[I’ve taken a few liberties and parsed things to get the numbers to come out right. (Hey, I had to come up with 78 things from a 42 minute show. Do the math.)]
It goes like this: On the first day of Chuckmus, Chris Fedak gave to us …
Hmm. I’ll skip to the last verse to save time.
On the 12th day of Chuckmus, Chris Fedak gave to us:
12 Golden Oldies
11 Faithful Friends
10 Things to love
9 Ways to be heartwarmed
8 Jeffster Antics
7 Funny lines
6 Beckman classics
3 Hacking Nerds
2 Naughty kisses
… and A Great Big Lump of Coal.
12 Golden Oldies (call backs)
Ellie panicking before a holiday.
Elves blowing fake snow and the planting of the North Pole sign … Christmas Eve at the Buymore
A disaster ruining Christmas Eve sales at the Buymore.
The Assistant Manager (Big Mike this time, Emmet last time) using the news media to incentivize sales.
Someone “giving away his plan” (Shaw this time, Chuck last time).
Evacuating the Buymore because of Shaw.
Chuck/Shaw showdown in the Buymore.
Chuck and Ellie conversation before the takedown … only this time Ellie understands her brother’s life and supports him in it. Nice.
Ellie still taking care of her little brother (since Sarah can’t at the moment), still fulfilling her promise to her dad, honoring his memory … making sure his death was not in vain.
One of Chuck’s girls whacking Shaw over the head to finish the fight.
The hug after the showdown, with the camera zooming up and out.
A news report at the end of the debacle.
11 Faithful Friends
I always love these episodes when everybody is involved. For Santa Suit, the gang’s all here: Chuck and Sarah, Ellie and Awesome and Clara, Casey, Morgan, Alex, Jeff and Lester, and Big Mike.
10 Things To Love
I love Casey and Morgan ready to step in and take down Shaw when they think Chuck has shut down. The unlikely three-some have become loyal friends.
I love that Chuck’s “shut down” wasn’t a shut down at all, but a pause to come up with a plan. Even without the Intersect, Chuck’s brain is still a computer.
I love the plan: “Use the nerds. If they’re focused, they’re better than any computer expert in the CIA.”
Morgan’s rescue (attempt). Santa Suit was a great episode for Morgan.
“I’m Elinor Woodcomb. Since when do I do what I’m told?” (Must be the Bartowski DNA.) Third time’s the charm. This time when she says her name, there’s that steely calm of Elinor Faye Bartowski Woodcomb. Ellie may be a wreck over holiday preps, and pictures with Santa, but she is a rock when it comes to protecting her baby brother … and her sister-in-law.
Chuck (smacking Shaw with the computer): “That was for my dad.” I loved Fighting-Chuck and the reveal that Chuck’s been working out and has a few moves of his own.
Ellie (smacking Shaw with the computer): “And that was for me.”
“That man took our father away from us, Chuck. I wasn’t going to let him take anyone else.” I love Protector-Ellie.
“Authorities have confirmed that the Omen virus was planted by a terrorist named Daniel Shaw.” 😀
I love the thank you to Carmichael Industries. Even though it’s anonymous, the right people know and are thanked.
9 Ways To Be Heartwarmed
Sarah the Christmas elf. How can such a small thing be such a win! In Santa Claus, Sarah was wistful and sad and a little lost at Christmas time. She didn’t do Christmas. In Santa Suit, Sarah is a part of a happy family, gladly helping Ellie with operation Christmas. Not a trace of the old sadness remains. She now does Christmas as naturally as Santa himself.
Casey’s gift to Alex. Casey is such a teddy bear (but don’t tell him that).
Morgan’s speech to close the Buymore. “… Cheer — spreading lots of cheer.”
Sarah inviting Beckman for Christmas. She is officially part of the Bartowski team/family now.
The Bartowski family Christmas party. Bartowski holidays and courtyard events always warm my heart.
Chuck surprising Ellie with the Christmas tree.
Casey finally telling Alex, “I love you.”
Casey putting in a good word for Morgan.
Chuck and Sarah’s moment in the courtyard: her thank you and his recovering the bracelet for her. Intimate, sweet … perfect.
8 Jeffster Antics
“Honestly it’s overpriced. You can get all this stuff on the internet.”
Jeff and Lester — friends again, only this time Jeff is sane and not stoned on carbon monoxide fumes. They’re working through their differences.
Lester asking for a 6″ (not even a foot long) Subway sandwich. The look on Jeff’s face is priceless (now that he is a sentient being). The new Jeff wants a trip to the Bahamas. The old Jeff would have wanted … well, I don’t know … something too creepy to think about.
Lester’s insightful grasp on the magnitude of the Omen crisis: “Can you imagine a world without the internet?”
“What if it’s up to us, two Buymore employees, to save the world?” If he only knew how much world-saving has gone on from the Buymore during the last 5 years.
“Come on. The government has their best people working on this. Right?” … Rigghhht. Pan to the government’s best people getting sloppy, embarrassing drunk at a Christmas party. Too funny
“Jeffery, let’s go for a run.” Never thought I’d hear that one.
Jeff in a coat and tie enjoying his first Christmas Eve … or the first one he remembers.
7 Funny Lines
“I am Elinor Woodcomb … Yeah, that didn’t work.”
“My lips are sealed. Christmas presents are sacred in the Grimes family.” … When are his lips ever sealed?
“What kind of monster steals a Santa suit on Christmas Eve?” … (Love the eye-brows.)
“My wife has been kidnapped, and I am officially ruining Christmas for the children of Burbank.”
“Water will only dilute this feeling.” … “Plus, fish have sex in it.” … Thanks, for that.
“Well, it’s a good thing Mrs. Claus is a no show.” She has NO idea. She does not want to meet Mrs. Bartowski-Claus (Claws?) under these circumstances!
Shaw: “You know what the ultimate revenge is?” … Sarah: “Spending Christmas Eve with you.” And Sarah said she wasn’t funny.
6 Beckman Classics
Beckman locking and loading Chuck’s tranque gun. (I missed it on first watch.) That’s why Chuck has so much trouble with his pants — real pants this time — trying to get the tranque gun in there and keep them up. (I wonder if that was directed or if Zac was really losing the pants.)
“Let’s go save our girl.”
“You’re drawing breath, and you’re in a Santa suit.”
“Pucker up Bartowski. You’re about to become a man.”
“We never speak of this again.” … “Never” … Ernie. 😉
“We all have to make sacrifices for the job.”
This is definitely part of the love letter. Look how far they’ve come from S1. There’s been a lot of growth and healing for Ellie and Chuck and Sarah. (As far as we know Devon was always Captain Awesome.) For all their dysfunctional pasts, they have built normal, loving families. They finally have the happiness we’ve wanted for them all along.
Chuck has a plan and 3 fellow spies (ok, two and a half) to carry it out. Golden. Morgan manages the nerds and averts disaster at the Buymore. Casey crawls into Castle through the ducts … again. But as Chuck once said, things don’t usually go well for the duct crawlers.
That would normally leave Chuck and Sarah to do the rest. Beckman filling in as TeamB’s fourth was funny and touching and nice. From the time she joined the mission (“This is my team, and nobody, especially Shaw, is going to take us down.”) until she let her hair down (well, sort of … for her) at the Bartowski Christmas party, Beckman was perfect. Kudos to Bonita Friedericy.
3 Hacking Nerds
Come on, it’s worth the price of admission to see Jeff and Lester, in matching elf attire, outwitting the CIA’s finest. Everything about the hacking duo was a total win. Did I mention that this is the first season I have actually liked the Buymorons.
And don’t forget the hacker extraordinaire, a.k.a. The Piranha, and he did it all without the Intersect … or a bottle of Chardonnay. Yes! The brilliance and justice of Chuck’s plan is one of Chuck’s most cheer-worthy moments. With info from Jeff and Lester and Beckman, Chuck figured out Shaw’s plan and used it against him. Chuck’s sabotaging the device is a nice bookend to the sabotaged Intersect that Decker (via Shaw?) sent Chuck. What goes around comes around, and I took great pleasure in Shaw’s last flash.
2 Naughty Kisses
One was a tad naughty and thoroughly hilarious … not to mention a sacrifice for the job. The other was evil and thoroughly repulsive. Bleghch … nuff said.
And A Great Big Lump of Coal
Aw shucks, you guessed it. Shaw is the lump of coal. I wasn’t excited (more like ambivalent) about Shaw coming back, mostly because of all the emotional baggage associated with him. I would have been content to imagine him bouncing around in a padded cell — the product of the Intersect without a governor. But alas, he was plotting more revenge against the Bartowski’s.
Despite the emotional baggage, I liked Santa Suit. Some parts were very enjoyable. Other parts, while not enjoyable per se, were valuable. I don’t want to go down paths this dark very often. Chuck isn’t a dark spy show. But every once in a while we need to be reminded of the stakes. Evil is out there, and danger is real. What Chuck and Sarah have and the future they want are worth fighting for … against any foe.
Shaw. You can’t ask for a more villainous villain. Even with zero knowledge of S3, he is convincingly evil and thoroughly detestable from the get-go, “Merry Christmas, Sarah. Miss me?” Shiver. Shaw does his job as a despicable villain and provides plenty of drama and danger and tension. The history just makes the situation intensely personal and makes us hate him all the more.
Black Box. Black Box. As much as possible, what happened in the black box stays in the black box. Just like in my Journeys post, I’m leaving most of S3 and its emotional baggage in the black box (save one item) and taking the current story on its own merits without all the past baggage.
Diamonds With The Coal
Santa Suit is the conclusion of Shaw’s story, which stands in stark contrast to the Walker/Bartowski story. (If you don’t clear away the emotional baggage, I’m afraid you’ll miss it.) Shaw is the coal, and the Bartowski’s (all of them) are the diamonds.
I don’t want to carry the metaphor too far, but on an elemental level, I find it an interesting lens to view the episode. Diamonds and coal share the same base element of carbon. (Diamonds don’t come from coal, btw.) That’s it; that’s all they have in common. In every other way, they are as different as they look.
And so it is with Shaw and the Bartowski’s. They share a common element or two. They are spies, and they share the common element of pain and loss. Other than that they are as different as coal and diamonds. Shaw showcases the character of the Bartowski’s — like diamonds set against black coal. When I watch Santa Suit through this lens, the diamonds catch the light and grab my attention. The coal is insignificant … except as a backdrop to show off the diamonds.
These diamonds …
Sarah is nobody’s damsel in distress. Sarah is outmatched in just about every way, except for determination of will and strength of heart. In some ways this parallels Chuck’s “fighting” in Phase 3. Neither of them gives up. They fight by whatever means they can. Sarah finds out about Shaw’s plan, escapes (cool move btw), and fights with all she has, even if it’s only resistance of will. She never quits and never gives up, even when she’s tied up.
Sarah’s confidence in Chuck never wavers, not for a second. Shaw’s arrogance, besides being an insufferable trait, is his downfall. He thinks Chuck is the inferior agent, worthless without the Intersect and Sarah. Sarah knows better. She know’s her husband and knows that he is in no way inferior … to anyone. Her courage and confidence in him shine throughout the whole ordeal.
I don’t know what your plan is, but it’s not going to work. … You think you can beat Chuck? You’re not half the man that he is. … Chuck is coming up with a way to stop you as we speak. … Chuck has a plan.
Sarah knows that Chuck won’t come to the party empty handed. By the time he faces Shaw, Chuck will have a Chuck-smart plan.
Sarah sets the record straight: I had no idea she was your wife, Shaw. I had no idea who you were. I was just on an assignment. I was just a young agent. I was just doing my job, okay? You of all people need to understand that.
Shaw: “What about the pit you dug out of my chest? Is that supposed to fill it in?”
Sarah: Is this going to? You’re a good man, Shaw. You can be that man again. Just stop what you’re doing, please. You can let this all go. (This sounds so … Chuck, but it’s all Sarah. )
I hate digging this out of the black box, but here it is … the red test. I’m glad to hear Sarah defending herself to Shaw. It tells me she has dealt with it and moved on. Everything she says is true.
Shaw’s pain is understandable, but his vendetta is without a shred of justification. He is the coal to the Bartowski diamonds.
A contrast of character. From the beginning, Sarah stands out in the spy world as someone with a steady moral compass, not someone who would knowingly kill an innocent person. She has always striven to be a good spy, top in her field, a good soldier … but one who would disobey orders to do the right thing. Everything we see in her and learn about her from the Pilot to Helicopter to Wookie sets her apart from cold school killers, like Casey, and self-serving spies, like Carina. (I suspect that the next episode will confirm this trait in a big way.)
Sarah despised her red test as the worst day of her life. (In fact, she wouldn’t have gone through with it had she not thought Eve was drawing a gun.) Shaw, on the other hand, defended the concept in general. Specifically, he had no trouble ordering Chuck’s red test (and using Sarah, knowing what it would do to her). The difference between Shaw and Sarah was present long before they met (probably even before Eve’s death). Sarah had a problem with the red test morally, as a matter of principle. Shaw’s problem with it was purely personal … only because of his wife’s death.
Eve’s death was the turning point for Shaw. He gave in to his lust for revenge. From that day forward he sought vengeance, not justice. By Santa Suit, Daniel Shaw was a shell. He calls Chuck pathetic, but Shaw is the pathetic one, driven and blinded by his insatiable thirst for revenge.
Shaw is the dark backdrop against which our heroes shine. Chuck and Sarah and Ellie have learned how to forgive and let go. They have all experience pain and loss. They have sought justice time and again, but they’ve never picked up the two-edged sword of vengeance.
Sarah didn’t kill Shaw when she could have. Chuck gave him every chance to be a better man and only “killed” him in self-dense. The second time Chuck refused to kill Shaw (something Shaw considered a weakness). Chuck didn’t kill Volkoff, and he offered Vivian mercy and a fresh start.
Ellie and Chuck watched Shaw gun down their father, in cold blood, against the law, unsanctioned in any way. They helped bring him down and then let justice do its job. In Santa Suit, their fight with Shaw was to free Sarah, stay alive, and hand Shaw back to the authorities.
Sarah was right. Revenge won’t fill the hole in Shaw’s heart. Only letting go of the hate will allow the hole to heal. Shaw is bound to his pain by his own refusal to let go of it. The rage he continues to nurture has consumed the man he could have been and the life he could have had. His world, like Castle, is dark and cold because of it.
Shaw’s revenge landed him in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. The Bartowski/Walker pattern of letting go has allowed them to live full, free lives, filled with love and warmth and family.
CF has been giving us Walker/Bartowski diamonds all these years. I can take this shlump of coal because it showcases the beauty of the diamonds.
Happy New Year, everyone.