AGAIN!Have you had a chance to re-watch the #12 episode in our list of the 13 “Ten Top Chuck Episodes of All Time (Seasons 1-3, Inclusive) yet??? That would be Chuck vs. The Truth. If not… DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!
And in case I’m being too subtle here, go ahead and re-watch. You will have no regrets. Promise.
[Awww, com’mon, Buckley. How can you make such a definitive statement? It’s pretty audacious to say that, bro.]
Well, to quote from the lyrics you’ll hear if you take my advice,
I’m here to tell you,
that it is good,
that it is true.
To explain the glory of this episode, I must start with a small recap. Did I say small? That’s hard. There’s too much I feel compelled to go over, mostly because it’s so enjoyable.
Start with the spy story. A good spy story has to be fast paced and it has to be rousing. There must be danger, excitement, thrills… Here we start with Sarah breathlessly asking Chuck if he’s ready, and they appear to be trapped in a small closet and Scooter is coming in – QUICK, SARAH! Do what you’re gonna do!
Scooter: Wow. Girl on top. Miss Walker, when Heir Wienerlicious signs your paycheck, I doubt he’s factoring in make-out breaks with your boy-toy.
Exciting enough for you yet? Yeah. I probably had the same grin on my face as Chuck, even after my umpteenth viewing.
But really, that’s not the good part, and it’s not even the spy story. CIA agent Mason Whitney (played by Sanjaya Chandani) is in a bad way, under the effects of a very poisonous and very effective truth serum administered by someone who looks very evil. We don’t know the bad guy’s name yet, but we’ll learn it’s Riordan Payne (played by Kevin Weisman). Whitney escapes with a microchip full of nuclear secrets and just happens to cross paths with Devon and Ellie, who are on a double-date with Chuck and Sarah. Devon, ever the frat boy, has started a peculiar ball in motion by wondering aloud (and speaking up for all the fandom) by asking Chuck when he’s going to “take it to the next level, bro.” Right there in front of Sarah, he has to ask!
Well, is he? – gonna take it to the next level, I mean? There’s a lot to consider. You may not remember in context, but the relationship between Chuck and Sarah has come some little distance since she walked into the Buy More. Playing boyfriend and girlfriend may have it’s occasional perks, but when Sarah took a picture of the two of them at the Halloween party to replace the CIA’s fake picture of them at ComicCon, we learned that they both want something that’s real.
I said that poorly. They’ve both discovered that it’s very important to have something that’s real, especially when it comes to their relationship.
Of course, this is Chuck, and that means it’s complicated. When Sarah accompanied Chuck on his trip back to Stanford, she discovered that her ex wasn’t a rogue spy (or an unspeakable jerk, for that matter) by getting Chuck kicked out of school and by sending him the Intersect. He was, in fact, protecting Chuck, and that makes her old flame a bit of a hero. Again. It’s complicated. Needless to say, Sarah’s also come to admire Chuck’s abilities and heart as much as Bryce did. She is, in a word, conflicted.At the same time, Chuck knows that Sarah isn’t really available; she’s a spy. And even if she was available, he’s just a nerd-herder at the Buy More (and when she smiles at him, it’s just a bit of wishful thinking on his part, right?). Chuck has to keep saying the mantra “It’s just a cover! It’s just a cover!” The timely entrance of the new sandwich shop owner, Lou (the ever perky Rachael Bilson), serves to remind Chuck that there is a real world out there where he can have a normal life and a real relationship. Miiiiind Cheater! Really, he could do a lot worse than be with a girl who has licorice hair, loves her nana, is passionate about meats and cheeses and has a mouth like a truck driver.
So when Devon’s question about the cover keeps coming up, what’s a good spy to do? It’s time to take it to the next level. For the cover. Chuck and Sarah have to go under their covers even more (sigh). Well, Chuck’s becoming familiar with the concept of “faking it”, but doesn’t mean he has to like it, especially when Lou is waiting for him.
Despite Ellie’s best efforts at the scene and in the hospital, Agent Whitney dies of some weird, unknown poison, and Chuck is nervous that she’s in danger. Now it’s too real, and the cover is taking it’s toll on his psyche and his mojo. Sarah recognizes that Chuck is having a bit of an “existential spy crisis” (Hey – in some cases, pillow talk is as good as truth serum). I wonder if she knows that she’s having one too.
To find the microchip containing nuclear secrets that Whitney planted on Ellie, Riordan Payne has dosed her with the truth serum (and poisoned her to boot). I believe it was Aristotle who said “In truth, comedy.” Maybe it was Plato. (Of course, it sounded much more noble in the original Greek.)
Ellie: [Bursting in on Chuck & Sarah] I’ve known him since the day he was born, obviously. When people would ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up, it was always the same thing. He’d say “Big boy!” How cute is that!?
Chuck: Ellie, you’re killing me here.
Ellie: And now, he *is* a big boy. And I can tell that he is, because he’s with a big, BIG girl.
Devon: Sorry guys. Don’t mean to muck up your mo-jo. I tried to stop her.
Chuck: Is she drunk???
Ellie: Chuck, you need a hair cut. It’s starting to make funny animal shapes.
Devon: Let’s go, babe. These two need their privacy, huh?
Ellie: When you were seven, I told you that the burglar stole the money from your piggy bank. That was a lie. It was me. At the time, I felt it was very important for me to have a New Kids fanny pack.
Sarah: Ellie, are you okay? Have you done anything out of the ordinary?
Ellie: [making a face and licking her lips] Words taste like peaches.
Well, words do taste like peaches, don’t they? The funniest and most exciting chase scenes ever have to be in Chuck, and this one has Casey and Sarah (in a black wig) chasing Riodan Payne in the hospital, ending with Casey chucking a crutch, spear like, to catch the bad-guy. Unfortunately, this is not before Payne doses all of Team B with the poisonous truth serum.
Casey has no problem with the truth; he’s usually honest. It’s compliments he has trouble with.
Casey: You’re a good person, Chuck, and I respect that. But I gotta job to do. So take it BEFORE I SHOVE IT DOWN YOUR THROAT!
Chuck: Okay, okay, fine, fine. I’ll do it.
Sarah: Thank you!
Chuck: I’ll pretend to agree to take it, then I’ll run like hell to my sister’s room and make her take it. Why did I just say that out loud?
Sarah: It’s the poison. It makes you tell the truth.
Casey: You do that, I’ll give chase, put a gun to your head and threaten to pull the trigger if you don’t take it!
Chuck: Would you really shoot me?
Chuck: Yeah? Don’t waste a bullet. We’re already dead. I’m saving my sister.
Now we’re getting to why I enjoy this episode so much. The spy story is exciting, the humor is top notch, right before Payne is nabbed there’s a wonderful homage to Raiders of the Lost Arc (did you catch it???)… and then there’s Chuck and Sarah.Only four episodes earlier in the season we learned that Sarah wasn’t even aware that she wanted Chuck. That came from Carina, and we believed her, too. But now, after Sarah’s wordless reaction to seeing Chuck and Lou together, she’s aware, and we know it. I can guarantee you that every guy watching Chuck try to deal with Sarah’s purple lingerie (not to mention her attempt at detached professionalism) understood his frustration. It was much harder to see Sarah’s. She saw what Bryce sacrificed for Chuck back at Stanford – Chuck’s friendship. She knows she has a reputation – and a habit – of getting too involved with her partners, and she knows she’s been asking a lot from Chuck. When Chuck asks her if this thing they have, “under the cover thing – is it going anywhere?”, truth serum or no, she answers honestly.
No, it’s not. Sarah can’t let it, and the fact it can never be real hurts her to say as much as it does Chuck to hear. It’s okay. Whiny loser-boys generally get over it as soon as the next girl comes along, and Lou’s already waiting in the wings for him.
Except Chuck isn’t the usual whiny loser-boy, is he? No, he does the hard thing – the right thing – and ends the cover himself for all the right reasons.
Chuck: I just can’t do this anymore, you know? The longer we go, the longer we keep trying to fool people into believing that we’re a real couple, the person I keep fooling the most – is me.
Not what Sarah was expecting, and you can see her resolve turn to a kind of sadness. Now the episode has gone from being action filled and humorous to being incredibly touching, sensitive and – truthful. Now, the lyrics aren’t Chuck’s. Much to my surprise, they’re Sarah’s.
You don’t have a clue,
what it is like
to be next to you.
I’m here to tell you,
that it is good,
that it is true.