Cool / Not Cool : Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff

Clever. Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff is a clever episode. It is also a lot of fun. I found myself smiling all the way through.

Chuck and Sarah’s unwillingness to let the CIA assassinate Vivian, sets off a cat-and-mouse spy-game with the CIA, TeamB, and FamV. Each player thinks he is the cat among mice. We wind through a spy-world maze of plots and traps and curveballs and twists. At the end, one cat is clearly ahead, but the game is far from over.

Meanwhile in the real world, Each family deals with its own secrets and lies and curveballs and twists. The Volkoff’s aren’t the only family relying on secrets and lies and throwing curveballs.

Chuck and Sarah have been kicked out of the Secrets-and-Lies Society, but they come up with a doozy of a curveball.

Besides all that, the episode hooks everyone up to the Cool Detector. We learn who’s cool and who’s not and discover that sometimes cool is … not cool.

Family Secrets, Part I: The Skeleton in Orion’s Closet

Well, OK, it’s really the laptop in his Mustang. If MamaB pointed Ellie toward the Mustang (which I am rethinking), she clearly had no idea about the skeleton under the seat. “Stephen, what did you do?” Curveball!

As Ellie reveals secret after secret and mines for new information, Mary blocks with lie after lie, not so much to keep the secrets safe, but to keep Ellie safe from the secrets.

Sarah’s Curveball

Chuck’s day is off to a great start: good book, tasty cereal, beautiful fiancée … who just handed him … a prenup? Curveball!

Sarah is obviously nervous about the pitch (and the conversation that she knows will follow). She drops it on the table as she walks by, no eye contact, not even a glance. She pretends it’s normal … no big deal, “Will you sign these when you get a chance? Just wedding prep docs.” She watches to gauge his reaction … about what she expected. Keeps things light. “There’s post-it notes on the signature pages. Just sign and date.” Keep smiling. It’s no big deal.

If things go as she expects, they’ll talk about it all the way to work. Mr. Sarah Walker will get to the bottom of what’s bothering her. He’ll tease the answers from her, soothe her worries, and let her know that they don’t need a prenup. By the time they get to work it’ll be all good … or at least all better. It’s one of those thousand ways he helps her every single day.

Chuck lies … something about European hygiene and catching a ride with Morgan.

What? He didn’t even swing at it. Keep it light, “OK, OK, um … I will see you there.” Ball one. 

Signal From the Dugout. Chuck looks to his coaches, who are in sync with their signals … and with everything else. Too funny. (I had this flashback of the movie “Twins” … never could tell them apart.)

Casey takes the opportunity to tweak Chuck and help Sarah, “You over-analyze everything, Bartowski. You talk every issue to death. It’s exhausting.” Morgan nods his agreement.

Ouch. He had no idea.

“Spies have secrets. … Sign the papers.”

Bottom line from both coaches: “Be cool.” So Chuck picks up the “cool” bat and gets back in the game.

The problem? Casey doesn’t know the new Sarah … or the new paradigm in their relationship.

Family Secrets, Part II: The Skeleton in the Coburn Closet

Now, here’s a twist. The skeleton in the Coburn closet is that there Is. No. Skeleton. There should be a skeleton. There’s a death certificate. Kathleen (or somebody) has the folded flag. In his daughter’s mother’s eyes, Alex Coburn is still sort of, well … mostly dead.

Despite the Morgan/Casey/Alex conspiracy, it’s getting harder and harder to keep the door closed on the empty closet, especially around family events like Alex’s graduation.

Alex is caught between her mom and dad. Morgan is caught between his friend and girlfriend. Casey is caught between what might have been and what is. At least Kathleen is blissfully ignorant … for now. (There’s always someone who’s blissfully ignorant.)

The Volkoff Games

I say games, because there are games within games on top of games surrounded by games.

General Beckman informs the team that a kill order is out on Vivian based on the bombs planted in Castle.

Casey is cool with the plan. Chuck is convinced that Vivian is not a killer, and Sarah points out that it could be a rogue operative in the Volkoff organization.

GB compromises and the ground rules are set. Meet with Vivian and bring her in. If she gets hostile, take her down.

Let the games begin.

Before they leave, Sarah winds up for another pitch, “Don’t let him get to you. He’s just being Casey.”

Chuck is cool. It’s all cool.

She throws a soft pitch right to his sweet spot, “Look, I know I sprung those papers on you this morning, so ah, I assume you want to talk about it?”

He should hit this one out of the park. We can talk about it all the way to the meet.

Chuck swings his cool bat, “No. … Prenup. Signed, sealed, delivered.” Nothing but air … strike one.

This is where we see the truth. It’s all over Sarah’s face. She wants, needs to talk, and she is counting on Chuck to be … Chuck. Her Chuck. But he is this all-new, Cool Chuck. … Not Cool!

One ball/one strike going into the mission.

Chuck and Sarah arrive at the meeting place. Check out Sarah’s new wheels. I don’t get all twitter-pated about cars, but even I know that’s a pretty sweet ride. (They should’ve done an insurance promo.)

Sarah’s next pitch breaks a little to the inside, “Look, Chuck, a prenup doesn’t mean the end of our marriage.”

“Hey, you’re a spy, and spies have secrets they need to protect. That’s cool.” A swing and a miss … strike two.

Since when? “No, I don’t keep secrets from you. It’s just, uh, family stuff.”

“Got it. Done.” Ball two.

“Yeah. … Cool.” Not!

Two balls/two strikes. Back to the mission.

Vivian — A Trapped Mouse. Chuck begins the conversation, and Vivian denies everything, citing her exemplary record as the new CEO of Volkoff Industries. She even offers a token of her good will … an unknown weapon from the arsenal of her father’s deadliest weapons. She insists that she wants nothing to do with her father’s world and asks for their trust.

Oh. … Well, that’s different. Nothing says truce and trust like an unidentified deadly weapon.

The point is drilled home with a hail of sniper fire, that wounds Vivian and takes out three of her four body guards.

Chuck and Sarah didn’t save their mouse, but at least they got the cool Volkoff weapon. That should should count for something, right?

It’s GB’s move. The weapon is not enough. The kill order stands.

Chuck and Sarah negotiate a temporary reprieve, on the chance that Alexei Volkoff will give them the Intel on the weapon.

See you in prison.

Alexei Volkoff: Sinister Villain or Penitent Saint? Timothy Dalton is great as the penitent Volkoff, working on his entitlement issues and making amends for cutting line in the cafeteria. It is a penitent-iary, after all, and this one appears to be working surprisingly well. Dr. Nelson looks so pleased … until company arrives.

Don’t Chuck and Sarah look menacing? Especially Sarah. I do not want to mess with her. As I looked at the scene, I couldn’t help remembering all their history. Chuck’s mom. Volkoff trying to kill them … how many times? I lost count. Sarah infiltrating Volkoff Industries, betraying him, rescuing Mary. Chuck sending him from the little cabin to the big house. They are his nemeses.

Chuck and Sarah are the big cats, come to push around the prison mouse. But this is Alexei Volkoff, master of chess and champion of cat and mouse. Chuck and Sarah are the only foes he hasn’t beaten. Today he is definitely feeling his cat whiskers! Like him, I feel like we’re about to have some fun.

The scene is flawless. Dalton walks the finest of lines between villain and saint. He is so … almost believable. Chuck is firm in a Chuck-like way and Sarah is velvet over steel, as Saint Psycho bares his remorseful soul. Something about being ashamed … absentee parent … serving his fellow man, etc. Yeah right! Chuck and Sarah aren’t buying it either. But I can totally understand how Dr. Nelson would.

The weapon reveal (the Norseman DNA tracker) gets the subtlest of reactions from Chuck and Sarah. When they press for the location of the other components, Volkoff sets his conditions … 5 minutes with his daughter Vivian, so he can make amends. News flash. Five minutes won’t be nearly enough.

Coburn/McHugh S&L Update. Casey and Alex agree to meet after her graduation, but before she meets her mother for dinner. Alex will simply tell her mother that she is meeting friends for drinks. It’s a lie, of course, but compared to their big lie, it barely moves the needle on the lie detector.

Back at Castle, the Volkoff games are at a stalemate, and Vivian still has a target on her back … until the CIA’s big cats put their paws in the game. The CIA wants the Norseman bad enough to put the Vivian hunt on the back burner. Cool.

They want it bad enough to let Alexei have his five minutes with his daughter in exchange for his help in getting component #2 … in person. Cue the Russian music. Ready the Volkoff chariot, er dolly. Wheel him in. Not cool.

I’m not so sure that the CIA’s big cats didn’t just become Volkoff’s mice.

The Bartowski cats think this is a very bad idea. History. Remember the history. TeamB want nothing to do with Volkoff. When Chuck voices his concern, the truth comes out, “The Norseman is extremely dangerous. Washington wants it now. … Damn the risks!” Well that’s easy for Washington to say. They’re not babysitting the world’s biggest psychopath. Excuse me, psycho-saint. Looks like TeamB just became the CIA’s mice. Another fantastic scene. Check out the facial expressions.

So, Volkoff gets to tag along with TeamB to get a weapon from a well known high-seas pirate … The Dread Pirate Ellyas Abshir. “When do we fly?” Volkoff is such a smirker.

Of All The Pirate Joints In All The Towns In All The World …

Where does one go, exactly, to get a weapon from a pirate? Somalia, of course. Specifically Mogadishu, to a rats nest of a hell hole with good gambling and a decent buffet. Chuck gets a pep talk from Alexei for his mission in a hell-hole full of pirates … as a Volkoff agent.

Sarah is beside herself. Chuck is going into a building full of pirates, and they haven’t talked about the prenup. What if something happens? There are things she is desperate for him to know. (She is being so Chuck.) 

She sees her chance and throws out an easy pitch, “Hey, you uh, you good? You’re being awfully cool about the whole prenup thing.”

Chuck swings his cool bat, “It’s a non-issue.” Deep left foul ball.

Fast pitch, “Since when? Don’t you want to know why I asked you to sign it?”

He swings, “I figured you’d tell me when you were ready.” Foul tip.

Another fast pitch, a little high and outside, “Well, it’s got nothing to do with us.”

Chuck lets it go, “No, I get it. … Is that cool?”

“Yeah.”… Nooo! … Ball three.

Full count. And the pitcher is rattled.

The scene inside the rats nest of a hell hole is fun. We get a Somalian pirate with a Jamaican accent. We get flashes of S1 Chuck, and a high stakes game of … Uno? That’s our Chuck. And it turns out the pirate cheats. Shocker! In the end, TeamB and Volkoff go in to retrieve Chuck and the weapon. Oh … and to let Saint Volkoff make amends. What a hilarious scene … from everybody! Dalton is such a ham, without ever losing his psycho-saint persona. Sheesh, with amends like that, who needs threats.

Bartowski S&L Update. Ellie is turning out to be way more than half a spy … more like a spy and a half. When she suspects her mom erased the X file, she turns the baby cam on her mom. Clever girl. 

The newest Bartowski spies, Agents Hot Mama and Six Pack, resolve to tail Agent Grandma to see where she’s going with Ellie’s files. (I wonder if they made it as far as the Buymore.)

MamaB may have missed the baby cam, but she knew she was being followed. I loved the exchange between Chuck and Mary. It was both a conversation between equals (spies) and a family conversation between mother and son. “Our family has relied on secrets and lies for way too long.” Nuff said.

GB calls Mary for a conference, although I’m not sure who called whom on the carpet. “Diane, she’s not a spy. She’s my daughter.” Doesn’t matter. “Mary, this comes from the top.” Washington wants to expand the Intersect project (damn the risks). Ellie is the key. Looks like the CIA is taking on the Bartowski’s. That may not be such a good idea.

Back in Castle, everyone waits for Volkoff to make his next move. Is it just me, or is it weird for Volkoff to have a seat at the table for Castle briefings. GB warns that the CIA is getting antsy (yes, she really said antsy). Chuck says that Volkoff knows where the killing agent is, but he’s being very “uncool” about it.

Whoa. Check out the look that Sarah gives Chuck. She clearly thinks there’s someone else being very uncool.

After Volkoff has assurances that his demands will be met, he spills the location of the killing agent. Grab your parkas, team. We’re going someplace … cool.

Mary gets wind, or sound, of Volkoff and gives Chuck a healthy reminder, “We’re talking about Alexei Volkoff. His mind is twisted. Never believe a word he says, and never let him out of your sight.” Another great mother/son scene.

See you in Switzerland.

The rest of the Volkoff games go down in a Swiss bunker. Chuck becomes Volkoff’s handler and helps him stay cool through a win or die chess match. (Was that a cool chess board or what!) In the process of helping Alexei rise to the challenge, Chuck realizes he can’t shy away from the prenup. Great work between Zach and TD.

Outside the bunker, Sarah and Casey have a heart to heart. The Burton’s have a skeleton in their closet, too. (Knowing Jack, they probably have more than one.) The prenup has to do with money Sarah set aside in case her dad gets arrested again. Her pain is from being caught between her parents and having to choose sides. (I’m guessing she has a soft spot for her dad that goes way back.) Her story strikes a chord with Casey. 

Sarah has grown into her own realization about the prenup. The longer this has gone on, the worse the idea has become to her, because she feels it from Chuck’s perspective. She feels the absence of all she needed him to say, and it’s killing her that he never said it. By now the idea is abhorrent to her.

The conversation is interrupted by Russian chatter. Not cool.

The Volkoff Twist. Once inside the bunker, with the thorium in reach, Alexei the mouse becomes Volkoff the cat, “I am Alexei Volkoff and always will be.” Cue Russian music, Russian voices, and the thunder of boots. Enter Volkoff’s men and his accomplice cat Vivian. The game takes an ugly twist. Not cool.

It was a setup from the beginning. (That means that Vivian had 3 of her own body guards killed to set up the game.) The Norseman was a message to Volkoff that Vivian wanted his help running Volkoff Industries. (Kind of like the way Orion and Ellie communicated) They played Chuck and Sarah and the CIA. Not cool.

Vivian orders grenades placed all around the room. Like father like daughter. Then in the final twist, Vivian leaves her father to die with TeamB. The mouse in the CIA trap, the one Chuck and Sarah were trying to save, turns out to be the cat. Cool. OK, not really … but sort of.

Volkoff despairs and is no help getting out of his bunker. Chuck the handler to the rescue … again. Finally Alexei uses an EMP to save TeamB. (Nice callback to Anniversary.)

Volkoff is stricken. He was going to tell Vivian all his secrets. They were going to be partners. “Not anymore. Welcome to the future.” Poor Volkoff. What’s a psycho-saint to do?

Chuck and Sarah (watch their faces) genuinely feel for him and take the lesson to heart. Futures and families can’t be built on secrets.

Alexei bids Charles farewell, but not before he gets a chance to make amends with Mary. It was a powerful speech, especially the part about not deserving her love like Orion did. Wow. We can only hope it was half as genuine.

Volkoff’s End Game. Vivian (you didn’t think I meant Alexei, did you?) will rebuild the Norseman components and go after Agent X … the only man her father ever feared … the only threat to Volkoff Industries … the only one standing between her and world domination. (gulp) Someone is in the Volkoff cross-hairs. He and his entire family could be wiped out with one pull of the trigger. Not cool.

The Casey/McHugh Twist. Casey takes the high road and refuses to let Alex keep lying to her mother. In an unexpected twist Alex decides they should tell her mom the truth. Cool … maybe.

The Bartowski Twist. Chuck decides he has to tell Ellie the truth. Sarah agrees with his mom that Ellie should find out from him and not on her own. Cool.

Groping for a way to start, he confronts her about their dad’s computer. Ellie turns the tables on Chuck and flat out lies about what she found on the computer. Not cool.

Chuck’s Home Run. Sorry she ever thought of the word prenup and desperate to have her old Chuck back, Sarah tosses out her final pitch, tearing up the prenup. Cool. “Done. Please forget that that ever existed, okay? … And can you please stop being so cool?” (Yvonne is terrific in this scene.)

Chuck swings his new Chuck bat. It’s a fly ball deep to center field. He hands her an envelope labeled PRENUP.

“That is so not cool.”

“Just read it.”

“I Sarah Walker promise to always love Chuck Bartowski. In return he will always love me. … I can’t read this fine print.”

“The fine print says ‘I promise Chuck that I will not even contemplate the word divorce. And I will never use my prenup.’ … I already signed it.”

Cool. This is Sarah’s Chuck, the one who helps her every day.

Home run.

Bottom Line / Parting Thoughts

Top performances from the whole cast. Timothy Dalton was superb. He still has me wondering where the line is with Volkoff. Is he somewhat genuine. (I’d like to think so.) Or is he still bad to the bone? TD has great chemistry with Zach and Yvonne. The dynamic between Volkoff and TeamB, especially Chuck and Sarah is intriguing, particularly Charles and Alexei. LH was crazy good as Agent Grandma/Agent Bartowski and Chuck’s mom. The Woodcomb sub-plot was fantastic. Keep it coming, please. Sarah Lancaster and Ryan McPartlin were just great.

Zach and Yvonne turned in outstanding performances as well. Though the moments were not dramatic like Phase 3, Yvonne’s facial expressions were wonderfully nuanced. I think we got new territory and new faces from Sarah. Zach was tremendous, especially his scenes with TD. And with Yvonne, as always.

Casey and Morgan are good together. Just the idea of Casey getting Morgan as a son-in-law is too funny.

I liked the new pairings … and the trio on the mission. It played well. I’m also excited about the Kathleen stuff coming up.

I loved Sarah’s acknowledgment that being a spy is not just what Chuck does, it part of who he is. He’s not like every other spy, but he is a spy. She is coming to the point that she can reconcile the two. Chuck has not only redeemed her, but he has also redeemed their profession, at least to some extent.

After the spoilers, I didn’t expect to like the prenup. I actually liked it a lot, once I got over wondering where it came from. I loved the last prenup scene. Sarah learned more about who she is with Chuck. She’s different with Chuck, but she needs his interaction to complete her. She needs him to meet her halfway. Chuck (hopefully) learned he doesn’t need to be cool. She didn’t fall in love with James Bond; she fell in love with him. Being himself is how he helps her. She didn’t want the prenup. She wanted him to do what he finally did … assure her they didn’t ever need one, because he will always love her and never leave her. It’s that simple.

And it is.

~ Thinkling


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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34 Responses to Cool / Not Cool : Chuck Versus the Family Volkoff

  1. Verkan_Vall says:

    Oh, gee, THANKS.

    Once again, you point out 1 or 6 things that I missed the first time through, and now I have to go watch it AGAIN.

    Dang, I just hate that.

    • joe says:

      Thinkling is *very* good at that, Verkan. AND she knows baseball too!

      Man, Thinkling, I didn’t think anyone liked the episode as much as I did. But it’s clear that you do! Love it.

      Only one tiny thing to add. Did you notice how Linda Hamilton crossed her arms when she told Chuck that Ellie has Orion’s laptop? It was almost like she too was protecting some secret from getting out. I think there’s one more curve ball in there somewhere!

      • thinkling says:

        I am very curious to know what all Mary may or may not know. She may not have known about Agent X, but she may have all the info to connect the dots. And I loved her confrontation with “Diane.”

    • thinkling says:

      😉 🙂

  2. atcDave says:

    Wow, epic write up on a solid episode. Dalton’s performance was dynamite. And I agree exactly about the pre-nup. I just groaned when I saw the spoiler, I really don’t like anything about the idea. But I loved the execution. I guess we’ll never know what sense of duty or family responsibility lead her to consider it a good idea; but almost from the start with her obvious disappointment at Chuck’s new found cool we got that she was just begging to be talked out of it. It was strange sweet and funny in a way that seems so Chuck. The resolution of the pre-nup story was one of the best ‘shipper moments in a very ‘shipper friendly season.
    I am tired of the Bartowski family lies, but it seems that will be resolved by season’s end; and THAT I really am looking forward to.

    • joe says:

      They’ve been so good at setting us up like that, Dave.

      Gotta say that I didn’t let myself worry about that pre-nup the week before. I’m convinced they’re not about to let us down like that.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I haven’t actually worried about much this season. That doesn’t mean I’ve been thrilled with every spoiler, we just heard some things this week I’m not thrilled about. But I am confident I’ll like whatever they do, and I look forward to every episode.

    • thinkling says:

      The prenup resolution was another of those Chuck and Sarah end scenes that they do so well.

      I’m tired of the lies, too. But it was worth one more week of it for the shoe to be on the other foot.

  3. OldDarth says:

    I found the concept of the PreNup and the execution weak, as is usual with most Chuck spy/relationship story lines, but at least it was put to good use.

  4. Tamara Burks says:

    Frankly I would have liked for her to get that a prenup said something about her trust in Chuck not to mention she said it was family stuff and she’s part of his family so her family stuff is his family stuff. But I did like that Chuck playing cool is what made her get what she did get and that it got Casey to think about the strain he’s putting on Alex and about facing Kathleen.

    I felt a little sorry for Alexei at the end. He was obviously hoping for some daddy/daughter bad guy bonding.

    I blame Riley. I think he’s pulling Vivien’s strings behind the scenes.

    I hope Alex never sees the breakfast in sync thing Casey and Morgan had going, she might be as freaked out as Casey was on Valentine’s Day. Though isn’t it weird how in sync he can be with Alex sr and jr?

    I’m definitely wondering what Mama B knew about the laptop. Was she leading Ellie to the car and the laptop and just thought it was in the CIA’s hands? Was she leading her to the car or was she just remembering a happier time and not leading Ellie to anything at all? With this ep the last thing seems most likely.

    Sometimes you need to see a few more things to gain perspective. Remember in Anniversary we all thought she had escaped at the end .Several eps later we found out she didn’t escape at all, she just killed the men who knew that her family was looking for her and managed to hide it.

    • thinkling says:

      I pretty much agree with you Tamara. Chuck and Sarah felt sorry for Alexei at the end, too. The relationship of Alexei to Charles and Sarah is … intriguing. I almost can’t describe it. It’s like he has a fondness, however bizarre, and definitely a respect for them, even though he would kill them to advance his goals. He really seems to connect with Chuck (Charles). Take me home, Charles. For some inexplicable reason, they don’t seem to utterly loathe him. There is a vein of compassion and pity. Somehow, it works. As evil as Volkoff is, TD has managed to make him both evil and sympathetic.

      Good word on the perspective thing. I agree about the car. I have been thinking all this time that MamaB led Ellie to the Mustang, but now I don’t think so.

      Yeah, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Riley. Is there hope for Vivian, yet? Volkoff? They’ve primed the pump for a really fascinating story.

    • Big Kev says:

      Probably the wrong place for this but my spec is that Agent X is Volkoff, who turns out to be Stephen’s brother. He comes to the wedding under high security and Vivian’s dilemma is whether she uses the DNA tracker to take out the Bartowskis and her own father.
      Yeah I know – more holes than the Red Sox pitching staff, but that’s where I’m going with the storyline 🙂

      • Tamara Burks says:

        If that were true using the Norseman would take her out as well. So it’d be murder/suicide.At least that’s the way i understood it but it’s possible it could be fine tuned, unless Vivian finds something that is purported to be Agent X’s dna and she uses it not knowing it’s her fathers and ends up killing herself.

  5. Ernie Davis says:

    Cool recap Thinkling. My guess is that tonight we get a little more on why Sarah thought the pre-nup was something she needed to do in the first place, though as you note it very quickly morphed into her wanting Chuck to help her out and talk things through. My spec is that some of why she keeps her past from him is shame, and some is a need on her part to try and protect him from the consequences of her and her father’s past deeds. They may not fully flesh it out or resolve it, and I’m trying hard not to pre-judge so I’m open to what they tell, but I think this is going to be a big “another side of Sarah” episode, and that side was something she didn’t initially want to share with Chuck, though she knows she should.

    • thinkling says:

      I think Sarah trusts Chuck with her family stuff, or wants to, but that’s the one area that’s still hard for her to dredge up.

      You talked earlier somewhere about how Sarah has been using old-Sarah, spy skills to help her solve her new real-girl problems, like the dress and the wardrobe. We’ve seen a delightful progression in the way Sarah deals with real life. She wants to do this real life thing, and she’s getting better and better at it. But she still needs Chuck to help her and pull things out of her, like in Seduction Impossible, or even FBoE. I think the prenup was a similar example of Sarah approaching a real girl problem/burden with old agent-ways. Only it totally didn’t work for her this time. She discovered how much she has changed. Her frame of reference is no longer the spy world. It’s Chuck’s world. (This is huge, and we see it as well in her response to the hit on Vivian.) As soon as the prenup was out there, she was hoping to talk it all out on Chuck’s turf. Only he dealt with it on her old turf. It made both of them miserable … especially Sarah. For that alone, it was a cool episode. It showed how utterly Sarah has changed. Mostly it showed Sarah how utterly Sarah has changed. (But I also liked all the other family stuff and the cat-n-mouse games.)

      As far as the reasons, it could be shame, but I’ll go more with how much raw pain is there that she really doesn’t want to deal with. She can mention it to Casey, as nothing more than a label, a sign on a door that will remain closed. Casey won’t ask her to open the door or explain. She doesn’t share a life with Casey. As soon as it comes up with Chuck, the door will be open, and they’ll sort through it together. It will be a good thing (and she knows that), but it will dredge up a lot of uncomfortable feelings. I think there’s more pain there than shame, although there’s probably some shame too.

      As for protecting him, that could be true, too, although they’ve shown a fairly large capacity for getting into trouble all on their own: Honeymooners, Tooth, the mom hunt, Couch Lock, Phase 3, A-Team, even Role Models showed them taking things into their own hands. (That doesn’t even count all the ways Sarah stuck her neck out for Chuck in S1&2) Tonight should be fantastic all around. The promos look great. A daddy Jack adventure has to be fun. I look for DeLorean on steroids, only this time Chuck and Sarah are in trouble, without even tacit CIA sanction. And we will probably get a little more Sarah back story with Chuck making her burden lighter, as he always does.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        True, pain and the discomfort associated with re-visiting those issues are bound to be part of it. We already saw a bit of that with Cat Squad, where Sarah mentions how much she’s changed (Carina was the mellow one). The look on her face as Chuck starts to ask about her wild past immediately makes him reconsider that conversation. That was my initial point of reference for a changed Sarah being a bit ashamed of things she did back in the day as a fun-loving single spy, but as you point out with her dad it is different and the pain of that childhood is probably more pronounced than the shame of the things she did because she didn’t know any better.

      • thinkling says:

        Plus I think vulnerability is still really uncomfortable territory for Sarah.

    • Crumby says:

      I hope you’re right Ernie. Surely, Sarah didn’t go through the trouble of making a prenup arrangement just to have a conversation, right? Right?!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I don’t think anyone ever said that she made up the pre-nup just to have a conversation about her family. She essentially gave her reason to Casey, but surely Sarah never imagined she’d get out of the situation without a conversation, even if it was just her trying to make Chuck understand her reluctance to share a part of herself that she wanted to leave out of her new life and the marriage.

      • Crumby says:

        Well that’s what I understood (maybe wrongly) from Thinkling:

        If things go as she expects, they’ll talk about it all the way to work. Mr. Sarah Walker will get to the bottom of what’s bothering her. He’ll tease the answers from her, soothe her worries, and let her know that they don’t need a prenup. By the time they get to work it’ll be all good … or at least all better. It’s one of those thousand ways he helps her every single day.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I suppose it is a possibility that it’s only purpose was to start a conversation and the pre-nup was her way of starting it. Sarah doesn’t seem to be able to start those conversations until Chuck does something to force them after all. Conversation was bound to happen based on everything Sarah knows about Chuck. In one aspect the pre-nup itself is a conversation about the marriage and what she was willing to share. However my feeling was that would be a more subconscious part of her motivation. She was uncomfortable with some of her family issues and wanted to set some limits on what she was bringing to the marriage (as in her family and their problems remains hers alone). It’s an ongoing part of their dynamic, they constantly try to do what they think is best for each other without talking about it to spare themselves or each other the pain, and it constantly backfires on them.

        In one sense we need to remember that this is a comedy, and that part of that comedy it that as calm and cool as Chuck and Sarah can both seem at times, there is a big part of both that remains a basket-case, especially when it comes to each other, so Sarah trying to maneuver Chuck into starting an uncomfortable conversation on her terms is within the realm of possibility for the comedic side of the characters, just as it was possible for Sarah to seduce Chuck into eloping by bellydancing for him just to avoid dealing with her family. When it comes down to it, it works because it was funny, Sarah lobbing softballs to Chuck and him, cluelessly letting them pass. They put the fun in dysfunctional.

        Oh, and funniest line of the whole situation? Casey’s “I don’t know where he gets these ideas…”

      • thinkling says:

        Ernie, I was writing something, and you beat me to it … and said it better.

        Just because she expected everything to get talked out doesn’t mean there weren’t some real issues. Whether she saw it as keeping things from him, or protecting him from those things, is a good question.

        Sarah defaulted to avoidance, which has always been easier for her. And there’s a side to Sarah that would be OK with avoidance (like the elopement). The prenup was avoidance. That said, she knew Chuck would talk about it. She probably also realized that if they really talked about it, they would reach an understanding on her issues, and the prenup might very well go away. But this time (unlike Seduction 2) when she started down that path, avoidance felt all wrong, especially since Chuck was being cool. To me that was a sign of big changes in Sarah.

        This episode’s prenup was Seduction 2’s elopement, still family issues, but with a concrete twist. In Seduction, their “talk” was probably a little hard for her, but after the fact she felt better, as she always does when Chuck gets behind her Armour (Cougars, DeLorean). This time she was expecting the talk, and when it didn’t come, she realized she no longer wanted avoidance at all. Cool.

        I hope we’ll get to see both sides of some of these issues in Wedding Planner, the emotional, the financial and hopefully why she feels such a burden to bail dad out. I think she has a huge soft spot for him, and I hope we see more of what’s behind that. She has certainly shown a willingness to get him out of trouble … and a reluctance to involve Chuck. Her dad had no such reluctance and treated Chuck like family, once he saw Chuck’s love for Sarah. I loved the Jack/Charlie dynamic, just like I liked the Sarah/PapaB dynamic.

        You’re right, Ernie, they do a great dysfunctional couple. We know where the dysfunction comes from; their hearts are always in the right place; they do what’s right (or think they are); and they end up working things out. The ride is always fun and heartwarming. That’s why we root for them.

        Loved Casey covering his backside. The funny thing was that he even noticed … a new sensitivity. Great characters!! I want them to stay around for a long, long time.

      • Crumby says:

        I agree with all that Ernie. I did find it funny, but it lacked something IMO.

        Didn’t Sarah gave her spy will to Chuck last year? If their was secrets she was hiding from Chuck because she’s a spy, she gave those up then. So Chuck should seriously have wondered what was behind that prenup. Once the comedy played out and that ‘cool’ attitude was put to rest, he didn’t even ask her in the last scene what it was about. Missed opportunity I say. (The scene could have been interrupted by Ellie if they didn’t want to get into it in that episode.)

        Also, a prenup is kind of a big deal. You don’t come to that easily, especially if you’re marrying Chuck. I think the episode missed a line or two that would have stated that Sarah wanted to keep Chuck out of this for whatever reason, or at least say how she came up to the prenup idea.

        I mean, she’s got some money on the side to bail her father out of jail, so what? Why does it lead to a prenup? I mean she wasn’t trying to protect her money from him… So what is it? It’s a sore point for her and she doesn’t want to talk about it? She wants to protect Chuck from it? The money isn’t exactly clean? What is it? We didn’t need specific but something. Her line “it’s more about what it dredges up for me. My relationship with my family and having to take sides,” wasn’t enough, it doesn’t explain how she thought a prenup would help.

        It comes down to character motivations. It’s fine to play it for comedy, it was funny. You don’t have to explain exactly what happened with Sarah’s family, especially if they do that next episode. But when by the end of the episode, you still haven’t understand why Sarah wanted a prenup, and all you have is assumptions/interpretations, I think it’s problematic.

      • thinkling says:

        I accepted the prenup and enjoyed it for what it was, but I agree with you, Crumby, that the explanation left something to be desired. That’s why I’m hoping for a little more in Wedding Planner. TPTB like black boxes … a lot. I agree that more timely explanations (in some cases any explanation at all) would be more satisfying. Like you say a line or two.

      • thinkling says:

        I would add under Casey’s line about not knowing where Chuck gets these ideas, that Casey has a real soft spot for Sarah. There’s the loyalty aspect from her as a partner that he hasn’t had with many people (It especially comes out in Truth, Sensei, Tic Tac). But it’s turned into genuine brotherly type of caring … his wanting to explain things to her in A-Team (she doesn’t take relationship-hurt well at all), his comment on the dress in FBoE, his support in Phase 3, and their little talks (Cubic Z, Family Volkoff). It’s all these little things that make Chuck so special.

      • Crumby says:

        I also do think that we will get more on that Sarah/Jack Burton relationship and that it will give more lights on the whole thing. But I think we’re done with the prenup. They won’t bring it up again.

        I think that’s a good illustration of what the show often lacks. It brings up something, an issue for comedy or drama, and don’t resolve it completely. Like the end of AoT, I’m still confused what I’m supposed to think about that. Or the “No, you’re not [a spy].” Or the answered phone call at the end of Gobbler. We forget about those things because the show moves on, but at some point, why would you get involved in storylines and issues you know will only be partly addressed?

      • Crumby says:

        I love the Casey/Sarah relationship. You’re right he really does has a soft spot for her.

        It’s worth noting that Sarah didn’t go to Casey to talk. It’s Casey that asked her about the prenup, because he obviously saw that the advice he gave Chuck, thinking he was doing her a favor, wasn’t working.

        Still hoping he walk her down the aisle (if there’s a wedding ;)). He’s like her big brother (that sometimes have girlfriend talk with her! Cubic Z comes to mind. They even made him talk about the wedding dress! Too funny!).

      • thinkling says:

        Oh yeah, Crumby. Maybe they are having Jack in Wedding Planner, so it can be Casey to walk her down the aisle. That’s what I’m thinking/hoping.

        The C/S relationship is core, but there are so many other relationships that they pay attention to. I love the Bartowski women interaction this year, Charlie/Jack, Sarah/PapaB, Casey/Sarah, Casey/Chuck, Casey/Morgan, Chuck/Devon . I think it’s unheard of for a show to do so well with so many relationships, especially a show that does action, comedy, and spy stuff, too.

      • Crumby says:

        I think it’s more about being able to get Gary Cole only for one episode and having it be the wedding would be a waste.

        I think the relationship they handled the best this season is the Casey/Alex one. It’s been perfect since the beginning IMO.

        Also, they keep all the relationships going, Chuck/Morgan, Chuck/Casey, Chuck/Ellie, Casey/Sarah, Casey/Morgan, and gave us some Sarah/Morgan and Sarah/Ellie moments. I would love to see a Devon/Sarah moment about being married to a Bartowski!

      • thinkling says:

        Devon/Sarah … that would be Awesome.

        He could give her a breakfast colon cleansing drink … imagine the Yvonne face. But yeah, something more serious, and yet humorous, would be great.

  6. jason says:

    @think – per usual nice write!

  7. Faith says:

    Love the recap as always Thinkling. In the end I’m still less enthused with this episode as I probably should be, but it was certainly fun to read your take on it. It allowed me to see it differently. As in not clouded by my own gripes lol.

  8. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Family Volkoff (4.20) | Chuck This

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