Summer Rewatch 4.20: Chuck vs. The Family Volkoff

~ Joe Starts…

Breakfast and a Pre-nup.

Chuck vs. The Family Volkoff is not one of those episodes that springs to mind when I construct my “Best Of” lists. Of course, with the way I feel about most all Chuck episodes, that’s not exactly fair, right? Still, I had a hard time remembering exactly what was in this episode.

Hoo-Boy. That was a mistake. More than many of episodes we’ve had the pleasure to review, Chuck vs. The Family Volkoff had a job to do. Several, actually. Ernie noted that the creative talent had a chance to explore something fun and different in Chuck vs. The Muuurder, and now it was time to return to – not one, but two – major story lines. They are, of course, Alexei Volkoff, master insaniac, and the wedding. The question is, can they do that pedestrian work and still be entertaining? Let me catch you up.

When we last saw Alexei, he had been safely tucked away in a CIA stronghold. That was in episode 4.13, Push Mix. We last saw Sarah Lisa Walker, bridezilla, shortly after that, in episode 4.17, First Bank of Evil. Here we have Sarah handing Chuck that most dark of lawyerly documents, the dreaded pre-nup. And because of the appearance, thanks to Vivian McArthur-Volkoff, of an unknown type of weapon called “The Norseman”, Chuck has to negotiate with the most dangerous man in the world! Oh no! Panic! How the heck is our girlish-screaming, Halo-playing nerd of a hero going to handle all that???

Well, very coolly, thank you very much. Doesn’t phase him in the least.

Sarah: Don’t let him get to you. He’s just being Casey.

Chuck: Sure. Naw, it’s – cool.

Sarah: Look, I know I sprung those papers on you this morning. So, uh, I assume you want to talk about it?

Chuck: No. … Prenup! Signed, sealed, delivered. So, we better gear up, huh?

Sarah: A prenup doesn’t mean the end of our marriage…

Chuck: Well, look. You’re a spy, ‘n spies have secrets they need to protect. That’s cool.

Sarah: You know, I – I don’t keep secrets from you. It’s just – uh – family stuff.

Chuck: Got it! Done.

Sarah: Yeah. Cool.

So what’s up with this? That’s exactly the question Sarah starts to ask herself.

General Beckman has no idea how to get the intel on that weird and incomplete new weapon that Vivian handed the agents as a sign of good will. Chuck does.

Chuck: There’s only one man who can tell us. Unfortunately, he’s also the most dangerous man in the world.

Volkoff: It’s true. I cut in front of William in the cafeteria line. I admit, I – have entitlement issues. I owe an amend. My apologies.

Say what? Was that Alexei Volkoff, “The world’s biggest bad-ass, killer of men! Conqueror of nations!”? Um, yes. Looks like he changed a bit. Chuck himself seems changed, too. Our one-time nervous nebish of lanky build faces down Alexei with all the cynical skepticism of a seasoned agent.

Chuck: First off, we don’t trust you.

Volkoff: I understand. I’m ashamed of myself.

Sarah: There is an assassination order out on your daughter Vivian. You can help remove it.

Volkoff: It’s all my fault. Absentee parent.

Chuck: What’s with this good-guy act, huh?

Volkoff: Charles, Sarah, I’ve had a lot of time to think about my life. I’m not interested in how the world can serve me anymore. I’m interested in how I can serve my fellow man.

Chuck: Sure. Awesome. Well, if that’s the case, if we can identify this weapon, we can help rescind your daughter’s kill order.

Volkoff: That’s the Norseman. It’s a DNA tracker. A tiny sample, and a target or a family of targets can be picked out of a crowd to be killed instantly. There are two other components.

Sarah: Where are they?

Volkoff: That’s valuable information.

Chuck: Now there’s the conniving, manipulative Volkoff I know.

Perhaps you can tell. When I find myself pulling extensive quotes from an episode, it means I’m enjoying myself. The dialog throughout is witty and snappy, and I’m having a good time watching Sarah’s confusion grow over Chuck’s new-found coolness. Her confusion mirrors my own.

But before I get ahead of myself, I like to point out that Chuck and Alexei aren’t the only ones who undergo a metamorphosis here. Ellie’s back to being engrossed in her dad’s computer. She finds it more than fascinating. She’s obsessed with understanding her dad’s work until she discovers that some files are missing.

Well, Ellie is no dope. In fact, she seems even brighter than Chuck, of whom Stephen once said “Oh, he’s smarter than me. He’s a genius, that one.” She wants to get to the bottom of this – who took the files. No, wait. She knows who took the files. It’s mom. And she knows the files themselves are backed up. They’re safe. To find out what her mom is up to, it’s time for Ellie to become a spy.

Devon: Target’s on the move, Hot-Momma!

Ellie: Copy that, Six-pack. I got the baby, you get the car.

Okay, that was just fun!

Finally, there’s Casey. His daughter Alex is graduating, and Morgan gets an invite that should have been sent to the Buy More. Casey didn’t get one. He understands, of course. Kathleen doesn’t know that he’s even alive, and bringing Alex Coburn back into her life would be – awkward. Upsetting.

Casey’s about to undergo, quietly, a bit of a change too.

 ~ Dave Continues…

Like so much of this season we have an episode than can be enjoyed purely for fun, even though there are interesting character and story issues going on too.  I agree entirely with Joe that at first take, this doesn’t seem to be one of the best or strongest of the season.  But I still can’t help but have a good time, and get a few belly laughs here anyway.  The first story that gets rolling is the pre-nup.  My first reaction would be “oh, cheezy sit-com plot, got it”.  But we get so much nuance in the performance, and our history with these characters really sells it.  Chuck tries so hard to “be cool”, and he almost pulls it off.  We can see it seething just below the surface, but he’s determined not to let on that this bothers him.  Sarah for her part, seems to want to be called on this.  Another really outstanding performance by Yvonne here, there is clearly something brewing just below the surface.  I’m not sure if she’s ready to just fold if challenged at all, or if she’s girding herself for battle; but either way she is baffled by Chuck’s cool ploy.  My suspicion is she didn’t have much determination to go through with it anyhow. I would love to know the story on how this came about; perhaps its some old promise she made to her dad, or to herself, about protecting him? But it doesn’t seem to fit with the new and improved Sarah Walker.

The Official, Legal, Document

And of course I love the unstated revelation that Chuck fans everywhere picked up on; Sarah Lisa Walker is her legal name.  How long has that been so?  Perhaps since Graham gave her the identity at 18; or maybe she made it legal herself after getting involved with Chuck and wanting distance from that other name.  For a sub-plot I didn’t like much at first glance, there did end up being some merit to this one.

Joe kind of skipped over the first encounter with Vivian.  What looked to be an unfortunate event that damaged Vivian’s already shaky trust in Chuck turned out to be quite the elaborate set-up.  We won’t see Riley in this episode, but Vivian seems quite the scoundrel all by herself.  The ambush seems to have killed some of her men, and she’ll do worse before this episode is over.  I still have some issues with her weak motivation here, and Miss Volkoff is capable of some pretty evil stuff.

When we do get to Alexei, we get a dynamite, and over-the-top performance by Timothy Dalton.  The psycho, trying to rehabilitate, is fun from beginning to end.  We just know he can’t play nice, right?  We know a few things in hindsight we didn’t know on first viewing.  For starters, Volkoff was apparently, just trying to “play” nice; he really was up to no good from the start.  But we also know it may not be all his fault, apparently he was fighting the program!

Ready for a rousting game of UNO!

The scene Joe already described is so much fun.  It leads to one of my favorite moments of pure absurdity this season.  The high stakes Uno match.  So we get a tough arrogant pirate playing a family/kids game for a terror weapon.  I’m just uncool enough that Uno is a regular favorite of mine, and a can’t imagine a game more ill-suited to a high stakes match.  I mean, it is so luck dependent there is hardly any strategy at all!  It makes Backgammon look like a strategy game!  Perhaps the strategy was just to catch the pirate cheating.  Very funny scene.

And let’s not forget how this scene ends either as a still psycho Volkoff tries to make amends with another rival.  The farther we get into this the more I’m liking this episode.

~ Joe Again

Oh yeah! Fun is right, Dave. But what’s with Sarah and the pre-nup anyway? A document like that is hard to see as anything but bad news. It bespeaks of mistrust, of self-protection and as Ellie so elegantly once put it, of having only one foot in the game.

The world is never simple for our heroes, especially Sarah Lisa Walker. If there’s anyone in the world who needs their privacy it’s her, the world’s most reticent person. (And isn’t that one on the reasons Sarah is such a good spy? She keeps secrets!) Of course, it’s not that she wants to keep secrets from Chuck. In fact, she doesn’t want to do that. It’s just that she needs to take it slow, choose her own timing and be judicious when she speaks, for the sake of others. And then again, old habits are just hard to break! Chuck knows that she’ll tell him when she’s ready.

Somehow, that doesn’t stop Sarah from being concerned and a little confused.

Casey: Yeah, I know you don’t like Bartowski’s groovy attitude. God knows where he gets these ideas.

Sarah: Well, it kind of threw me when he just signed that pre-nup.

Casey: It’s what you would have done.

Sarah: Exactly. But now I see Chuck’s side of it would have been like, flipping out about our relationship being boiled down to the contents of an envelope. Seeing the end before we before we’ve even started.

Casey: So, why the pre-nup?

Indeed. Chuck, the guy who can’t stop talking about his emotions is actually being cool, and the strong, silent partner, Sarah, is being exceptionally empathetic. You know, I always did wish Chuck and Sarah would meet in the middle.

Oh, this is not some sort or weird or major role reversal. Sarah has her reasons for wanting the pre-nup, and they’re – well, they’re just not that big a deal. As she explains to Casey:

Sarah: I have some money socked away in case my dad gets arrested again.

Casey: Well, I’m sure Bartowski can handle it. Any excuse to weep and hug…

Sarah: Yeah… it’s more about what it dredges up for me. My relationship with my family is having to take sides.

Casey: Caught between your parents, huh? Tough place to be.

Sarah: Hardest place for a kid is right in the middle.

Casey: [Whispering] Roger that.

Sarah’s explanation is that pedestrian work I mentioned earlier. We don’t know it yet, but those few sentences are the opening to The Wedding Planner and the re-introduction of Jack Burton. For now, they’re also a way to know that Sarah is not so cold hearted as a pre-nup might indicate. They’re also a spur for Casey.

For his part, Chuck is definitely not becoming James Carmichael Bond, the man with whom Sarah most emphatically did not fall in love. He’s still her Chuck.

Sarah: [Tearing up the pre-nup] Done!

Chuck: You don’t have to do that.

Sarah: Please forget that it ever existed. Okay? And, can you please stop being so cool? [Chuck takes out a new pre-nup from the seat behind him] That is soooo not cool.

Chuck: Just read it.

Sarah: “I, Sarah Walker, promise to (long sigh) always love Chuck Bartowski. In return, he will always love me.” Heh! I can’t read this fine print.

Chuck: The fine print says “I promise Chuck that I will not even contemplate the word divorce, and I will never use my pre-nup.” I already signed it. [Sarah signs it happily.]

That meeting in the middle isn’t a bad thing. It’s a sign of growth, in fact. Alexei does the same when he sincerely takes the blame for Vivian’s treachery and when he apologizes to Frost, but not after taking on the dread pirate Abshire and the computer in a deadly game of chess. He’s still a Conqueror of Nations!, even if he’s learned to temper his strength with a little humanity.

Casey has learned to see things from Alex’s eyes too. For his daughter’s sake, it’s time to reveal to Kathleen he’s still alive. To overstate the obvious here, very nearly the same thing is true for Alexei and Vivian, too. Only the incredible performance of Timothy Dalton allows him to hide that under layers of subtly as surely as a magician doing slight of hand. It makes me go “Ah!”

Everyone involved is trying to find a new position in their relationship, and for the most part, it works out. Chuck and Sarah, Casey and Alex, even Diane and Mary. Out of the blue we learn that they are not exactly boss and subordinate. That couldn’t be the case when first names, explanations and apologies are used.

Mary: General, I’d like the second file from Orion’s computer to be the last that I acquire. It’s not going to be easy to keep secrets from my daughter much longer.

Beckman: Cards on the table? Washington is hungry to extend the Intersect program, and Ellie has a lot of material our best technicians couldn’t get near. We never even heard of “Agent-X”.

Mary: Well, neither have I. But that does not mean it’s related to the Intersect.

Beckman: Still, it seems like Ellie has exclusive access – The Director wants her to keep working.

Mary: Diane, She’s not a spy. She’s my daughter.

Beckman: Mary, I’m sorry. But it comes from the top.

On re-watch, Chuck vs. The Family Volkoff was more than it first appeared. It was hilarious and as heartwarming an episode as you’ll ever hope to see, outside of those season-ending highlights we all love so much. By design, we didn’t see any Agent Walker kickbutt-ery, or Chuck-like second guessing about the romance. We didn’t need to because the couple is doing more than seeing the world through each others’ eyes. They both accepting that world.

"He looks like me."

Chuck, Sarah, Casey and Alexei escaped the trap set by the once innocent Vivian. She’s changed, but so is Alexei.

Lest you think that the show is getting treacly and saccharine on us, have no fear about that, because not everyone is being so accepting of the changes, like Vivian. Not even all of the “good guys.”

Chuck: El, I need to talk to you about dad’s computer?

Ellie: Oh, yeah. Yeah. I thought that I uncovered some secret files. Turned out to be cheats on some video game he was developing.

Chuck: Oh yeah?

Ellie: Yeah – gibberish, really. Listen. That Chicken à la king’s not going to cook itself. So I’m gonna get in there.

Chuck: Okay.

Ellie: Okay.

Chuck: [To Sarah] My sister just lied to me. She’s never lied to me. Not cool.

~ Dave Again

Not much good cop/bad cop about this one, Joe and I seem to see things mostly the same. The pre-nup sub-plot wraps up with one of those warm and fuzzy moments Chuck has long been great at. Chuck’s version is worded perfectly, and Sarah’s eagerness to embrace it is wonderful to see.

Volkoff, after a full episode of deception, has a moment of self-realization at the end that is both sad and scary. He sees that his daughter is just like him, and there is no one else to blame for it. But its hard to be too sad for him, he seems to embrace his tragedy with gusto as he’s carted away.

I think this episode is let down by a few minor issues. The Ellie/Mary story doesn’t do much for me. For some reason, Mary and Chuck scenes play better. The Casey/Alex story is also sort of a non-starter; it just isn’t very interesting.

The major stories are wonderful: the pre-nup, which sounded weak at the start was a lot of fun to watch. And almost everything involving Timothy Dalton was wonderful. I say almost only because I find the chess scene tedious; but every other Alexie scene is a blast.
We started this post with the observation it won’t make many top ten lists, so I’d like to end with a few top ten lists it will make:
1. Top Ten episodes with the name Volkoff in the title.
2. Top ten of the last ten episodes of S4.
3. Top ten episodes with a high stakes Uno match.
4. Top ten episodes in which Chuck keeps his cool.
5. Top ten episodes in which Sarah wants to talk.

Now if I can just get Ernie to set up those polls…

joe and ATCDave


About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
This entry was posted in Season 4. Bookmark the permalink.

136 Responses to Summer Rewatch 4.20: Chuck vs. The Family Volkoff

  1. ArmySFC says:

    nice write up guys. not a favorite of mine but not at the bottom either. to me it was just another add on the sarah keeping things from chuck until he pries them out of her. from ep one when sarah says no secrets no lies, she does both. this is another example. you guys quoted it above. “Sarah: You know, I – I don’t keep secrets from you. It’s just – uh – family stuff.” one line many meanings. she never tells him whats in it and why, (it can be argued that by reading it he finds out), so she is keeping a secret, therefore that sentence is a little white lie. for me it shot the no secrets no lie thing in the butt, again.

    i did like the ellie, devon bit, made me laugh, good time with that bit.

    i feel they missed a golden opportunity to bring up more of sarah’s past. if she would have told chuck why, they could have given more up. things like she put it aside for her mom and why. lots of stuff people want to know could have been touched on, similar to the scene in the balcony. you’d be amazed what can be said in 2 minutes, lol.

    • joe says:

      Absolutely, Army. I’ve been stunned with how much story can be told in just a very few, well chosen words.

      The fans in general, though, have been more concerned with what’s been left unsaid, especially by Sarah, right? I wasn’t too concerned with the “no secrets, no lies” thing, mostly because I find that, IRL no two people are in agreement about it’s limits or its meaning. In the context of our story here, I was a little more upset with Ellie’s lie than Sarah’s (well, not a lie, but her withholding) because it seemed a little more out of character.

      But even then, Ellie’s done a little of that before (anyone remember “Gronka?”) to good effect.

      I agree with you 100% about the lost opportunity, though. I’m thinking that they really don’t want to relate the story of Sarah’s origins too much. It’s intentional. She’s going to always be a little mysterious!

      • ArmySFC says:

        joe, agreed. i would be concerned, if i planned to watch again, about the sarah back story. remember the confusion from cat squad? she was a member of this elite squad, before her red test (which is supposed to make you a real spy). it made the red test parts even stupider. TPTB have a real hard time keeping things in the correct time frame. my fear is they go back in time and mess it up again, changing again what they have showed us already. i know some folks care about her past, i don’t. why waste any of the 546? minutes you have left, seeing what made a person someone she no longer is? to me that’s season 1 or 2 material. keep her past a mystery and move on with the future.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually I thought this was a pretty good example of Sarah’s growth. After all, she actually went to Chuck and asked if he wanted to talk about it. I see no indicators of secrets or lies in that. Chuck was the one who shut her down and said no.

        I think she was a little disappointed she didn’t get to talk about it until Casey of all people asked. And then, one question and she spilled the beans.

        I’d call that as much full disclosure as anyone can practice. Her mechanism for initiating the conversation was a bit crude (the pre-nup), but that’s where baggage from her past enters into it.

      • ArmySFC says:

        dave, hence what i said about him having to work it out of her. as the quote showed her first reaction was, family stuff. no full disclosure till later. as the quotes also show she sprung it on him, not gave it to him and say we need to discuss this.

        i am not trying to sway your opinion one way or the other, BTW. just pointing out how i saw the events happen. growth to me would be her handing the prenup to him and saying we need to discuss this and here are my reasons. having your husband to be have to pry information from you is not a good thing. (pry may be a harsh word but i can’t think of another that fits)

      • jason says:

        dave –

        #1 – I was amazed by the growth in the writers writing sarah’s character in s4, sarah explained what was going on to casey – which explains it to the audience (same as she explained important things to morgan several times earlier in s4) – which puts later scenes between sarah and chuck into context – this was missing, well you know when it was missing

        #2 – I like on rewatch all (every single one) s4’s eps more upon each viewing, much as I disliked more on each viewing a different, less happy time in the show chuck, you know which eps I mean.

        #3 – one bad thing about s4, the entire spy story seemed to be missing some of the context that chuck and sarah did have in s4. Missing where little set up points, scenes, lines & characters (a key one) that revealed and pulled more and more of the story together over time. Much like Paris seemed to just happen in s3 after 13 eps of misery, with little justification or explanation what had just gone on, mary & agent X sort of felt that way in s4. I didn’t care, since the spy story is a bonus to me, if good that is great, if bad that it still is ok. But I sure do get why some of our bloggers that have different POV’s about the spy story importance did not like that in s4. Much like Paris, agent X & hartley seemed to be a decent enough destination, but the journey there was somewhat lacking. Army, or Kev or some of the new bloggers who don’t like s4 or even OD could chime in and say that is not it at all, but if it is, I do understand, even if I do not agree.

      • joe says:

        Ooooh! I like the way you put that, Dave. Sarah’s attempt (attempts, actually) to talk to Chuck about the pre-nup were a good example of her growth. S1 Sarah Walker would not (and probably could not) do that.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah thanks Joe. I just think back to early scenes like when Chuck was pushing her for “anything real” in Wookie and Sarah would get that blank look on her face. Then compare it to the look we saw in Family Volkoff; she not only brought up the idea of talking, she almost had an eagerness about it, and noticeable disappointment when Chuck decided to be “be cool.”

      • ArmySFC says:

        Jason, well you got one part of it right for me. i’ll try to be brief, lol. first, character growth, while not real important to me was very well done in most cases. i have said before that’s one part of the season they did get right. the big end of season 3, chuck tells eliie he’s not going to be a spy anymore. we get to the point where ellie finds out and the reaction is, im mad because you didn’t tell me. it needed to be more dramatic for all the time the put into chuck not letting ellie know.

        i really don’t want to do this next part and start a huge debate but you did kinda ask. i started losing it during ep.01. when neither chuck nor sarah got on morgan for sexting with sarah. that is a HUGE no no in my book. i don’t care how good a friend of mine you are thats off limits. the spy plots as you say were weaker than in past. my big issue was mama b/ volkoff mission. it never really got explained, even agent x didn’t put a good end to it. just made mary and stephen look worse (we debated that before). chuck in the first 2 seasons would rush headlong into danger. when he lost the intersect he lost his ability to do simple stuff he did before. like casey said, before the intersect you were smart. he got whiny to often. the fact that volkoff/vivian was a personal thing not a world thing bugged me too. it was also a lot of little things that added up for me as the season went on that i just grew bored with it. many stand alones were very good like seduction. i really liked leftovers, cubic z, FBoE, coupe masquerade. while i hated phase 3, FOD, cat squad, balcony, gobbler and murderer. most of the others were ok.

        so to close, the pay off’s for most of the build up were like you said equal to 3.13. not really much of a payoff for all the ground work they tried to lay out.i don’t know if i explained it well or not so ill put it this way. if you own a car and the engine blows and you can’t really afford a new one so you replace the engine. one big shot of pain and its over. same car but the engine never blows. every couple weeks something small happens, flat tire, muffler, brakes,and it goes on for a while. soon your looking for a way to get that new car because the one you have is just @#$% you off. the little things add up to a lot over the course of time.

        this is just my answer to a question, i am NOT trying to sway anyones opinion from the one they have.

      • JC says:

        I get why the prenup bothered people. Like Army said the whole no secrets and lies pact they made at the beginning of the seasons seems to be completely one sided. And two its another example of Sarah talking about her past to anyone but Chuck once again.

        From a story stand point it didn’t make sense. Chuck knows that her father is a conman and has shown no interest in money before. Remember Jack made a ten million dollar bet on him when their relationship was just a cover. And probably the biggest in my book was they didn’t have Sarah talk to Chuck about it really, they used Casey as a proxy.

      • ArmySFC says:

        JC, exactly. it’s not a real big thing, but another little one that keeps getting added to the pile. the timeline of events is critical to me. what happened first, then second then third and so on. sure in the end she talks to chuck, like i said not when she dropped it on his head. it’s like getting from point a to point d. if you end up at point g before you get to d it doesn’t mean you didn’t get lost along the way when you get to d. you just got there later than you should have. i’ll just say it’s the Army in me, lol.

  2. thinkling says:

    Thanks for the write up, guys. I have really enjoyed the rewatch. FamV wasn’t much on my radar, but I really do like it. With every rewatch my affection for S4 grows … and it was amazing on first watch.

    I like that when Sarah returns to old habits and ways of dealing with things, they don’t fit her any more. This is sort of like Seduction Impossible … going for avoidance instead of talking about her family (because of what it dredges up for her — remember her look at the end of Seduction Impossible). Only this time, as soon as it leaves the gate, it breaks a leg. It just won’t work for her any more … not just because she knows different, but because she is different.

    I like seeing the penitent Volkoff, knowing that somewhere inside is a person who would abhor who he’s become. You mentioned that he made Vivian like him, and that’s the sticking point with Hartley in Cliffhanger.

    I like the S&L theme, and how everyone realized that secrets and lies aren’t the way families should operate (Sarah, Mary, Casey, Volkoff, Chuck and Sarah). I put Sarah in the list twice. It’s not a typo. I especially love the look that crosses Chuck and Sarah’s faces when Volkoff says he was going to tell Vivian all his secrets.

    Man, I love the great end scenes with Chuck and Sarah. Perfect, just perfect. I loved the prenup resolution and also Sarah’s encouragement to Chuck concerning Ellie. She’ll understand. Being a spy isn’t about just what you do. It’s about who you are. Nice. Hey did anybody else notice all the candles? Pretty romantic, huh? We did that the other night … but the electricity was out. 🙂

    • joe says:

      I love your choice of words, Thinkling. “Penitent” is just right.

      And you’re right about using Sarah twice in your list. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the “secrets and lies” stuff is not the usually trivial TV fare, to be disposed of at the end of 60 minutes. It’s more important than that.

      Funny you should mention the candles! I did notice them! – well, this time around, anyway… 😉

    • atcDave says:

      You know I completely agree about S4 and rewatch. Also like your way of looking at Sarah and secrets; its not who she is anymore, and the difference is stunning when compared to previous seasons. I’d say she gets my vote for most changed character, but of course most of the main characters have changed in pretty dramatic ways. That growth and change is one of the more satisfying elements of the show.

  3. Faith says:

    First, “Sarah: You know, I – I don’t keep secrets from you.” Since when?

    Second, no surprise, not brimming with accolades for this episode either. Prenup aside (I actually understand the need for one beyond emotional connotations, especially for Sarah Lisa Walker Bartowski.) I’m not a fan of either of then turning to others to work out their issues. Yes it’s important to have a confidant…but they are each others’ confidant…have been since pilot’s beach scene. Even in matters directly related to the other.

    Then there’s that pesky Vivian 😉 lol.

    • atcDave says:

      I think we’ve seen a pretty clearly forthcoming Sarah over the course of S4. She’s dealt with many over her dysfunctional behaviors and fixed them. For Sarah, that was practically the theme of the entire season. When she said that (“I don’t keep secrets from you”) I’m certain she meant it. But old habits die hard, and that’s exactly how I saw the first scene with the documents. Especially since she tried to make amends the very next time she saw Chuck and talk about the situation. Of course, that’s how she should have introduced the topic; but fixing one’s own mistakes is a sign of serious commitment and maturity. It was consistently Chuck who avoided the topic, NOT Sarah. He listened to bad advice from Morgan and Casey and shut her out in a misguided effort to “be cool.” It was both funny and ironic that Casey wound up being the one she did get to talk to. It sure didn’t take much prodding on his part to get her to open up either. I think she was ready from her second scene. For most of the episode it was more about Chuck’s dysfunctional behavior than Sarah’s! But then we get to that awesome end seen where they manage to deal with the problem together (um, like Sarah wanted to almost from the start!) and move past it. Even if Sarah had not been willing to discuss things with Chuck earlier, her willingness to destroy the pre-nup after a few days thought shows amazing growth and maturity in its own right!
      The theme continued right up until Cliffhanger, when we see Sarah’s deepest fear is having to expose her deepest feelings in front of a crowd. What a funny comment that was! No worries about the actual marriage, just the wedding. But again in that episode we see her overcome it with Chuck’s help.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, i know we see things differently, so i’ll ask a yes or no question. when sarah handed chuck the prenup, did she explain it or talk about why she wanted it? that’s the crux of my opinion, not what happens later. i know what happens after, but that never was what bothered me. if this was the first time i would be on board, what about balcony? she never talked with chuck before talking to beckman. so that has been a theme as well. like faith said, “since when”

      • atcDave says:

        Did you read my post? She handled it wrong at first. But EVERYONE screws up. The measure of a person is how they fix their mistakes. And Sarah tried to fix it several times BEFORE tearing up the pre-nup. I call that a heroic effort.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, easy dude. i did read the post, no need to get excited over it. i’m glad to see we agree on the beginning of the episode. i know you read mine. like i said we just have different idea’s especially about what is heroic. but that’s for another time.

        i also agree she did make up for it in the end. so we agree on that.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay then!

      • Faith says:

        Dave, I certainly didn’t mean to place blame on one over the other. As I mentioned my main issue with this episode was that both turned to others rather than each other. Sure Sarah could have dealt with it better but we must never forget this is new territory for Sarah in every way imaginable.

        Also my query as to “since when” wasn’t in any way critical. It was more of a verbal introspection. I can date it all the way back to Anniversary with no secrets, no lies but I think it’s far earlier. Maybe even before season 4. We know that sometime in between Helicopter’s “I never asked you to believe me, I asked you to trust me” and “no secrets, no lies” and so on something changed for Sarah.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry I was getting a little testy there Faith! But yeah the turning to others is something they used a couple times this season (mainly Chuck to Morgan); its not my favorite device. But it has been used mainly for laughs, and in every case things worked out okay. I think its one of those things where the attempts at comedy and romance sometimes backfire on the writers.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, i agree with you on them using the couple turning to others as a device. i don’t however see it being done for laughs. i think they actually tried to make it serious. chuck turning to his best friend and all that. on paper it probably looked good, but didn’t turn out like they wanted. i know for me, every time it happened i said to myself, why is he going to morgan, a guy that never had a good relationship since the series started? another example is when sarah listened to mama b. i just shook my head at that. who knows maybe it looked good on paper as well, but for me failed. granted these are just my opinions and i NO WAY want to offend you or anyone else. it’s just what i saw and what it meant to me. i would much rather have seen them talk it out themselves. their going to others (morgan especially) is one of the small things that added to the pile and helped turn me off to the show.

      • atcDave says:

        Sarah going to Frost was my least favorite moment of the entire season. But Chuck to Morgan? Sexting, practice “NO”, and “be cool”. That was only minor annoying and definitely played for laughs.
        Now I do agree I’d rather they just talked things out. But the show does call itself a comedy first, we do have to expect the occasional dumb moment for laughs. You know I’m no big fan of Morgan; but so many of the casual viewers I know love him, and TPTB seem to love him. So I guess I’ll just have to suck it up on that.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, glad we can agree, well mostly, lol. i just find it annoying when they go to someone else. when it repeatedly happens, it’s like a rash. if it lasts for one day, not so bad. if it keeps coming back it becomes an issue. i guess i’m not as forgiving as you (just a guess). i’m not a big fan of repetition. once or twice it’s ok, after that it becomes, how can i say this, boring, like i expect it to happen again. i don’t like that feeling. i know this is off topic, it’s like the intersectless arc. over 22 eps he lost it or had problems with it for 40% of the eps. then came the 4 episode span (i think maybe i’m wrong) where 3 of the 4 had a countdown to death. the machine guns, the nuke and the boom box bomb. repetition again. who knows i may be to picky. such is life i suppose. i just can’t ignore that kind of thing. after a while it makes me lose interest.

  4. atcDave says:

    Just a general observation to make based on comments so far. People complain that the “romance” dominated so much of the show in S4. I’ve been participating in Chuck discussions and forums since early S2, and I’d have to say the reaction to this episode is exactly typical. Even when the romance is a tertiary aspect of the episode in question it DOMINATES all discussion. I’d say it was the primary focus of only a couple episodes this season, and yet every little development is analyzed and discussed ad nauseum. I’m not particularly complaining; I’m an unapologetic fan of our featured couple and rooted for them from the very beginning. But this is why TPTB are empowered to do more romantic themes as the series goes, because people eat it up. Like it or not; this is THE issue that will always generate the most buzz. And of course, Chuck is not unique in that way.

    • ArmySFC says:

      Dave i count 14 episodes that the relationship was second if not the main focus. while it may not be the main thing like in suitcase, a good part of those 14 had major tones leaning towards it. i don’t think there was one episode that in one way or another did not have anything to do with it. thats why i say it was a major theme of the season. thats just my opinion, and you have yours, so lets agree to disagree and not drag it out forever.

      • atcDave says:

        My point was Its the attention WE pay to the central relationship that empowers TPTB to focus on it. That is always the case, even if it only takes up a small part of the episode. I mean seriously, 70+% of discussion about Sensei (2.09; a long time ago) was about Chuck and Sarah. I’m reminded of that because the situation here is similar.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave, ok that makes sense. misunderstood what you meant. i think that is because on this blog anyway, the relationship is the most important part of the show so it comes with the territory. that would be my guess anyway.

  5. Verkan_Vall says:

    Thanks for the writeup, guys. I’m really looking forward to the S4 DVD release.

    ***Season 3 alert***

    You know, it’s interesting: I can draw a reasonably straight line from

    Season 1 “my middle name is Lisa” to

    Season 2 Cougars to

    Season 4 Cubic Zirconium’s “My name is Sarah Walker, and don’t you forget it!”

    to this episode’s “Sarah Lisa Walker” on the prenup, without ever touching on Sam or the name reveal to Shaw.

    Now, considering that Sam is who Sarah Walker thinks of herself as, at least until sometime after Fake Name, that seems strange to say the least. Unless you ignore Season 3, which is what I prefer to do anyway.

  6. OldDarth says:

    Will anyone cry foul if Sarah’s mother calls her Sarah?

    • atcDave says:

      I think they would need to explain it if she did! My bet is Sarah’s mom will just address her by some pet name (“dear” or “angel” or something along those lines). That would make sense for a background that involved frequent name changes. I also wouldn’t be surprised by a “what do you go by now?” sort of question.
      They’ve made a big enough deal over Sarah’s name over the years, even after the “Sam” debacle I think it’s unlikely they would botch the issue entirely.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        Why would they need to explain it? They never explained why the Bartowskis were 20 years into Agent X, Hydra, Sarah’s journey in S3, how we got to DYLM, Why Casey didn’t ventilate Sh**’s skull at the first opportunity, Mauser – I could go on.

        I disagree that “they’ve made a big enough deal over Sarah’s name over the years.” Obviously not a big enough deal was made of it if they could take what could have easily been one of the most meaningful moments in TV history (Sarah giving her real name to Chuck (BTW for me it would have been bigger than the proposal or the wedding)) and waste it. And yes, you will never convince me that they didn’t “waste it”.

        I’d have no issue with Mom calling her Sarah, but I agree that likely some pet name will keep everyone from an eternal tale of woe.

        I think there are 2 things they need to stay away from in S5. One is Sam (because it was one of the worst story telling violations in recent history). The other is Shaw (because it was one of the worst story telling violations in recent history).

      • atcDave says:

        You know I agree entirely the Sam name reveal (and S3 in general) was one of the biggest story-telling flops in tv history.
        But I’m trying not to be too cynical about it; and I honestly think they’ll be more careful about how they handle it with mom.

      • Verkan_Vall says:


        You have to stop holding back like that.

        Keeping your true feelings about Shaw and the Name Reveal bottled up inside you like that can’t be good.


    • Verkan_Vall says:

      I wouldn’t cry foul, OldDarth, but I agree with Dave in that I would like an explanation if she does.

      I mean, if her own mother calls her Sarah, where the heck did that Sam business come from? More likely they’ll use a pet name, as atcDave suggests.

      • atcDave says:

        It occurs to me she might even learn Sarah’s current name simply through the search process itself. Like, she gets a letter or e-mail from “Sarah Bartowski” saying “I’m your oldest daughter and I’d like to see you…”
        We also know Sarah described her relationship with mom as beyond strained; maybe in one of her early government missions she arrested an uncle or something while working as “Sarah Walker”.

        Sorry, I’m just having fun now. I can imagine a lot of scenarios where the original question would be moot. We’ll just have to see what happens.

      • joe says:

        Well gee, Dave. If you’re going to have fun with it, then the least you could do is write us a good fan fic about Sarah trying to contact her mother!

        (Well, okay – just point us to one! 😉 )

      • atcDave says:

        Hey I’m good for a few ideas Joe, but what you’re suggesting requires actual discipline, hard work, and imagination. I thought you knew me better than that!

      • thinkling says:

        Wouldn’t bother me, if there’s a logical way for her mom to know that she is Sarah, then I would assume she would use it. From what Sarah said to Ellie, I think there may have been enough communication, however unpleasant, for her to be aware of Sarah’s name.

        My just-for-fun spec is that Sarah’s mom is in law or politics … someone for whom Jack would have been an embarrassment and career obstacle … former prosecutor turned senator, or something like that. That way she would have known about Sarah when she was Presidential Secret Service.

      • thinkling says:

        Heh, sorry. That means she could be part of the conspiracy … too dark?

      • thinkling says:

        Well I need to think before I post, evidently. If Sarah’s mom were in politics she could either have become part of the conspiracy along the way, or she could become part of stopping it.

      • Verkan_Vall says:


        Agreed. As long as there was some logical way for her to know it, that’s reasonable. The problem is, sometimes TPTB don’t do logic or reason very well.

      • thinkling says:

        Like I said, VV, I think that base is already covered. From what Sarah told Ellie, that she has a very strained relationship with her mother, I would infer that there is a relationship. Sarah has been Sarah for 12 years, and if she has any relationship at all with her mom, strained or other wise, her mom could know Sarah’s working name. It’s plausible enough for me that at this point, that if her mom walked into the courtyard asking for Sarah Walker, I wouldn’t cry foul. Sarah has dropped enough info to Ellie that I could believe her mom at least knows her name. I could also believe it if she didn’t. Sarah could have had a strained relationship with mom and not revealed her new name. She could have let whatever her mom used to call her stand. So basically, the name thing with mom isn’t a big deal to me, outside of being a curiosity.

        It’s much easier for me to believe that her dad was unaware of her name, because he was in jail. After that he was conning who knows who, who knows where, until he showed up in Burbank as Lichtenstein.

    • jason says:

      OD – yes, someone probably will call foul regardless of what sarah’s mom calls her, but to fit in with the episode under review – sarah you ask – that’s ‘cooool’ by me – now if you had asked about sam, well ….

    • uplink2 says:

      Ahh now did you guys really think I could pass on this part of the discussion? lol. Well from where I sit I don’t expect any mention of Sam from Sarah’s mom in the least. I would bet my season 2 DVD collection that it will never ever come up. I think it is quite clear to me that the Name Reveal was probably the biggest mistake they have made so far and TPTB realize it. The S3 apologists can make the case for why they did it but in terms of Risk/Reward even if I give them their reasoning it was a HUGE fail on every level. The risk of damage to these characters was so great and the storytelling reward was so minimal that I am still absolutely shocked that a great writer like Ali Adler went along with it. Now she probably had no choice but it still shocks me that her name is listed as the writer of that horrible episode and that horrible mistake. No one will ever convince me that the disaster of Season 3 didn’t play at least some minor role in the massive writer defection after S3. Hey the renewal after season 2 came much later than after S3 and no one went running to a new job then because of the time to decide was near. I’m not saying it was a big factor just that I absolutely believe it was at least some factor.

      When you look at the possible Risk/Reward scenario for having Sarah reveal her real name to Chuck say in the DYLM scene or in the hotel in Paris after she has committed to him or even after she says she loves him in Tooth, it is beyond mathematics. There was no risk whatsoever to these characters and the payoff for the fans could have easily been one of the sweetest, most touching and emotional events certainly on the show but possibly on all of TV. It was a huge mistake that only damaged an already damaged character, a damaged season and a damaged show. I know that some are ok with it but I highly doubt that any fan of the show thinks it was the right decision to make and would do the same thing if they had the chance. The risk and damage was too great and the reward too minimal if not non-existent.

      The name at the top of the pre-nup in this episode proves to me that TPTB recognize their mistake and it in effect ret-cons it out of existence. Sarah’s mom may have had some relationship with her and knew her as Jenny Burton, her using that name to me might be more likely than ever using Sam. Hey lets be real here the writers love to simply ignore things they can’t come up with a proper story for. This is a case in point. It is obviously her legal name now but how it became that we will never ever know. Same thing for Sarah’s mom calling her Sarah instead of Sam. They will simply ignore it. I just wish I could wipe it from my brain but at least I will never ever have to watch that scene or episode ever again.

      • atcDave says:

        Gee Uplink, what do you really think…

        I do agree the name on the pre-nup is proof positive TPTB know they screwed up the name. And as Thinkling pointed out elsewhere, Sarah’s had ten years to make contact with her mom; so Mom could easily know she goes by Sarah now with no further explanation needed,. But my money is still on her using a pet name and avoiding the issue entirely.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        I had forgotten all about Jenny Burton.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave well never let it be said I am subtle with my views on such matters lol. But this is just another example of how poorly thought out the name reveal idea was. They have cornered themselves into a place where they virtually have to ignore it rather than using it as some element of pushing the plot and story forward. How it would be dealt with down the road should have been decided on BEFORE they did it. It is a classic example of writing laziness and not adhering to the 7 P’s. If they really felt it was the right decision they should embrace it and explain it or use it somehow. Had they let it be revealed to Chuck it could have easily been part of the story and mythology of the show for years to come. Now it is just an abhorrent stain on the show, the writers and these great characters instead of one of the greatest moments of triumph for the series.

      • joe says:

        I must admit, Uplink, you have me thinking now about how it might go when Sarah and her mother reunite. I could almost see a “slip-up”, where the mother calls her Sam and then corrects herself, indicating to the audience that, one way or another, her mother knows that Sarah’s had many names and prefers this one now.

        I start to harbor a concern that we won’t see any of that happen in S5, though. No mother, no resolution to that part of the story. I’m preparing to accept the ending without that.

        And it’s not as bad as you might think at first. You see, a month ago I was fretting that there’s no way I could be happy with a follow-on movie, because that would almost certainly entail some trouble between C&S that I don’t want to see (ending with a big “happy ever after”, of course). I couldn’t think of any other plot device they might use.

        That’s why I’m not a script writer. The return of Sarah’s mother is a plot I would look forward to seeing in a theater. I’d even buy popcorn for that. So if TPTB don’t have that resolution in S5, I won’t be too troubled, so long I get to see it later!

      • atcDave says:

        I agree Uplink that they basically burned a bridge when they botched the name reveal. I recently rewatched Wookie, which was really a beautiful set-up. But Fake Name made such a mess of it, anything they do now carries some risk. I’m not sure how brave they would be with the issue; but I’m still betting pretty timid!

        Joe you bring up a couple of interesting points. First, I don’t believe we even know yet if Sarah’s mom will even be a story this season! We’ve been assuming, but I haven’t seen it as an actual spoiler anywhere.
        Second, if they ever do a follow on movie; a fight and reconciliation is a very “paint-by-numbers” way of writing such an episode. I can think of a few movie sequels where this has been done to spectacularly bad effect (Jewel of the Nile, Legend of Zorro, National Treasure II). I HOPE any future Chuck project would avoid such a cliche and cheesy device. Obviously, if they are going to use the Film School 101 approach to sequel writing it would best if they just skipped it.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave agree with the 101 bit. i think it it depends on how the show ends. example: the business is strong and they have ties with beckman. the movie could start out a few years in the future and the gov needs help with a big bad so the hit up C/S for help. that would work out well, C/S still together, business good that kind of thing. i don’t see them having to play the break up make up card. the budget should be good enough that the action could be front and center. action flicks draw better than romantic ones (for the most part)

      • Verkan_Vall says:


        Thanks for verbalizing something (one of many) that has bothered me so much since that episode: it was a such a great LOST opportunity. The name reveal could have been used to such great effect, and instead, it became something very destructive. I know two people who walked out of the room at the end of that scene, and have refused to watch Chuck since. And TPTB CHOOSE to do that!

        If only.

        @Joe: I’d pay to see a Chuck movie. Is this a rumor that you heard, or are you just hoping out loud?

      • joe says:

        That’s strictly my wishful thinking, VV.

        The minute I hear anything even semi-official about a movie, I’ll put up a post about it! You can trust me on that.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:


        I, for one, hope to see Sarah’s mom prior to show ending. I think they have to do it. Sarah’s mom is #1 on the list of things I wish to see in S5.

        I must admit to being apprehensive about their ability to pull it off. After the name issue discussed above (and the poor Mama B storyline) TPTB really cannot afford to screw up on any part of this story at all. The last few retcons have not “enchanced” the story, and this will be a doozy.

        For all we know, Sarah’s mom could be dead. Leaving Sarah to reconnect with her family.

        I know people want Mom to be involved with some nefarious organization, but wouldn’t it be cool if she was like a dentist or a bookstore owner (although it does complicate why she and Sarah had a falling out).

      • thinkling says:

        Hey Shepherd, I really hope we get to see Sarah’s mom, too. You’re right that it is something most people want to see. I know Yvonne has mentioned it, and at one point so did TPTB. Don’t know if it’s still on their radar.

        I’m not apprehensive about it, though. My take is a little different. First of all, they did a great job with Sarah’s dad, so how can I not look forward to the story of her mom? Second, I have loved the PapaB and MamaB stories, both of them … equally. Volkoff is a great villain. The way TD played him, I totally believe he used to be a “Tuttle.” I thought the Agent X reveal was a great piece of back story, and since I don’t find the Hartley/Agent X/conspiracy stories inconsistent with what we already knew, I don’t really think of it as a retcon. To the contrary, I think it explains some things, like PapaB’s obsession with the Intersect, his distrust of the government, his life-long quest, why Mary didn’t just kill Volkoff and walk away, why she put up with him. So, I’m pretty excited to see how they tie it up.

        Back to Sarah’s mom. We can be pretty sure she’s not dead, unless she died sometime after Cat Squad, because at the engagement party, Sarah told Ellie,”I have a very strained relationship with my mother.” I suppose she could be anything. Her family owned a restaurant. (I like the idea of law or politics, which may or may not feed into the conspiracy story, but I’d be perfectly happy for her to be a doctor, business woman, or heiress). Whatever her situation, I don’t think her profession has to dictate the likelihood or the nature of their falling out. Family members fall out for a myriad of reasons, many of them totally unrelated to careers. One very likely possibility is that the falling out was over her dad. Sarah told Casey that in her family she was forced to take sides, and that the hardest place for a kid to be is right in the middle. And we’ve seen her soft spot for her dad, in spite of everything. So that’s enough right there, but there could always be more to it than that. All that to say, I’m looking forward to it, whatever it is.

  7. OldDarth says:

    You guys are such great fans. You are always willing and eager to do all the spadework for the showrunners. 😉

  8. Gord says:

    Family V was a good episode, and I enjoyed it. Not one of my favourites, but defintely worth a rewatch. To me the funniest part was the Casey/Morgan domestic partnership – when Chuck is asking their advice and they have the matching coffee mugs and cerial bowls. They eat and drink in unison and give Chuck the advice to be cool.

    Then of course Casey later on to Sarah “God knows where he gets these ideas”. Reminded me of Helicopter when Casey plants the idea in Chuck’s head that Sarah is the mole, then when she gets all angry with Chuck and does the “How could you think I was a mole Chuck?” speal, Casey finishes with the “way to go ace”. That’s the one thing that hasn’t changed about Casey. He loves to stir the pot, then step aside and watch it boil over.

    My sense of the whole prenup thing was that Sarah right from the beginning was hoping that Chuck would want to talk about it. She just couldn’t open up on her own, she needed a push and I think that is why she came up with the prenup. It was a way to get Chuck to push her and the fact that he didn’t really threw her off.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all that Gord. The domestic partners was very funny, and a little creepy!

      I took Sarah’s need to talk exactly the same way. Like she didn’t know how to just start the conversation, so she choose a very bad device that backfired on her (Chuck deciding to be “cool”).

      • thinkling says:

        Funny how something that sounded so dire in the spoilers turned out to be so funny and heartwarming.

        I love Casey/Morgan, too. “Smaller bites.” “Don’t hen-peck.” Too funny. Especially Chuck saying he was going to leave before he was scarred for life. See, I hope they keep that going in S5 and don’t just make Morgan Chuck’s shadow.

      • atcDave says:

        I thought exactly the same thing; the spoiler seemed like “oh brother, here we go again…”

        But the actual “pre-nup” story was funny and ultimately quite sweet.

    • joe says:

      I loved the synchronized eating bit they did. Really, the only reason I didn’t bring it up was because it didn’t fit into the main gist of my thesis, but I did think Baldwin and Gomez were hilarious.

      And Casey’s digs have been something enjoyable all along!

      Great observation about Sarah needing Chuck to push her like that, Gord. I have that sense too, but I couldn’t put it to words so well as you did.

    • herder says:

      It’s kind of funny, the first time I saw the episode I thought that Sarah was frightened about the whole pre-nup thing, sort of dropping it of on the run, kind of throwing a grenade and then running away. On the rewatch I got more of an impression that she wanted to talk about these issues and really didn’t have the first clue about how to bring them up. Sarah doesn’t know how to initate conversations about personal things and so resorts to odd ways to do so.

      Her comment that she doesn’t keep things from Chuck was completely true, provided he is the one asking, but she isn’t one to volonteer information without him asking first, the pre-nup was a way to make him ask without her volonteering first which backfired on her by his “being cool”. Think of how many times in the episode she tried bringing it up, his wanting to talk about what was in the contract and he wouldn’t bite.

      Still not a great episode, but a good one none the less. Timothy Dalton chewing scenery thoughout; entitlement issues, his turn as Hanibal Lecter, the unbalanced villain, the twist followed by the other twist and finally a nice scene with Mama B at the end. I wonder about the whole Diane/Mary bit, is that something that they will follow up on or is it another thing like Rios, Omaha and Shaw’s discs that will never be heard of again.

      Oh and the whole Morgan/Casey relationship staying just this side of the ick factor, funny without being too disturbing, sort of like every relationship that Morgan has in the whole series.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d agree with all, including the overall assessment. Especially agree with your take on Sarah and being honest!

      • joe says:

        I really like that interpretation of Sarah’s actions with the pre-nup, Herder. It reminds me now too of her comments to Morgan when she was walking in the moonlight to meet Chuck on the balcony. She said she was actually nervous.

        And it reminds me too of her comment with baby Clara. That time, she said she was actually sweating. The last time that happened, guns and bullets were involved. But that’s a ‘nother thing entirely. 😉

      • Gord says:

        Herder – talking about Timothy Dalton – in my book he is the best villain Chuck has ever had, and he certainly was on top of his game in this episode. Then come to think of it there wasn’t a Volkoff episode where he wasn’t on top of his game.

        I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if they brought Timothy Dalton back for an episode or two in S5. I think with alot of the guest stars for S5 it will come down to if they have the time to do it.

        I sure wish they had been given a 22 episode final season. So many great guest stars I would love to see back for a visit.

      • joe says:

        Dalton was great, Gord. I loved Chevy Chase as Roark, too, especially combined with Arnold Vosloo as Vincent, every bit as much.

        [Ooooh! Trivia time! I just re-discovered that Vincent’s last name was Smith! Who knew?!

  9. jason says:

    on this week’s rewatch, I first realized that vivian’s team was the shooter in the ambush scene, a setup to trick the CIA to get the norseman chemistry by getting volkov’s DNA to open the room. I have watched the ep multiple times, I guess it shows how much I pay attention to the drama – was kind of clever writing I guess.

    But, prior to realizing such, the ep left me baffled, who was the shooter and why did vivian go from sweet & shy in scene 1 to sadistically evil in the last scene, with no attention to the context of how it all developed. Still, I do think chuck the serialized show suffers from lack of showing more (relevant things) of the villain story, especially when telling drama.

    Serious Beckman, all over the place on this show, she reminds me of the “chief’ on Get Smart so much, only she is even funnier when she attempts to be boss, but if the intent is serious, she is quite woeful, I honestly don’t know with this show any longer.

    The reason I paid so little attention to the dramatic A plot, is that Chuck and Sarah (along with Casey and Morgan’s prodding) were simply delightful with the prenup comedy ….. which I guess was really the B plot, but like most chuck and sarah on this show, it becomes the A plot, simply because it overpowers everything else – no wonder TPTB have tried to back off the action between them, so fans like me pay some attention to the rest of the story. Sarah must have had another 4 or 5 non verbal gems in this ep, my favorite was her strut out of the apartment in the eps beginning, had a real comic air to it, and set the tone for the way the prenup played the entire ep.

    The C plot between the awesome’s and mamab was pretty good, the more ellie the better in most cases. IN s5, I think she as a civilian in the spy world would make for an interesting scene or two (along the same theme as morgan), maybe sarah as her handler – maybe even a competition – ellie & sarah’s team vs chuck and morgan’s ????

    • Amron says:

      Ellie & Sarah vs Chuck & Morgan?
      What a wonderful concept!

    • thinkling says:

      Yeah, Jason, I love the guys vs the gals.

      I remember when it hit me that Vivian killed her own team … wow. Chuck pointed it out, but a lot was going on. He said … so this whole thing was a setup? Only it was really a setup and a half!

      It’s not the top episode for me, but I sure did enjoy it. And it set up the rest of the Vivian/Volkoff/Hartley story nicely.

    • atcDave says:

      I too like the guys vs gals idea, that could be a lot of fun. For an episode or two…

      • jason says:

        dave – only one bottle episode, kind of like vs the A team this season, couldn’t you see sarah and ellie getting all competitive, chuck and morgan being all clueless? Maybe to amp up the comedy, at mid ep, sarah and chuck could be captured, and ellie have to be handler (i.e. be the brains of the operation) for Morgan to save the day.

      • atcDave says:

        I think those are all great ideas Jason. I really am excited for S5 at this point! (2 months to go…)

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      More Ellie, please.

      • thinkling says:

        Agree with that, VV! At least in the back half of 4, there was more Ellie. 🙂

      • joe says:

        Me too, VV.

        But let me add an amendment: More Ellie & Sarah interaction, please!

      • thinkling says:

        Yes, Joe, and add MamaB to the list, too. Any time the women interact, it’s great.

      • joe says:

        Absolutely, Thinkling!

        But can you imagine an interaction between Honey Woodcomb and Mary? That would be a hoot!

      • atcDave says:

        Joe, somehow I imagine any discussion between those two as being a non-stop non-sequitur. They wouldn’t understand a thing each other was saying!

      • thinkling says:

        Joe, I have always wanted those 4 women together … Thanksgiving dinner maybe. You’re right, Dave, Honey and MamaB are in different galaxies. Sarah and Ellie would be fun to watch mediating the moms.

  10. Sam Carter says:

    I had no problem with the name reveal in Fake Name. No surprise I know. Also, I don’t mind if they introduce Sarah’s mom, BUT I hope she’s not evil or a leader of a nefarius organization or anything like that. That’d be so predictable and cliche at this point, imo. Maybe she’s just sick or crazy or something more original and she just couldn’t take care of her daughter growing up. Any way, after the way S4 played out, I hightly doubt the writers will be able to write something truly compelling and surprising. I’m really worried about this whole conspiracy too. If done badly, it could ruin the whole series for me. Really hope Orion stays dead. Sigh.

    • joe says:

      Gee, Sam. I wouldn’t ever say your POV is invalid. But you sure are in the minority.

      I wasn’t as troubled by the name-reveal as some (I was more troubled by what I perceived as Sarah’s crises of confidence). But I was a bit disgruntled by the way it wrenched us away from the sweet moment in Wookie“It’s Lisa. My middle name is Lisa.” The bigger “sin” (which is still rectifiable, I think), is the lack of a follow-on. The fans needed to revisit it, even if the characters didn’t.

      I also have a notion that Chuck fans want to know where Sarah’s innate goodness comes from. If it’s not from her rogue father, then it must come from her mother, right? It’s sorta like apple-pie. Even if there is a conflict (like there was between Mary and Chuck & Ellie), the fans would like to see it resolved.

      As far as ruining the whole series, I don’t think it’s possible for me, anyway. I mean, I still like Babylon 5, even though the last season was an unmitigated disaster. My recommendation, if it comes to that for you, is to replay any S2 episode, the pilot or The Honeymooners and see if you still can’t get some pleasure from the viewing.

      Big Costa Gravas pesos says you will! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Some excellent comments Joe. The source of Sarah’s “goodness” is a bit of a mystery. She has far more of a conscience than her role models we know (Jack and Graham). Perhaps a decent mother, who was one of Jack’s con victims would explain a lot; from Sarah’s moral center to the family schism.
        We know Sarah herself seems to consider Chuck her moral center; but we see enough evidence of her desire to do right, pre-dating Chuck, to know something else must have been at work.

      • atcDave says:

        And BTW, right on the money about Babylon 5. Great show, with an awful S5!

      • joe says:

        Really! Sarah was conceived as a mysterious enigma wrapped in a riddle. The TPTB had to keep her “unknown” while making us believe that she changed when she met Chuck. Without a past, “change” is difficult to understand.

        We’ll never get enough of Sarah’s origins now. But each revelation will be fun to watch.

        OMG! It’s a clean strip-tease! 😉

      • ArmySFC says:

        Joe, they already showed me where it came from. her grandmother. they showed her living in a nice house, what appeared to be a good neighborhood. despite running con’s with her dad she appeared to have a nice, loving environment to come home too. considering her age in the wedding planner flash back, her mom was already gone. not sure how much she could pick up from her if her mom left her at such a young age.

      • joe says:

        That’s a good point, Army.
        But at the same time, I didn’t sense that young Sarah had a connection with her grandmother anywhere as deep as the one she had with her father.

        Did I miss it?

        You caused me to wonder exactly why I think Sarah does have a significant relationship with her mother. Besides that fact that the mother-child bond is a natural foundation for everything, we only have a very few words on that, and really, the tell us nothing (except that it’s a bit ‘adversarial’).

        I don’t think Sarah would refer the relationship with Jack as ‘adversarial’. She said that he’s disappointed her. Seems different with her mother.

      • jason says:

        I run out of logical answers how a 10-20 year separation between mother and daughter if the mother is at all normal. From Sarah’s POV, once sarah was 22-24 years old, she had brains, money and resources to overcome just about any obstacle which would have kept her from reaching out to her mother. That is unless her mother was either powerful or evil or both (i.e. Irina Derevko-ish)…. which would explain why sarah needs to stay away, as well as protect chuck and everyone else now from her, explaining the secrecy. From her mother’s POV, if her mother is normal, I think we run into the same problem as mary, why would a normal, school teacherish, good person not find their daughter at some point, and why would her daughter go to such lengths to stay away?????? Maybe I just view family differently than others, to me, what you guys are describing, both from mary and now from mama walker is as abnormal as trying to breathe methane rather than fresh air.

      • atcDave says:

        Army is right that grandma could be that center for her. Of course we aren’t really even sure which grandma she is. I still want to know about the relationship with mom though!

      • ArmySFC says:

        Joe, you didn’t miss it. a lot can be gleaned from small things. her room, house etal. children start forming personalities at a young age, the older they get the more the personality is etched. i took those flash back as she spent significant time with the Gmom. her good traits would have been instilled then, not as she grew older and pulled more and more con’s with her dad, who put the idea in her head that she needed to be a certain way. maybe the adversarial part comes in because she knows her mom split and left her with her toad of a father. so she puts some blame on her mom for what happens in the future. she thinks if her mom would have taken her, she would not have ended up in the cia and done things she may have regretted all along. from what i know now, i can’t she her mom having that big of influence on her.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason at this point we don’t really even know how much contact Sarah has had with her mom over the years. She described the relationship as very strained, but that doesn’t mean non-existent. Although obviously, mom wasn’t at the wedding, so it really must be pretty bad.
        But from when? Does it go all the way back to Sarah choosing dad over mom as a child? Or is it more recent? possibly related to her career choice. Or was mom so disinterested in her child that there has just always been very minimal contact? At this point we have virtually no real information.

      • ArmySFC says:

        jason, why all the parents we have met so far have been put on pedestals by some fans confuses me. to me family is the most important thing, so i agree with you on that part. but to each his/her own.

      • joe says:

        I had a similar thought to Dave’s. Sarah could have had contact with her mother during the course of the show and we would not have known about it. That’s consistent with Sarah’s character; she keeps private private.

        Jason, you’re right, of course. It’s not normal. But very little about these characters is normal. I think we’ll find them consistent about the idea of family, though. That’s been a major theme of the show from the beginning, after all.

        Army, I think the fans put the parents a bit on a pedestal because of that. Family has been important since we discovered the close relationship between Chuck & Ellie in the first two minutes of the pilot. The fans who’ve gravitated to show, and the ones who stuck with it, were those who believe that family is important.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        What pedestals? From the way it’s been presented Papa Burton was the best parent of the bunch. Agent X certainly makes the Elder Bartowskis look inept in the parenthood department.

        I’m with Jason, explaining “long lost” Sarah’s mom is a shark infested story that requires chain link underpants to tell and not get eaten alive. It needs to be done exceedingly well, or else just don’t go in the water at all. Simply “throwing it together” won’t be satisfying.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        But Joe,

        Until Mary has actual dialogue with Chuck and Ellie (which will never happen), which we can hear, her reason for being away (whatever it may be) is simply not good enough. There has to be a boatload more than simply protecting Agent X, which is a pretty anorexic reason.

      • thinkling says:

        Dave and Joe, you beat me to it. There’s no evidence that Sarah’s mom left or that she and Sarah haven’t communicated. Although it appears that she spent a lot of time with her dad, which is where the mom-abandoned-them theories come from, we’ve never been told that in any way. (Maybe there was a divorce and Sarah chose dad, while sibling(s) went with mom.) Mom wasn’t mentioned at all until Balcony (at least I can’t think of any time before that). We found out her family had a restaurant, and that their relationship got off on the wrong foot to begin with. Then Sarah talks about the elopement scheme as a way to avoid dealing with her family in Seduction Impossible. So, we know there is a family, but an estranged one, if she wants to avoid them. But Chuck wants to help her family. Then what she says to Ellie implies that she knows where her mom is (as opposed to not knowing where her dad is), but the relationship is strained. In FamV she tells Casey she was forced to choose and in the middle between her parents. So S4 has shot down some of the mom-theories. We know she’s alive, that Sarah knows where she is, and that they have a strained relationship. Their relationship is far from normal, and I doubt they have each other on speed dial, but they seem to have kept up at least minimally.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Thinkling I think the credit goes back to you. As far as I can tell, you were the first here to bring up the possibility they’ve always been “in touch”. At least at some minimal level.

        I think we were mostly pretty entrenched in the idea Sarah’s mom needed to be “found” just like all the other parents. Now, even though she’s the only parent we haven’t actually met yet, it would seem she isn’t really “missing.”

      • jason says:

        guys and gals – there sort of is evidence – sarah lived with her grandma – and her in and out of prison con artist dad was a big part of her life, if her mom was a school teacher in topeka, what would any of you reasonable folks put the odds of her having custody of young sarah, and not her mother or jack’s mother? This is not a hot button for me at all, I am simply saying she nearly has to have some issue, something very, very abnormal about her – I can’t imagine any ‘universe’ that would not be the case – even the one where fedak astro projects into when he comes up with bad ideas. The only reason to bring it up, is both Mary and Stephen were written very poorly in this area, to do it yet again, would be consistent, but not ideal. My original comment, if sarah’s mom is a bad, bad, bad, person, it all makes a little sense at least, requires no writing, explanation, or wasted time and effort.

      • thinkling says:

        Shepher, the Mary/Ellie/Chuck/Sarah dialogues have already happened, and we heard them … Aisle of Terror, First Fight (we saw rather than heard), Leftovers, Seduction Impossible. The short version of the reasons given were that she got stuck in a mission to bring down Volkoff’s network. That Volkoff was close to finding out about her family, and she couldn’t let that happen without endangering them. So, she had to break communication and go under cover until she could bring down the network. Therefore, if she killed Volkoff and left, whoever took his place would come after her and her family (kind of like actually happened). Also if he were killed, she might not have any measure of control over his successor. If she just left, Volkoff and his network would have tracked her down and found her family. The Hartley reveal just adds another layer of complexity. A lot of people don’t accept that as a good enough answer. So be it. But there was an answer given.

      • thinkling says:

        Jason, we don’t know for sure that mom didn’t live with Gmom, too. Maybe she traveled a lot, so Gmom lived in. Or maybe one kid went with mom and one with dad. That wouldn’t mean Sarah’s mom was bad, just that the kids were split up in the divorce, Sarah apparently preferring to go with dad.

      • jason says:

        think – not really – normal mothers don’t give criminal fathers custody, judges pretty much decide such things, and normal mothers do not give their 9 year old daughters to be victimized by a criminal father who is forcing her into a life of crime. Sure, mom might live in that house, but you are grasping at straws, to try to prove a point, that really isn’t the story we have been told, you were the one who brought up the word ‘evidence’, you case has none, mine has just a little …. again and to repeat, if the mother was NORMAL, she probably would have custody, even you have to admit that.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Jason I don’t believe dad did have any custody; we saw Sarah living with grandma, NOT dad. As Thinkling observed, its possible mom lived at grandma’s (after the divorce?) too.

        It would seem dad had visitation rights, and possibly nothing more. We never even knew of Sarah spending the night with him.
        Given what we learned back in S2 (both Cougars and DeLorean) it seems reasonable to assume at some point Sarah ran away with (or was abducted by? that seems less likely) dad. But we can’t even be sure of that. She may have only been visiting dad’s house when she saw him arrested; we don’t even KNOW she was living with him, we only assume it.

        But of course its still possible mom was a slime ball in her own right. Maybe she was dad’s partner in running scams until some falling out.
        I still like the idea of her actually being a victim of Jack’s (maybe he swindled her parents); then when a young Sarah choose to run off with her dashing and roguish father mom was outraged and never forgave her.

        But we really KNOW nothing. A huge number of scenarios can be constructed, I would be surprised by nothing.

      • ArmySFC says:

        thinkling, i agree with you on the reasons they gave. not strong but there. thats why agent x lost me. we know how powerful volkoff was at the END. here’s the rub. mary went after him just after he got his new personality. how big a crime syndicate can you amass in the time they gave us? not very big i can assure you. crimes not a regular business where you open up and no one comes after you. in the crime business it can be deadly to break in. so he would have been a smaller player at that time. granted later on there would have been the means to get to her family, but just starting out? like i said many small criminals get wacked all the time and the organization they are part of could care less. it clouded the reasons they can us. that’s me beef with it.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually army there was quite a gap between when Hartley became Volkoff and when Mary was trapped in the operation. Volkoff was intersected “before Chuck was even born” (I don’t remember the date, but it was given in “Agent X”); but Mary didn’t finally disappear until Chuck was 9 (?). In “Anniversary” Chuck was asking mom if she had to go away “again”; so we can imagine she was running missions, probably including the Volkoff mission until something went wrong about 20 years ago.

        It seems to have been about a decade before Mary was trapped.

      • jason says:

        think / dave – next you guys are going to say there is no evidence that sarah’s mom doesn’t have the apartment next door, babysits for clara, and spends the bulk of her time over at chuck and sarah’s house, baking cookies – I agree with you, there indeed is no evidence – we do have some evidence that sarah spends a great deal of time with her father, as a young girl, and she appeared to live with him as a criminal in training as a high school student – he did such a good job – that graham recruited her because of her training – I think we do have ‘evidence’ of that – of course

      • atcDave says:

        You’re completely right Jason that Sarah clearly spent a lot of time with her dad. But we always have to remember that the assumptions we make are fair game to be proven wrong by later facts. As we’re discussing the Agent X situation elsewhere in this thread; we just need to remember that distinction between conclusions we draw that may be later proven wrong and things that are actually presented as fact.

        And I think its completely reasonable to assume Sarah ran off with her dad at some point. But we don’t yet know when that point was. I expected it to be during the flashback scenes of Wedding Planner, yet we clearly saw at the end she was still with grandma. Some of the working aliases Graham credited to her may have been just from short term trips she took with dad. Yet Jenny Burton seemed to be a longer term thing her senior year of high school. But my guess is, some of the exact details will always be a little unclear to us.

    • thinkling says:

      Army, Hartley was intersected before Chuck was born, and Mary only went to take down Volkoff when Chuck was 9. That’s a 9 to 10 year head-start.

  11. Sam Carter says:

    @Joe: “I wasn’t as troubled by the name-reveal as some (I was more troubled by what I perceived as Sarah’s crises of confidence). But I was a bit disgruntled by the way it wrenched us away from the sweet moment in Wookie – “It’s Lisa. My middle name is Lisa.” The bigger “sin” (which is still rectifiable, I think), is the lack of a follow-on. The fans needed to revisit it, even if the characters didn’t.”

    I guess I was never invested in the C/S romance like you guys do. To me that part of the show has been sometimes a bit annoying and even distracting. Just too much focus on those two for my tastes. I would have been ok if the show ended with Other Guy. Though I’m glad for the extra eps during that season because the finale (Suway/Ring 2) was amazing for me.

    @ArmySFC: “why all the parents we have met so far have been put on pedestals by some fans confuses me. to me family is the most important thing..”

    Yeah, well, Orion was just so likeable, unlike Mary. I still can’t believe some fans are ok with the Agent X retcon. Apparently for Chuck’s parents a guy is more important than their own kids. Geez!

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t think anyone ever said Agent X was more important than Orion’s kids. If you look at comments here, especially from the night Agent X ran, the prevailing mood was that it was an explanation for a bad decision, nothing more.

      Kind of like “Gee officer, I was going 90 in 35 zone because I had a cramp in my foot…” Its a lousy reason, but it is a reason.

      Any reason was an improvement for Orion. All we previously knew was he didn’t want to work on the Intersect for the Government, and he did want to find/support his wife. A few more pieces have now fallen in to place.
      Orion is still a bad dad, that will never change. We know he cared about his family and wanted to do right by them; but he was apparently utterly dysfunctional as to how to actually BE a good parent.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        IMO, in the Orion case, no reason was better than the one they tried to obscurely give. It was retconing a story that didn’t previously exist in the least to try and have the characters make sense in the story they are telling (just like the interrogation scene).

        Obviously some people see one story and some people see another. This has been an issue since S3. My hope is that any Sarah mom arc is clear and precise so we can all see the same story.

      • atcDave says:

        It is categorically not a retcon. According Wikipedia a retcon alters previously established facts in a fictional work.
        You may not like the reason given, but it does not contradict anything we previously knew. It adds information to a previous void, that is all. It may have changed some assumptions we made, but it didn’t change a single fact.

      • thinkling says:

        Exactly, Dave. It is not a retcon. I checked Wikipedia, too, before asserting the same thing earlier. Agent X is added info, but it is not a retcon.

      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

        Sure, OK, it’s not a retcon according to Wikipedia. Fine.

        It doesn’t change the fact that you simply cannot hang the S4 Volkov / Hartley / Mama B / Papa B storyline on the Agent X reveal, IMO.

        But what is true is that, just like some people see a great S3 and other see garbage, the same can be said for S4. I loathed S3, my DVD’s I use as coasters, all of them. For me S4 was generally quite a bit better than S3 but the the yearlong arc wasn’t told any better.

        So while some see a good story, others see a poor story. Shouldn’t we all being seeing the same story. By not telling a clear “orderly” story and leaving the blanks for the fans to fill in you risk having wide gaps in how people interpret your story. For me, this aspect wasn’t as prevalent in S4 as it was in S3, but it was still there enough.

      • atcDave says:

        Shepperd I agree with all of that. You know I agree enthusiastically about the relative merits of S4 over S3, and I would love to see an exciting S5 story that everyone in the fandom can get behind.

  12. Sam Carter says:

    Maybe her mom is in jail.. maybe she commited a terrible crime or not but she ended up there. That could be an interesting twist.

    • atcDave says:

      That is certainly a possibility, mom could be a bigger criminal than dad!

      But I bet they don’t go that way!

    • Faith says:

      That would be an awesome twist, or not twist but storyline. Maybe she took the fall for one of Jack B’s cons.

    • joe says:

      I agree with Faith. That would be a great twist.

      I’m not sure how you get from “One of Jack’s cons got Sarah’s mother put in prison.” to “Jack and Sarah’s mom are reconciled.”, but that would be a neat thing to see.

      Hum. Would Jack and mom being reconciled mean Sarah and mom are reconciled? Not in real life, probably. But this is Chuck.

      I wish we know mom’s name already!

    • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

      Can you imagine if in fact Sarah’s mom was THE Irene Demova.

      It would boggle the mind. 😀

      • thinkling says:


      • Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:


        Meant as a joke, not meant to offend. Apologies.
        Please feel free to delete.

      • atcDave says:

        I think she meant sick in a good way…. (?)

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Shepperd: That’s, that’s just WRONG.
        @Herder: And you’re not much better. Sarah’s and Jeff’s mothers as inmates in the same cellblock. Sheesh.

        Happy thoughts, must think happy thoughts:

        Sarah, Ellie, Sarah, Ellie, Sarah, Ellie, Cat Squad…..

        Got to remember to keep my subconscious away from the steering wheel.

      • thinkling says:

        Apologies accepted, Shepperd. 🙂

        On the topic in general (no malice at all and not directed at anyone), there’s just nothing about porn that I find funny … thus my reaction.

    • herder says:

      If Sarah’s mom was in jail, could she be there with Jeff’s mom?

  13. SarahSam says:

    @Shepperd. LOL!!!

  14. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Family Volkoff (4.20) | Chuck This

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s