Alarming hairstyle and foul cologne notwithstanding, Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips is one of Chuck’s best. The episode and the characters are firing on all cylandars, pumping out comedy, drama, spy stuff, action, exploding things, and romance.
Sometimes I am hard pressed to categorize a scene. For instance, would you tag the Cabanski scenes as romance or exploding things? Sarah quarterbacking Casey’s accidental meet with Verbanski, was that spy stuff or comedy?
Picking up where I left off at the end of Bearded Bandit (Bring Up Morgan)
Whether the Intersect in Morgan was sabotaged or not, the potential for disaster is the same. Morgansect is going sideways, and Chuck and Sarah need to stop it before Morgan becomes their Hartley … if he hasn’t already.
Next week will be about saving Morgan from himself and from the Intersect. Oh, and from his hair stylist.
Frosted Tips covered all of the bases, and then some.
Casey vs the First Date
Casey is seconds away from intercepting the target, and Sarah quarterbacks the mission from the van, with some very state-of-the-art spy stuff … way cool. Sarah easily monitors the streets, the target, and Casey’s blood pressure (which gives her some cause for concern). Once the target is intercepted, Sarah guides Casey through his mission to … ask the target for a date? The whole scenario is just funny. Who would have ever believed it?
First of all, who knew that Sarah was so full of dating advice? (The target is yours; ask her out.) This scene makes me smile all the way through, with Casey’s nerves and Sarah’s encyclopedic dating knowledge, which seems to have sprung full-blown from who knows where … newfound conjugal wisdom. I loved her telling Casey that people go on dates, rather than plant surveillance bugs, to get to know one another. What Sarah said. “Weird move, Casey.”
The follow-up conversation with Chuck was priceless:
C: “Pervin’ out on Gertrude. Weird move, Casey.”
S: “I told you.”
Like many couples, yet unlike any couple, one date leads to another, and Casey’s second first-date is as bizarre as the first, combining mission tactics with date-like elements: romantic music (Strangers in The Night), romantic moves (sort of), and hand cuffs(?). Disturbing imagery and tons of chemisty. Perfect and perfectly creepy … Cabanski.
Grrr. She stole his mission and his moron. He is so over her (yeah right) … until the next hot encounter. OK, it’s a mission, not a date, but there are flames and fire works and explosions. Nothing like walking through fire and saving the girl to get her to go out with you. How can she say no? (Not that she would have anyway.)
Third first-date’s the charm. Casey finally takes Gertrude out on a real date. Casey is choosing which gun to take, holding up one gun and then the other, you know, the way most men do ties. I thought you don’t take a gun on a real date. In this case you do, because he’s taking Gertrude on her dream date … to the firing range. They are a match made in a very frightening part of heaven. Wouldn’t you like to go along? He’s wired for sound. Ah, no thanks. Like Sarah, I think this is a solo mission.
Sarah vs the Best Friend
Sarah has come a long way since Chuck Versus the Best Friend, when she only saw the spy side of things and didn’t understand the best friend relationship that Chuck and Morgan shared. She didn’t have anyone in her life like that, who cared about her, until Chuck. From the moment that he took her hand and assured her, “Yeah, you do,” a neglected spot in Sarah’s heart began to expand. Now, you would never guess she was that friendless girl.
Frosted Tips is a reversal of Best Friend. Chuck is focused on the business/mission side of things, and it’s Sarah who is concerned for Morgan, her best-friend-in-law. At the bottom of it, her heart’s biggest concern is for Chuck. She knows what the loss of this friendship will do to him, and what its deterioration is already doing to him … even if he won’t admit it.
Did you ever think you would hear Sarah ask Chuck why he didn’t wake her so they could talk about what was bothering him? I loved this scene, Sarah’s sensitivity and letting Chuck know that she knew what was really bothering him. At the same time she’s not letting him off the hook, doesn’t let him lose touch with himself.
Sarah is the one who sees things clearly. Since Morgan has broken up with Alex, Casey lacks objectivity. Chuck’s having grown up with Morgan and put us with his immaturity all his life keeps him from seeing that maybe something else is at work. Sarah doesn’t know who Morgan was, but she knows who he is, that he doesn’t have a dark side and that something is wrong. When she first brings it up, we are privy to a wonderful Chuck and Sarah moment … Chuck reliving his middle school years, which is only wonderful because of Sarah’s reactions. Great scene in a great episode for Sarah, with some memorable lines and perfect Yvonne delivery: And she grew a mustache, too? … You’re going to pants Morgan?
After the mission — having seen Morgan as a megalomaniacal monster who reams his assistant over coffee whitener and tells Chuck that they are NOT friends — Sarah knows that it’s time to consider that this is more than just an ego problem. What if Morgan needs help? Chuck is blinded, not by callousness, but by hurt. If Morgan says they aren’t friends, he’s at a loss as to how to help. Sarah’s not. She helps her husband help his friend. She takes over when he doesn’t know what else to do. This is Sarah acting on their promise to work through things together.
Who do you talk to about an Intersect/brain/Morgan problem? Well, when your sister-in-law/friend is a neurologist and Intersect expert, you don’t have to go far … just to lunch at the hospital. I love Sarah/Ellie scenes, and this was a great one, full of trust as our two favorite women solve a problem together. (Man, I love that the whole family is in on the spy stuff!) Sarah gleaned valuable Intel. First, Morgansect was modified; it’s not PapaB’s original. Second, Maybe they can get through to Morgan by appealing to his memory, telling him stories from his past.
Next step, find out who modified it by calling the person who sent it to them. Unfortunately Beckman doesn’t know, and whatever is going on is above her pay grade. That is never good.
Sarah unravels enough of the Morgansect mystery to restore Chuck’s ability to help his friend. They are off to save Morgan … together.
Chuck vs Gollum
Ever since Morgan downloaded the Intersect, it’s all he can think about, and therefore, since it’s Morgan, all he can talk about … constantly … to everyone. Chuck sees Morgan regressing back to his 7th grade self … only much more annoying (because he’s and adult) and much more dangerous (because he’s in the spy world). For Morgan’s safety and everyone else’s sanity, Chuck must talk some sense into Morgan, who only becomes more hostile at every attempt.
The discovery that Morgan has sold out is deeply personal, but it’s also a huge blow to C.I. This raises the question of who owns the Intersect. Morgan? Only in so far as it accidentally ended up in his head. The government? Well, it does contain their secrets. To Chuck and C.I? Yes, in that it’s Orion’s invention, his software/program, and he left it with Chuck and Ellie for safe-keeping. In no case does Morgan have the right to take it to Verbanski Corp. It’s a theft from the owner of the invention and a danger to the government whose secrets it guards. Obviously, he has no right to steal the mission that was specifically outsourced to C.I. One is theft and treason and the other corporate theft.
Morgan’s defection is betrayal … and now, war. Chuck pulls the gloves off to fight for his company. This time his confrontation is less friendly/handler-y and more combative … literally. Chuck is fun to watch on the mission, very spy-ish and yet very Chuck. He executes everything to perfection and easily hands off to Sarah when called to his “blue-team training” (love the look he gives Sarah). Then the confrontation. Chuck’s been training, and I like the result. He stands his ground against the Intersect (probably a combination of residual familiarity with its programs and his new training). Morgansect ultimately isn’t a match for TeamB. I liked Chuck dashing out from behind Morgan, to avoid the darts he knew Morgansect might dodge. The improvisational pantsing, under the circumstances, was a quick-thinking, humorous, non-violent way of tranquing Morgan (anyone else think of A-Team?). Also funny: Chuck’s refusal to catch Morgan and Sarah’s pleasure in her job to tranque him.
Once Chuck knows that Morgan downloaded a sabotaged Intersect, the battle changes. The enemy becomes the victim … Chuck’s friend in need of rescue. The mission to extract Zorn is a go, but the main priority is saving Morgan, which Chuck does in the most Chuck-way possible … talking. It’s Sarah who puts the conversation on the proper course, by bringing up Meredith from 7th grade and urging Chuck to unlock Morgan’s memory. Chuck picks up where Sarah left off and frees his friend from the hold of the Intersect. (I was reminded of their talking teamwork in Coup d’Etat.) Then of course, Chuck risks his own life to pull Morgan from the fire that Morgan caused (things are back to normal).
The rescue is almost complete, only one thing left to do, “Say you’re gonna lose the Frosted Tips.”
Morgan vs His Precious Intersect
Morgansect. We debated whether Morgan was giving in the power of the Intersect and to his own lust for super-hero status or if, in fact, the Intersect was sabotaged and somehow overpowering Morgan, causing him to lose himself.
Probably a combination of both. Morgan confesses as much to Casey in the end, that his inner jerk was partly to blame. Certainly the Intersect is capable of intoxicating its host with its power rush, until inhibitions and common sense are suppressed and the host’s inner demons (whatever they may be) are unleashed. Obviously, this Intersect was much more than that. It was programmed to destroy its host’s moral compass and personality, down to the last memory and awareness of self. Did Morgan almost become Chuck and Sarah’s Hartley/Volkoff? Yes. Morgan was all but gone for good, and would have been were it not for Sarah and Chuck working together to bring him back. (This sounds vaguely familiar.)
The Intersect was intended for Chuck. Decker wanted to utterly destroy him. Or maybe he wanted to use him … This circles back to my favorite Agent X theory — that it wasn’t Stephen’s fault. Someone else, or a group of someones, sabotaged Hartley’s Intersect and intentionally created Volkoff, for their own ends. Muah. Fun things ahead.
New Lease on Life
Casey has a girlfriend. This is going to be fun to watch. Will he leave or will she die? Will he die, or will they have a happy ending?
Chuck and Sarah have a new lease on life. Their company is in the black. They can pay their bills and keep on doing really important things together, like eating and living indoors.
Jeff. It turns out, in a wonderful twist, that Jeff’s … Jeff-ness, like Morgansect, was not totally his fault. He was the victim of carbon monoxide poisoning. Devon rescues Jeff and gives him a new lease on life. I loved the turn around, and I’m happy for Jeff. As creepy as he was, somewhere deep down (very deep down) Jeff was kind, caring, and perceptive. This of course will be the end Jeffster, since Lester has no such inner core. I like it. It will make Jeff and Lester more interesting.
Morgan will soon be returned to his Intersect-less self. Chuck freed Morgan from the Intersect, but it’s Devon who gives him a new lease on life, admonishing him not to confuse his job with his life. This is a Chuck theme. Chuck, Sarah, Casey, Ellie, and Devon have all had to learn this lesson. Now it’s Morgan’s turn.
The Frosting On Top … The Highlights
The thing that delights me about S5 is the relationship/character growth.
The best part of Casey vs the First Date wasn’t the Casey humor, though that was highly enjoyable. It was the wonderful Casey/Walker friendship, showing the comfort of a long partnership mixed with the awkwardness of a new friendship. I love Sarah’s teasing Casey (in the middle of the mission, no less) that the mission could damage his love life (good-natured payback for all of the chocolate/peanut butter remarks he used to throw her way). Then after the mission, she insists that they need to talk about Gertrude, “Clearly you still have feelings for her.” In the end she encourages him and sends him off on his date by himself. This is Mrs. Chuck Bartowski … unleashed.
Another delight of this episode (and I think we’ll see it throughout the season) is Chuck’s spy growth. It’s another reversal to see Chuck and Casey in sync with the mission stuff: immediately grabbing gear to take down the competition (while Sarah pulls back on the reins); turning in unison to take out the guards (while Sarah deliberates the effect on Casey’s love life). Meet Mr. Sarah Walker … unleashed.
Both of these newly empowered personae are rooted in their marriage. It’s palpable, yet natural and subtly played … and a delight to watch. The love is still there, along with newly-wed talk and newly-wed games. The insecurities that used to come between them are replaced by a newfound comfort between them and an ease in their conversations, both verbal and non-verbal. They were always a team, but now they are a unit, committed to being there for each other when things get tough and working through everything together.
I called this the frosting on top — serendipities, incidental to the real story. On reflection, though, maybe that’s backwards. The relationships and character growth, friendships and marriage … they are the real story. The rest are just details.
~~ Loved Cabanski (thanks to Jason for the nomenclature). CAM is doing a great job. She and AB sizzle, or spark, or explode … anyway they’re good together.
~~ Beckman was great, giving C.I. the mission, not interested in chit-chat, telling Chuck to protect his friend (even if Morgan did call her Becky and make inappropriate remarks about her tight core). What. A. Hoot. What is wrong with him? … So many things.
~~ Awesome is indeed awesome if he can bake, feed, burp, wipe, and exercise in 45 minutes. Fantastic B plot. Awesome paternity leave, Thank you!
~~ The Buymore. Lester’s cooing to Clara Jeffrey doesn’t have a brain, silly. Oh, and his biological clock is ticking. (First time I’ve laughed at Lester in a long time.) Jeff’s examination … TMI … what else is new?
~~ Casey and Alex. How would you like to have Casey as your dad? He doesn’t sugar coat it. He offers to kill your ex. Then he hugs you and promises to always be there for you. (What? Casey is now a hugger?) Great scene. Great Casey episode. I also liked that he didn’t let Morgan move back in.
~~ Chuck and Alex. I liked Chuck assuring Alex that he would tell her if Morgan were stepping out on her.
~~ Chuck and Sarah’s rooftop kiss, nice.
~~ Sarah is playing such a pivotal role this season, not necessary the focal point … that was last season, her growth-spurt, when she needed help. Now we see the fantastic results of that. She is Chuck’s wife and his First Mate of C.I. She’s often the glue of TeamB … Chuck’s partner in every sense of the word.
~~ Chuck and Sarah’s relationship isn’t the focus of the drama, but they are the heart of the solution. Their relationship is like a presence that makes it all work. I don’t know if I’m explaining it well; I just know that I really like what I’m seeing.