Chuck is up to his neck in bombs in this high stakes game that begins with an assassination attempt on Morgan, nearly kills Sarah, and ends with Casey’s arrest for multiple homicide. As serious all that is, it is also seriously fun … and funny and romantic and heartwarming and crazy enjoyable.
Throwing stars, Beckman, finding an assassin at a Buymore convention, baby Clara, awesome CS, Bartowski family goodness … what’s not to love? I’m even liking the Buymore plot (and that’s something I thought I would never say).
Chuck Versus the Business Trip contrasts Chuck and Sarah’s two worlds as the spy world mingles with the normal world, leaving our favorite couple to ponder what it might be like to be normal, how to balance their two worlds, and what they really want in their life together.
Getting Morgan Back To Normal
Before Chuck can get his friend back to normal, he has to keep him from getting dead. Chuck stops Morgan from blowing himself up. But this is Morgan … and it is a detonator … so the odds are good that eventually something will blow up.
The scene in Castle was so much fun, with Sarah telling Morgan they called in the big guns and the look that passed between Chuck and Sarah as Beckman entered Castle. It was fun to watch them exercise the Intersect one last time. Chuck and Sarah have a blast indulging Morgan’s last wish, while Casey and GB are not amused. Almost as impressive as Morgan’s catching the stars was Chuck (and Sarah’s — duh) ability in throwing them. Sarah’s entering into the fun is wonderful and entertaining, as is her reaction to Casey’s sucker punch, and her dead pan agreement with Morgan that Chuck’s beloved Die-Hard-Star-Wars-Chewie-Yoda-Yippie-Ki-Yay is gibberish … and the playful look she gives her wounded husband.
The rest of getting Morgan back to normal is a video crash course to restore his sci-fi-hero-nerd-pop-culture knowledge. Casey’s pranking Morgan about watching films he wouldn’t like and spoiling the ones he would like is very funny, especially for Casey. Who knew he was such a nerd? Casey has to work his way through the forgiveness process, unlike Chuck whose forgiveness comes easily. In the end, Casey offered his forgiveness in a bag, with a set of Indiana Jones videos and an invitation to move back in.
It’s nice to have the normal Morgan back.
Happy and Normal and Nice
The courtyard is the place of some of the best Chuck moments (we should do a poll). Never in my wildest dreams, however, did I think that Chuck and Sarah would walk in on a Mommy and Me group … and not freak out. In fact, they look rather happy about this wonderful normal occurence. No deer in the headlights look from Sarah or panic face from Chuck. They take time to squat down and share in Devon’s happiness. Chuck looks at Sarah to gauge her reaction. Her smile says maybe one day she might like some little-person happiness of her own. One of the courtyard’s finest moments.
Ellie and Devon have always been Chuck’s normometer. For a long time he held their life as his ideal … until he embraced his spy destiny and realized that life with Sarah was way better than normal. Every once in a while Ellie and Devon trigger his desire for a normal life, How great are Ellie and Awesome, huh? They’re just a nice, happy, normal couple. Sarah knows him well and clues into his mood, Yeah, they are. Chuck has hit a wall with all the recent challenges and wonders if they are at a fork in the road. Sarah hears him. She knows the day will come for more taco nights and fewer evil cabals, but for now she reassures him that together they will figure out the whole free-agent spy thing, even without the Intersect. It’s a wonderful CS married moment … all except for GB’s untimely interruption.
Decker. Oooo. I really do not like that man. Neither does Beckman. Decker brings a new level of evil to Chuck. He called in a top assassin to off Morgan? Grrr. (Sorry, that was me, not Casey.) He’d really like to call off the hit, but he can’t. Uh-huh. Looks all broken up about it, too. (Did you notice how Decker misled them. He implies that the Viper is a man and that he only has Morgan’s name.)
Chuck naively thinks it was all over when they kicked them out of the CIA. Sarah’s remark and the look on her face tell us she knows better, He’s not done with us. Shiver. (Did that send a chill up anyone else’s spine?) This is the part of the spy world that Sarah and Casey are all too familiar with.
Decker only becomes more detestable after the assassination is foiled. His mock relief, his faux good-guy protestations, the meaningless cancellation of the hit, and his disdainful comment to TeamB. Good luck running a spy business with no Intersect, huh?
Speaking of disdain, Beckman has it in spades for Decker. Look at her face. It shows disgust for Chuck and Sarah’s raw deal, an injustice she has no control over. I also see regret over the loss of her best spy team. Morgan and Chuck are not the only ones who miss the Intersect.
See ya never.
An Island of Normal
That would be Jeff, in a sea of Buymore … subnormal(?). Who’d a thunk? Jeff is the new Chuck. OK, not quite. But he’s responsible, discerning, demonstrates positive leadership skills, and won’t be manipulated. One of his favorite pastimes is … reading? And his initiative in problem solving gives Chuck the idea to flush out the Viper.
I’m loving the whole Jeff plot: the contrast between Jeff reading a book and sipping tea from a teacup (the classical music was a brilliant touch) and Big Mike slouched over a bowl of cheese balls; Jeff’s new ethic at war with, rather than an unwitting tool of, Lester’s machinations; the unclouded view of the difference between Jeff and Lester. Jeff is a worthy subject for Big Mike’s camera, Devon’s medical case study … and an oasis in the desiccated landscape of Buymore plots.
Of course, there’s a shark in the Buymore waters that hates the all new Jeff. Lester stoops to an all new low to get his Jeff back. I applaud the arrest and can’t help wondering if we’ll get to be a fly on the wall to see how Lester makes out in prison. Good thing Yuri the Gobbler is gone.
Surrounded By Normal
Normal, normal, everywhere
Nice folks, no guise, no lies;
Normal, normal, everywhere
For everyone but spies.
Operation Buymore Magnet. Given Chuck and Sarah’s present susceptibility to the sirens’ call to a normal life, this is probably the worst place for them to carry out a dangerous mission. They are surrounded by normal people doing what normal people do when there’s an open bar and a swimming pool.
Showing the spy world mingling freely with the normal world is a brilliant encapsulation of Chuck and Sarah’s dual-world dilemma. I love their not-normal husband/wife conversation — priceless. Usually it doesn’t bother them, but right now they are a young married spy couple, just going through your typical existential spy crisis. (Yvonne and Zac are perfect throughout.)
It’s food and drink, laughter, sun, and crazy fun … for everyone but Chuck and Sarah. They get their mingle on and search for the lone assassin in a crowd of normal people. They look normal, act normal, and talk normal … but they aren’t normal. They interact with normal, while never connecting with normal. It’s survival. And it’s hard to do when you’re craving normal.
That brings us to Sarah. Last year she was trying to adapt to normal. Now she has embraced it and is thoroughly enjoying her normal life. (It’s obvious and one of the wonderful, endearing aspects of watching Sarah this year.) So here, surrounded by genuine people laughing, having fun, and accepting her as one of them, she craves more. She wants to expand the normal part of her world. Logically that means having her own friends apart from Chuck’s friends.
Sarah does her job, and does it well, even passing her own lie detector test (which saddens her a bit). Everyone checks out, including the emotional wife and mom who wants to befriend her … and kill her.
The Viper In The Garden of Normal. Jane gains Sarah’s trust, a rare and precious commodity. How? Jane really is good at what she does. She establishes common ground, tearfully citing a phase she’s going through — getting so accustomed to a role that you forget how to be a regular person outside of that role — a normal, real-world phase that mirrors the sum reality of the spy world. Sarah immediately identifies with her and warms to the idea of a real friend.
Chuck and Sarah lose themselves in the care-free bubble of poolside drinks and jovial conversation with the nicest people in the world, and they connect, however briefly, with normal. For me it’s just fun to see them normal and happy and nice, a glimpse, perhaps, of what that other fork in the road might look like some day.
Here’s a shocker. The people hanging out at the pool didn’t all turn out to be normal. In a group of 7, there were 3 spies (and the bartender makes 4) and a pervert. It’s a good reminder that in any group, anywhere, there will always be people who aren’t who they say they are. If you want to find a friend at any party, your odds are good, but the goods may end up being odd.
Trust and Consequences. Chuck is enjoying himself, but it’s not a unique experience for him … unlike Sarah, who has probably never had an experience like this. It shows. I kind of love it here. [giggles and smiles] … We checked everybody, and everyone is exactly who they say they are. It’s amazing.
Maybe a little too amazing.
My heart constricts a little at Sarah’s happiness that someone wants to be her friend, especially her defense that it’s because Jane really likes her.
Talk about your role reversal. Sarah has somehow switched into normal mode, trusting that people are who they say they are (albeit with the help of a polygraph). Chuck is the one thinking like a spy. His remark (that Jane is the Viper) is not an affront to Sarah’s likeability. He’s just thinking like a spy. Trust no one. Suspect everyone, especially if they befriend you out of nowhere. Chuck’s desire to assure his wife shoves his suspicions to the back of his mind.
Reality check: Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. I mean I’m not really sure what type of friendship is founded on lies. With that crushing thought, Sarah returns her focus to the mission.
Mission over. Viper captured. Chuck offers to finish up and let Sarah go for a drink with a friend. Her tentative acceptance blooms into shy pleasure, Really, you mean, like, I can go and have an actual normal friend? … OK. Well, I’m going to go have a drink with a friend, like a real live person.
What follows is the most tension so far this season. Chuck’s spy brain niggles him into full alert, just in time to keep Sarah from being blown up. It doesn’t take long for Sarah’s spy brain to catch up, and Yvonne’s face sells the fear. Fantastic bomb defusing scene.
Do-not-mess-with-me Sarah is back. She calls Jane to distract her, and to force her voice to reveal her position. Then she Takes. Her. Down. Woo-hoo. Great scene.
I’m a spy. Boy it feels good to say that to a real friend. By the way you’re amazing at what you do. I really trusted you. And I don’t do that very often.
Jane’s words are a redundant warning, Well, you shouldn’t. Sarah takes the words to heart, as she gives Casey the nod to keep tabs on the Viper as she leaves Castle.
The Viper won’t get within striking distance again.
Interludes of Normal
Sarah opens the door into an interlude of normal, a moment out of time, in a haven away from the spy world that holds their real world hostage.
On the other side of town John Casey keeps the evil at bay. He hears an assassin vow to kill Walker, Grimes, Casey, Bartowski, his daughter. He hears Decker sanction a kill on all but Walker and Bartowski. He does what he has to do to keep his friends and family safe for another day.
As Casey runs off, the image of Jane’s vacant stare fills the screen, and a mournful melody fills the silence. Jane represents the spy life plus nothing. Hers is the logical end of the brute spy life. The road of ever decreasing sensitization to life, love, and moral awareness ends like this, in a dark ally with no one to mourn an empty life. The cold ally and her empty life stand in stark contrast with the warmth of the Bartowski home and the people who belong there, including some spies of a different breed … spies with a moral anchor, who have a real life and real love, something to lose and someone to fight for.
Back at Casa Bartowski, Ellie revels in the open conversations they can finally share. They laugh about Chuck posing as Morgan, and joke about the beard. Chuck and Sarah are open with their affection and enjoyment of their family.
Casey comes in from the cold. He and Sarah exchange a fleeting look (our families are safe), the party never missing a beat. Wine flows. Casey hugs his daughter and laughs. Awesome feeds Morgan, and Sarah laughs huge. In this place, in this moment, smiles and laughter, warmth and shared love overflow. Yet even these moments are haunted by the mournful strains, a reminder of their loss, the high cost of duty, and the dangers on the other side of the door.
What matters most, though is the life they share within these walls. Sarah raises her glass in a toast:
Chuck and I have been a little sad this week that we aren’t normal people. I’ve been having a hard time with the fact that I have no real friends. But I look around here at all of you today, and I realize that because of Chuck I do. Nobody in the world is closer than we all are. So, thank you, and cheers.
Now that’s a normal life, no matter what job you put it in.