4 seasons, 78 total episodes, innumerable favorites and yet one stands above. That “one” is Chuck vs. the Colonel. It’s the episode that changed everything; the reason for all the build up; the end of a journey. Countless longing looks, heartbreak, laughter, tears, hugs, and fountain talks has led to this and it was perfect, real. For once, absolutely, positively real. No more lies, no more fake relationship, for once, from now on “it is real.” Chuck vs. the Colonel wasn’t just an illustration of what it is we love about Chuck, it’s the very best of Chuck. An episode full of high stakes, drama, humor, growth and most of all, love.
Set the scene | PapaB has been abducted. He’s being held in a Fulcrum facility under the leadership of the devious, sociopathic Ted “you can eat them if you want” Roark and his minion Vincent. Chuck was bunker meat, and Sarah was tasked to bury him (metaphorically). Sarah didn’t take Beckman’s orders lightly. She only consented to speak to Chuck once made to realize that his life is in danger above ground. For Sarah, Chuck’s safety is paramount and she is after all still an agent first and foremost. She’s been an agent for most of her life; it’s given her purpose, a mission, a life. When her father was arrested, and Graham stepped in, the girl with many names and no ties was given one. A cold, often unsatisfying, complicated tie to the government but a connection all the same. So can she do what her mind insists she musts but her heart objects to? Can she continue to embrace “something bigger,” and forsake love? Can she be apart from her heart’s desire? No, she couldn’t, and so upon Chuck’s heartfelt, “I owe you an apology Sarah. I was beginning to think that I couldn’t trust you anymore…you’ve always looked out for me, thank you,” Sarah Walker set forth on a path that changed everything, treason. When once her whole life was the CIA, now it’s Chuck.
“There is no going back.” | It wasn’t just that she took him away against orders, or that she’s helping him find his dad (thereby giving him what he desires most), it’s that for once, and for always her walls have been disintegrated. She’s no longer in a battle against herself, against her growing feelings for Chuck, against the truth. Now everything’s clear. There’s Chuck. No more missions, no more deception, just Chuck. And for once the truth.
Chuck: “Why are you doing this…why are you here risking everything that you’ve worked so hard for?”
Sarah: “…because after everything you’ve done for this country, you deserve to find your father, to get the intersect out of your head, to have a chance at a normal life.”
Chuck: “What about when it’s not your job? What happens to us then?”
Sarah: “One mission at a time Chuck.”
Though her priorities have crystallized, she’s still unable to look beyond the moment, but don’t worry that will come.
Amazingly enough, this conversation isn’t the most telling, it’s what happens one sunny morning in a dirty motel room in Barstow that is. Cue Bon Iver’s Creature Fear. There’s a bit of a pun with the lyrics, “so ready for love” as Chuck and Sarah unleash their passion, but it is perhaps one of the most revealing and honest moment in all of Chuck. Through there were no words uttered, and the scene was simple, there isn’t a moment more iconic or more fulfilling than that moment (except perhaps “Feeling Good”) because it was simple and yet meant so much, showed so much. Overnight, they helplessly gravitated towards one another. Upon waking there was only the other. You can feel the strength of the love between them as their fingers roamed, as one met the other, as mate found mate. And as they basked in the moment of slowly waking up together, and their passion built, we fall even deeper in love. Then everything stopped and they just looked at each other, and smiled…PERFECT! That smile, in between fiery passion, was like the two of them taking in the moment, realizing the gravity of the situation, feeling the joy and the euphoria of finally, finally being together, finally embracing love. Seasons of longing looks, break up speeches, and wishes and dreams have led to this moment and it couldn’t have been more perfect. (As I type this, I too have a smile on my face, much like theirs). Finally Sarah was completely vulnerable, open, and Chuck Bartowski can no longer doubt himself and their love. Finally the truth can no longer be denied! It was their moment, we were so ready for it, and it didn’t disappoint.
John Casey was in a parallel journey, though his role was darker. Tasked to retrieve Chuck and arrest Sarah, we’re reminded of an earlier John Casey, one who was G-Man through and through. When once he couldn’t shoot at Chuck’s picture (First Date), now a Colonel, he does so without remorse. Jeff and Lester’s assessment of Casey’s obsession with Chuck was hilarious, and yet fitting. Threatening to strangle Chuck with a radiator and handcuff? John Casey gold. “Nerd bludgeoned by radiator?” Too funny. (Side note: fantastic awareness and twist to have Sarah in the shower expecting Casey and then taking him out? WIN!) Worse, he steps over the line and threatens Chuck’s family, threatens Devon. The fact that Awesome couldn’t take him out but Sarah could with one kick was great. But the twist was even more compelling. Though Casey seemingly embraced his inner villain, the fact that he did so because he felt betrayed was a shocking and moving twist. His vehemence at being the one that’s loyal, and being the one that’s been betrayed was inspired. It seems Chuck’s presence didn’t just change Sarah’s life, but Casey’s too. Needless to say this John Casey was one that we haven’t seen before, and one that is welcome. He showed a bit of his heart with the promise to rescue Chuck’s dad, but actually keeping it and helping rescue Chuck’s dad was a different Casey, a Casey with heart.
All of this under the constant threat of Fulcrum. With our heroes feeling the pressure of multiple threats, and hope seemingly lost, it made their triumph all the more riveting. I loved seeing Chuck and Sarah willing to do everything and anything for one another, even under tremendous pressure and personal risk. I loved that Sarah committed treason, that Chuck wouldn’t leave her behind, I even love that they had a moment of levity with “two beds?” I loved that Fulcrum kept on coming, and our heroes kept on battling. I especially loved that PapaB was the architect behind the scenes with theatre signs and reworked intersect. Bravery comes in many forms, but when it’s prompted by love it’s all the more compelling. PapaB, Casey and Sarah, they’re all very brave and heroic and in their way, they did what they did for love. Even Devon braved Casey’s threat and Chuck’s secret for Ellie, for love. Though flawed, Chuck is just as brave and heroic. He probably shouldn’t have left the car, but he did so because he understood the threat and danger an army of intersects would bring and sought to put a stop to it. In doing so he showed off his own streak of heroism.
Amazingly, Morgan also showed off his streak of heroism, with a bit of leadership to boot. Ostracized from Big Mike’s circle (great Godfather references), he sought to keep the Buy More together by joining forces with Emmett. Meanwhile Jeff and Lester are more interested in letting Rome burn (quite literally with the fireworks). The fact that they had a hand, even unwittingly in saving Chuck and Sarah from imprisonment makes their actions funnier. But the real hero of the Buy More was Morgan. He braved more than the villain in Emmet, more than Jeff and Lester’s disdain but he did what no one else has been able to, he quit. In leaving behind the comfort of the herd, and embracing Hibachi chef dreams, Morgan has finally matured.
So high stakes, truth, courage, love, and an explosion..the brilliance is almost blinding! And it gets better! Chuck promised his sister that he would find their dad and that he would be there to walk her down the aisle. Ellie has lost all hope, “I knew that my dad would disappoint me but I didn’t think Chuck would.” Then in comes Chuck with Stephen. Father and daughter finally get their moment,
Ellie: “Are you staying?”
Stephen: “I’m not going anywhere.”
What a tearjerker! But the moment for tears was fleeting because (cue Creature Fear) in comes Sarah and one is helpless to do anything but smile.
Sarah: “So how does it feel?”
Chuck: “It feels great actually, like everything is finally real.”
Sarah: “It is real.”
Just like that moment, and many before it, Colonel feels great. The very best of Chuck.