brief scene, starting with the foot rub … such a couple-y expression of comfort and affection.

This is a first … Chuck, Sarah, and Casey together after a mission, enjoying milk and cookies, no less. Casey has clearly found his place as part of the team and part of the family. Nothing says family like sharing milk and cookies.

In this familiar setting, Chuck thanks his team properly, apologizing for his shortcomings, “I want to apologize for all the grief you had to swallow to support me,” and sharing full credit with them for their success, “I would have fallen apart today, if it weren’t for the two of you.”

The only man who knows what it’s like to be an Intersect leaves no room for doubt as to how he feels about the responsibility.

It’s not just the computer or the man. The Intersect is all of us. It’s the three of us working together. … That’s why it works.

Sarah smiles her pride and affection, and Casey mumbles his agreement around a mouthful of cookie, “Don’t ever forget that.” He may be talking as much to himself as to Chuck.

General Beckman intrudes on the warmth of the moment. It could be worse. Much worse. Doesn’t she ever knock? More important, doesn’t she know that Chuck and Sarah are now empty-nesters? She should be much more careful in the future.

GB brings us back to the dramatic moment from the interrogation, when she delivers the news that Vivian Volkoff wired Damian $10 million to blow up Castle, more specifically Chuck. No one takes this as good news. The soft creepy music returns, and the non-verbal sub-text is perfect.

Chuck is in the cross hairs of a Volkoff … again. Is it Vivian? I suspect not, but you never know. Explosives just seem to be more of Daddy Volkoff’s MO.

Agent X Files. How cool is PapaB’s laptop? I Loved the introduction to Agent X and the reminder that PapaB wants his children to solve things together.

Ellie is the only one who understands what’s going on in Chuck’s brain, except she has no idea that it’s going on … In. Chuck’s. Brain.

I can’t wait to see how she discovers that her little brother is the one with the amazing brain. I can’t wait until TeamB is complete with no more secrets, no more lies.

I can’t wait …

Two weeks without Chuck is Muuurder.

~ Thinkling

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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.
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66 Responses to Lead On MacChuck — Chuck Versus the Muuurder

  1. Verkan_Vall says:

    @Thinkling:

    Nice review, and I (once again) missed a few things that I’ll have to look for on the re-watch.

    Regarding DIANE!…sorry. Generals don’t knock in any case, and what is this whole “Empty Nester” thing about, anyway?

    🙂

  2. hiswings2 says:

    Absolutely wonderful review and I totally agree with you on this one. It was a very good episode all around. Just enough of all the components to make a great episode. Enough of the Chuck and Sarah relationship, without the gushyness, enough of Casey’s grunts and facial expressions, enough of Morgan helping in the spyworld and having his own problems in the BuyMore. Enough of Jeff and Lester just to be hilarious and even a good showing on Big Mike’s/BM angle. Even had the Subway advertisement squeezed in. I think my absolutely favorite part though, was the part with Elle and Devon having their own go at the spyworld and the Agent X introduction. Wow and double Wow -Papa B reigns and lives on through his children!! Can’t wait to see how this plays out – gonna be “EPIC”!!!

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Hiswings. I definitely loved the Ellie plot and PapaB’s brilliance. I would have liked a little more Chuck and Sarah, but I really enjoyed their easy partnership and the way they worked together.

      • joe says:

        “Easy” partnership is right. The whole thing was encapsulated for me in that 2nd to last scene in their apartment, TeamB all relaxed at home eating cookies. I almost wanted to see David and Ricky Nelsen walk in.

        And I say that in the best way! C&S were most couple-y right then, and more than any moment I can think of right now, they are family.

        Love it!

      • atcDave says:

        I’m always a sucker for those warm fuzzy moments. Going back to the first two seasons, it was those endings with just Chuck and Sarah, or the whole gang hanging out together, that always left me with a smile on my face. Now with everything in a good place its even that much more satisfying.

      • thinkling says:

        I’m with you, Dave. I love the C/S moments at the end.

        This TeamB moment was so nice. I don’t think we’ve ever had one like this … Casey ever hanging out with Chuck and Sarah.

        No offense to Morgan, but it seemed right for it to be just the 3 of them. They are the core of the team … the adults.

        I can’t help wondering if there was a sock on Casey’s door knob. 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t know Thinkling, I’m pretty sure a sock on his door knob would make Casey VERY angry! (what was Morgan ever thinking?!)

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, it would make him angry … if he knew what it meant. He is pretty clueless about those things, like Sarah. That’s why it’s so funny when they give each other advice. Like his sexting remark. What does that even mean?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah you’re right about that, but playing with Casey that way is like playing with live explosives. And if he doesn’t know what it means he just walks in and… BOOM!

        Does it ever seem like Morgan may live the most dangerous life of any of them?

      • thinkling says:

        Well, he did jump into standing water with a 10,000 volt live wire …

        … and go after enemy agents armed with mace and electric carving knives

        … and most dangerous of all, stepped between Sarah and Casey in Phase 3. He has no filter … in a lot of areas.

      • atcDave says:

        Don’t forget the tiger…

      • thinkling says:

        Oops, how could I forget the tiger. I think Morgan’s moment is overshadowed by the war zone look of the apartment at the end. eek.

  3. ArmySFC says:

    Thinkling great review! however i feel you missed a very important part. chuck as a leader failed to keep all the suspected murderers together. his failure to do this was the indirect cause of death of the second agent. had they been properly contained and guarded one less life would have been lost. that lost life rests solely on chuck, no one else. we have a saying in the army, you can delegate authority but not responsibility.

    • thinkling says:

      Good point, Army. And a true saying.

    • It’s a little frustrating that nobody cares when other agents die on the show.

      • thinkling says:

        We are, people in general I mean, pretty calloused when it comes to watching murder mysteries. Look at all the shows we watch with little regard for the endless stream of disposable guest stars. They become more like props than people. You’re right. That’s wrong.

        I remember reading comments like this about the Interpol agents killed in Honeymooners. A lot of people thought that went a little dark for Chuck. Chuck doesn’t usually kill off people casually, especially the good guys. So ditto for Muuurder. It was a little dark and murder too casual, but thankfully that’s rare.

        Thanks Crumby.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Actually that isn’t the case Army. They specifically addressed that. Everyone was together until the bomb under the chair detonated, which they assumed was Lewis’ method of escape. Sarah clearly indicates everyone was being watched, but the bomb was an effective distraction, “He must have set up the bomb so he could escape”. If anything it was Casey deserting his post that allowed the second murder.

      • ArmySFC says:

        ernie, chuck knew there was a bomb maker in the mix correct? when the first bomb went off separating them from all possessions is a good thing to do, he even remarks the sand hides things from our scans. sorry dude, its the leaders responsibility to ensure that all items be searched after the first explosion. no mater how you look at it or what excuses you want to make for chucks failure, he was the leader his short comings lead to the agents death. not being snarky btw just honest.

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re both arguing over a ridiculous plot hole in a ridiculously plotted episode. Shouldn’t Chuck have flashed on the boombox-bomb when he FIRST saw it? So if the writers are too sloppy to plug the holes in their plots, why sweat the silly little bits they do. Dreadful episode saved only by the callback to mythology in the last minute or two…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        OK, so Chuck is no longer a failure as a leader because he didn’t contain the suspects, because they showed us that wasn’t the case, he was a failure because he didn’t relieve the suspects of their personal effects and weapons and search them, which they also specifically showed them doing?

        If you are asking how’d Damien get a bomb, I dunno. If you are saying he got a bomb because Chuck, in a complete failure of leadership, didn’t search their personal effects, they showed he and Sarah doing that specifically on the screen.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually Anonymous Chuck flashed on the bomb circuitry as soon as he got a close look at it, not the boom box. It’s well established now that Chuck can flash at will to preform a task, like Kung-Fu or disarming a bomb.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Oh, and Anonymous/First Timer, you should check to see if you are recognized by cookies or make sure to enter your e-mail before commenting so we all know who we are when having discussions. I know it’s annoying sometimes, but it helps the rest of us out.

      • ArmySFC says:

        ernie i never said a complete failure of leadership. they are your words not mine. i pointed out he failed in one area that lead to an agent’s death. despite the failings of an underling it’s still the leaders responsibility and he/she bears it. i’ll site gitmo as an example. low ranking soldiers did bad things to some prisoners, the general lost her position. after this i will agree to disagree because continuing this is pointless.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Army, I was being a little snarky. 😉 Too often I see people call an interpretation of events a plot hole or a character failure. Chuck both isolated the suspects and confiscated and searched their personal belongings. Two things you said he failed to do that we saw him doing on screen. You implied they displayed his shortcomings as a leader. I’m saying you are wrong. We were specifically shown that he did those things you say a leader should do.

        I have no idea why you feel gitmo has anything to do with Chuck, and I think you’re actually referencing Abu Ghraib.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        ernie i never said a complete failure of leadership. they are your words not mine

        Actually complete failure are not my words, in fact neither is failure.

        no mater how you look at it or what excuses you want to make for chucks failure, he was the leader his short comings lead to the agents death. not being snarky btw just honest.

        Just keeping it honest BTW.

        Ed note, I stand corrected, I did use the phrase “complete failure” when I was being snarky, so I withdraw that part of my criticism. My larger point, the fact that we were specifically shown the exact aspects of leadership Army claims were specifically lacking remains, and Army’s use of the term “failure” from the beginning is clear. I suppose we could discuss the differences between “failure” that is directly responsible for the death of an agent, and “complete failure”, but that might muddy the waters. Yes that was snarky sarcastic.

      • ArmySFC says:

        ernie one question and i just want a yes or no answer. when they found out about the first bomb and the dead brody. did chuck collect and secure all the suspects personal items? yes or no please.

        since there is no edit button i could not fix the gitmo error. the point was the generals soldiers made the mistake as you pointed out using casey. she was found ultimately responsible for her soldiers actions. the SAME way casey accepted the responsibility for what vickey did in shooting the dude in the last episode.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Army, as I said before I think it is pretty clearly shown he did. He and Sarah are shown going through all the suspects personal belongings during interrogation, and Chuck also mentions he found the pregnancy test in Josie’s things. I think you have to ignore a lot of what is specifically shown on the screen to conclude he neither collected nor searched the suspects belongings, just as you need to ignore that the second bomb was specifically mentioned as a distraction to allow, as they first thought, Lewis to escape Casey’s custody, then Chuck realized Damian to kill and hide Lewis. If they were free to wander about why did they need a distraction?

        Now I know you asked for a yes or no answer, but really, who are you talking to… 😉

        The overall point is that yes, Chuck has always had some shortcomings when it comes to tightly scripted plots. In a general sense I agree with First Timer above, why sweat the small stuff, but for a different reason. I don’t sweat it because I’m enjoying the show, and for the most part the little inconsistencies aren’t a big deal. But I do feel it isn’t inappropriate to point out when people call plot hole where there isn’t one. People on this blog give the writers a hard enough time without making problems for the characters and writing where they don’t exist.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll agree with that Ernie, especially the part about giving the writers a hard time! We certainly do sometimes, I don’t mean to back off, but I also don’t need to find more trouble than what actually seems like a problem to me!

      • Anonymous says:

        @erniedavis:
        This IS First Timer. I honestly do not know why my name and “Icon” (such as it is) didn’t come up. Don’t know if it will come up now, either. But I haven’t changed anything. My name (Cynthia) and Email (yahoo) is where it has always been on the “leave a reply” thing.”

        As for my point, all I was saying is that arguing over whether Chuck was a great leader or when/where the bomb is found was ludicrous because the writers didn’t explain why Chuck wouldn’t have immediately flashed on the Damian’s bomb when he first saw the boom box. They use the “flashing” abilities in a totally arbitrary fashion. So it’s always a big plot hole they rarely choose to fill. (It’s like Chuck flashing on “Jack Burton” the first moment he sees him, but he’s never flashed on “Sarah Walker” (save for that moment in Helicopter) and never flashed on “Casey” as “Alex” until he heard the name. They play a bit too fast and loose with the concept of when/what/why the Intersect, well, intersects information…

        Same plot hole as Bentley running into the “Intersect room” and then closing the door on herself and the bomb. Why not just put the bomb in the room, activate the door and run out before the door closes?

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s First Timer again. My handle, nor the icon that was assigned to me, didn’t come up again. And I notice I now have the same icon as Tamara. What gives?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        FT, are you blocking cookies? You might also want to double check to make sure you are logged in if you have a WordPress account, or check the fields in the comment for the correct name and e-mail. If you’ve cleared your cache or cookies or switched computers that can lead to WordPress losing track of you and your avatar.

  4. Tamara Burks says:

    I’m in total agreement with you though you misspelled accolades.

    One of the things I liked was that the very pocket protector Bentley mocked saved her life.

    • thinkling says:

      Thank you Tamara, for the agreement and for correcting my spelling. You should’ve seen me before spell check. 🙂

      Yeah, lets hear it for the power of the pocket protector.

  5. uplink2 says:

    Great read as always Think. What I love about your reviews is there is a real noticeable rhythm to them. I can tell that is your intent and it shows. The review in and of itself tells a story, calls out the callouts, shows the connections and the relationship and pulls it all together in a style that matches both the overall feel of the episode but also its complexities. You catch little things each time that I really enjoy. Nice work.

    As far as the episode itself goes I did enjoy it a lot, not a top 10 from this season but still the overall quality of this season showed. There were 2 things I liked the most and one thing I don’t think you spent enough time on and that was Big Mike. He is and has always been my favorite BuyMoron. His work as a comedian shows in his impeccable comedic timing. His line of “I get to wear a big BM on my chest, now that’s job satisfaction” was simply perfect and I break out laughing every time I see it.

    The final act was by far the best part of the episode for me. The teamwork of both Devon and Ellie and Team B was fantastic. Sarah once said “Don’t give up on the things that make you great”. What we saw in how he thanked his team and sincerely believes that it is that teamwork that makes it all work shows once again that he never did. He never gave in to the desire for power, ego and self-importance that many others have. That selfless honesty is one of the main things that make him great.
    The end of clueless Ellie is near and it seems that TPTB are finally realizing that one of their best underutilized assets is one Sarah Lancaster. As we head to hopefully a season 5, I hope Ellie will be the next to step up like Morgan has done and move from annoying at times over-protective clueless sister to at least a peripheral member of Team B. Done right it may be one of the best developments of what has been a very good season for me.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Uplink.

      I did have to laugh at Big mike’s definition of job satisfaction. Also his absolute love of the Buymore. “The Buymore is a special place.” Kind of like the assistant managers vest is a sacred vestment … cracks me up. This was a good episode for him.

      I agree with you on the last scene and on Ellie. They have finally given her some really great scenes in 4.5. I’m hoping, like you, that it continues right on through S5 and beyond. I would love for her to be the normal member of TeamB and the brainy scientist/doctor. Could be fantastic.

  6. atcDave says:

    Thanks for another fun write up. I find this episode gets better on repeat. Not sure why; maybe it was more subtle character moments and not so much of the laugh out loud funny (except for Big Mike!). But it plays very well, and reruns even better.

    I really can’t think of anything to take issue with, so “ditto all” will have to suffice.

    • thinkling says:

      It got better on repeat for me, too, but we got home late Monday and watched really late, so I’m sure I missed a lot first go round.

    • herder says:

      That is one of the things that I have noticed this year, almost all the episodes improve on rewatching. Personally I though it was slow at the start, enjoyable for the second half and had a terrific ending. However like most of this year’s episodes it improves with repeat viewings. Although strangely the three best parts for my money were the foot rub at the end, the “talk about it immediately” of doppelganger Chuck and Big Mike’s “a big BM on my chest” (that last one is probably a guy thing).

      The other thing not mentioned in thinkling’s review, mainly because it is an absence of something, is that Chuck and Sarah were happy with one another throughout the episode. I know she mentioned the support they gave one another, but happy together is more of a tone rather than an action, the tone of this was right to begin with and the rest followed. No issue of the week, no grit in the cogs, simply two spies working together smoothly and the humor coming from the situations that they deal with together.

      • atcDave says:

        Agree with all of that Herder. I think some of the satisfaction of repeat viewing comes from things being in a good place, the nuance and depth we catch on rewatch is almost always satisfying.
        I agree about your favorite bits too, although my favorite Big Mike bit was that he just left captivity when his shift was over (of course anything involving a giant BM is bound to be funny too…)
        I like that we’ve seen Chuck and Sarah just happy together in several episodes this season. Even in A-Team, their frustration was all shared, and never aimed at each other. I liked that in Muuurder we saw Sarah in her S1 and S2 role as adviser and encourager. She was never belittling or condescending, just helpful and encouraging; exactly what you would hope for from someone who is your professional AND personal partner.

      • thinkling says:

        Agree with Dave and Herder about happy-together Chuck and Sarah. It’s what many of us love and want to see again and again … and again. In A-Team, it was just the two of them a lot of the time, so it was couple-y … also fantastic comedy. Muuurder has a heavier tone, because of the murders, and since C/S are working with others the whole time, it is more partner-y. Both scenarios work well for me. I just like them being in a good place. The issues have been handles well this season, but it is lovely to have some episodes where there is no issue du jour … just a great spy couple working well together.

        Rewatch … I agree that most of the episodes are better on rewatch. For me they are pretty much all good the first time, too, though. I would also add that the same is true, for me, in the other seasons as well. Chuck is always better on rewatch, which in no way means that it’s not good the first time. There are some episodes that I didn’t like the first time but did like on rewatch, like Breakup, as an example, which is now one of my favorites.

        It’s a compliment to say it’s better on rewatch, not an insult. There are a lot of shows that I have no desire to watch again, even though I enjoyed watching once. Getting more out of Chuck rewatches means there’s more depth and nuance there than I pick up the first time. The characters and relationships in Chuck are more genuine and complex than in most shows, especially in this genre.

        So do I see those things because Chuck is my favorite show? Or is Chuck my favorite show because those things are there to see? Definitely the latter. Relationships that are real, characters we root for, character/relationship growth (across the boards), and superb acting to pull it off. There’s just too much there to catch all the good stuff in one pass.

        Casual viewers, like I am with some shows, just want to be entertained for an hour. I think Chuck does that, whether a viewer is looking for deeper things or not.

        I like the entertainment aspect for sure, but because I watch for more than just that, I get what I love the most in rewatching.

        Hope that makes some sense.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with most of that Thinkling. I do think it would be regarded as a failure if a show required a rewatch to appreciate it (since most viewers never will). But drawing more from repeated viewings is no bad thing; and I think it speaks well of the show that so many of us want to watch again. As I’ve indicated entirely too many times, there are certain Chuck episodes I will not rewatch, and that does present a problem if I need to study them in detail to get what all was going on. But I find the desire to rewatch comes at an emotional level, while mind picks out more detail and depth each time.

      • herder says:

        Well, I’ve been waiting for someone to post the synopsis for Family Volkov but no one seems to have seen it so I’ll bring up the portion that is relevant to this part of the discussion. ” Sarah throws a relationship curveball to Chuck…”, it seems as if they will be going back to the issue of the week. Incidentally this episode is airing the 11th of April, so there should be another repeat before Wedding Planner on the 25th.

      • herder says:

        Whoops “a surprising relationship curveball…”

      • ArmySFC says:

        herder uplink posted it in the spoiler section yesterday if you want to check it out.

    • joe says:

      I’ll “third” the notion that it’s better on repeats too, Dave. I know I must say that for nearly every episode, but I really find it to be true.

      I have two theories on that. One is that the pacing, especially if I’m watching a number of episodes in sequence, seems much better. I almost think that Chuck was not meant to be watched with even a week between episodes. That’s just too long. Much like a book, it flows much better and “reads” more true if it’s absorbed in something more like a streaming mode.

      The other is that we’ve seen a number of episodes this season have been unique and different compared to, oh, about 68 others. We’ve had Couch Lock, an obvious spoof of the old A-Team show, The Cat Squad, which was Charlie’s Angel‘s like, FBoE, which was a bit Bonnie and Clyde (or perhaps, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), this one, which struck me a little like The Thin Man (because of the easy interaction between C&S). For me, once I get that, stop expecting something like an S1 episode and go with the flow, it’s a lot of fun.

    • ArmySFC says:

      dave as you know i don’t do repeats on episodes. that leads me in to this. i find it alarming that an episode needs to be watched again to get to good status. consider that the most folks don’t watch more than once (basing this on the 25-30% on the +3/+7 numbers). several folks here commented that it was just ok prior to re-watch. we need episodes that are good to great on first view not just ok.

      • atcDave says:

        I do get that having to re-watch is a bit of a problem from a casual entertainment perspective. But I would say I’ve enjoyed every episode this season on first watch too, its just that some get better with exposure. And they haven’t had a single episode this season that I actually disliked on first viewing, that’s a first, even for Chuck.

  7. Rick Holy says:

    Some “FYI” stuff. FRINGE, another “bubble show” which airs on FOX – and was moved by FOX to Fridays not too long ago – the night which most people think is the place where “shows are sent to die” – was just renewed for a full 22 episode season. It has pretty similar demo ratings to CHUCK, and is on a network that is in much better overall shape than NBC.

    Soooooo……… there IS still hope for us for a 5th Season. I know it’s not an apples to apples comparison, but it DOES at least say that a show CAN be renewed – even on another network – when its ratings aren’t that good.

    Along that line, since most of us on this blog will I’m sure order Season 4 of CHUCK on DVD or Blu Ray (or both), it is now available for “pre-order” on Amazon. Might not be a bad idea to pre-order now and let Warner Brothers and thus NBC see that there IS still fan interest/support for CHUCK. I just pre-ordered mine.

    Happy Weekend everybody!

  8. amyabn says:

    Hi gang, my internet is working for now, so here goes. I enjoyed your write up as usual, Thinkling. I finally got to watch the episode this morning (Friday morning my time) and really enjoyed it. This episode seemed to have the balance I was missing in the previous episode. The repetitive “BM” jokes were really the only thing I think was over done. I agree that it won’t make my top ten, but it was great to see Ellie getting into her family’s legacy. I look forward to the day she realizes Chuck is Agent X. I just hope she isn’t having to save him from something but rather helping him with an adjustment so he can defeat an enemy. I’m keeping this short in case my connection drops! Cheers!

    • thinkling says:

      Glad you finally got to watch, Amy. Sorry your connection is so slow, but I’m glad you can at least watch … finally. 🙂

  9. Robert H says:

    I’ve said this before on two other articles relating to this episode and since it continues to be discussed I’ll say it one more time and it will be short. I know I am fully in minority opinion here.

    Bentley’s critique of our hero was right on. The first 3/4 of the hour he was portrayed as a weak, bumbling, indecisive fool who as usual had to be propped up by Sarah and to
    some degree Casey. Her scorn was right on target. She did a 180 in the last 15 minutes
    because the writers had to make it come out “all is well” in the end. I only wish she had stayed consistent in her brutal but accurate evaluation of our hero till the end of the episode but of course the writers couldn’t allow that. At least it would have been
    consistent if nothing else.

    Fr. Rick thanks for the Fringe info-that is very interesting as it relates to Chuck’s renewal chances. Of course NBC being NBC anything can happen.

    And the beat goes on…..

  10. Faith says:

    Always a fantastic read Thinkling, your recaps that is.

    It occurred to me what devious, devilish minds these guys have…I mean they gave us bizarro team B complete with bizarro Sarah and she was tiny and brunette! How could we not have raised up our arms at that hehe. But in true Chuck fashion, it was sold and sold very well (at least it was to me).

    I liked this episode at first watch, I loved it at second and third. Still wouldn’t put it as my tops of the season but that’s because the season has been genius ;). I had my issues with it as stated, and I totally get why people needed to warm up to it but I don’t know, it worked for me. I understood what they were going for. As I stated, as Thinkling stated and in the end the A-plot took it home: Ellie.

    Oh and Thinkling, do you suppose they had a good cop-bad cop safety word? 😉 “Time Machine!” lol.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks Faith. I loved the interrogation. Sarah was perfect. Aces to Yvonne again. Perhaps the safe word was RUN 😉

  11. kg says:

    To reiterate for the others, another excellent piece Thinkling. I especially liked the “Chuck in Charge” segment, listing examples of his leadership qualities.

    And add to the evolutionary thread you constructed. Following the aforementioned step-up in Sandworm (in which Sarah sweetly intervened for Chuck and vaguely told Ellie how Chuck was a hero for what he did “for her” as the excuse for missing the interview), Chuck continues the pattern in Truth, Imported Hard Salami and Nemesis.

    It matters little to Chuck that he’s the intersect and infected with the viral serum. He genuinely thinks of Ellie and Sarah and Casey first. He refuses to leave Sarah alone with what he believes is a bomb about to explode in mere seconds. He quickly thinks of code word “Pineapple” to safely usher the civilians from the BM out of harm’s way. In Marlin, he’s about to be bunkered and yet struggles to remain strong and humorous for Sarah’s sake and also thinks of his family and friends first.

    Yes Amy, also one of my all-time favorites Chuck leaping off the BM roof to rescue Sarah (Seduction) early in the second season. Then the subtle understanding and respect for Sarah and her right to keep her past private (Cougars). Defeating the video game (because with Bartowski there are no acceptable casualties) and disarming a nuclear threat (Tom Sawyer). Sarah admitting to Casey she “trusts Chuck .

    Chuck’s value and prowess as a leader is in full view during Santa Claus. Family, friends, agents, Buy Morons and bad guys get a first-hand taste. Sarah looks around the store in earnest as everybody calls someone. Chuck naturally places one to her and romantically places the charm bracelet on her wrist.

    Sarah attempts to praise Chuck for acting quickly to save Morgan’s life (Best Friend), but he’s sick because he had to hammer at his dignity in order to accomplish the feat. And of course, “Yeah ya do.”

    The wedding (The Ring) is not only back on, but Chuck gives his sister exactly the one she wanted all along. “That’s not what a normal guy would do.” Chuck downloads Intersect 2.0.

    Everyone is in agreement in Beard. Chuck is the one who in actuality calls the shots at the Buy More. Of course, that leads the Ring to conclude he is the reason the CIA has built a base below the store.

    Chuck is revealed a hero as well as leader in both American Hero and Other Guy. His reward? The girl of his dreams scolds him “to shut up and kiss me.”

    And finally, Chuck crafts and executes a brilliant plan to take down the nefarious and elusive Volkoff, culminating a mission his mother undertook 20 years earlier.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow KG, epic post. Bravo!

    • thinkling says:

      Thank you KG, and thanks for the excellent rundown of Chuck’s best hero/leader moments. It’s not just something he does. It’s truly who he is.

      Another quality about his leadership is his influence on people … that they are better for having known/worked with him.

      Great encouraging list, KG.

      • kg says:

        Thanks, you two. Thinkling, it was you who got the ball rolling for me.

        Completely agree about the influence. That trait is most visible in the changes and growth we’ve seen in both Sarah and Casey. And while it took some time, he even turned the previously loathsome Bentley to his side.

        A question about Bentley. She’s been referred to as “Director” Bentley. Does that mean she’s Director of the CIA? In essence Graham’s replacement?

      • atcDave says:

        I think a director can just be someone in charge of a specific division. I believe its like the military C-in-C. So yes its prestigious, but not necessarily the head honcho.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, what Dave said re: director. And Bentley is NCS (National Clandestine Service).

        Beckman’s emblem reads Office of Director of National Intelligence. I’ve never know if that means she is the DNI. But apparently she had the authority to step in above Bentley and then send her to DC to await assignment. I’ve never exactly understood her exact role.

    • joe says:

      Let me add my voice to the chorus, KG. Beautifully written.

      You capture the memories that I have; the things that made Chuck great. Then you draw the line right to the very latest memories deep into this season. I dare say there will be more.

      Already, I think of scenes like Sarah, tears of joy in her eyes, saying “We’re getting married!” I see C&S smoothly performing as a team both when they’re arguing with each other and when they’re cheering each other on.

      I see them quietly, almost invisibly take each others hand when they think no one is looking. Mama sees. And so do we.

      These memories will be around for quite a while.

  12. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs Muuurder (4.19) | Chuck This

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