Summer Rewatch 4.14: Chuck Versus The Seduction Impossible.

Ernie And Thinkling Never Travel Light

An Irresistible Force and an Unmovable Object

One of the few benefits of the way Chuck was treated by NBC under old management, essentially as schedule spackle, is that we can have a satisfying mid-season potentially happily-ever-after episode that ties up a lot of the ongoing stories and allows a breather, if you will, to do some stand-alone episodes that don’t have any implications for the big-bad or the season finale, other than they are a lot of fun and let us spend some time with, and perhaps learn something new about our favorite characters.  Chuck Versus The Seduction Impossible is one such episode.  Coming after the epic ending of Push Mix there is a very Honeymooners feel to this episode.  It seems more about new beginnings, or a new life and a new day if you will.  For the most part it is another of those feel-good episodes where we can just sit back and enjoy the ride.  Well we do some of that, but it is Thinkling and me, so you know we’re going deep and long.    Join us as we do just that, after the jump.

Seduction can be a loaded word. Thinkling and I were talking about this BTS in preparation for this recap and review.  It is often, perhaps even predominantly seen in the negative light that associates the word with manipulation and deceit.  As we’ll see there is a bit of manipulation in even the nice kind of seduction.  But I think there is another part to it.  Sometimes we see only what we want to see, and we allow ourselves to be seduced by a dream, or an idea, missing the fact that nearly all seduction relies on our fantasies of what life could be like.  It goes back to the Hero’s Journey, the two worlds, and Chuck, and Sarah’s decisions to enter or leave them.

In season 2 we saw, starting with Chuck Versus The First Date, that excitement and travel held a lot of appeal to Chuck.  He wanted to leave home, get out of Burbank, and experience the world.  We see that this has also been a part of Sarah from the beginning, but that seductive possibility the life of a spy offers is perhaps a bit misleading.  Sarah tries to warn Chuck at the beginning of season 3 that it isn’t what he thinks it is, a life of adventure and fun, but since all she knows is that life she doesn’t know how to offer him anything more than a parallel life on the run.  By Chuck Versus First Class, Chuck starts to see that things aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.  He flies to Paris, nearly dying twice in the process, and he can’t even get off the plane to fulfill his dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower.  Sarah confirms that in Chuck Versus The Honeymooners.  She has traveled and lived all over the world, but she’s never really had a home, and she’s never really experienced it, seen it.

Together Chuck and Sarah have found a solution, with each other.  They have feet firmly planted in both worlds and they help balance each other.  Chuck is still a bit of a slacker and a doormat, Sarah is still a bit manipulative and controlling, and a bit too closed off, especially from Chuck.  Neither seems good with tough decisions, yet somehow they muddle through together.  We keep seeing why spies shouldn’t fall in love or put down roots, and the dangers of that, but we’ve also seen that it happens, and how some can seem to beat the odds, so maybe there is hope for Chuck and Sarah after all.  The Turners were their first role models, of a sort.  They showed them that some point they might need to walk away to keep each other.  Chuck’s parents were the next cautionary tale.  They showed how the life can tear you away from those you love, or hold them hostage, the fate they narrowly avoided.  This episode Chuck and Sarah have a new pair of role models, of a sort, and we see another of the possible futures for spies in love.  But there is also another recurring theme that pops up in this episode, and dare I say it, it is presented in a way that is pure genius.

Thinkling ~

Seduction. There is that built-in side of seduction, the lure of the life we want or imagine for ourselves or the draw to something we perceive as a tool to get us what we want. Interesting concept, Ernie. The seduction of Chuck and Sarah, each by the world of the other … and not only the world of the other, but also the life they could have together in that world.

Sarah’s seduction was similar to Chuck’s. Sarah all but admitted in Crown Vic that she sometimes dreamed of having a normal life. Family. Children. She had never experienced that kind of life, yet on some level she was drawn to it. She saw Chuck as the guy who lived a normal life the way it should be lived … and the guy she wanted to live it with. Now they are living it together. But with normal life, as with most things that seduce us, there’s always the fine print. Seduction Impossible is a window into the humorous and the heartwarming, as Sarah adapts to the realities of normal life … love and openness, family and weddings, nieces and diapers.

Then there’s the other side of seduction … the act and art of seduction — manipulating people to do what we want them to do, by bating them with something they want or respond to. We acquire some level of seduction skills early in life, passively, almost innately … like babies. We perfect these skills on into adulthood … like Morgan convincing Casey to talk to Kathleen. The master seducer though, lures someone through his (or her) desire and gets him to transfer that desire to something he doesn’t even want … like Chuck and Sarah in the belly dance scene. Seduction Impossible is also a window into the laugh out loud funny world of infiltration and inducement, ahem … seduction, Chuck style.

What a way to go…

Once again Chuck goes international, as we open to a scene that evokes a Casablanca feeling of intrigue and betrayal.  Roan Montgomery, the Silver Fox appears to be back in the spy game, and back to his old games.  While signing off the phone with a message to one apparent conquest he lines up the next victim.  In both a parody of, and a tribute to the Bond method he goes right for the no-nonsense approach.  Start flashing counterfeit bills and see what turns up.  Well, there are some potential problems with that method.  But what a way to go.

As Thinkling mentioned some time ago it looks as if baby Clara has the seduction thing down.  Even Sarah and Casey are making cooing noises and funny faces, OK, in Casey’s case it’s almost a smile, but for him he may as well be wearing a clown nose and floppy shoes.  But babies are the one thing that can make Casey beat a hasty retreat, leaving the other two spies of team B to face the wrath of the extended family.  Devon jumps right into enlisting the somewhat freaked out betrothed couple into diaper duty and feeding while the rest of the family starts asking those questions, about, you know, the wedding.  It’s a lot to handle for a couple that had to take down the worlds most deadly arms dealer just to make the engagement happen.  It seems like they could use some down-time, but the only way they see to relax, is a mission.  While Chuck and Sarah, and Casey all seem to enjoy the family time, it seems none are really ready to settle down, completely.  Luckily, duty calls, or rather they place a call of duty, or to duty, in the person of General Dianne Beckman, the hot mess.

While there may not be anything the government needs right away in that brief peaceful period we always get after Chuck and Sarah take down the worlds biggest problem, but Dianne needs a favor.  It seems Roan Montgomery, the legendary seduction master and womanizer has gone missing.  Well, not missing, but into the fortress of a supermodel crime boss.  And her all woman army.  Clearly Roan needs to be rescued.  Immediately.

Thinkling~

Casablanca, indeed. Roan really is from a different era, with a different style. What a fun look at the romance of Roan and Diane, in contrast with Chuck and Sarah. Roan’s phone conversation doesn’t seem out of the ordinary at all … until rewatch when we know who’s on the other end. He has to be the only man who has ever called GB my flower (and lived).

We shift from the Seduction Master on his back in defeat to the novice seducer, controlling her world from the comfort of her bassinet. She has 2 (almost) adults, 2 doctors, and 4 top spies reduced to cooing, kiss-blowing saps, who are at her beck and call. However, Sarah is finding normal life a little more stressful than she expected. Yvonne is hilarious in this episode and this scene with one of my favorite lines from the season. I’m actually sweating. The last time I sweat, there was gunfire involved. I guess you could say that all of TeamB is a bit of a hot mess, but nothing compared to General Hot-Mess Drown-My-Sorrows-in-a-Bottle Beckman.

Roan Montgomery, the legendary seducer.  Can I just say that it is such a pleasure to see the character, and John Laroquette back.  And MAN does he have some great lines.  I actually find him a lot more convincing than I did Roger Moore in his later Bond films, but then those were parody, this is Chuck.  And Roan, the CIA pig, well he makes rolling around in the mud seem like a good idea…  Maybe there is something to this whole Bond method.

Meanwhile Chuck has over-packed.  Really?  Chuck Bartowski carries too much baggage?  Maybe he should learn to travel light like Sarah and Casey?  Still, I love the scene for a few reasons, starting with the incredible Levi-Strahovski chemistry making these characters so real.  Sarah’s amused look at Chuck, his reading her and asking, and the playful banter that has developed between them, then the subtle shift as Sarah watches for Chuck’s reaction to her proposition.  It is funny, as we’ll later find out, that this scene is really more about Sarah’s baggage than Chuck’s

Thinkling~

I have to agree with you, Ernie. The Levi/Strahovski chemistry is at its finest in this episode. The chemistry, nuance, and facial expressions are what make the episode great, instead of merely good.

Could Sarah Have a Hidden Agenda?

Take the packing scene in the armory. It is the patented Strahovski blend of playful, sweet, subtly poignant … and mildly seductive. It’s playful and sweet right up until Sarah offers her proposition. In what appears to be a seductive inducement, there are poignant undercurrents. As Sarah tries to seduce Chuck with this romantic picture, you can see she gets caught up in it herself. Sarah would leave tomorrow to run away with just him to some beautiful, romantic, amazing place. Seduced by her own proposition, she slips into true candor, all of this stress and pressure could be avoided, before regaining control. Just think about it.

In a round about way this brings us back to the packing theme. As you said, Ernie, this is much more about Sarah’s baggage, which has been the focus of a number of episodes, beginning with the Pilot. Sarah’s of-the-cuff remark about coming with baggage was an honest, if not intentional, revelation. And Chuck is still learning how to be her very own baggage handler. If Sarah comes with baggage, where is it? She claims to pack light and indeed hauls her life around in 2 suitcases (aided by CIA wardrobe). Chuck’s life is full of stuff and he takes too much with him wherever he goes. But Sarah is the one with more baggage … internal baggage. Chuck may have too much external baggage, but he has learned to deal with most of his internal baggage, through forgiveness and talking … lots of talking … I presume some to Ellie, but mostly to Morgan. Sarah never had anyone in her life like that who cared about her (until Chuck), so she learned to handle her baggage alone … well, if you consider hiding it as a way of handling it. So, the issues first addressed in Suitcase and Coup, though somewhat improved, continue to need refining. Chuck and Sarah are still fine-tuning their communication skills. Sarah still has some things to unpack. And Chuck is learning how to help Sarah with her baggage.

Seduction Impossible is a perfect example of what Chuck does best, what sets it apart from other TV. The episode is laugh-out-loud funny, with humorous family distractions, mirthful seductions, and hilarious spy romps. But as always, under the comedy that tickles our funny bone, there’s a story that touches our heart.

Morgan is Chuck’s inner voice…remember that.  This is not about Chuck asking Morgan for advice, it is Morgan standing in as Chuck’s more adolescent side.  I know lately some fans would be happier if Morgan really was only inside Chuck’s head as an imaginary friend or inner dialog, but really, there has to be someone around for Chuck to work on his inner dialog with.  It really is more about Chuck growing a bit, and learning he doesn’t have to accept Sarah, or Ellie’s, or his mom’s suggestions as something he must do, like quit the CIA, or leave taking down Volkoff to the women, or eloping.  Chuck has to learn to stand up for what he wants (not what Morgan wants, remember, inner voice), and with a lot of strong women in his life, it’s going to take some practice.  Maybe even practice no?

The Mission

Here’s the only problem.  The women in Chuck’s life usually know what Chuck needs, or at least have the best of intentions for him,  and they all, in their own way, take pretty good care of him.  Even Dianne wasn’t dumb enough to leave Chuck alone with Rye on a mission with violence guaranteed.  Sarah takes care of Chuck, she always has.  It has however left Sarah with a still lingering maternal streak when it comes to Chuck.  She feels she knows what’s best for him, and will see that he does it, even if, as in the past, it takes some harsh words or her putting her handler hat back on.  But then we have the clash of the Bartowskis (to be).  Sarah’s spy instincts run up against Chuck’s insecurities, and his need to feel some measure of control over his life, and we get obstinate Chuck and slack-jawed Sarah.  In these moments they really are about the worst spies in the world.

Roan the love doctor

Couples Therapy, Chuck Style

There is something about Roan Montgomery that brings Chuck and Sarah together.  Unfortunately at the moment it’s because they’re chained together.  Still he has always seen them as an exciting young couple, not as something somehow forbidden or wrong or impossible, as they often saw themselves.  But Chuck and Sarah have grown into that, and while not happy, at present, Chuck pretty much lays out their new status.  They are happy, in love, and soon to be married, present difficulties  be they the dungeon and the ball and chain or the argument aside.  This is their new reality, one that includes a Chuck who can speak for them both (Sarah being her ever talkative self) and where Chuck can say no.  The look on Sarah’s face when Chuck shoots down the idea of eloping says it all, this is a new reality, and she isn’t getting out of this one so easy.  She needs to convince Chuck, not just tell him.

Well before that can happen, they need to get out of the dungeon, so enter Casey, the charmer.  This is another scene of pure comic gold.  Chuck and Sarah, and Roan’s reactions, Casey’s attempts to make the connection and be smooth, and the eventual tranq and explode (how charming).  Wonderful writing and acting all around.  All the way up to Roan’s reaction to being tranq’d

Thinkling~

Obstinate Chuck and slack-jawed Sarah. Too! Funny! Here we have some random communication efforts between two people who aren’t very good at it … like random shots fired in the dark in hopes of hitting the target. It is so undefined, it doesn’t even rise to the level of discussion, just random acts of talking.

Sarah is trying to suggest an elopement without really communicating her reasons for wanting to elope. Chuck is trying to say NO, without saying what he’s saying NO to.

Since Chuck didn’t jump at her Magical-Romantical-Elopement Package, Sarah offers a Mysterious-Moroccan-Marriage Quickie (but this offer is good for a limited time only, so please say yes).

Chuck’s random practice NO’s give us more laughter and one of Sarah’s funniest facial expressions, ever — shocked, indignant, a little hurt, and totally confused.

However, being chained in a dungeon with Roan the Love Doctor (good one, Ernie) catalyzes some real communication finally. It is funny, how the Love Doctor was able to read them, before they could even read themselves. In Seduction I, Sarah was unwilling to face the obvious, or even admit it to herself: she was in love with Chuck. Roan did at least give Chuck some hope, and forced him to admit the obvious: he had fallen in love with Sarah, and she was worth dying for.

Comparatively speaking, they are now communication all-stars … comparatively! speaking. With a nudge in the right direction, Roan gets them to communicate. And surprisingly, it’s Sarah who starts the dungeon dialogue. What’s with all the NO’s lately? By the end of their short dungeon stay, the issue is out in the open. They are at an impasse, but at least they know what that impasse is. More active communication tactics will be required.

Roan’s New Mission

Never disappoint a Volkoff, or a general apparently.  Roan’s new mission, apparently a spies worst possible punishment looks a lot like Chuck’s life, well former life.  But at least Chuck got the girl,  It seems Roan’s problems are because of spy/girl trouble too.  Enter Droan.  Dianne and Roan, together again, or at least that was the plan until Roan decided to infiltrate an all female crime organization and leave the General hanging.  Gotta wonder at that thought process.  But here we have it, the other fate Chuck and Sarah avoided.  The one that might have happened had Chuck completed training and Shaw hadn’t been a tool.  Always on missions, paths crossing briefly to allow them to re-live or re-kindle the passion, but always waiting for that some day when they’d finally settle down and be a normal couple, finding that when that day came, they couldn’t do it.  They couldn’t be the person they thought they wanted to be, some day.

What? My Leather Catsuit Is At The Cleaners.

You gotta be who you are, and Chuck can’t be a guy with no family or friends around for the wedding.  He needs to convince Sarah, and Roan is there to help.  Chuck arrives home, ready to create the sexy situation Roan advises helps the naaaeeeiiiooouu’s disappear.  Unfortunately it’s not Chuck the student, but Sarah, the instructor who shows how it’s done, and Chuck is a goner, until, and again, the fantastic acting from Yvonne, plus the camera work and the editing, all perfect to create this moment, on Chuck’s yes Sarah’s facade breaks the tiniest bit.  It’s clear to the audience that were this not Chuck, it’d go un-noticed, but the spell is broken, and the no’s return, and the argument remains.  I love Sarah’s horrified shock that Chuck would actually try to do to her what she was doing to him, and the classic argument and Chuck’s babbling semi-apology/protest… Ah well duty calls.

Casey apparently can’t resist the urge to live in a wall for a few weeks.  And speaking of Casey, Morgan has acted as the Chuck to Casey’s Sarah and decided to fix things.  Uh boy.  As with Chuck, fixing things for the spy partner rarely go well, or smoothly, especially when you don’t ask before deciding they need to revisit their past.  Well, it is Morgan.  Besides, Chuck would never do something like that with Sarah, would he?

Thinkling~

Talking and Baggage and Growth

The seduction scene has to be one of the funniest ever. Great catch on the slight change in Sarah’s face that pulls Chuck from the seductive trance … and Sarah’s utter indignation that he would do the same thing. A perfect scene indeed.

Well, it’s clear that seduction won’t work. Looks like it’s back to old-fashioned communication and compromise. What is it about missions that brings out Chuck and Sarah’s willingness to communicate? However unprofessional it may be, it seems to be effective for them.

I love the simplicity and openness of their conversation as they make their way to Casey’s hiding wall … and the growth that takes place. Chuck realizes he should have been a little more attuned to Sarah’s situation. Sarah realizes she should have been more open about it to begin with. A proven template for communication.

As for the baggage, it may take a little more time to unpack those really heavy bags, but at least by the final scene, there seems to have been an admission that they exist. In the midst of … let’s not call it a sexy situation, but an intimate one, Chuck and Sarah have talked, not randomly, but intimately. Chuck makes a gentle offer to help with her baggage. It’s clear from the look on Sarah’s face that it will be painful to open up the remaining bags, but she didn’t resist or retreat. She’s learning to receive love, something that was never offered to her like this before, and to rest in someone else’s strength. Stunning growth.

And you know I can’t leave this recap without mentioning DUCK!!  Aside from my famous shipping the name, the scene was one of the funniest of all time for me.  I had no inkling anything like it was coming, but seeing all 5’1″ of General Dianne Beckman fire a rocket launcher as the last ditch attempt to get Roan, her Roan (and her agent) out of the suicide mission she sent him on was just too much, and the greatest musical cue of all times.  Or not.

So we see that the unprofessional spies and the professionally unprofessional have their similarities.  Those crazy kids remember they are in love, and how to talk, and those crazy big kids get to play spy again.  Spies seem to carry a lot of baggage for such light travelers.  For some, like Casey and Sarah it’s about the past.  For others like Mary, Roan, and Dianne, it’s about the future they never seem to get to, because the mission always comes first.

Roan still has it, and the spark is still there for both he and Dianne.  This is the future for spies we’ve seen hinted at.  Affection, perhaps even love, but not sufficient to pull them loose from the seductive lifestyle they’ve chosen.  The greater good.

The Future Mr. & Mrs. Sarah Walker

Chuck and Sarah are different, the seductive life Chuck saw was to be with Sarah and to make a difference, and for Sarah she was seduced with thoughts of leaving the past behind and starting fresh as a real girl with Chuck.  Their path ahead is still a bit rocky, as Sarah’s trepidation at Chuck’s offer to help rather than wipe the slate clean shows.  Are they the perfect couple so many yearn for?  Not yet, they’re still a work in progress.  Chuck is still a bit of a doormat on occasion, but he helps Sarah realize she doesn’t have to deny or lose her past to be redeemed from it, with his help.  Sarah is still a bit manipulative and sometimes treats Chuck as if he’s still her charge rather than her fiance (and she’s a bed hog), but she is starting to see that letting him in might be scary, but maybe he can help, and it might also be the right thing to do.

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About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
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57 Responses to Summer Rewatch 4.14: Chuck Versus The Seduction Impossible.

  1. SarahSam says:

    Great analysis guys. I recall all the horrific speculation of this episode when the title was released and the actuality was nothing of the sort. It is exactly as you described ….one of the more insightful and growth episodes for our heroes and for me one of S4’s best. Well done.

    • thinkling says:

      The first time I watched it I remember thinking that the title really threw me. I didn’t see it coming at all. There was rampant speculation about whether it would be Chuck or Sarah to have to seduce the enemy. … And they seduced each other. Well, everybody seduced someone. Such a great episode.

  2. luckygirl says:

    I love this episode soooo much. One of my top 5’s definitely. It also contains my favorite Zachary Levi line reading ever, “Beckman was a dirty blond?” So funny.

    • Faith says:

      While not my top 5 overall, definitely one of my top 5 of the season and maybe top 25 of all 4 years. Definitely a great episode.

      LOL Beckman back story FTW!

  3. atcDave says:

    Great write up of a really fun episode you two. This one never gets old, and is really good on so many levels.

  4. jason says:

    Liked that writing – episode seemed better on rewatch than ever. The ending was enormously happy with rapid panning to near everyone in a great spot. Still, I didn’t on 1st view, nor do I now understand the purpose of the ominous Sarah Chuck exchange about something she did not tell chuck about her past – might still be coming – but seemed (seems) wierd to leave such a seemingly important thing hanging in a show likely to be cancelled.

    On Roan – great guest stars fill a function that sometimes chuck lacks, a narrative function, to tell CS what the audience might want to say to them as well as to tell the audience what the characters think / are, so the story moves along … Roan’s character is genius at this – sometimes Casey & esp lately Morgan are the primary vehicles for this, but when a guest star does it, I love that sort of scene / character – Carina has done this well – Papa and Mama B – Jack B – Cole – etc

    This ep seemed to have more CS alone scenes than most, in bed, on missions, in their apartment, in the castle, as well as quite a few where they are together with others. Again, this chuck and sarah pairing is the formula to create chuck magic, as a fan, the formula seems so easy, so obvious, yet in near every major season ending mini arc, TPTB split them up – I don’t get it?

    Another obvious chuck magic elixir, the big 3 as the spy team. The humor is SOoooooo great, When you add a scene stealing elf to the mix, the other 3 become bystanders, or lets say at least 1 or 2 of the 3 are, but when morgan is gone, the three have perfect comedic timing. In lots of ways, morgan takes chucks role, chuck either takes sarah’s (adoring with gentle prodding) or casey’s (quick witted, hard nosed one liners & incredulous looks), and one of sarah or casey becomes a bystander. Note, when casey tried seducing, he even took the hapless role over, with sarah, chuck, and roan have a blast making fun of casey. This type of wit goes over the top when Morgan is involved, as well as becoming quite predictable. I think this issue will become a challenge of s5, as my guess is morgan as chuck on missions will become somewhat the standard.

    Finally, ernie, you mentioned sarah’s maternal instinct toward her charge, some bloggers here have been surprised when I blog the colonel bed scene seemed a bit off to me – that’s why. Much of that teacher – student dynamic went away for me during season 3 – both the great parts of s3 as well as some of the misery both moved CS away from such an issue … but every once in a while it creeps in – say in FOD or even in balcony’s / gobbler’s sarah solo mission, but more and more chuck and sarah are on equal footing – him standing up to her seduction that would have turned a gay man straight was a step forward for them as a couple. I’m hoping that S5 will have them as equals most all of the time, H2H thru and thru.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with much of this, but not all Jason. I didn’t see the end scene of this episode as all that ominous, just Sarah was worried about Chuck get know more of her family. I share your concern about too much Morgan, but I do find him funny in small doses. I hope we still get to see the core threesome in action on occasion and they don’t overdo the bearded troll. But the occasional Morgan moment is fine.
      I think there is a perceived maturity difference between Chuck and Sarah. It’s funny because I know Zach is actually a bit older than Yvonne; but we easily believe Sarah is few years older than Chuck. I don’t see it as a very troubling issue, and much of it just comes down to Chuck’s nerd appeal; but I do agree a little difference is there.

      • thinkling says:

        I had a little different take on the last scene. I really didn’t think it was ominous. As to Sarah’s hesitations, I’m not sure the issue was so much Sarah not wanting Chuck to find out or get to know her family, per se. I thought it was more that she just didn’t want to have to open up the memories at all.

      • jason says:

        thinkling – yea – I think that ending did get addressed sort of as you mentioned, the ellie conversation as well as maybe the prenup conversation with chuck and the casey conversation about family in the family volkov espisode.

        My writing probably reflected my unhappiness over that ending, on what was a near perfect ep – kind of like ending honeymooners on a chuck lie rather than snuggling to that incredible song – why not end seduction impossible that way is all I am saying – I don’t think the sarah mystery added to the body of work in a way that could not have been dealt with near anytime else.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      It is interesting the issue of maturity in the characters and how much they’ve changed over the course of the series, and yet somehow remained in character. I also agree it has always been sort of an unspoken assumption that Sarah is the older of the pair. One of the reasons I want to see a Sarah birthday this next season is to find out how much older she is. I think Chuck mentioned her as being 28 in season 2 (which fits with her 10th high school re-union) and according to Chuck’s flash on himself in season 1 he was born in 1981 (September 18th), making the opening of the show his 26th birthday and making Chuck between 1 and 2 years younger than Sarah, but it is never really nailed down. I’m just curious.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Ernie that’s exactly what I was thinking.

      • thinkling says:

        I think you’ve got the age about right. I want to see Sarah’s birthday next season just to complete her real girl list. I can’t think of anything better than for Sarah to have a real birthday with her family and friends, and some romantic with her real husband. I almost ache for that one.

        There are so many things she didn’t have that most of us take for granted. Birthday celebrations are just one of them.

        Along those same lines but slightly off topic. Does anybody else get the feeling that Sarah hasn’t had much romance? Her reaction in First Date and her wistful look describing the proposed elopement and of course her romantic mood in Balcony … it just seems like she’s had a spy relationship or two, but not genuine romance. Or maybe I’m crazy.

      • joe says:

        That’s an interesting thought, Thinkling.

        Honestly, it hadn’t occurred to me that Sarah hasn’t had much romance, but I’ve suspected something related to that. Every time I see Sarah interact Bryce, Cole or Shaw, she seems much more jaded than she ever seems with Chuck. She seems much more closed off to me.

        I assume I’m seeing something intentional in Yvonne’s presentation. But I can only hope I’m interpreting the intent correctly (’cause it’s totally non-verbal). But yeah, with Chuck, Sarah does show something that looks like innocent, romantic, new love and it’s just not there with the others.

      • Cenodoxus says:

        Long-time lurker finally popping in, as both Thinkling and Joe touched on something I’ve wondered about for a long time. This is not something that the show would ever overtly acknowledge or perhaps even hint at, but I do think it might explain some of Sarah’s apparent hang-ups.

        Sarah is probably the less “romantically” experienced of the two. “Cougars” makes it obvious that her teenage years didn’t lend themselves to boyfriends and parties, and I have no difficulty believing that this very emotionally reserved and wary girl didn’t open up to men very well, if that ever happened at all. In the years following high school, you have to figure four years for college (18-21), more years for CIA training (1-3?), one more year for Secret Service duty, and then time to establish herself as one of the service’s best agents alongside Bryce, to say nothing of her time with the CAT Squad.

        But she’s 27 as the series starts, assuming that Chuck is correct that she’s 28 in season 2. There’s not a lot of wiggle room there, even allowing for the fairly unrealistic timeline. This is one of the reasons I’ve also wondered if her time at Harvard is just a cover story or an ill-thought and non-canonical addition by someone on NBC’s website; Sarah’s professional experience makes the hell of a lot more sense if you figure the CIA started training her straight out of high school. But it’s obvious that she’d been with Bryce long enough to have developed an excellent working relationship and a more-than-professional one as well. I see that as being a matter of 1+ years too. But she never (as Bryce himself observed) really opened up to him, and I think it’s plausible that Bryce was the only man apart from her father that Sarah ever really had any kind of relationship with before the fateful day she met Chuck.

        By contrast, I can see Chuck having a girlfriend in high school (if not a very serious one). Absent that, we know about Jill, and then there’s Lou and later Hannah. He charms women without necessarily being aware of it and, while certainly no Casanova, has the experience of having dated at least three women seriously to semi-seriously within the past few years. Sarah — this is important — is in a position to observe all of this, and very unhappily so.

        This is where I start to get that little niggling thought that Sarah may — appearances to the contrary — be the less sexually experienced of the two. Bryce we know about; it’s pretty obvious that their relationship had a physical element. But really — who else was there? You can make a case for her experience with seducing marks, but you can get someone to the necessary state of physical vulnerability the hell of a lot earlier than the actual act (e.g., Cole and Manoosh, even if the former’s training made him difficult to manipulate and overpower. Casey and Sarah also tacitly acknowledge in “Seduction” that it won’t be necessary for Chuck to actually sleep with Sasha). Moreover, another commenter here on the site once made the excellent observation that she obviously doesn’t enjoy that part of the job. She gets snappish and short when she’s put in that position, and vacates it as quickly as possible.

        So that’s what I wonder about Sarah: When she looks at Chuck in seasons 1-3, is she quietly insecure that he, however unknowingly, actually has more experience with women than she has with men? Really, it’d almost be the ultimate joke at the expense of Chuck’s fantasy of her as the aloof, worldly demigoddess. Sarah is a character who’s all about the plausible facade, but she crumbles fast when the genuine starts intruding on the fake. She can produce a reasonable facsimile of a loving and attentive girlfriend, but is she confident of her ability to be the real thing to a guy who *knows* the difference better than she does?

        Now, the two problems with this theory:

        1). Casey’s crack to Chuck in — was it “Crown Vic?” — about seducing Kirk that “It’s not like it’s her first time.” Possibly dismissed in that Casey enjoys winding Chuck up, knows his weak spots, and the comment has the desired effect.

        2). The whole Shaw arc. I have difficulty believing that someone like Sarah would willingly jump into that relationship given that she doesn’t really know Shaw all that well. I actually don’t have too much of a problem with the wider season 3 arc, no matter how disliked it was by many fans (IMO Chuck and Sarah were both guaranteed a measure of personal hell after the events of 2×22), but that, to me, is the reason that Shaw and Sarah never felt like they really made sense as a couple.

      • joe says:

        So glad you delurked, Cenodoxus. I really like the way you write. Every time I started to mentally sputter a “Yes, but…” to your comment, you immediate addressed exactly the point. Good stuff!

        There’s a funny way in which Chuck and Sarah are similar (or exactly the opposite, depending on how you look at it). It’s in the way they’ve been succeeding (or not) in their respective professional and romantic lives. As Big Mike might say, he’s done freakishly well with the ladies these past few years. Consistently well. It’s the being-a-spy part he has problems with at first.

        Sarah’s a superspy, but does well with men about as often as Charles Carmichael makes an appearance. She’s obviously got what it takes, but it’s not easy for her to let somebody get close enough to care. Her ability to accept love is, shall we say, limited, at first.

        Okay, strained, but it makes sense to me that both characters help the other to overcome their deficit.

      • thinkling says:

        Great comments, Cenodoxus. Thanks for de-lurking. I agree mostly with what you’ve said, and said so well.

        In the timeline thing, I see no reason why college and CIA training, to some degree, couldn’t have been simultaneous. I don’t think it took long after Sarah graduated form Harvard for her to be in the field.

        I don’t think of Chuck as being all that experienced sexually. He seems to have been somewhat timid in that department (flash back to Jill on the Ferris wheel), so I doubt he was ever the Cassanova type of guy (except with Sasha “Missy” Banacheck). However, he did know how to be friends, how to care, how to listen and pay attention to the desires of others (no olives, extra pickles), and put others before himself. Those are powerful attributes for relationships of any form, but also (especially) for romance. Women crave that in a man. Sex wouldn’t have to enter into it, for him to have a better handle on romance. Although by the time they meet (post Jill) you’re probably right on that score, too.

        The contrast between Chuck’s relationship with Jill and Sarah’s with Bryce highlights what you’re saying. That’s why it’s so poignant watching Sarah watch Chuck with her. She’s never had that. Her words, I’m just a cover girlfriend; Chuck deserves a real one,” point to a sad reality (she’s probably almost always been a cover girlfriend) and a mature realization (Chuck deserves and will never settle for anything less than a real girlfriend).

        About Sarah being romantically inexperienced, that was my thought. I think her relationships have been spy ones. Chuck is probably her first love, and it’s a little, um, scary. I think she had real feelings for Bryce, but he was still a spy lover, and their relationship was constrained by their spy life and missions (like Roan and Diane). Shaw was a regression, and I don’t think she cared about him, even as much as she did Bryce.

        To see her interact with Chuck in those “real” moments, I just get the feeling that she’s never had real romantic attention focused on her. Just like she’s never had anyone really love her like Chuck does. It just seems like romance is a new experience for her. Yvonne was absolutely perfect in regards to this in Balcony, especially the butterflies being a new sensation for her. There’s an innocent girl inside Sarah that Chuck has liberated. It is the clean slate he wants to give her, because he loves her and knows she deserves it. Sarah’s is a story, in a way, of innocence stolen and innocence redeemed.

      • jason says:

        interesting POV about sarah’s level of ‘experience’ – certainly we have some conflicting info out there – there is a case to be made the spy seduction can be accomplished without engaging in the world’s oldest profession – yet pink slip’s 6 month’s live in B/F might be evidence against, but then again mary’s 20 year sojourn at volkov, who knows really, some of this stuff would be better told on screen IMO –

        I think alias (which seems like a blueprint for many of these shows) more or less stayed away from this issue, covert affairs seems to so far be writing ‘seduction’ very well so far, I thought undercovers made a mistake by sort of jumping right into the issue – there is a cringeworthy element to seduction that I don’t think plays to the big crowd in order to make the character heroic or the character’s significant other for that matter either.

        along those lines – in the ever overused role reversal – I get the impression that sarah would have been ok with chuck volunteering to push the fake relationship so the cover would not get blown – maybe in the friends with benefits mode – sort of what bryce and shaw maybe got, but chuck, by being respectful (sweet), really threw agent walker a curve & hooked her, forcing her to commit in a way she way not quite willing to admit she was ready – 3 years is a long time for a hot blond secret agent to remain celibate – she is just human after all?

      • thinkling says:

        @Jason: I really loved that Sarah was faithful to the relationship, even though she and Chuck were both under the same situation of being in a “fake” relationship. Her faithfulness to it was evidence that it was not fake to her. Her love for Chuck was real and she was faithful to it. That’s why I have always maintained that she was the more faithful of the two.

        Chuck never realized that she was in the same boat that he was in, and that maybe it was just as hard for her as it was for him. To me Yvonne sold that so well.

      • atcDave says:

        Really good discussion, and welcome aboard to Cenodoxus! Great first comment. My own 2 cents worth would just be that we will likely never know what Sarah’s actual physical history was (and I really don’t need the details…), but I think it’s safe to say Chuck was her real first love.

      • joe says:

        Oooof! Sorry if it feels like I’m beating a dead horse here, but this song came up on my iPod this morning while I was running.

        cause i’m like a princess in a castle high
        waiting for a kiss to bring me back to life
        but i don’t want to spend my time
        waiting for just another guy.

        Originally, it was used in Chuck vs. the Suitcase, when Ellie was going through her box of old photographs. Now it strikes me as much more appropriate to Sarah.

      • jason says:

        joe – loved the youtube of a girl, a boy and a graveyard, have you guys ever done a top ten songs of chuck? if so, link it up, I’d enjoy reading it …. but I appreciate when you or faith or anyone posts stuff about the music, since I am not one to notice such things.

      • joe says:

        Great song, isn’t it? I follow Messersmith on twitter too. He seems to be a great guy.

        No, I don’t think we’ve done a top ten for the music of Chuck (am I mistaken on that, guys?) but I don’t believe it’s possible! At least, not for me. I mean, my all time, absolute favorite piece through 4 seasons has got to be Luica’s Bones. And Signs. And God & Suicide. And My Backwards Walk. And Sans Soleil. And A Comet Appears. And Skinny Love. And Keep Yourself Warm. And Creature Fear. And Wait It Out. Wait – I have others too! That’s just my #1 spot. I could not possibly come up with a top 5 or 10!

        Aaarrrggg!!! Darn it! Now I have to go listen!

        Anyway, in the middle of the right-hand column, there’s a “category” drop-down box. Just select “music” and you’ll see all the posts that we’ve tagged that way. Also, Faith put a collection of some of our favorite Chuck tunes in a play list at the bottom of the page for you to enjoy as you read.

        Warning: it’s habit forming!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually Joe, Faith did a music poll as a guest post quite some time ago, it was arranged into several genres or styles. When she joined the blog I transfered ownership to her, and it looks like a few got deleted or something… Maybe time to do another one?

        https://chuckthisblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/faiths-amazing-music-polls/

      • joe says:

        Oh, cool. Thanks, Ernie. Clearly, I had forgotten all about this one.

        And yes, we have to update that poll! But good luck with that. There’s so many more songs to be added now – I mean, the list is almost a year and a half old. More than half of the tunes I have in my Chuck playlists (which span 12 CDs already) come after.

        S4 had a lot of music!

    • joe says:

      Like usual, you bring up a couple of great points, Jason.

      Certainly, it’s easy to see Sarah as the more “mature” of the two, especially at the beginning. She is accomplished, after all, and clearly at the top of her game. Chuck on the other hand is stuck somewhere back in his frat house days, unable to leave it or the Buy More, for that matter.

      Sarah does spend a lot of time “mothering” him, like every time she says “Stay in the car, Chuck.” Perhaps one of the under-appreciated aspects of the misery arc is that Sarah comes to believe that Chuck doesn’t need her so much any more, and she has to drop that act. He doesn’t need a handler and perhaps Hannah makes her think he doesn’t need her romantically either.

      But she’s wrong, of course. Chuck does need her, just in not a mothering way. I’ll second your notion that they’ll be equals from now on. It has as odd way of making them both seem more powerful, doesn’t it?

      • Gord says:

        Some interesting perspectives on Sarah’s love experience/maturity.

        My own take is she is more mature – professionally, and she is clearly experienced in the art of seduction, but until Chuck was lacking love.

        She had a relationship with Bryce, and no doubt she cared about him, but I don’t think she truly loved him.

        The same goes for Shaw. Sarah was in an extremely fragile emotional state when she met Shaw, and I think she seeked comfort and closeness from him, but did not truly love him.

      • Faith says:

        Well said Gord. I agree.

    • jason says:

      dave / think – ominous may not be the right word, but I still wonder why the mysterious / silent sarah walker theme would be replayed as the last thing spoken in a delightful episode, then never addressed again – or do you guys think it was addressed in the last 10 eps – certainly sarah changed in those last 10 eps, but did she specifically give up any info about her past – contrasting to info on the past so freely given in fake name?

      Morgan in small doses for s5 would be manna from heaven – I would suggest to everyone to try to develop ways to rationalize morgan in mega doses.

      • thinkling says:

        I think Sarah’s past may have been addressed somewhat with Ellie in Cat Squad. I think she has opened up tremendously, with her mother issues being the last thing to deal with. I don’t think it’s ominous, just painful, and I imagine we’ll get some of that growth/closer when they bring Sarah’s mother to S5 (and I think they will, since they (Schwedak) have said publically that they want to).

    • Faith says:

      Wait, are you saying Sarah was “teaching” Chuck in that bed the morning of the Colonel motel scene? :O

  5. Ernie Davis says:

    Thanks for the kind words all. This one was fun to write and research. Finding the proper screen-caps took at least 5 or 6 reviews of the belly dancing scene alone. 😉

    • joe says:

      Yeah – tough job, and *somebody* had to do it. 😉

    • Gord says:

      Only 5 or 6 times? Come on now, be honest. This sort of reminds me of Cole talking about taking out the guys to escape from the fulcrum interrogation.

      It was actually 12, you just don’t like to brag. lol

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well 5 or 6 times is only the video and actually doesn’t count individual images frame-by-frame at least three times to get the right grab. 😉

  6. Amrit says:

    Great episode and I fond whenever Sarah mothers him to be endearing… This is huge for her character especially in fod where she refuses to lose the love of her life.

  7. Rev says:

    A lot of good stuff in this episode. Hate to admit it, but perhaps my favourite scene in this one is the one with Chuck and Morgan at the Buy More. Ok so we can question his advice, but the pacing in that scene, the music, the way Zach and Josh play off each other, it all fits perfectly. Another highlight for me was Yvonne’s amazing facial expressions in the final scene.

    • thinkling says:

      Yvonne’s face was amazing throughout, but the scene at the end was a whole new level of amazing. It was a face we had never seen. At least I don’t recall that one, before.

      • herder says:

        I think my favorite facial expression of Yvonne’s was the one just after Chuck said “I said no! woman.” Too funny for words.

      • thinkling says:

        I do agree that that face gets first place for funny. What a moment. The face that came before it when she asked the incredulous, “No?”, was also very funny.

      • Rev says:

        I think we can all agree on that Yvonne’s facial expressions are just epic.

      • atcDave says:

        The really amazing thing to me is that she’s equally good doing “real” and subtle dramatic type reactions or broad and outrageous comic ones. That’s something we didn’t even know about her until Honeymooners.

      • lappers84 says:

        wasn’t the woman quote an improv from Zach? certainly worked with Yvonnes shocked expression, genius. 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        I hadn’t heard that Lappers, but if so, it just goes to show how good they are together.

      • lappers84 says:

        I think it was just the addition of “woman” at the end of the line that was added by Zach.

      • thinkling says:

        … and that was the funniest part. 😀

  8. herder says:

    This was one of the most fun episodes of the whole series and it must have been fun for the two of you to rewatch it to create this review. One thing that I did notice about this one as compared to the original Seduction with Roan is that Seduction Impossible gives more of the funny bits to Chuck and especially Sarah rather than keeping them for Roan.

    You had blustery Roan when Casey was trying his seduction (they must have been killing themselves laughing in the writing room creating that scene) and advisor Roan in the Buy More break room. But other than that Chuck and Sarah got to carry most of the comedy,(still lots for Beckman and Casey too) and there was lots of it: panic with the overbearing family,all those noes, …at no point in this mission will I be dressing as a belly-dancer, worst spies in the world, ball and chain, horror at the thought of having to listen to Casey’s idea of seduction (Vogon Poetry as it were), the whole dueling seductions thing and much more.

    This may be the most comedy that they have given Sarah and she nails it with her and Chuck alternating the role of straight man. All in all one of my favorite of the series.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Herder, I think you nailed what I think is the perfect dynamic for Chuck and Sarah. They play best off each other, like in Honeymooners and this one. Too often TPTB go to a designated straight man or comedy man for the jokes.

      One thing that I saw in Beard was how Zac did something interesting with Chuck. He let him do comedy bits, not just in the spy-world (a habit they’d fallen into) but also in the Buy-more as both the straight man and as one of the comedy players. I think it is great when somebody in the writing or directing team can shake that up a bit, because to me it seems too often they stick to the imaginary list that says Casey does these kinds of lines, Morgan these, Chuck these and Sarah gets to make a subtle expression. They all share all those strengths, and mixing up things helps keep the show feeling fresh. As I think Dave said upthread who knew Yvonne could be so funny before Honeymooners?

      Now admittedly some of what you can show and when depends on where the story and the characters are, but I think Yvonne should have been given more of the comedy in season 3. They were at a place where it would work as seen by the extremely limited times they did it in the front 13, and it really would have helped the season feel lighter.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Ernie, I couldn’t agree more.

        But where would they have had the opportunity to give her more comedy? They couldn’t have done it in the front 13 without changing the show completely (and for the better, in my opinion).

    • thinkling says:

      Chuck is truly a unique combination … and Yvonne and Zac’s ability to take turns being the funny one and the straight man seems unusual to me. It is such fun. The Casey seduction scene, besides ending the argument between Chuck and Sarah, was just hilarious. Roan and Chuck and Sarah all on the same page and so funny.

      The rewatches really are A LOT of fun, especially in combo with our past favorites.

  9. luckygirl says:

    Kind of bad news guys. There is a slight delay on the 4th season dvds…http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Chuck-Season-4/15630

    • joe says:

      AAARRRRGGGG!!!! (The preceding was a paid, political announcement.)

      But thanks for the news, Luckygirl.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks for the heads up! Kind of a bummer, I was thinking the interviews and deleted scenes would be great fodder for the last month before the season premier; but I know they do try to link these things as closely as possible.

  10. Faith says:

    Great writeup you too!

    LOL Ernie, must always focus on Duck. And Thinkling, our kids (Chuck and Sarah) have really grown up haven’t they *wipes tear.*

    The finest pieces are ones that make you think beyond what the piece is about and this is no exception. More than Seduction Impossible, this has made me rethink Seduction in a different, new way. Although Sarah is the agent of seduction, she was actually the one seduced in that episode. How can she help it, he did jump from the roof to save her, “Thailand!”

    • Faith says:

      One more I started to think about after reading this piece and the comments: it seems as if there are two camps, one that want a firm order of episodes with no deviances and others that like the addition. With fantastic add-on episodes like this and Honeymooners, one has to wonder if the additions aren’t necessarily a bad thing but then again, there’s something to be said for episodes like these being put within the season if there weren’t such pressure for a tighter, more rigidly plotted 13 episode season (Best Friend anyone?).

  11. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Seduction Impossible (4.14) | Chuck This

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