Europe, pastries, Jeffster unplugged, a kick ass tandem fight and “Feeling Good,” these are just some of the things that makes Chuck vs. the Honeymooners one of Chuck’s finest (if not the finest if you ask Dave). As Ernie pointed out in his recap of Other Guy, Chuck and Sarah have reached the point of no return, and are now free to ride off into the sunset and so they did, in Honeymooners. Although the ride in this case is a train–a train trip that suspiciously took far longer than is possible according to our friends from France–this was still Chuck and Sarah’s moment, their happily ever after and it was all that and more.
Chuck vs. the Honeymooners was the episode that illustrated that there can be more than WT/WT and that there can be life after happily ever after (a fun and satisfying happily ever after it was). It’s the episode many critics turn to to illustrate that which most shows are too afraid to cross. So join Dave and me for some genius…
We start off with an eerie John Carpenter look-a-like. An ominous beginning to what would be one of Chuck’s most lighthearted episodes, but just as we start to fear what’s become of our favorite couple, we’re reminded that things in Chuck are never as it seems. John Carpenter turns out to be compartment service and a very radiant, happy Sarah and scruffy but equally overjoyed Chuck opens the door and all is well in the world. I can tell you that this is a welcome sight for me, not just as a shipper but as someone who rooted for and identified with these characters. Throughout the “Backwards Walk”-s, and the “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”-s I’ve grown to miss that smile, that which makes an already beautiful Yvonne Strahovski even more gorgeous. A happy Sarah and an equally happy Chuck and all of a sudden the spirit is uplifted.
And we learn something with it, turns out music hasn’t been Sarah’s priority. Quell surprise. A fantastic call for continuity on one of Chuck’s most endearing and yet subtle details, Sarah Walker isn’t one for music. Chuck tried to find a common cultural interest with Sarah through music during their first-first date, only to strike out (but hey at least she wasn’t a cannibal). She was seen buying iPod speakers in Cougars but that turned out to be a red-herring, or maybe she bought it for work to use with wiretap recordings or what not, either way music still wasn’t the top of Sarah’s interests. Enter Honeymooners, but more on this later.
So Chuck and Sarah pledge to run away together and never look back. Beckman’s “Shaw incident” was eerily accurate, that’s how I prefer to think of it but more importantly, another iPhone bites the dust. Soon celebrities will be calling for donations to save the iPhones, something must be done!
In any case, Beckman’s got a problem on her hands: two of her best agents going AWOL. If you missed it, do pause it at Beckman’s briefing of Casey, there’s a hilarious photo of Morgan (Joshua Gomez) eating a hamburger that is bigger than him. So Casey is tasked to retrieved Chuck and Sarah with Morgan as his secret weapon. This’ll be fun.
Enter Ellie and Awesome. “Babe, this didn’t happen by accident!” Sometimes some lines just fit. Honeymooners didn’t just happen by accident, not the euphoria, not the commitment and definitely not the growth. All that’s come before had a hand in Honeymooners, some more than others but they all gave way to one of the best episodes of Chuck. Chuck and Sarah running away together, putting each other’s needs above their own, prioritizing the other above it all, these have been a long time coming. Just as Chuck growing up and moving away from Ellie is a long time coming. We cut to a shot of Ellie looking out of her apartment into Chuck’s. They’ve had such a tight bond since their mom left them and it’s not easy to be separated, even when one chooses to leave. Chuck didn’t make his decision to leave Ellie and Morgan lightly, that’s how much Sarah’s come to mean to him. Similarly Ellie didn’t choose to leave Chuck lightly and go off to Africa, in fact the decision is still weighing on her.
Even after an awesome S4 I think this may still be my favorite Chuck episode. Of course many Chuck episodes have earned “more than 4 stars” from me; but Honeymooners is such pure joy from beginning to end its hard to imagine anything beating it. The Chuck crew is consistent in not understanding time, as Faith mentioned above, the length of a train ride from Paris to Lyon can only mean one thing, Chuck and Sarah were eating themselves into a stupor (six meal carts for a 2-hour train ride!). This episode is considerably less risqué than some have assumed. I’d also agree with Faith about the smiles, and I think we get more smiles for Sarah before the opening credits than in the whole rest of the season before! And they don’t stop there.
I can’t argue that the proceeding episodes made this one particularly sweet, just as it feels so good when one stops banging their head on the wall; but I think this episode would feel joyous even with a less traumatic set up. We finally get how Prague should SHOULD have gone.
We get a pretty good Morgan usage in this episode; he is funny, saves the day with his unique brand of clever cluelessness, and is NOT over used.
From melancholy to joy. Chuck and Sarah aka The Charlesesez are finally out of their compartment and apparently “Europe is genius!” Chuck once asked Sarah to take a vacation with him, I believe Europe was mentioned, only for her to turn him down. Sarah later on asked Chuck to run away with her and he turned her down. Maybe they just didn’t have the right timing, because fate it seems is calling. This time they’re doing what they dreamed, together.
Chuck: “No matter where we go or what we do…”
Sarah: “So long as we’re together right?”
Though they knew they wanted the other long ago, it seems details always seemed to get in the way. That’s no longer the case and Chuck and Sarah are embarking on life’s greatest adventure, together. But the decision to run away together is not without its caveat because, pum purum! Juan Diego Arnaldo is in their train and their calling, is quite literally calling.
“These guys were born to be spies, together.” (Yet another one of those lines that just fit). Though their priorities have firmed, and their future is seemingly set, they’re still heroes. They couldn’t help but step in when the world is in need. Difference being, now they won’t let that keep them away from being together. I don’t think we would have seen Chuck step into the role quite as confidently in the past as he did here. Sarah? Well Sarah is Sarah, her “we do everything big in Texas,” complete with full Texan accent tickles. Drunk Sarah? Even better. It’s very hard to erase a lifetime of cons and roles and really why should she? So we enter the conflict within the episode. They were short-sighted. Though wanting to be together is admirable, and let’s face it welcome, doing so by way of changing who you are isn’t the way to go about it either. Running away and never looking back? Too easy. So “one last mission before we quit?” Not quite. Chuck and Sarah were meant to be who they are, and it’s only right that they fulfill, nay live their destinies. Though thankfully in this case, together; with a twist, because the “real girl” is finally getting her moment.
Chuck and Sarah’s big adventure together is a brilliant piece of comedy, made extra satisfying because of the fundamental change that’s happening to our favorite show here. More and more, we’ll see romantic comedy replacing some of the darker thematic elements used previously. No more “asset/handler” issues, no more stone-walling from Agent Walker, and no more wt/wt. We get a beautiful homage that Nick and Nora Charles would truly be proud of, and the promise of much more of this type to come. This is also where we first learn that Yvonne Strahovski is very good at comedy. For the first two seasons she was brilliant as the show’s emotional heavy; and now with the weight of the world off of Sarah’s shoulders, it turns out she’s funny too.
This is also where I wish it was easier for show runners to make major changes to a show’s format. Even apart from thinking this episode was too long in coming; I would have loved it if Chuck and Sarah had stayed on the run for a while, like maybe the entire back arc. A couple episodes of Chuck, Sarah, a handful of guest stars; and no other characters in sight. Maybe culminating in how they decide to return to the CIA and Burbank. But now I’m getting into fan fiction territory. I want more because this episode was so good. Other wonderful things do lie ahead; but this one will always be special.
You’re right Dave, the honeymoon ended too soon because Casey eventually found them, as you knew he would. Morgan, “the intersect on Chuck” satisfied his title. Who knew Chuck was a DC Comics guy? And so they’re off to Paris with Morgan “the nut job” keeping the plane afloat. (Side note about the plane scene, that baby looked very fake. Blame the budget cuts.) Whatever Morgan was doing worked because they landed safely in Paris, as did Morgan’s secret pouch and Canadian flag knapsack.
Meanwhile Chuck and Sarah proceed with their plan. Having stolen handcuffs from a guy that looks strangely like Yvonne Strahovski’s real life boyfriend (yes I know he really is her real life boyfriend), and pain pills from an unsuspecting French skier, they’re off to confront the bad guys, but not before foreshadowing wedding vows once more, this time in front of a mirror. Sarah’s facial expression was dreamy, as if she really was pledging her life to Chuck, as if the rings weren’t from the lamps, and the commitment was real. Then again, the commitment was real, though the rings were not. Brilliant shot and scene.
Fast forward to apprehending the bad guys and the return of Mrs. Charles, “Hi y’all it’s me! From you alls room!” Hilarious. Zachary Levi’s French accent was off but his Texan accent was spot on. Between the two of them, the accents completely made the scene. Who didn’t laugh when Chuck remarked, “she’s a tigress” at which Sarah said, “rawr!” Too funny.
Just like that, two of the bad guys were apprehended, or were they? Casey finally caught up to Chuck and Sarah. (Second side note, if you pause at the hand holding by Chuck and Sarah during the scene when Casey was interrogating them, you’ll notice that the hands aren’t Chuck and Sarah’s. They were far too old to be Yvonne and Zac’s hands). And Morgan tries to charm a fellow Canadian. Things are again never as they seem because the Canadian was Basque–though her “stay away from me, or I’ll cut you” was obviously Canadian (just kidding Canadian buddies)–and Chuck and Sarah caused an international incident. It turns out that Juan Diego Arnaldo was turning himself in and Chuck and Sarah just knocked out two Interpol agents. A fantastic one-handed fight scene wasted but it’s all for the best because a better one came later.
Secret’s out, Chuck and Sarah are quitting. In a brilliant parallel, Casey tries to talk Sarah out of quitting just as Morgan tries to talk Chuck out of leaving.
Morgan: “I can’t believe you’re just quitting, walking away from everything.”
Chuck: “I’m not, I’m walking towards something”
Chuck’s right, he’s not leaving so much as walking towards something, towards Sarah. But I prefer how Sarah puts it,
Casey: “That’s it you’re throwing away your life for Bartowski?”
Sarah: “I’m making a life.”
Simple words and yet so much meaning. We see just how much Chuck and Sarah have come to mean to the other, “if this is what she/he wants…” and we hear how they see this new journey together. Of course Juan Diego Arnaldo had the best line, “does it have to be a choice?”
Decision made, for the moment, Chuck and Sarah depart. The first bars of “Leaving on a Jetplane” plays. Yet another brilliant piece of editing. The lyrics chosen worked on many levels: Chuck and Sarah are leaving a life behind and Ellie is leaving Chuck. “Oh babe, I hate to go, I hate to go.” I consider Jeffster’s unplugged “Leaving on a Jetplane” their best work, over Africa, over Mr. Roboto and not just because of the significance of these lines but because it’s pleasing to the auditory senses. I would buy this single in iTunes if they’d only release it. They should blow the amp during rehearsal more often!
But enough about Jeffster. Taking their conversations to heart, Chuck and Sarah attempt to discuss their future but was cut short because Casey and Morgan are in danger. Still it wasn’t over, only postponed. After a second tandem punch, a James Bond moped homage and one of Chuck’s finest fight choreographies, Chuck and Sarah come clean.
Sarah: Chuck I don’t want you to choose me over something that you want for yourself.
Chuck: I want you, I want us!
Sarah: Chuck Bartowski, do you agree to not quit the spy life and be with me?
Chuck: I do. Sarah Walker, do you agree to not quit the spy life and be with me?
Sarah: I do.
Bad guys, the real ones this time, finally apprehended, the team debriefs with General Beckman. Loved Beckman’s “No!” when Chuck and Sarah revealed their relationship but her “about damn time,” takes the cake. Sarah had her own moment of levity by repeating Chuck’s earlier bumbling words to her, “dating, exclusively.” With smiles all around, Chuck catches a glimpse of the monitor and has the same melancholy moment as Ellie did earlier on.
Chuck: I’m so sorry Ellie, I wanted to be here.
Sarah: Chuck it’s fine. You missed one party. The truth is I think I got so drunk because I was upset with myself. I’m leaving my little brother.
Chuck: I’m not so little anymore. And just so you know, you’re not leaving me alone.
(Cut to Sarah, with bracelet)
Ellie: (happily) You guys are back together?
Chuck: We’re together.
Amidst one of the most lighthearted and fun episodes of Chuck, we experience a bit of sadness and heartbreak. Chuck and Ellie are growing up, growing apart. Change is painful, often sad but it’s not all bad, Chuck and Sarah are together and Chuck and Ellie are moving on to bigger and better things, growing up.
[audio http://jjovenidea.com/jemell/chuckmp3/01%20Feeling%20Good.mp3|titles=Feeling Good|artists=Nina Simone]
This is cemented by the following scene, Chuck’s finest scene in Feeling Good. “I think I’ve found the one,” remarked Chuck, a line that works on a couple of levels. While Sarah Walker of “music has not been at the top of my list,” found music she liked in Nina Simone and “Feeling Good.”
“It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, a new life…” and we’re all feeling good.
I love the return home segment of this episode as much as the earlier romp. General Beckman’s “release Agent Walker” still makes me laugh every time (and we’re talking about a lot of times at this point!). And speaking as a hopelessly out of touch old married guy, the last scene set to Nina Simone’s classic is the most amazingly romantic thing I’ve ever seen on television. This show is often quite good at warm and fuzzy, but that scene melted me outright.
Perfectly put: warm, fuzzy, and so utterly satisfying (Chuck vs. the Honeymooners in sum). As we await for Chuck’s final season, we shall dream of Honeymooners Part 2: TBD.