Romance, Torture, Spies, and the Bartowski Stupid Stick — Chuck Versus the Curse


Chuck Versus The Curse continues the melody of comedy and romance with the base tones of escalating danger and drama. Since Chuck and Sarah are up to their necks in the danger and drama part, Ellie and Devon provide the romance and the comedy, Chuck-farce style.

I don’t know if you noticed, but Chuck Versus the Curse features four spy couples: Jr. spies, Morgan and Alex; Pretend spies, Ellie and Devon; Real spies, Chuck and Sarah; and Veteran spies, Casey and Beckman.

From beginning to end, Chuck Versus the Curse gives us an entertaining misadventure of mix-ups and plans gone awry. All of this, for me, was adequate compensation for the reprise of the Bartowski stupid stick. I really thought we were done with it — the whole I’ve-got-to-run-to-protect-the-ones-I-love monomania — so I kept asking myself why they (TPTB) went there. I have a few ideas.

Setting The Mood

After the Decker debacle, as Chuck and Sarah assess their situation, they settle into their traditional roles. Sarah’s fix-it mode is in high gear, as Chuck’s worry mode hums to life.

When Morgan and Casey drop in, I love the way Sarah automatically includes Verbanski in the team. (Good things to come, perhaps?) Casey’s explanation of her absence sets up the theme of running, and Sarah’s sideways look at Chuck gives us a glimpse of her anxiety. Is she thinking how awful it would be to be separated from Chuck? Worried he might run to protect her? Thinking how hard it would be for Chuck if they have to run for a while? Whatever her thoughts, the spy-life eventuality of running is a worry.

Beckman makes the worry a reality with her teleconference. Watch the faces as Beckman goes from friend to foe to amazing woman. (I love Beckman this season.) The arrest warrant is issued, and Sarah’s worries become reality. Chuck and Sarah (and Casey) are officially on the lam.

As danger surrounds TeamB, an entirely different mood pervades Casa Woodcomb. Romance is in the air! Ellie’s date prep reminds me of all the past scenes of Sarah’s provocative preparations … going all the way back to the pilot, complete with a hair stick. Of course Ellie only has one, and it’s not poisoned … but she is only half a spy, after all.

Meet the Spy Couples

Casey and Beckman. We’ll start with the Veterans, Casey and Beckman, not that they are a real couple, maybe more like partners for a day. Before getting down to business, the General shares her bottle with her former Colonel. (Let’s hope that the bottle wasn’t full when she opened it.) Have they had this sort of rendezvous before? Shared a drink over the woes of the world? “So, this is where we come in our darkest hours. Iran-Contra, Nicaragua. The Clinton Years.” And this is as dark an hour as TeamB has ever had. Whether this is a tradition with them or not, I liked the Casey/Beckman pairing in The Curse. They are quite informal and familiar with each other.

Here’s a twist … Beckman and Casey are quarterbacking the mission from an abandoned roadside tavern. (A CIA run establishment? I mean where are all the customers?) I loved everything about this part of the episode. Beckman has become an awesome ally. She warns them surrepticiously via subtle morse code, and she’s doing everything she can to help Chuck and Sarah (not Bartowski and Walker), including sending a team to get Ellie and Devon out of harm’s way. Later, she is easily persuaded that they should go with Chuck’s plan for taking the real virus to save Ellie and Awesome.

Everything about Beckman (and her pairing with Casey) is a win in this episode.

Morgan and Alex. Admitedly a lot of the Morgan/Alex plot was just plain silly, but as silly plots go, it was still enjoyable. It was first step toward restoring their relationship and provided both tension and comedy.

Alex proves herself to be a worthy Jr-spy with her machine gun, “One more move, and I will end you.” Like father like daughter. Then of course her plan to distract the agent at the door is far better than Morgan’s elaborate plan to zip line across the courtyard. No surprise there.

I loved Robyn Cunnings jab about Morgan living with his girlfriend’s father. Her entrance was impressive, as was her performance throughout.

So, Chuck and Morgan went through an acronym phase, huh? From The Zoom, we know that Morgan never left that phase. Personal Artifacts Never To Share (P.A.N.T.S.). How about P.I.N.T.S. (Plot Ideas Never To Show)? OK, I guess it wasn’t that bad considering it’s Morgan. But Chuck? That was a bit much.

In the end it was a nice gesture to offer Alex his box. This is the Morgan/Jr-spy equivalent of his spy will.

Maybe there’s hope for Malex, yet.

The Woodcomb’s, a.k.a. Hot Mama and Six Pack. Season 5 is about Chuck and Sarah defeating their enemies and finding their normal. Business Trip found them both yearning for various aspects of a normal life, the life that Ellie and Devon have. By way of contrast, The Curse shows Ellie and Devon wishing for some of the excitement of Chuck and Sarah’s exotic spy life.

“I wanted something a little different, so I borrowed a dress from Sarah. She wore it on a mission to Bulgaria, once. How wild is that.” I borrowed a bit of excitement and romance from my sister-in-law’s spy life. I’m feeling a little wild tonight.

Devon follows her train of thought, “You ever wonder what it would be like if we lived a life of mystery and adventure like that? … Like spies?”

I love how easily Ellie asks, “Like Chuck and Sarah?” She has finally let go. Then she plays along and sets the misadventure in motion, “Spy work does run in our family. There’s no reason why you and I can’t pretend to be spies … for tonight. What do say, Six Pack, are you in?”

“Alright, Hot Mama.” Code words and signals are established. Surprises are promised.

For the record, I am so in. Anything with Six Pack and Hot Mama, and I’m in!

The Bartowski’s.

Meanwhile, the envied brother and sister-in-law, the real spies, are in real trouble.

True to form, Sarah faces their situation with calm reason, practicality, and determination to fix things.

Chuck is trying hard to do the same, but it’s more his nature to face this particular situation with emotion, anxiety, and assumption of the worst.

Chuck and Sarah’s struggles in The Curse give us some great highs and some pretty awful lows.

Chuck is freaking out, and Sarah is his rock and voice of reason:

C: Standing here, I’m feeling a little bit like I’m becoming my father. I can only imagine this is what he felt like the first day he had to leave us behind. You know, all alone in exile.

S: That’s not going to happen. Not if I’ve got anything to do with it.

C: It’s like it’s my family’s thing, or something. The Bartowski Curse. … Every Bartowski has put their family in danger and then had to leave them in order to protect them. And I’m next.

S: (The Curse bit got her attention in a big way): Chuck there is no such thing as the Bartowski Curse. You’re not going to be like your father, OK? You know why? Because you’ve got me. You’re not alone.

Sarah sees things more clearly, and she can help him through this. The good news is Chuck is talking to Sarah (as opposed to talking to Morgan or keeping to himself — they’ve actually been much better about that since they’re married). The bad news is Chuck isn’t listening very well.

Sarah has her work cut out for her

The Spyjinks

The CIA finds Chuck and Sarah. That’s bad.

False alarm, Chuck and Sarah are safe. That’s good.

The CIA finds Ellie and Devon. That’s bad.

But Ellie and Devon were picked up by Beckman’s man, so they’re safe. That’s good.

But Robyn Cunnings kills Beckman’s man and takes Ellie and Devon. That’s horrible.

Things don’t go so well for Cunnings either, though, because Ellie figures things out and escapes with Devon. Their escape, while awesome, ends up putting a kink in Chuck’s plan, as well.

Ellie and Devon are fantastic from the romantic plans to the MARTINI, from their escape from the limo to their escape from Cunnings. Ellie the half spy and Devon the clueless romantic certainly turned up the entertainment.

The Plans

As Chuck, Sarah, Beckman, and Casey review the situation, concluding that Ellie and Devon may be tortured for information on the Omen virus, Beckman says the fateful words. For now we wait. These words always signal that Chuck or Sarah or Casey (or some combination of the three) will not wait, but will take matters into their own hands.

The call comes. Robyn Cunnings demands that Chuck deliver the virus within 3 hours or Ellie and Devon will die. Casey and Beckman start talking about making a fake. Chuck agrees, but Sarah knows he’s not OK with it.

I love that Sarah goes after Chuck and gets him to talk to her. I love that they talk and that Sarah backs Chuck’s plan. (Even though I think it’s stupid to give up the virus, I’m glad Sarah backs Chuck.) I really love Sarah’s plea to Casey and Beckman, “… I think we need to support Chuck. This is his family, and it’s my family, too, now, and we need to do everything we can to protect them.”

All would be fine, if not for Chuck’s obsession with the Curse, “This is my curse, Sarah. Don’t you understand? The people I love are in danger. It’s my fault. I need to fix it.”

So, in spite of Sarah’s promise to convince Casey and Beckman; in spite of her asking for his trust and her promise to go with him; in spite of his word that he would wait for her … in spite of all that, while she’s talking with Casey and Beckman, Chuck picks up the stupid stick and leaves without her.

Sarah is rightfully worried and furious, “I can’t believe he’d do the drop on his own … without me. He thinks it’s the Bartowski Curse, that he can somehow protect me by leaving me behind, and instead he’s walking into a trap.”

The thing is, as angry as Sarah is with Chuck, she knows his motivation, though severely misguided and short-sighted, is that he loves her and wants to protect her.

(Anybody else want to slap him. Good, I’m not the only one.)

This is not a new flaw. He constantly puts himself in danger for the ones he loves. It must stop. He has a wife who has equal right to protect the ones she loves … Chuck and her new family. She is his partner in every sense of the word. He needs to see that and treat her accordingly. He also needs to realize that in his effort to protect her, he has done the opposite. He has hurt her by excluding her, and by putting himself in danger, he has risked her heart and happiness.

The Take Down

The pretend spies continue to entertain, as Ellie plots a way to help Chuck, and Devon can’t keep his mind off his hot wife. Their good intentions don’t go as planned, and they unwittingly give Cunnings the leverage she needs to get Chuck to hand over the virus.

Chuck had planned to negotiate their release, and endure torture (or preferably talk his way around it) until Sarah showed up, as he knew she would.

Chuck was plenty brave, albeit rash and foolhardy. I’ve got to say I’m proud of his relative calm in the face of torture. Yeah, he’s still Chuck (not Cole, not Sarah or Casey), but he would’ve closed his eyes, bitten his lip, and taken his licks — or volts, as the case may be (maybe it would’ve jump-started the suppressed Intersect … just kidding). He’s come a long way.

But Chuck can’t let Devon be tortured so he gives up the Omen (while some of us are screaming NOOO!).

They saved the best for last, starting with Sarah saving Ellie. Ellie accepts her sister-in-law’s rescue with relief and gratitude, and doesn’t think twice about Sarah shooting the man who was about to kill her. Sarah, for her part, was very sister-like as she led Ellie away from danger. It was a nice spy-sister-bonding moment for them. Casey’s jab was quintessential Casey, “Rescuing Bartowski’s is our business.”

I loved Chuck’s confidence in Sarah (he doesn’t know Casey came, too) to be there to save her husband — watch his face.

Fantastic fire-fight in the dark with night vision goggles — cool! I guess since Beckman authorized it, they won’t get arrested for all the dead guys. There was so much gold here: Sarah punching out Robyn; Ellie running up to Devon and smothering him with concern, and love, and kisses, “We are so not meant to be spies;” Sarah pinning Chuck with an icy glare and striding away, leaving him tied up. That was very wife-y, not at all partner-y. Good for her.

I liked that Ellie and Devon got a taste of Chuck and Sarah’s life that they realized it wasn’t for them, but jazzed about it nonetheless.

Loose Ends

Our pretend spies return home, their romance in over-drive after their spy adventure. Meanwhile the real spies have more work to do and issues to deal with.

The Veteran Spy Couple do the heavy lifting. Another total win! What a team. Sarah’s got nothing on the Tiny Titian Shemale. I guess this was short-cop/tall-cop, because they were both bad-cops. Never thought I’d see the day. Neither did Robyn Cunnings apparently.

The Beckman/Casey affection continues, “Oh, and Casey, your record shall be expunged. You’re free to go home.” What was that look? (Looks like Duck has some competition, Ernie.)

Actually Beckman was affectionate with the whole team. She was quite pleased with herself when she dropped all charges against TeamB.

I love that Beckman still has their back. In some ways this is what I’ve always envisioned for TeamB, a secret spy team with Beckman greasing the rails and watching their back. Of course I imagined a formal, though secret, connection with the government, because otherwise they could be arrested for … I dunno, shooting assassins. Perhaps Beckman’s parting words foreshadow such an arrangement, “Well done, team. It was a bit like old times, wasn’t it?” Nostalgia. Gotta love it.

Making Amends

While voltage amps up and sparks fly in the interrogation room, there is a distinct electrical hum between the newly weds.

Was it adequate payoff for the *facepalm* stupid stick. For me, especially on rewatch, it was. I know others feel differently. That’s OK.

Where does one begin when his smoking-hot (literally) assassin-spy-wife is really mad at him, and he knows he deserves it? … And she knows he knows he deserves it, because she’s looking at him with a predatory smile in anticipation of his apology, which better be good, because … did I mention the assassin part?

Lighten the mood, make her smile … cautiously: “So, no living on the lam, running from the law. Sounded a little romantic, though, didn’t it?”

Oops, smile’s gone. That didn’t work. She must be really, really mad. “You’re still mad?”

He has. No. Idea! “You left without me.”

Chuck finally gets it … sees her hurt and really is sorry, but he wants her to understand his heart … and his curse (*facepalm*). “I’m sorry. Sarah, I’m sorry. OK. It was stupid, but I didn’t want to take you down with me and my family’s curse.”

Doesn’t he get it. *IF* there is a Bartowski Curse, which there isn’t, then it is a curse they share, because she’s a Bartowski, too. Whatever comes, they face together. Aarrrggghhh.

“There is no curse! You’re not your father, Chuck. You’re not fated to be alone or to hurt anybody.” But he did hurt somebody. He hurt her. The hurt and anger are in her voice and all over her face, and he put it there. “Those things happen because of the choices that people make … that YOU make.”

Chuck has a flash — not an Intersect-y one, but an epiphany. “You’re right. I’ll never do it again — leave without you. The Bartowski Family Curse (stupid stick) ends here, and not with me … with us.” He reminds her that they’re Bartowski’s together. It’s a two-way pact. (Hopefully some of this will hold the next time Sarah gets the urge to fix things by herself. We’ll soon find out.)

She still has to let the hurt and anger drain away and let him know how serious this is, “If you ever go out alone again, just remember, I am a trained assassin.”

“Noted.”

“Good.” She wouldn’t shoot him, would she? I’m thinking the 20mg darts. 😉

Mmm, make-up kissing, the harbinger of forgiveness, “So, all is forgiven?”

“Maybe.” She can’t stay mad at him for long. Remember, they hate to fight. It’s exhausting, and there are better uses of energy. “OK, fine. All’s forgiven.”

But the make-up make-out is predictably interrupted …

Omen-ous Beginnings

Beckman doesn’t know (because Robyn didn’t) who is behind the virus, but not to worry, “we have our top people working on the virus.” This is code. It always means that Chuck will have to step in and solve the problem, because Beckman’s top people are always a day late and one taco shy of a combo meal.

In the next episode, look for Chuck to figure out the virus and save cyber land-sea-and-space, Sarah, and maybe Christmas.

Parting Thoughts

I really liked the Curse. The spy danger escalates, and the conspiracy mystery thickens.

Chuck angered a lot of powerful people. Maybe going back to Ring2 or just finding out about Agent X … and then setting him free. Maybe not being malleable or corruptible. Who knows, but Chuck and Sarah are still in the cross hairs of an unknown Big Bad and his minions.

A general is involved, but it’s not Beckman.

Someone did all of this to spring a prisoner. (Of course, we know who it is, but let’s pretend we don’t.)

The virus is just part of the plan. Gulp.

As for the comedy, Ellie and Awesome were fantastic. Even if you choked on the Chuck drama, you had to love Ellie and Devon.

So, is revisiting the issue a valid story line? I can see how it is, and here’s why.

The story, other than setting up the next couple of episodes, is how Chuck and Sarah deal with this issue, more specifically how Chuck will deal with his ghosts and whether he will make the same mistakes his father made, when faced with similar circumstances.

The greatest shadow over Chuck’s life is his abandonment by his parents, both of whom insisted that they had no choice but to run in order to protect him and Ellie. His greatest fear is that he is somehow fated to do the same. Irrational? Absolutely … but somewhat understandable. I imagine it’s not uncommon for people to wonder if they are fated to become their parents in some way or another.

Here they are. Beyond their control, Chuck and Sarah are being hunted by the government. This is a different from Subway. The spy life is uglier, and the stakes are higher. Chuck and Sarah are in a different place. Being married is an entirely different dynamic from dating exclusively. Chuck now has a real life, a wife … his own family. He can identify with his dad on a whole new level.

When Chuck found his dad and discovered why he left (that he had complex reasons for leaving, that he wasn’t just a deadbeat dad), Chuck saw his dad’s hero side. Maybe he’s even come to accept that being a hero and doing the right thing forced Stephen’s hand and forged their tragic life. In reality his dad made some terrible decisions, caused his family’s pain, and lived with regrets. Was he a hero? Yes, in some ways, and he did some great things; but he failed his family because of poor decisions. Chuck needs to be reminded of his own words: there’s always a choice.

This episode does that in the way it should be done … through Sarah. Sarah is perfect throughout. She doesn’t hit a single wrong note. (Kudos Yvonne!) The point, now that they are married, isn’t whether or not they make mistakes. They will … sometimes really stupid ones. What’s important is how they deal with them together. For that alone, this story has merit and is a win. I hope that we’ll see the evidence of lessons learned in upcoming episodes (ahem, 5×08).

Gaining a true perspective of his parents — their good qualities and their human failings — allows him to learn from their mistakes. The same goes for Sarah. She’ll have to face her own ghosts, and Chuck will help her as she helped him.

As painful as the stupid stick was, it’s part of their process. Ultimately, dealing with their pasts together helps them move forward. It’s part of figuring out what they want and charting the course for their life together.

The adventure continues, and I’m holding on for the ride.

~^~ Thinkling

Sorry it’s so late … and long. Thanks for reading.

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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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33 Responses to Romance, Torture, Spies, and the Bartowski Stupid Stick — Chuck Versus the Curse

  1. atcDave says:

    Really excellent write up of a difficult episode. So much was good and fun, but the frustrating was very frustrating. I hope you’re exactly right about seeing Chuck (and Sarah) overcome “the family curse.” if they do so, it may completely redeem the frustration I felt with this episode. For now, we’ve heard Chuck say the right things, but his actions will need to show that he really gets it. My first guess is, it won’t actually come up again. We may see the reverse with Sarah trying to run off to face her own demons alone; and that might be good enough if Chuck then gets the foolishness of the behavior.

  2. jason says:

    Think, so much good in what you write. I wish you could do the release work for Fedak interviews, this show would be NBC’s top rated show, your style generates enthusiasm, yet does not come off as fangirl BS. How do you do that?

    One issue you raised, Beckman and Casey. I did not see how great they were until you wrote, I did note to myself you coupley the other 3 felt, but indeed. One thing about the show, the spy team has needed a girl member since s3 began, Sarah works with female partners really well, and Chuck doesn’t, perfect isn’t it? But, Beckman has been epic this season, I hope she isn’t the big bad – LOL. I also hope she plays an important role straight thru to the end.

    thx again, and Merry Xmas!

  3. herder says:

    Nice review, you hit on all the parts that I liked, notice how Sarah’s inclination to run, so apparant in Colonel, Pink Slip and Honeymooners isn’t as ready an option as it once was, she is growing roots. Chuck is – as Morgan said to Alex – neurotic, most of that had been left behind but it still rears it’s head from time to time. That wasn’t my complaint about this episode, it had lots of good scenes, especially with the supporting cast, my problem was a failure to launch. It’s not that I disliked it or anything, neurotic Chuck was meh but I didn’t have the negative reaction that so many seem to have had, it’s just that I kept waiting for the episode to take off and it never did for me. Maybe treading familiar ground does that, these issues have been explored before and I didn’t really see anything new this time.

    The other thing that bothered me a bit is that Morgan was sent to Casey’s apartment to erase the computer so that the contents wouldn’t fall into the goverment’s hands; one they never looked at his computer while in the apartment and two Morgan never touched it, instead he launched into his search for Chuck’s PANTS. Aside from that small concern, all of Morgan, Alex, Six-pack and Hot Mama as well as Casey and the General were well served by this story. I hadn’t thought of them as three spy teams before, great catch.

    • Herder, that Casey’s computer was never erased bothered me at first. Robyn’s team never seemed to check the computer, so once they were out the door, it didn’t matter. It was probably a minor plot point that fell victim to editing.

    • thinkling says:

      Heh, I noticed the computer, too, Herder. I guess Jeff’s answer is best. After Robyn and Co. left, it was a moot point.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      My impression was that Cunnings’ search of Casey’s apartment would have gone very differently (think Tic Tac) had a few civilians not been there. As you said, once Cunnings left the urgency in erasing the computer was gone (as long as Alex and Morgan were in residence).

  4. Great writeup, Thinkling.
    “Those things happen because of the choices that people make … that YOU make.”
    I wonder if this is foreshadowing for 5×08. Is the rift between Sarah and her mom because Sarah’s choice was to leave with her dad on his ‘adventures’?

    If neither Chuck nor Sarah made mistakes, their relationship could get stale from a TV viewing perspective. This episode showed one of them could screw up, the other can get mad, but they would still end up in a good place at the end of the episode.

    For some reason, their argument reminded me of the typical domestic argument: ‘You did what?!? I can’t use that egg substitute. What you bought would ruin Clara’s cake. Fortunately I can get some eggs from Casey’s. Chuck, next time call and check with me before you buy that generic egg substitute. Now stay out of my kitchen while I fix everything.’ Except they had the spy version of that story, and lives were at stake instead of a birthday party.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks, Jeff. I wondered if Sarah’s wisdom came from personal experience, too.

      I had an added thought that ties in with your last couple of paragraphs.

      The point, now that they are married, isn’t whether or not they make mistakes. They will … sometimes really stupid ones. What’s important is how they deal with them together. For that alone, the story has merit and is a win. I hope that we’ll see the evidence of lessons learned in upcoming episodes (ahem, 5×08). So we got to see Chuck make some really dumb decisions, but it was good to watch Sarah step in and see how they finally resolved it together. She didn’t let him off the hook, but she did love and forgive him.

      The more I’ve thought about the episode, the more I like it.

      • atcDave says:

        Sarah’s response was wonderful. Perfect balance of scolding then forgiveness. Possibly my favorite Sarah moment of the season so far.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree Dave. This season has had some great Chuck and Sarah moments and Sarah moments. To me this is a fantastic season for her, and this episode is her strongest in many ways. Chuck’s moments were less than sterling, but that’s how it is with people. Accepting that this is the way Chuck is sometimes (not nearly as often as he used to be), the episode was really great, because of Sarah’s responses all the way through. How can the relationship be tested, otherwise?

    • Gord says:

      Sarah’s reminder of being a trained assassin reminded me of my favourite Casey line
      “Probably not a good idea to give the its not you its me speech to a trained assassin wielding a knife”.

  5. Verkan_Vall says:

    @Thinkliing:

    Thanks a lot for the writeup, this episode is starting to fascinate me, considering the different takes I’ve seen on it from different people and sites. I can’t wait until the Season 5 dvds come out so I can actually WATCH this episode and the rest of this season. (hint, Hint, HINT, NBC)

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, and have a safe (and Happy) New Year.

    • joe says:

      Me too, VV.
      I’ve been in a pattern, especially this season, of watching each episode and wondering when the “silly” is going to end. Then, about half way into each, I recognize the good stuff, the stuff I like, and it’s *really* good. The pattern continues when, on re-watch, I realize that there’s a whole lot in the silly section that is clever and leads into the exciting part in an important way.

      I say this because I just did not recognize the pattern here. For me, this episode started off fantastically and stayed there. I was worried for a bit that I wouldn’t get my usual “Ah-ha!” “high” on re-watch, but guess what – I did! This one may not end up on my favorite of all time Chuck episodes list, but it’s close.

      Oh – and I have to say that my love for Sarah L. as Ellie is rekindled!

  6. Aerox says:

    Wouldn’t it be delightfully ironic if it was General Stanfield who was behind this all? The person they saved in Pilot is trying to orchestrate their downfall during curtain call.

  7. Gord says:

    Well done Thinkling. I’m with you on this episode – I thorougly enjoyed it.

    For me this was a superb episode. It almost felt like penultimate episode to me. Like Gobbler, Subway or Colonel (not that anything could match Colonel) and I have added this to my all time favourites list. Of course that list is getting very long after 4 + seasons of this excellent show.

    I, like you, also wonder if Beckman’s parting words are foreshadowing a new arrangement between CIA and Carmichael industries. Perhaps even we will see them in an exclusive contract with the Government. “No taking on other clients, you will work exclusively for us” kind of proposal from Beckman or perhaps they get reinstated once the big bad consipiracy is revealed and dealt with.

    The only negative thing I have to say about this episode is that it brings us one episode closer to the end of the series.

  8. Good morning Joe, Ernie, Faith, Liz, Rick Holy, Thinkling and Chuck fans all over the world. First of all, Happy Holidays!
    The first six episodes of Chuck S5 is very good as I expected, especially the episode of the “CURSE” which brings me to tonight’s episode, Chuck vs “THE SANTA SUIT”. Past secrets and old threats haunt Chuck and Sarah while they haunt down a evildoer on his attemp to destroy Carmichael Industries. Someone is being naughty in this episode.
    Old threats is one thing, but past secrets is another. The question is who’s secrets are they talking about here? Chuck’s, Sarah’s or both; and who are the old threats? a evil spy from their past. Very intreiging and worried! There are many possibilities here which will provide a lot of drama going forward!
    So to Joe, Ernie, Faith, Liz, Rick Holy, Thinkling, and Chuck fans all over the world and your families a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a safe holiday season.

  9. Ernie Davis says:

    Another wonderful recap Thinkling. Pretty much my take, though I’m a little less bothered by Chuck’s stupid stick. Remember he’s been in a hostage situation with a loved one before (Morgan in Tic Tac). While Chuck seems prepared to, in the family tradition, endure a few rounds of torture and figure something out, he knows he’s likely to (and does) fold if there is someone he loves potentially being tortured for what he knows. Chuck’s strengths are bravery, thinking on his feet, playing for time, talking his way out of a situation. Sarah has many of those fine qualities too (even talking lately), but her real strength in a pairing with Chuck is as the GBS, coming in guns blazing.

    Should Chuck have deceived her the way he did rather than convince her to let him go alone? Well he was playing for time, and he didn’t trust Beckman and Casey to let him have the Omen, so was he in the wrong? Absolutely. Was Sarah also complicating matters by insisting they make the drop together? Yeppers. Was she right that a meticulous pre-planned operation involving all the spies executing their roles was the way to go? Erhhh… This is Chuck, remember? I saw the whole thing as very much like the end of AoT. In that case Sarah was right to arrest Frost without telling Chuck, and Chuck was absolutely right to be legitimately pissed, and Sarah knew it. This was much the same, Sarah knew exactly what Chuck did and why, and was legitimately pissed, and Chuck knew she had every right to be. Sometimes there is no perfect answer to these spy-world dilemmas when love is involved. That’s why spies don’t fall in love.

    The Veteran Spy Couple do the heavy lifting. Another total win! What a team. Sarah’s got nothing on the Tiny Titian Shemale. I guess this was short-cop/tall-cop, because they were both bad-cops. Never thought I’d see the day. Neither did Robyn Cunnings apparently.

    The Beckman/Casey affection continues, “Oh, and Casey, your record shall be expunged. You’re free to go home.” What was that look? (Looks like Duck has some competition, Ernie.)

    You’re killing me here Thinkling… (SOooooo much material. Must wrap presents, trim tree, finish shopping…)

    Well it is the final season, and I think Dianne will finally emerge as the nexus of all the triangles. Basey vs. Duck vs. Cabanski vs. Saron vs. Dorgan vs. Charah. (Soooo much material…) I’m still pulling for Duck, and don’t forget, with Sarah conveniently out of the way next episode we finally get some Duck consummation.

    • thinkling says:

      You’re killing me here Thinkling… … … muah 🙂

      I think, like Sarah, we get where Chuck is coming from, and that in some ways his heart is in the right place. But he still doesn’t quite get Sarah’s heart. She is so strong and capable and deadly (GBS) that it’s hard to realize that she needs any protection at all, but she does. The vulnerable woman (the real girl) needs Chuck’s protection (and he is the one, the only one, who can and should provide it), like from his mother, or her dad, or his absence. Her greatest vulnerability is Chuck himself (FOD). So when he deliberately runs off alone, into a dangerous situation to protect her, he’s not … protecting her. On that level, he needs a wake-up call. Hopefully her hurt and anger this time got through to him. (Morgan needs to remind him what she was like when he was taken.)

      Then there’s the other more obvious end of the stupid stick … the fact that it was unnecessarily dangerous when Sarah could have easily provided backup, no complex plan was necessary. All Sarah had to do was hide by the rose bush. But, like I said, I still enjoyed the story and found it worthwhile for them to slay this dragon together. And the main purpose was to entertain us and set up the next two episodes. And I find that it wears well on rewatch.

      • jason says:

        Think – do you think Chuck saw Sarah when he said another spy was around? Or was that his faith that she was right behind? Or was he talking about Ellie?

        That is numbing about Chuck – they get so close, then the quit, they don’t finish their best stuff (that becomes Ernie’s job – seriously Ernie that is a compliment). All they needed was one line from Chuck to Sarah after the takedown, ‘I drew out their fire, I knew you and Casey were right behind, we didn’t have time to debate it.’

      • thinkling says:

        I don’t think he saw her (or not that we know of), but from the look on his face and just the logic — Ellie could never take down a bunch of armed men, but Sarah could — I think he knew Sarah would be there for him. I can’t prove it, but that’s what makes the most sense … and it’s more satisfying than a hale-Mary bluff.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thinkling, I get Chuck’s frame of mind too, but maybe what I get and what you get are slightly different. Here’s my take on it.

      It was Chuck’s idea to start the spy company. Sarah has been willing to quit and try something else (even if she doesn’t know what yet) for some time. For now Chuck wants to continue fighting the good fight, he has big dreams, and Sarah loves that about him so will stick with him. Besides, she knows spying and is in her comfort zone, and as we see this episode, no way does she want Chuck out there without backup she trusts (i.e. hers, or possibly Casey), even if she is moving towards more taco nights and fewer evil cabals a little quicker than Chuck is at this point. Sarah is starting to take point on the direction of their lives, something she has never done. Last season they thought they had it all, this season they’re starting to see they could lose it all. Therein lies the central relationship conflict.

      So, to Chuck he has been responsible for everything that has happened to everyone. He started the spy company, and while Morgan is at fault for downloading the intersect it was Chuck’s idea to use him as an essential part of their business, and his fault for not handling Morgan better. We know that part of it was that the intersect was targeted at Chuck (I think some of it was also Morgan’s inherent lack of limits) so he feels guilty for that too. Because of that there was the hit order on Morgan and then the rest of the team, and because of that Casey (and Verbanski) ended up as wanted fugitives.

      You see a moment when Chuck is talking with “Moonmeadow” Davis about how he was trying to get out of something he never should have started, but he was just so good at it he couldn’t resist. That’s the true nature of the Bartowski curse, expressed by Ellie last season. “When we Bartowski’s are good at something, we just dive in headfirst.” Chuck’s dad unleashed the intersect and Volkoff on the world, and it cost him and his family so much, and now Chuck sees everyone around him being dragged into the mess Chuck created. When it is the “nice normal couple” with the new baby, Chuck is at his low point. Everyone, but everyone around him has been dragged down and hurt by his decision to play spy a little longer.

      So stupid and irrational? Yep, but it isn’t about not trusting Sarah or not believing in her or her ability to handle herself and help him, it is a plain old stubborn determination to take as much of the risk on himself, the responsible party in this mess, as possible. Yes, he is at a low point, and at that point and misses the really big picture, the real way to avoid the Bartowski curse is to NOT jump into a decision headfirst for a change. In doing so, he ends up fulfilling it by releasing the virus. Absolute rock bottom, and he will be dealing with those consequences for about one more episode.

      Now as for brass tacks lets be frank. Pretty much everyone was grasping the stupid stick at some point in an enjoyable, but somewhat clunky plot-wise episode, to get the virus released, have Chuck be responsible for it (but not really), and to have Sarah continue to tempt fate. Because when it comes down to it, while Sarah is right to demand that Chuck allow her to be part of his life and family in that way, that he share the risks and responsibilities of both of their decisions, past and present, she still hasn’t taken that step herself.

      • I’m going to have to be careful, Ernie, or I’m going to start assuming I agree with everything you post. Chuck is a take-the-blame, don’t-pass-the-buck sort of guy.

        Half way through another viewing, I noticed an important line from Morgan about why he and Chuck still have P.A.N.T.S. Chuck is neurotic. That actually explains more of Chuck’s behavior than just the P.A.N.T.S. Chuck might have Sarah, loyal friends, a small family that cares about him a lot, and money, but he his not the most steady guy out there. He can devise ingenious plans to take down murderous arms dealers, but that does not make him a mastermind when his emotions are running him. He’s heroic tendencies and his dedication to friends and family compelled him to rush headlong into Robyn’s torturous clutches. He witnessed his father being shot in front of his eyes. Waiting while his family is in danger would not be an option for someone who had seen that. Trusting or not trusting Sarah was not part of the thought process just like he didn’t listen to Sarah when she told him to stay in the car. He loved her then, too. Now, Sarah just has better options available she can employ to ‘train’ him.

  10. kg says:

    A-plus as usual Thinkling. Yeah Sarah/Yvonne has been spot on during seasons four and five. TPTB have really over compensated in an effort to erase or rather make-up for some of her flaky, tortured/lost appearances in season three.

    My favorite Sarah will probably always be season two, but I most definitely love/like the Sarah I’ve seen since the end of American Hero and through Other Guy and on to Honeymooners.

  11. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs the Curse (5.06) | Chuck This

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