Continuing with our Summertime Top Ten stop at the season 2 opening we also continue with the summer rewatch theme, and guest star. This is seduction the first time around and our introduction to one of our favorite spies in the Chuck-verse, Roan Montgomery. The legendary old-school James Bond style spy. This episode also gives us so many wonderful moments, and a few to cringe at, but overall it takes the new improved Chuck we met in First Date and adds a new and improved Sarah whose job is getting a bit tougher and more complicated. Add a dash of Charah, a seduction mission with a black-widow, and a charming boozy love-doctor, shake it up, and you’ve got a delightful Chuck cocktail. After the jump.
In the Chuck-verse Chuck Versus The Seduction is often thought of as a shipper episode. Given that they share their second real kiss, initiated by Chuck no less, plus a cover kiss that seems to blur the lines for both of them, I’m not surprised. But there are some real moments where you see Sarah’s season-long struggle start to emerge. Sarah has to handle a new and improved Chuck, and she’s compromised herself by allowing that second first date to happen, and some of the real girl to show through to Chuck. In essence it is in First Date through Breakup, that initial arc, that we get the love story so many love, of the star crossed lovers, with an entire government coming between them, though oddly, keeping them together. They can never be quite what they hope to be, that seductive future they start to imagine where they are really together, yet they never stray too far, thanks to their unique situation. Real or fake, they have no options other than make the best of it and make it work. Somehow.
We’re playing for keeps here, Chuck
Poor Chuck, he was so close, only to have it all snatched away. The intersect destroyed, and Graham along with it means Chuck will be keeping his cover/real job at the Buy More a bit longer. Just to add a bit of salt and lemon to the wound, Chuck passed on that New Ass Man job, seeing greener fields than a sea of Buy More sales associates in his future. And now he has Lester to deal with. As his boss.
“Do you remember a time when I had potential?” The potential is still there, as we’ll see, but for now Chuck, on Morgan’s advice, is going to have to take solace from what he can, like his super-hot fake-real girlfriend. Chuck has a way of letting solace run away with his imagination, so give him (and us) a second to recover from the greatest of the BuyMore wind machine entrances of all time.
Is that a real kiss or a cover kiss? Because I’m confused right now.
Confused? (Sigh.) As are we all Chuck. Your situation, and Sarah’s just got a lot more complicated. Real and cover are a bit of a blur after that real date with Sarah turned into a mission and the mission is back in your life. Still the only intersect, and Sarah has to be your protector again, making the girlfriend angle a bit tough. We start to see her plight immediately. Chuck wants things to pick right up where they were when they both thought she’d be on the other side of the world in a week, and suddenly that is a bit too familiar and close for Sarah, given what she has to do.
A part of protecting Chuck is protecting him from the CIA and the NSA deciding he’s better off in a bunker. That means they have to see the benefit of having him out in the world and working. If he doesn’t work, he’s not worth the risk, so when Chuck decides to opt out, Sarah has to handle the situation.
Sarah: Chuck, wait. Chuck, wait.
Chuck: Sarah. You’re right, okay? I’m not a real spy. I’m not cut out for this adrenaline pumping chase the bad guy risk life and limb daily existence.
Sarah: Okay look. The sooner we get the cipher back, the sooner you can have the intersect removed and the sooner you can be free to have whatever life you choose, with whom ever you choose.
Chuck: What are you saying?
Sarah: I’m saying that you can have everything you’ve always wanted.
There is a bit of ambiguity in that scene as to how much who is playing whom and how they feel about it. Sarah knows she’s playing the honey trap, and she suspects Chuck may know from the tone of her voice. And she isn’t crazy about playing Chuck like that, from the look in her eye. But this is her new reality. Having a real connection with a guy she needs to handle. You can start to see why a “real” relationship might be both frowned on, and more than a bit difficult for the real girl part of Sarah. So it’s off to Palm Springs to find Roan Montgomery.
But first I want to take a side trip into something Chuck likes to do, and can be a bit dangerous. Chuck will give us a feeling for how some things, even some important ones, happen off screen. We don’t always need all the details, so as in First Fight you get Mary Bartowski telling Ellie (and Sarah) a story about her life. You suspect, based on the slight tremor in her hand as she sips lemonade to compose herself, that the story will be true, but not the truth. But we aren’t privy to that story. Yet. Sometimes these things are slipped in retroactively, and are incredibly subtle, like this little easter egg. The clothes they are wearing are what they have on as they arrive in Palm Springs at Roan’s house. We first see this in Chuck Versus the Cougars, and again in Chuck Versus the Fat Lady. Suddenly it sheds some new light on where Chuck and Sarah may have been, emotionally, before the fake breakup of the real relationship in Breakup. Somewhere on the trip to Palm Springs someone decided that they needed some couple stuff for cover. A new couple picture of them having a road trip. My money is on Sarah, and that is telling. More telling is that they both keep copies of that picture, Sarah in particular. Sarah’s hotel room is apparently not cover. Only Chuck is ever there from what we see. Why the “cover” picture? Complicated. We’re given a sense of how important Chuck became to Sarah that this picture always stayed with her. For now though, back to the Seduction.
Enter Roan Montgomery (Hello Dianne). Awake and upright, having used his own restorative process. The mission is set. Sasha Banachek must be seduced by the last person anybody would ever think is a spy. Enter Charles Carmichael (aka Chuck) to provide services in a romantic capacity. Things are about to get complicated again. This is the other part of new Sarah’s new job. She has to build Chuck’s confidence. In season 1 we rarely saw this so overtly. She would encourage him as at the end of Tango or apologize as at the end of Crown Vic, or even let the facade slip as in Hard Salami and Marlin, but throughout it all, as late as First Date, you get the feeling that Sarah thinks of her presence in Chuck’s life as a temporary arrangement. One that will come and go like the other missions, and while she’ll be sad to see it go, for a while at least, you get the feeling she would. I peg this as the episode when we start to see that change in her mind, that she wants to give Chuck something lasting, even if only memories, and she wants to remember this mission, with Chuck, as something special.
The problem with other spies is that they see things and say things that can complicate matters. And Roan wants to talk about all this interpersonal stuff on missions. How unprofessional can you get? I’ve never felt quite so sorry for Chuck. Having to come through on a mission while hearing his status discussed in the third person. And Sarah, she doth protest too much we know. Maybe she can still say things like Chuck is just an asset to others and to herself, but it really doesn’t help Chuck’s confidence. In an odd way though it does. Sarah’s goal to protect Chuck and build his confidence came into conflict with the need for a mission. It puts Sarah in the middle where she seems to live between Chuck’s interests and the CIA. The mission risks getting Chuck hurt or killed, or at the very least failure would be a blow to his confidence. No missions makes Chuck more of a risk that is worth taking and it’s bunker time. Another handler wouldn’t care, but Sarah Walker has been compromised for a long time. Sarah’s attempts to split the difference ends up blowing up in her face, but it also makes Chuck determined to prove himself. To her, as much as to himself.
And it turns out that Chuck can handle himself after all. Better in fact than the “real” spies who always seem to manage to get captured in their rescue attempts. (Or the one who turns tail at the first sign of trouble.) But Chuck has a problem. His handlers, well they handle everything. Chuck has no way to contact Beckman, or the CIA or anyone who knows who he is or will take him seriously. So he’s left with one ally. Roan Montgomery.
Roan: You know, she’s going to kill them.
Chuck: Well, I’m just going to have to take my chances then. But I can’t save him alone, I need your help Roan.
Roan: They knew what they were getting into. That’s the game we play. If you show up there will be three dead agents instead of just two.
Chuck: What, so that’s it? What happened to being the world’s greatest spy?
Roan: That was a long time ago. Roan Montgomery is not the man you see before you. My life may be boring and cowardly but I’m alive. That’s more than most in my line of work can claim.
Chuck: But, you’re a legend Roan! Don’t you understand that? So how can you just sit there and watch them die?
Roan: Because I’m not in love with one of the agents.
Chuck: I’m not. I care about them. I care about both of them. Besides, we heard what she said okay. To her I’m just an asset.
Roan: No, you’re not. Trust me. The lady doth protest too much. You know Charles, just ask yourself, is she worth dying for?
Roan: Poor boy. Lesson number one in being a spy, never fall in love.
Chuck: Well then I guess I’m not much of a spy. And you’re not much of a legend.
Initial hesitancy aside, they do manage to come up with a plan that doesn’t get everyone killed. In the end. And Chuck has his moment of heroism to go along with the revelation. You are in love, and she’s worth dying for. The peaceful, quiet, albeit degrading life isn’t for him while Sarah Walker is in his life, and he’ll never stay in the car again.
But before the love doctor leaves town there are a few issues. The CIA needs to pull it’s weight, and Chuck, that remarkable guy, calls in a favor not for himself, but for his sister. He gives her the dream date her fiance would plan if he had the time. Roan however has something for Chuck, advice. Don’t let it stop you, the silly rules and barriers they put up about professionalism and distance. If you want her, pursue her. That’s the advice, even though The Montgomery may be the method. As for Roan, he’s apparently back on the horse and off to DC to see Dianne, a gift he can thank Chuck for, in a few years.
As for that magnificent bastard Bryce, Oh how I miss loving hating you. Though season 3 might have gone ill even for Bryce Larkin.
In the end there is a whole lot of seduction going on. Chuck has fallen for Sarah big time, and we think Sarah for Chuck, as much as she’ll allow. I think one thing that struck me about the opening arc of season 2 is that this new Sarah seems determined to be a part of Chuck’s life and to help him. Even if her presence may not be permanent, you can see that she wants him to remember her as he sees her, supportive, and heroic, and a woman he’ll love the rest of his life, even if they could never be together. In a way she’s entrusting that real girl to Chuck, so that she can live on in Chuck’s memory no matter what becomes of Sarah Walker. It’s the beginning of a wonderful season long metamorphosis as the two of them change each other. You see Chuck is a bit of a slacker, and a doormat. He needs some encouragement, and the occasional push to build his confidence and make something of that potential he’s bursting with. Sarah needs to forgive herself for who she was, and thinks she is, and learn that she does make a positive difference, she does have more to offer than deceit and death.
One of the best of Chuck at it’s best.