“Chuck and I’d do anything for family”
One of Chuck’s most admirable themes is that of family. In season one it was “just the two of” them, but Ellie put it best even then, “we’re growing up” and with that growth comes a bigger family and responsibility. Enter Push Mix where a circle is formed and with it family.
Let’s start with Sarah. She undertook a dangerous and potentially life-changing mission to rescue Mary. Remember Santa Claus? “What about my sister, Ellie, and Morgan and everyone else?” says Chuck. “We’re instructed to remove you and only you. There’s a team coming to remove the rest and they could be in good hands…there are rules Chuck and we have to follow them,” replied Sarah. See back then, she didn’t yet see the value of family. Chuck was increasingly becoming her home but she didn’t yet see herself as family. Times and things have changed. In Chuck’s family, they’d do anything for each other, rules and danger be damned. “I promised Chuck that I wouldn’t come home without you,” and so she shall. This is her chance to be a part of family, Chuck’s family, and she wants (for him) for it to be complete.
Mary had her own thoughts regarding Sarah’s mission, “I made a lot of promises too. I don’t want you to become me and I will not let my son be his father.” Again we’re brought back to family. Mary has lost hers, for 20 years. Though she made a conscious decision to take this mission, the extent and consequences of it was out of her hands and because of that she refuses to stand by and watch history repeat itself. But Mary is still an Agent, one who has got more of a predilection for rules and the greater good than even Sarah of season 2. Perhaps greater than her need for self-preservation. Stephen is gone, she’s lost him forever but Sarah still has a chance with her Stephen-er-Chuck.
So we have gone from Ellie to Chuck to Sarah to Mary and now Stephen. Chuck took down Volkoff using Stephen’s memory. It was an absolutely inspired “plan” and one that honors a great man in Stephen Bartowski. “The truth is my husband alive or dead will always be 10x the man you are and every moment that I’m with you, I was thinking of him,” says Mary. And it is the truth. This was Stephen’s mission, and it took his memory and his family to finally end a 20-year mission, to reunite a family. Volkoff wanted the one thing he couldn’t have, Frost, and she belonged to Stephen. That eats at him; his phone calls, wealth, reach and affection pales in comparison to what Stephen and Mary had and that was just the perfect nerve to prick. Thus far, Volkoff has been holding all the cards, Chuck put it best, “you took my mother from him, you took his whole life.” He’s been moving all the pieces in this latest chess board, he even thought he had a contingency plan in place but Volkoff isn’t the man that Stephen was and he’s just been played by Chuck using that nerve, into a trap. Though Stephen Bartowski’s memory took down Volkoff and uncovered Hydra, it was all of the Bartowskis (Sarah included) that made it happen. Chuck couldn’t have confidently trapped Volkoff without Sarah rescuing his mom, without Casey taking out the assassin, without Alex giving her dad the weapon.
“Are you family?”
Not quite, we still have the formality. Or rather the romantic trappings of making a family: the proposal. Though this episode has shown that Sarah is already entrenched deeply within Chuck’s family, the proposal was the bow in this fantastic present and very well done. The moment was in the most romantic setting possible: two simultaneous beginnings and this, all theirs. There were no words, no poetry, just love and with it a family.
I do love the family theme Faith did such a beautiful job summarizing. It is easily one of my favorite elements of Chuck, especially as the numbers of the Bartowski clan have grown steadily over time. But at the mid-point of the fourth season we see those bonds stronger than ever. It is ironic for an episode that starts in a lonely and desperate place, Chuck can only turn to Morgan for help in bringing his family back together.
And what a fun ride it is! So often this season, my biggest complaint would be “too short!” This episode is a great example of that. My biggest complaints all come down to that one thing. I always want more Sarah time, more Chuck and Sarah time, and even more Volkoff time (funniest recurring villain ever). But I really don’t want to get into the complaints here, when this episode is so much fun.
I love the little details Both times Chuck and Morgan kidnap someone they immediately pick-up on being in the bathroom. Lester’s militant defense of cover tunes over indie music. Morgan insisting Sarah’s coat will be too small for his shoulders. And of course my favorite; Volkoff happily eating ice cream while plotting evil, and we KNOW he’s evil because he isn’t sharing (no, I’m not letting that one go guys, its an important detail!). As a hard-core history buff one other detail really busts me up, Volkoff bragging about his ship and its high tech weapon systems and stealth properties. It’s a Liberty ship! It’s a World War II era, mass produced, cargo hauler that can do 12 knots on calm seas. The type we generated propaganda by how fast we could crank them out (nothing high tech even when new). It still has a 5″/38 stern gun and 40 mm twin Bofors guns with a simple ring sight. And for the record, crewmen on Liberty ships were always happy when a real warship joined a convoy because real warships DID HAVE ice cream parlors! That ship is one of the funniest gags of a very funny season to me.
More than anything, Push Mix was about a climax that was billed as the best ten minutes of Chuck ever. Fortunately, I never believe the hype or I might have been disappointed. It was a lot of fun. Chuck got Volkoff in a way that honored his father, Sarah rescued mom, and Casey rescued himself. Seems fitting. We got a good scene between Casey and Devon, and the best Jeffster scene since the last time we had a good Jeffster scene (I dare anyone to argue that point!).
And the proposal. Sometimes less is more. I know I’m on record as not being very happy with the ending of Balcony, but I do believe they did find the perfect way to fix that. Nothing more needed to be said, we’ve known they were ready for a while. I sure am glad that wasn’t a series finale! But it was an awesome way to reach mid-season.
Faith one last time
Ha! You learn something new everyday, I didn’t know that about the ship, but I do agree that Volkoff’s gag about the ice cream parlour was entertaining. For a moment there you can see the duality of relationships. Volkoff with his arms around both Frost and Sarah, as if he had his own cherished family but it was, fittingly, superficial because Volkoff (though an entertaining villain) doesn’t “know how to love.” And just like “The Contessa,” it was only a façade.
As for the hype, while I wouldn’t go so far as to label it the best 5-1o minutes of Chuck, I do think it was the best 5-10 minutes of the season. Yes, even over the wedding, even over Suitcase, etc. By my count the clock starts at 31:45 when Chuck says, “gotcha” to Volkoff and his entire plan and Volkoff and his Industry unravels. From there we go to the birth of Clara, adorable; the touching reunion of a mother and a daughter; Casey and family (Morgan included) walking into the sunset; and Chuck and Sarah? As it should be, together, in love and embarking on life’s greatest adventure. It didn’t escape my notice that Sarah kneeled with him as she answered his proposal. They enter this new phase in their lives as equals, as a couple.
They said once that they wouldn’t and couldn’t write an ending without a question, a cliffhanger but with Push Mix, they showed they could. Push Mix‘s ending effectively and satisfactorily closed all the story lines in logical, humorous fashion while giving way to the imagination and it did this in typical Chuck fashion, heart-warmingly. A fantastic and utterly satisfying conclusion to what has been, for the most part, a fun and satisfying season.
I like what you noticed about Volkoff’s facade of a family, good catch. I’d agree the end was maybe short of a “best 5-10 minutes ever”, but it was a lot of fun and sweet when it needed to be. And even if their weren’t any direct hooks for the back arc, it sure was nice to go out on a strong note. I thought the front episodes of the season rivaled the legendary season two. I know I was pleased and excited. I know the season had its detractors, but I will never be among them. Chuck has finally become the show I always hoped it would be, the front arc ended in a completely satisfying way, and I think I liked the back arc even better!