Normal Off / Spy On — Chuck Versus the Hack Off

Chuck Versus the Hack Off is a thoroughly enjoyable episode in the escalating goodness of S5. It was exciting, charming, and funny. There was more Cabanski, Casey and Lester in prison … together, Chuck and Sarah infiltrating a nudist cult, Sarah the relationship/communication expert, Chuck the legend hacker, and more of Chuck’s very own Ward and June Bartowski (sort of a Mr and Mrs Cleaver-Smith). What’s not to love. What about the other shoe? For all its charm, Hack Off was also dangerous, disturbing, and ominous. It picked up the threads of Chuck Versus the Business Trip and wove a wonderful yarn with the light warp of comedy, action, and romance on the dark weft of the spy world.

Deals Off

Two couples — Chuck & Sarah and Jeff & Morgan have plans to get their friends out of jail. CS offer Casey postage stamp sized blueprints and a plan to break out of jail. (Casey’s reluctance is understandable, since the last time Chuck asked for someone’s hand, he wanted to pass off a tooth.) Casey refuses based on principle, feeding into Decker’s plan. Jeff and Morgan offer Lester a get-out-of-jail-(practically)-free card. All he has to do is promise not to poison Jeff again. But NO, the orange jail birds have to do things the hard way … only to end up with plan A all over again in the end. But we get to enjoy the ride … beginning with Sarah swatting away the pesky Hinjew.

The prison scenes were exciting and funny. Too bad we’ll never see Lester’s version of the Michael Angelo version of himself. Lester has no brawn and perhaps not too much of a brain, but he is conniving, and that’s his ticket to becoming the shot caller. I enjoyed the twist that Lester saved Casey’s bacon … and that he finally found somebody to return his high five. The Cabanski conjugal visit entertained us and gave us a glimpse (perhaps?) of Casey’s happy ever after. I never thought I would say this about Casey and … anyone. But they are so cute together. AB and CAM absolutely nailed their scenes together. Just the right blend of tough and soft.

I can’t leave prison without commenting on Chuck and Sarah’s prison exit. Chuck feels responsible for all the bad things happening to his friend. Sarah tells him it’s not his fault, being honest but also making him feel better. It’s their rhythm. Only now it’s more transparent, and Sarah is all wife and not one bit of handler. –Incoming– I loved the whole dart thing … each telling the other about the dart … Chuck catching Sarah and holding her as he falls (Honey …) So season 5. Only CS can make getting tranqued seem couple-y.

Prison Sentence Off

Yeah right. Decker calls off the prison sentence about like he called off the hit on Morgan. He has the Bartowski’s exactly where he wants them. He’ll trade Casey in exchange for Chuck’s hacking/computer skills. Regardless of Sarah’s suspicions and Chuck’s loathing working with Decker, they really have no choice … if they want to see Casey alive again. Anyone else’s alarm bells going off? Um-hmm. Casey warned us all: Be careful. He’s capable of anything.

Clothes Off

There are times I really wish I didn’t watch spoilers, and this was one of those times. The surprise would have been more fun. This was all for gratuitous fun … oh, and to track down Colin “Moon Meadow” Davis, who desperately needs some pants. Chuck was all Chuck: horrified that Sarah was stripping; even more horrified that he had to, too; telling Verbanski not to look too close. Verbanski was great fun as Casey’s replacement: no chit-chat — kill the hippies — end the fish concert and get out. Oh, and her insulting remarks about not much to look at and nobody looking at anything … nobody but Sarah, who keeps checking out her husband. Other than that she was supremely professional. In the end they got the chip and got out, and that’s all that counts, right? … Right? Of course, this part of the story could have happened at Disney Land or Hawaii or the local super market, but that wouldn’t have been nearly as good spoiler fodder.

Lids Off

There’s always the story behind the story, which is usually what I enjoy the most. Chuck Versus the Hack Off takes the lid off of Chuck’s hackered past. What fun to get a glimpse of Chuck the Piranha Bartowski. He was loose, confident, and very much in his element.

There was another nice Sarah/Morgan bonding moment as Morgan helps Sarah understand her man. Sarah loves this new piece of the Chuck puzzle, just like she loves the rest of the package. One of the delights of S5 is that Sarah no longer keeps the lid on her emotions. I loved her reactions: It’s kinda cute … and the look on her face is pure love and unveiled adoration. The lid is off of Sarah in delightful new ways (though I imagine there are more puzzle pieces still in the box).

Some things you just can’t keep a lid on, and Gertrude is fooling no one. She is, as Chuck might say, a hot mess. I love Chuck and Sarah’s knowing looks, as they “let” her join the mission. Sarah easily recognizes a woman in love who’s trying to keep a lid on her emotions. It’s like looking at herself not too long ago. So, Sarah-the-relationship-expert tries to get Gertrude to talk about her lady feelings. This is the all new Sarah, who is oddly a lot like the old Chuck. (It’s just like watching Chuck trying to get Casey to open up about Ilsa.) Well, Verbanski, like her male counterpart, will have none of it (at first).

The therapy session continues in the middle of the next mission … after Chuck and Sarah tell each other to be careful, complete with endearments; and after Sarah can’t help bragging on her man. Finally the lid blows off, and Verbanski admits her feelings for Casey … and her fears. Some of Verbanski’s fears were once Sarah’s fears, too — Now, I’m petrified this could actually turn into something — until she realized that love is greater than fear — Well, maybe you’re looking at it the wrong way.

Then there are some issues (no longer fears really) that Sarah is still dealing with — having kids and quitting the spy business because it’s too dangerous. But, like the relationship Dr. says: Relationships are all about communication. I mean, big life changes don’t just sprig up on you like that. Well, I can think of at least one big, life change that does exactly that … springs up on you. Hmm. Be careful how you counsel others, because you will surely be tested on that very advice.

Finally, Verbanski asks the question we’ve all been asking for the last couple of years: How ’bout you? Could you do anything else?

Chuck and Sarah are married, and the lids are off in new and wonderful ways. They are taking puzzle pieces from two lives and building one puzzle. Somehow all the pieces will fit. They both want some kind of normal. We see it in Sarah more and more. In Business Trip, she was enchanted with normal and the idea of having a real friend. Chuck wanted more taco nights and fewer evil cabals. This week, though, he can’t imagine anything beyond the spy life. Well, maybe computer stuff. He bounces the idea off Sarah (after all, it was her idea to begin with). For now, though, Sarah is stuck on Verbanski’s question … and … she’s willing to communicate it — Uh, well, what would my job be? I mean what would I do?

They are in flux. As they move the pieces around and consider different options, they vacillate between wanting to keep spying indefinitely and wanting to quit and have a normal life … in the white house with the red door and white picket fence. I can’t wait to see the puzzle they build over the next few episodes. (Of course I wish we could see the continuing puzzle, but I’m thrilled with what we’re getting.)

Hack Off

Needless to say, Chuck could have gotten the job, had he really wanted it. The Piranha’s still got it. I loved that Chuck wouldn’t transfer even a penny from the Federal Reserve, and that he would only hack into his own company. Flat screens for everyone! I love that he helped the competition. And of course I love that he did it all while simultaneously hacking the security system and helping his team steal the whatchamacallit. Intersect, schmintersect … who needs it?

Gloves Off

Just when Chuck and Sarah thought they had won Casey’s freedom and that they were all finally going to be be out from under Decker’s thumb, Decker ratcheted up the danger several notches. Shiver. He couldn’t destroy Chuck’s brain, so he planned to frame him and put him in the cross hairs of … well, basically the entire government. Chuck’s specialness, whatever it is, poses a serious threat to somebody.

Decker turned out to be one of Chuck’s best villains, and his arrogance and smugness made him absolutely detestable. He’s a smirker, so he’s going down, and hurray for Verbanski for looking out for Casey’s team. I thoroughly agree … he deserved it. I like the tension that Decker and the conspiracy plot have added. Chuck hasn’t had this kind of danger hanging over him since S2, when he had to worry about Fulcrum capturing him and the government bunkering (or killing) him.

While Decker and his ilk are free to play by their own rules, TeamB (no longer CIA) have to play by civilian rules. Sarah no longer has any home-court advantage or CIA cover from which to protect Chuck. They wear the target together, and live by the promise: We knew this wasn’t gonna be easy, and we didn’t get married because we thought life was easy. We got married so that we could be there for each other when things got tough … so that we could work through things together.

Little by little they’ll put the pieces together of the life they want after the spy life, but for now they have to be the best spies they’ve ever been. For now they have to put off their normal and get their spy on.

~^~ Thinkling

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About thinkling

In my [younger] youth, I was a math teacher, basketball coach, and computer programmer. In 1984, we moved to Brazil, where we serve as missionaries. I like to design things and build things, read things and write things. We now live part-time in Brazil, part-time in the US. Love them both. Wife, 37 yrs; mom, 30 yrs. I am blessed.
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53 Responses to Normal Off / Spy On — Chuck Versus the Hack Off

  1. atcDave says:

    Really a great episode. I loved your take on things as always. I totally missed the parallel of Sarah/Gertrude to the S1 Chuck/Casey scene about Ilsa. Sarah the relationship councilor is funny with only the barest knowledge of how she used to be, finding more to it is awesome.

    It’s funny to think of Chuck having this hacker past. Given what a “nice” guy he is its hard for me to imagine what sort of hacking he did. It just seems a little out of character; not a huge deal, just a little off.

    I look forward to more of CAM, she’s been wonderful as Casey’s perfect match. Truly, a match made in a very scary part of heaven…

    • thinkling says:

      Something else, hacker-wise, I liked but forgot to mention, was that Sarah had seen the hacker movie and thought it was pretty good.

      Just a great Chuck episode with basically no parts I have to ffwd on rewatch. The Buymore stuff has been surprisingly better this year than it has in quite some time.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t ff anything either. And to my relief, the blurry bits were done in a cheesy/funny way, not for titilation.

      • thinkling says:

        Right Dave. The cult stuff was cheesy/funny, and I was glad. It’s a lot of the Buymore stuff I frequently ffwd, but this season I can enjoy it a second time. This is a real plus, since some of the Buymore stuff I barely tolerated the first time through.

  2. Ernie Davis says:

    Thinkling, So much to love in this episode, and you touched on almost all of it. The delicate but potentially explosive Cabanski chemistry, Sarah being ”
    more Catholic than the Pope” when it comes to relationships and communication, Chuck getting back in touch with his inner nerd, Jeff remembering Lester as a shorter more feminine version of David Beckham’s wife… Sarah checking out “her man”… more than once…

    Also, Chuck got to drive!! Yeah, only the Nerd Herder, but still…

    I agree, for all the plain old fun in this episode it is setting up the conflict to come in the middle arc. Sarah is going to be tested on her newfound faith in communication, and Chuck’s desire to remain a spy outside the CIA is going to cost him something big. At this point though, I’m not going to speculate beyond what I did last spring in my “why we need a season 5” post. OK, maybe I will, in another post, but after I’ve seen the next episode or two.

    I also sometimes wish there were fewer spoilers out there to tempt me. Some of these things that are spoiled would have so much more impact if we didn’t see them coming and sort of suck the suspense out of them through speculation. After seeing the big one that I wish I hadn’t last week I’ve been pretty good about avoiding them, but MAN it is tough, and tempting.

    • armysfc says:

      Ernie concerning the promos/ spoilers about shaw. we may differ in opinion on this but here’s my take. it was done on purpose to generate interest in the show. there is a reason networks run very few new episodes during this time of year, people don’t tune in. chuck will be doing that.

      as jason pointed out the number of people posting as gone way down this year. on this blog itself look at the the last three entries, there were at the time i wrote this 163 total posts. there were at least 60 that referred to shaw in some way, and most of those only referred to his appearance. that’s way down from last year if i remember correctly. i do remember last year i did a count per post and came up with an average of 22 or so different people posted comments here on a regular basis, i made the point it was a very good number compared to the other blogs out there. this year its about half that. the shaw reveal did what it was supposed to due, generate interest in the show.

      i agree that the surprise factor would be greater if they didn’t show it, but what good is a surprise if nobody is watching to see it? who knows, maybe by putting it out now it may be the most watched episode of the season, less the finale.

      • That makes sense, but I have a different take on the promo… My guess is it was produced before the December schedule was decided and before the premiere date was slipped. (The pre-season BTS interviews were conducted during the filming of Hack-off and Curse.) With the original premiere date, Hack-off was supposed to be before Thanksgiving, leading to a couple of week break before Curse and Santa Suit. Shaw was included in the promo to maintain interest over the break. Chuck’s post-premiere and pre-break promos have normally been for multiple weeks. With the Santa Suit episode at Christmas Eve Eve, they still needed to try to generate interest, so there was no need to change it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m aware of the reasons they may have done it and can’t blame them for wanting to generate some interest, especially with the new ratings, I just wish I’d turned off the TV a second sooner.

        BTW Jeff (and others) There is an ongoing poll at TVline that just might shape up as a Sarah Walker Vs. Kate Beckett showdown. Is your head gonna ‘splode if that happens? Sarah gets my vote. (She just beat Sydney Bristow). Kate looks to have the tougher bracket, I don’t see anyone stopping Sarah.

      • atcDave says:

        Its always hard to really gauge interest. Obviously the show’s total ratings are down. But our hits here are only slightly down. S3 was huge for us, with many days around 2000 hits, occasionally 3000. But S4 and S5 have both been a little over 1000 a day. Better than that right after an episode, then petering out over the week.
        But S5 numbers are down, not by a huge amount, but they are down. The change in the day of the week may be part of it; weekends were always slower for us (unless we had a really juicy debate going!). I used to think it was just because the discussions were wearing out and everyone was waiting for Monday’s show. But maybe this sort of site will just naturally be slower on weekends, I don’t know (I think we do fewer new posts on weekends too).
        We’ve observed many times that happy fans have less to say than unhappy ones. That may explain why the number of comments seems to be down even more than our daily hits are down; many folks are still visiting and reading this site who no longer feel compelled to write anything. And of course, many of those who were most unhappy last season are now simply gone, leaving more of the silent, content readers.
        And of course the show’s decreased ratings have some impact, although I believe Chuck’s +7 numbers are really only slightly down from last season. So while ratings are way down, total viewership isn’t off by as much. (more viewers are watching via delay/DVR, while a smaller percentage are watching live/same day).

      • thinkling says:

        Good analysis, Dave. I think there’s less motivation (no more possibility of renewal) and less opportunity (Fri night) to watch live. Some people may even be hoarding the episodes to watch several at a time. Plus, when people know it’s the end, they tend to do just that — hoard and gorge.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling, and you hit on another reason for fewer comments. There’s now no influencing anything. Its all a done deal, so less motivation to agitate for change.

      • Ernie (re: the poll), I found out about the poll on a Castle forum first. The Castle fandom is organized and is crazy about Kate (like it was for Sarah in the past). The bracket shows her getting 90+% in the first two rounds. I have a hard time seeing anyone beating her, unless it is someone from NCIS, simply because that show has more viewers.

        I’m speaking objectively about their chances, because that bracket is completely shallow, and we shouldn’t be encouraging such superficial things. 😉 (Sarah/Sydney would have been my #1/#2 showdown, but Sarah got a bad seed. Kate is my #2 remaining, but would be after someone who was eliminated plus two I can think of not even in the bracket.) I’m actually more interested in the chucktv.net Villain showdown.

        It’s odd they have old shows, but don’t have any of the original Charlie’s Angles. There could have been a showdown between Sarah and her mom.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jeff, interesting about the Castle fandom. I wasn’t sure if they were as organized as Chuck fans (who I think are still crazy about Sarah and will support her). I think you are right, I hadn’t looked through all the results when I posted and hadn’t realized a few of those races were decided. I think Kate’s toughest competition now is Scully, and X-Files has been off the air long enough to preclude much of an organized response from fans. When there was the potential for Kate to face off with either Bones or Fringe’s Olivia Dunham in the semi’s I thought she could have some real trouble. As it is I think she’ll cruise into the finals. With Sarah I think her only real competition will also be from NCIS, Ziva David, but I think Sarah fans will pull her through, setting up the Kate vs. Sarah final.

        I’ve been liking the ChuckTV villain showdown too, and have found a few of those surprising. And just for general information they just started round 3. The head to head tournaments are fun. I’ve thought about setting one up, but always balked because, like you say, a bad seed can kill a popular character or episode. You never know however, I still need to find out which musical montage is most popular…

    • thinkling says:

      Yeah Ernie. They have done a great job moving things along while at the same time setting up … or building up to the core story/drama. The setup for bigger drama began with the final inter-cut scene in Business Trip and kept building underneath all the hijinks of Hack Off.

      For all the worry, I don’t expect anything worse than Balcony/Gobbler/Push Mix as far as the drama goes. And I’m expecting to like what they give us.

      I loved that Chuck was driving in the end. Usually Sarah is behind the wheel, driving with determination, while Chuck sits in the passenger seat cogitating. This time it was the other way around. But they both show tremendous resolve to win this battle … together. Basically that’s what I expect for the rest of the season.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        As far as worried, the only thing that worries me any more is the fan reaction. I trust Schwedak to mess with us just enough to create some good drama, and then bring it around in the end. But then I liked season 3. 😉 I think the Sarah arc is going to be pretty polarizing for the Sarah fans.

        The driving scene at the end reminded me of the end of First Kill, but with Chuck now setting the agenda, at least for the time being. I think as time goes on we’ll see a bit more from Sarah re: their common future. This season she’s just started to express what she wants out of life (normal life?). Last season, for all her growth she was largely passive, responding to Chuck’s pushing and/or pulling (or catching her). As Chuck takes more of the lead in the spy game over the seasons I think (hope) we’ll see Sarah start to take over the domestic real-life side a bit more.

      • joe says:

        Ooohhh! I like that, Ernie – Sarah not being passive.

        There was a fairly loud reaction to the idea she might become passive at the end of S3, wasn’t there? I mean, this was during and after the back 6, and the complaint was, essentially, that this kick-butt character would be neutered. That simply didn’t happen.

        Sarah’s been more deliberative and thoughtful AC (that’s “After Chuck”), but no less will to take action once she’s settled on a course.

      • thinkling says:

        I think we’ll get mini-resolutions along the way. I.e. I don’t expect the drama to be cumulative until the last episode. I could be wrong of course. I think vs the Baby will be a stand-alone episode, like all the other Sarah-centric episodes. It will mostly resolve its own drama in that episode. I think that the spy pressures will be cumulative, and the working-out of their “normal” will be on going (with some personal drama along the way … like life), but I think that much of the drama will be generated and resolved in single episodes or mini (2 or 3) episode arc … much like S4. And hey, this is Chuck. You know there’s going to be romance, action, comedy, and sploding stuff. 😉

        I like your take on the role reversals, and I agree. Sarah is much more empowered this season … but so is Chuck. They are each gaining strength and confidence in areas that were dormant (then awakening) before. This is one of the things I love about S5, and I don’t expect for it to suddenly disappear because of a little drama.

      • jason says:

        Ernie – I am with you on this, I think Dave, Think, and Joe have it wrong about the couple vs the world, going to be more like ‘it’s the spy world Chuck, NOTHING is as it seems’. Fedak is going to destroy Sarah for the fans as well as Chuck and Sarah, starting in the 7th ep. I have a theory that explains why she was not on Decker’s kill list, what Shaw has on her, has always had on her, what her secret is and why it is too big to tell even if she wanted to, why Chuck is a pawn, what the end game is, and how I think the orange orange scene may be the pivot point of the entire series, that narrative moment that explains it all.

        I am trying to imagine the worst light possible, but one that allows for a happy ending, my theory does, surprisingly without destroying real much of what we experienced the past 5 seasons, although it will come into ?. Anyhow, as a huge shipper and disliker of Chuck drama, I do have hope that this all is going to be pretty great, even though it will have zero Hart to Hart theme, and will be extraordinarily dramatic most of the rest of the way. The key will be to give fans small payback along the way, so the misery and dislike for what we see does not get too overwhelming on the journey. In this case, I mean specific Chuck and Sarah payback while Fedak destroys everything he put in place regarding them. I think it is possible.

      • jason says:

        As a bonus, should Sarah (Fedak narratively) chose to explain, my theory would 100% explain Prague, both why they had to run away (lets say she was not running from the CIA) as well as why Sarah was so devastated and could NOT go back to Chuck, and why Shaw made perfect sense.

      • Shepperf of Lost Sheep says:

        “Fedak is going to destroy Sarah for the fans as well as Chuck and Sarah, starting in the 7th ep”

        I think so too. I hope I’m wrong.

        It’s already polarizing – and it hasn’t strated yet.

      • ArmySFC says:

        the worse thing they can do to sarah could happen in the next episode. if you find out that during her childhood it was really a good time for her. suppose they show her actually living with her mom and the flash backs to her dad were just weekend or summer visits? that her bad time in HS was just normal teenage angst? that in order to join the CIA she needed to be programed by the CIA (think Manchurian candidate) which helped and allowed her to do what she had to do and created the the bad memories she supposedly had? it would throw all her growth out the window, it would merely be her returning to what she was before the CIA, or as cf said a different person than we know.

        that would be a huge secret, that she voluntarily turned herself into what she was at the beginning of season 1. it would also explain why she wants to go back to her life before the CIA.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d say even if she was brain-washed, fighting her way back from that qualifies as its own sort of heroic. It might even be one thing they could do that would justify some of her more unsavory moments.
        Actually, the more I think of it, the more I really like that idea. So until mid-S3 she was fighting against some agency imposed conditioning. The end of American Hero/start of Other Guy could be when she finally achieved a sort of victory over the programming.

        What if it wasn’t just brain washing but involved an early “Volkoff type” Intersect? Maybe that’s what the “Omaha Project” was all about! But of course, Sarah has always had a strong rebellious streak, look how many times she defied or almost defied orders. Hmmmm, always at Chuck’s instigation or his behalf too. So Chuck was her own Intersect suppression device…

        Fun stuff!

  3. joe says:

    You know, if we ever do a poll about which episodes improve the most with repeated viewings, this one may end up on top. I’ll second Dave; catching the parallel betwixt and between Sarah/Verbanski and Chuck/Casey was brilliant.

    And I, for one, am digging the new, “relationship” Sarah!

    All that good feeling makes me worry for what’s coming next! It’s going to be exciting.

    • lappers84 says:

      Lol when I saw that scene between YS and CAM I instantly thought of them as female versions of Chuck and Casey. Plus CAM pulled off the Casey grunt like a pro, almost as if he wasn’t in prison.

      • joe says:

        Heh! Absolutely. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I’m not familiar with CAM – I only saw The Matrix once (what can I say? – I’m a communist!). As it happens, one of the cable networks (TCM, maybe?) was showing the sequel last week. Thanks to the inspiration afforded by the episode, I recorded it.

        I’ll be on a bit of a Moss-Marathon this week!

      • CAM was also in Memento. You all need to see that movie twice. The first time it won’t make sense. Then you’ll realize what a mind warp it is.

    • Joe, I think everyone was so shocked with the promo the quality of the episode was forgotten. thinkling’s detailed review reminds us how much great stuff was in this episode.

    • thinkling says:

      Sorry … reposting to the correct place in the thread.

      Ditto that Joe. This episode wears very well. I, too, am loving this Sarah and the CS married dynamic. I expect it to stay strong in the face of coming challenges.

  4. uplink2 says:

    Think as always I love your writeups. So much good stuff in them but I’m just going to focus on one thing that makes this posting so great and that’s the pic of Sarah you have posted in the review. The look on her face is beyond amazing. We finally get to see what was under the mask so clearly for so long during the first even four seasons. Plus she absolutely loves that she can now let it all come out with no need or desire to protect or her asset or hide her own heart. Her love of Chuck is as open as Chuck’s was for her for all those years. She has come full circle and we are clearly seeing the girl/woman that was behind all those walls since she was a child.

    That openness sets up the next bit of story well and how this woman will deal with all of it in an even more appropriate and forceful way. That picture gives me great hope and resolve that she will put the final ending on the Shaw disaster both for her character and for the show itself in an appropriate and satisfying way. I will still admit that I’d rather they left that story behind and simply acknowledge that is was a complete disaster or at least the fist half was and not poke the betrayal of the fans reminding us of it has/will cause but its here. Fedak views this show differently than I do and its his playground not mine. That being said I’m actually almost excited by it because I’ve come to accept it and know from images like the one above that it won’t be the anger provoking, hatred of a storyline that I felt back in S3 and still do just as raw today if not even more so. I’m hoping it may help finally put some of that aside but I doubt that. There will always be a longing for what could have been and a hatred for what was.

    But that pic also shows me that whatever the “complicated” and awkward mom story was she is now ready to take it head on and put her own family together with her new one. There will be no fractured relationship after that episode. Sarah Bartowski is a brilliant, mature, adult woman who knows how to revel in her feelings instead of running away from them. The ever present fight or flight story of Sarah is now fully in the fight stage. No more running, no more hiding. She embraces the life and the love she now feels. It thrills her and she thrives on it. The look on her face as you said is one of complete and total adoration for her husband, her life and the man himself. Couple that with how brilliantly Yvonne can show us such emotion and it is one of my favorite moments from one of my favorite episodes certainly of this season.

    • joe says:

      Brilliant analysis, Uplink. I could not agree more.

      That’s what I was trying to get across above, about “relationship” Sarah. A year or two ago I could not have imagined enjoying this version of the character. But I do, I do. And you hit on exactly why – Sarah’s in full fight mode, fighting for herself, fighting for Chuck and fighting for them together.

    • thinkling says:

      Great thoughts, Uplink. You hit on why I’m not worried about the rest of the season, in the long run. I may not like every detail, but CS are in this fight together. They are the awesome spy couple I’ve always wanted. Getting their dreams, even now that they’re married, can’t be a cake walk. They are spies, after all. So, I’m looking forward to their facing their issues, as this fantastic couple we see.

      As for Shaw, he’s the least of my worries. He’s going down.

    • atcDave says:

      Well put Uplink. I agree entirely with all of that.

    • uplink2 says:

      Thanks folks. Surprisingly I’m still much more aggravated by the ridiculous Morgansect storyline than the return of plywood. We will see him tonight briefly and he will die once and for all next week I believe. Far too much time was wasted on Morgansect and it brought absolutely nothing to the story. Plywood though again I’d still rather not have them go there does make some sense on some level. Morgansect didn’t make any what so ever. I just wish we could have had more of the great C/S, E/A and C/V moments in those first 3 eps and none of the little bearded douchebag.

      • atcDave says:

        And that’s where we still part company. I agree with your take on Shaw, his return and S3 100%; but I really enjoyed the Morgansect arc. I saw the story as being more about Chuck and Sarah than it really was about Morgan anyway. I thought they did a good job of keeping the story fun, with just the right amount of drama, and wrapping up quickly without wasting much precious time.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually the Morgansect pretty much set up the season so far. By giving someone with no verbal filter or sense of restraint the intersect they set up the apparently justified CIA kill order, requiring Chuck, Sarah, and Casey who are now civilians and have to operate under civilian rules, to go after the Viper, which then lands Casey in Jail after he has to take down The Viper, leading Sarah and Chuck to have to deal with Decker, eventually putting all of team B on the run. The Morgansect was the precipitating event of their present dilema.

        People don’t have to like it, I understand that, but I think it’s an overstatement to say it brought nothing to the story when it pretty clearly functioned as the precipitating event to their current dilema. I’m also with Dave in that they handled it pretty well in my opinion.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well we will never all agree on everything. I did not enjoy the Morgansect arc in the least. I found it a pointless waste of 1/4 of the final precious 13. I will admit that much of that is my tolerance at best of the Morgan character. Running a the principle story through him was simply nothing I was interested in and the resolution was possibly the weakest resolution to any arc since Mouser. When I do my S5 rewatches I’m going to be very happy for the FF button when it comes to those scenes.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      Due to rotten luck (including a fried DVR), a lousy workschedule and the machinations of the publishing PTB, I have not seen any episodes this season except for 5.1. While reading posts on this site constitute a sort of self-inflicted torture in many respects, I can’t help but be encouraged by what you folks are writing. It sounds like it is shaping up to be a great season, with the team of Chuck & Sarah that I’ve always wanted (and I have got to see this Cabanski chemistry that everyone is talking about) and only a little bit of dead weight with the Morgansect. I just hope they don’t screw up.

      Come on, S5 DVD release! (no date on Amazon yet, but the price is down to $30)

      • atcDave says:

        One advantage to a shorter season; cheaper discs!

        My guess is you’ll like S5 a lot. Even if you don’t like Morgansect it’s a pretty short arc and there’s a lot of other things going on even through those three episodes.

      • joe says:

        Oh yeah, you’ll enjoy it.

        Confession time. So far this season it’s been very difficult for me to watch a new episode with my own eyes. I keep asking questions like “What will VV think of that???” Heh!

        It’s usually by the second or third viewing that I (almost inevitably) recognize the humor, the poignancy in the music and sometimes even the cleverness built into the dialog. Call me slow, but that’s the pattern.

        So far, VV, each episode has had some real gems buried just below the surface. You’ll smile when you see them yourself.

  5. Leigh says:

    Great write up!

    I think I love this episode simply for Sarah’s facial expressions throughout the whole thing from “Aww. My husband is so adorable” to “Not much to look at, huh? That’s…not really true…” to “whatever Verbanski. Having feelings on top of being bad ass landed me my hot nerdy husband.”

    All expressed without even saying anything.

    “Intersect, schmintersect … who needs it?” Not Chuck, that’s for sure, and I LOVE it. I love that he’s so damn capable, and I love that we have such minimal angsting about the intersect being gone. He’s confident, and a bad-ass (and also, has nothing to be ashamed of in his pants, apparently).

    Hey remember that time when Casey shot Bryce in season 1, and Chuck passed out? Decker got blown up, and Chuck’s like “oh crap. We have to be really good spies now.”

    Character development is delicious. 🙂

    • joe says:

      Your enthusiasm is catching, Leigh. It’s like, all of a sudden IT’S FRIDAY! GIMMEE ANOTHER CHUCK EPISODE!!!

      I concur about the Intersect, too. I’m guessing that we’ll be entering a stretch where Chuck starts to feel that he needs it – badly! I’m laying out my CG pesos that he’ll discover soon after whatever it was he thought he needed, he had inside anyway.

      Character development is awesome! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Just a thought; wouldn’t it be hoot if, in a moment of extreme peril, Chuck just suddenly flashed again ( Agent Rye would be so proud…). Like the Intersect really is just a part of him now, and it just needed the right circumstance to show itself again. Of course, the problem with that is we’ve already had a few life threatening moments this season when that didn’t happen.
        But I do keep thinking about how he parried Morgan briefly in Frosted Tips. Somehow he does still seem to have some Intersect abilities. It would be interesting to have those defined, especially if there’s something he can do to enhance what’s already there.

      • joe says:

        Heh! I was wondering the same thing, Dave.

        Yeah, I’m still pushing the idea that Chuck’s “Intersect” abilities, once received, are his to develop or not. I haven’t played my guitar in months, but my fingers still remember those licks!

      • Leigh says:

        Mwahahaha, Joe! Catch my enthusiasm like the PLAGUE! No, I’m kidding. I still feel so new to this show, so it’s easy to be excited for new episodes, I guess. My roomie and I are doing a full-series rewatch, and it all still feels exciting and fun to us. *shrugs*

        Dave – that would be pretty amazing if Chuck just up and flashed. And they could easily explain it, too, since he took in at least a tiny chunk of the Intersect when he was little, they can argue that it’s always been there, even if it’s dormant, and it needs the right set of perilous circumstances or some brain whatever to come out.

      • Orion’s cube “overwrote” the Intersect, but the handheld device was a “suppression” device. In Fear of Death, Chuck could almost flash. Between the Intersect 0.1 and Chuck’s many downloads, I could see it still being in there.

      • atcDave says:

        Just trying to make up some techno-babble justification for that…

        Let’s say the “suppression device” used at the end of S4 disabled the Intersect’s operating system while leaving the data base intact. Maybe the very old “Alpha Intersect” Chuck downloaded as a child is still there and in time, provides a new avenue for accessing the main data base. Perhaps that old Intersect operating system is analogous to DOS; it’s much smaller and simpler than the newer versions, and also less intuitive. But after several months, Maybe Chuck is able to learn some commands that let him access parts of the data base.

        This could all be the stuff of fan fiction, but I bet they never get this involved on the show itself. I do hope we get more indications Chuck can remember some elements. But unless they re-install the full program, I bet they never get into old or partial Intersects too much.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well for once Sarah asking “Did you just flash?” would make some sense.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Ernie, wouldn’t that be quite the dramatic moment?!

      • I like your technobabble, Dave. You’re right that the show never goes into that much detail. In Star Trek or Stargate, they would sit around a table once an episode and talk about how the Intersect works for five minutes. In Chuck, we get a (usually) funny Buy More scene instead.

        Last week the Intersect was the missing character, but both Sarah and Chuck flashed. Their flash looks have evolved a little since Wedding Planner. *rim shot* or *groan*, your choice.

      • thinkling says:

        Character development is awesome!

        SO true! 😀

        Love all the Intersect theorizing and techno babble. Good theories, Dave.

  6. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Hack Off (5.05) | Chuck This

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