Chuck vs The Helicopter (1.02)

The second episode of Chuck is still mostly introduction.  We met all the characters in the Pilot, but now we get to see how they’ll interact with other, and they’ll sort through some trust issues.  This episode doesn’t usually measure up as well in the various “favorite episode” polls I’ve seen; but it’s still very important for getting things going, and I happen to love it regardless.  We’ll discuss it more after the jump.

I’m not sure why I like this episode so much.  It goes against several things I normally find important; in particular, I tend to dislike internal dissent/distrust sort of themes.  Perhaps it doesn’t bother me here because it is so early in the group’s association.  Perhaps too, it seems so obvious to me this is a temporary, almost unique situation.  And of course, there’s the pure (tragic?) comedy that Chuck would ever trust Casey over Sarah.

The first great smackdown

Okay, I know there comes a dark period later when Chuck may have been wise to trust Casey more, but that is a ways off yet, and is more personal than professional.  But as Sarah herself informs Chuck, she comes with baggage. So Chuck is trying to get the hang of his new life; deciding who to trust while keeping important secrets from friends and family.  I think the emotional up note this episode ended on was a huge part of what I loved about it. Of course we also learned a lot about the challenges Chuck would face in the future.

Like the Pilot, this is done with a signature style and humor that is pure Chuck.  And who can forget an awesome Sarah/Casey fight scene and an awesome SUV explosion.  These are all the sort of elements I look for in a show!  Extra things to like?  Big Mike’s inspirational talk to the new guy, magic tricks and Morgan’s comedic timing, and a bathroom “make up” scene (the look on Sarah’s face as the bathroom door closes makes me laugh every time!).

Ominous

We also learn a lot that will be important over time.  Things like how the Intersect will work, how much certain bad guys will value it, that Casey should only be trusted as long as it’s his job to be trustworthy (obviously, we’ll discuss this more in-depth later!), and that Sarah is really quite idealistic.  For me, this is the perfect mix of serialized vs episodic story elements; we got a completely self-contained main story, with lots of details and background that will matter more over time.

not so ominous…

This is a great formula for getting me invested in a show.

~ Dave

Ernie Floats a Theory or Two

Chuck Versus The Helicopter was (eventually) the source of an epiphany for me. I remember how fun I thought it was when first watching.  The team dynamics were a bit up in the air, and while they were still using Casey as a villain we got our first external threat to the team, and got to see Casey as a potential good-guy.  Sarah was still mysterious, and after his flash in the pilot and not really knowing her yet Chuck is amusingly flustered in her presence.  So how about another date?  As Dave mentioned the second episode, also written by the co-creators gives us a pretty clever plot that allows us to see more about how the intersect works and how valuable it is.  It also established the excuse for a really small CIA protection detail and team.  Any outsider was not to be trusted.  Actually trust was pretty thin within the team too.  We saw in the pilot that Sarah had a lot more of a relationship with Bryce than she let on, and I suppose we were supposed to think she was potentially working with Bryce because of that, but I never really bought that line.  It was well executed in the episode with the necessary doubt sowed in both Casey and Chuck, and Casey and Sarah’s fight for his trust and loyalty, and then their actual fight were all fun to watch.  I remember even now how great I thought the fight scenes and pyrotechnics were for a one-hour network TV show.  And the pace and the dialog were snappy and fun, and I found myself taking Chuck’s plight and Sarah’s frustration and Casey’s suspicions seriously.  OK, I was never really convinced Sarah was a traitor or that Casey was going to kill or hurt either of them, but I bought the premise as one they’d sufficiently set up for the characters to believe and it made watching so much fun.

The epiphany?  Chuck, in production as a regular series had tons of plot holes for the sake of comedy and drama being easier.  I don’t think I dwelt on this fact much at first, but the more I re-watched and started to notice things, like Alan Sepinwall’s “plot hole of the week” and the more I blogged about the show, the more I realized taking the spy-world too seriously is a mistake.  Accept the premise that it is dangerous both physically and psychologically for those in it, but don’t try to make it “real”.  Even though, and especially early on, Yvonne is playing Sarah pretty straight as the dramatic anchor, the plot rarely takes the spy-world very seriously.  For example,  both Sarah and Casey think the other is a traitor or a danger to Chuck to the point that they come to blows.  Casey gets his ass handed to him, then makes good his escape.  The first place either of the super-spies would go is to grab Chuck, because that’s the first place either a bodyguard or a traitor would go, and any bodyguard would know they had to secure him before the traitor did.  Did they both think Chuck would simply finish out his shift and go to dinner unmolested with a traitor on the loose?  Then after “the soufflé incident” we’re supposed to believe Casey simply stands by and lets Sarah the rogue agent get Chuck alone in the bathroom for something he knows full well isn’t makeup sex?  It all rests on a pretty thin premise that the greatest danger spies face is blowing their cover by acting unusual in front of a group of harmless civilians.  But that’s the premise Schwedak are establishing, and they are also asking for a lot of latitude to make the show they want.  It is there from the beginning, spy-lite and paper-thin plots with holes you can drive a truck through.  It was only in season 4 that I really learned how to watch the show, as a series of scenes that you should accept on an emotional level, and allow your impressions to form the story by connecting them, even if the plot doesn’t always seem to.  Seen that way Helicopter functions perfectly as a more in-depth introduction to the world Schwedak started constructing in the pilot.  We see Chuck’s apprehension that he can function in this new world, his reaction to his trusting nature being tested, and his forgiving nature.  We see Sarah’s need to feel in control and her reaction when she can’t be.  Chuck is a new wildcard in her life, and when she realizes she and Chuck are in this for the long haul as opposed to a few days or weeks, she realizes she’s going to have to play this one different, more like a real girlfriend, if she’s going to make it work.  We see why Casey is a bit of a burnout, and how in his own way he poses one of the greatest threats to the team.

Those scenes, the Weinerliscious fight, the dinner-party full of suspicion and odd behavior, though seemingly disconnected, both work, and both reinforce the larger story.  Both are cool for their own reasons and deliver the action or the comedy we crave and the show is known for, so The Rule of Cool has delivered.  As I mentioned before, for the next 5 seasons Chuck will live and die by The Rule of Cool.

~ Ernie

Dave again

Some great thoughts there Ernie.  I think you’re exactly right about not ever believing there would be serious threats from among the main characters.  I think even from the original previews before the Pilot ran we largely had the idea that Sarah was Chuck’s partner and protector.  Add to that a fairly lighthearted tone, and I think its easy to have the expectation that the distrust was for laughs, and would be a passing thing.  Sarah in particular was painted as a pretty sympathetic, if mysterious, character from the start.  Casey was a little darker, I even remember not really believing he’d become a loyal member of the team until about Beefcake.  Or at least, I didn’t really care for him except as a funny thug until then.  But even so, I never believed he would actually be a traitor or ever hurt Chuck.  All of that may be why the internal tension/distrust theme didn’t really set off any alarm bells for me; often that’s the sort of thing that will lead to me deleting a show incomplete.

And very well put about the “rule of cool” here.  I have often discussed, and occasionally even watched the show with more casual viewers.  And one thing that always stands out to me (I’m sure you’ll be shocked), is that casual viewers don’t take the show as seriously as we tend to.  Apart from the “duh” aspect of that, it is very important (and occasionally difficult) to remember that the spy plots in particular are not really a very important part of the show.  They exist to provide some propulsion to the story; but I think Chuck is really about the adventure, the action, and the humor; and the only really “serious” part of the show is human/emotional angle.  When we find ourselves worrying too much about General Beckman’s decision-making process or if Sarah was a CAT before or after her red test, we’re losing sight of what the show is really about.  In a perfect world there would have been more time, staff, money and screen time to make some of the more obvious plot holes and continuity problems go away.  But given that this was a weekly network TV show, and not some eccentric billionaire’s experiment in creating the perfect story, I think they generally made time, budget and story decisions very well.

True Lies and Deceptions – Joe’s Take

Spot on, guys. I don’t think anyone thought that Casey and Sarah would actually be at each other’s throats for very long, or that neither could be trusted. And, oh yes, this was the episode that firmly established that the glue holding Team Bartowski together would be trust. Either that, or there would be no team. The magic here in Helicopter was that we could honestly come away thinking that failure was a possibility. Certainly, Chuck could.

At the end of the pilot episode, you’ll remember Chuck was in control. He realized that Casey and Sarah needed him at least as much as he needed them. But in Helicopter Chuck starts to have his doubts.

Sarah: What the hell were you thinking? Chuck, the secrets you know are incredibly important. You compromise everything when you stop trusting me.
Chuck: I thought it was okay…
Sarah: No, it is not “okay”. How could you think I was the double, huh? You know I am not Bryce. Bryce betrayed everything I believe in, and if you ever accuse me of that again then I will walk away, mission over, we all go back to Washington. And you do not want that to happen, Chuck. That, you should trust me on.

Sarah’s threat rings true in my ears even today. As far as Chuck was concerned there was no guarantee that Sarah would be around to help him – to save him – if he didn’t trust her. That’s the one condition she places on him. It’s the one condition that we can all understand.

But that doesn’t mean Chuck will understand. All throughout, he is wondering who to believe. Casey? Sarah? His own queezy gut? I know that when I first saw the episode, I was wondering too. After all, it was possible that the super-hot super-spy was not what she seemed. Sarah tells us up front that “Sarah Walker” is not her real name (or, at least, we shouldn’t believe that it is), so check your naiveté at the door, please. Things are not as they seem, and deceptions are everywhere (“including in my words,” Sarah is telling him).

Challengers

Another vision of us
We were the challengers of the unknown

This is the ground that Chuck is just now realizing he must navigate, and the stakes are high. Already one Dr. Zarnow (played by John Fleck) is revealed to be a deadly enemy, one who fooled the NSA, CIA, Casey and Sarah. Chuck’s real-life nemesis, Harry Tang (the unforgettable C.S Lee) is small potatoes after that. The trouble is, Harry only serves to remind Chuck that without Sarah, Casey and the Intersect, he’s pretty much a non-entity, stationed forever behind a nerd-herd desk. The stakes are not just about life and death; the stakes are about Chuck’s place in this world.

Sarah remains mysterious in this episode to Chuck and to us. Her anger when Chuck risks his life (foolishly, in her estimation) is equaled by her anger when she discusses Bryce, saying that he is a rogue spy. Emphasis on the word “rogue.” But there, quiet in her room, Sarah takes a moment to go over the photos still in her phone – her and Bryce in Cabo. Passion is passion. If it’s displayed in anger, it can also be displayed in other ways. Yes, there was something there between Sarah and Bryce, for sure, and we wouldn’t know how much for a while. But that one picture of Sarah and Bryce together tells us, the viewers, that there is something more to Sarah Walker than she’s telling Chuck.

Sarah: Some people want to be heroes, and others have to be asked. So, Chuck? Are you ready?

Chuck’s on a new path; he’s been diverted from his course by the Intersect. What I know now, but didn’t then, is that Sarah’s been diverted from hers just as much.

“Be safe,” you say
Whatever the mess you are, you’re mine, okay?
If that is the custom
I’m down

The New Pornographers – Challengers

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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81 Responses to Chuck vs The Helicopter (1.02)

  1. authorguy says:

    It did always bother me that Chuck was so willing to believe Casey over Sarah. He had no real reason to believe either one of them, but he knew Sarah from the rooftop, where Casey blandly threatened to kill them both and go get a snack. Against that he had some flashes of her doing her job. Doesn’t he notice that Casey ran away from the truck and the bomb in it, rather than see to the asset’s safety first, as a real bodyguard would have? (Of course he wouldn’t know that the bomb took an awfully long time to go off, but we noticed that.)
    I always hated the dinner party sequence, one of the few scenes in the series that I skip over on a rewatch.
    On the other hand I loved that she talked him down by relating his helicopter crisis to his real life, making it possible for him to save himself by thinking it was a game. She’s always been a better handler than Casey, who knew he’d have to see Chuck as a target someday soon and wasn’t about to let himself get too close.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with much of that Marc, although the dinner scene, especially Morgan’s sense of comedic timing, makes me laugh.

      I would also add, I don’t believe Casey ever really saw himself as Chuck’s handler. And if you look at the back of the Tron poster from Lethal Weapon, Chuck labels Sarah as his handler, Casey as in charge of security or something. Whatever their actual titles were, clearly Sarah stayed very focused on Chuck, while Casey was more mission first.

      • authorguy says:

        Probably just my dislike of certain forms of comedy. I did like the ‘doggie-bag’ that ended up being all the leftover pot roast from the look of it.
        I guess the scene with Casey running from the truck with Chuck far behind him was just a flub, but it could look awfully suspicious. Very OOC for someone so mission-first.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Don’t forget that Sarah also pointed her gun at Chuck on the roof and “bargained” with Casey by threatening to shoot Chuck. In addition you have to remember that this isn’t the supportive sensitive Sarah yet, this is the episode where she realizes she needs to be more supportive. Think of what Sarah said when she called Chuck over to the Weinerliscious, “Go back over there and pretend you know nothing.” And she wasn’t very sympathetic about it either. Let’s just put it down to a confusing time for Chuck.

      As for running from the SUV, I put that down to Chuck being on the far side of the shot and needing to run around before following Casey. Not something you’d necessarily do in real life if you were running from a bomb, but necessary to keep them both in-frame shooting a TV show.

      • authorguy says:

        Very true, but at least Sarah warned him first, “Chuck I’m going to point my gun at you.” There’s a pretty good Anti-Kryptonite story about how Sarah acted and how she realizes she should have acted after the helicopter incident.
        I agree about the need to keep everything in one shot, but still to be in character Casey should have grabbed Chuck first and made sure Chuck was on the far side of his body when the bomb went off.
        Does anyone know why that outdoor shot at the bomb site was so grainy?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Chuck shot on multiple formats and media from what I’ve heard, from digital to 35mm film to 16mm film. My guess is a smaller lighter lower resolution camera was used for some location shoots.

      • garnet says:

        That makes sense, I had noticed that in some scenes and it isn’t that hard to tell when it goes from digital to film. Still a bit odd as even digital cameras are not that big these (those) days.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It probably had more to do with what cameras they had available and how many sets they were shooting on in any given day and time now that I think of it. The studio must place some limits on their resources, so availability of a lower resolution camera might be easier to get than the top end digital HD ones.

    • joe says:

      Marc, I have a feeling that when Chuck started to trust Casey more than Sarah, there was a message about the character in there. The writers were telling us that Chuck wasn’t going to blindly trust Sarah just because she has a pretty face. Chuck’s a nerd, but he’s not a fool, and Agent Walker was going to have to prove herself.

      • I always thought who Chuck trusted most was based on the most recent evidence. Most of the episode he was flailing around just trying to keep his footing. He wasn’t making measured calculations about who was the most trustworthy. Similar things happened in Wookie and Sandworm. Chuck looked at the most recent evidence (Sarah dating Bryce, bugs in picture frames) and reacted.

    • Does chuck believe Casey over Sarah? It seems to me that Chuck’s generally a naive, trusting person – something Sarah later says she loves about him. When Sarah tells him not to trust Casey, he believes her. When Casey does the same, he believes Casey. I think he’s just scared and disoriented in a brand new world, and grasping at whatever tangible reality is presented to him.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        First I don’t recall seeing you comment before, so welcome to the conversation Arthur. It’s always nice to have another voice.

        I think between you and Jeff you’ve nailed it. When new information becomes available Chuck reacts. When Sarah showed Chuck the NSA burner he believed her and thought Casey did it. When Casey showed up bloodied from a fight with Sarah and didn’t try to kill him, but laid out a logical argument that it was Sarah he believed him (cemented with another NSA burner). Obviously Chuck, who is a trusting guy by nature regrets that his lack of trust lead to Sarah’s capture, and his effort to fix it get’s him into even more trouble, but these were two important developments for the series, can Chuck trust Sarah and will his trust and his need to do the right thing lead to his undoing.

      • thinkling says:

        Late to the party on this, but I found it really interesting that even when Casey told Chuck that Sarah tried to kill him, the only thing he said was “Is she ok.” Hilarious.

    • garnet says:

      Actually the dinner party is where I first saw that Chuck isn’t the completely helpless nerd without the Intersect. His “magic trick” is done sans flash and, he pulls it off. He scores points in my book for that one. First, quick thinking/planning and second, execution (although it doesn’t work out quite the way he had expected).

  2. This episode doesn’t usually measure up as well in the various “favorite episode” polls’

    That always surprises me. It’s not a top 10 for me, but it’s top 20. Throw it together with the pilot as a two-parter and it’d be a contender for #1. It’s the first time we see Casey run down a suspect, I mean shoplifter. It introduces the Wienerlicious, Chef Ellie, the Morgan door, the family diner. spy missions being completely mixed with family stuff while Ellie and Devon are clueless, “stay in the car” (which Chuck says first), and Casey giving Chuck a hard time about Sarah.

    On of my other favorite shows, Farscape, is very uneven the first 3/4ths of season 1. It doesn’t start nearly as strong as Chuck. One of the things I like about Farscape’s first couple of seasons is how the characters grow to trust each other. They go from three characters literally pulling the arm off of another (“Pilot says he’s going to be okay. It’s only one of his arms. Hell, he’s got four.”) to a team that regularly risks their lives for one other. Chuck shows trust issues to a lesser extent, because Casey in First Date is the closet we come to thinking one might kill another. But the Pilot, Helicopter, Wookie, Sandworm, Truth, and Crown Vic show similar themes which I really like. They show how trust is earned and makes the team stronger.

    • joe says:

      I agree with that, Jeff. There’s so much introduced in Helicopter that it’s a wonder that the story is good all by itself.

      I get a similar sense in Tango, with the way the other Nerd Herders are fleshed out.

      • Another established precedent, Casey can’t beat Sarah in a fight. In Cubic Z, I was wondering why he still sparred with her. Did he like receiving a beat down?

      • jam says:

        Well, if you want to improve doesn’t it make sense to spar with someone better than you.

        Helicopter isn’t one of my favorite episodes, possibly the weakest of S1 too.

      • jam, maybe you’re right that Casey was challenging himself, and Sarah was likely better practice on days in which she wasn’t stressed about her relationship with Chuck. Cubic Z looked like a Nolan Ryan moment. It doesn’t matter how much I would take batting practice against Nolan Ryan. I’m never hitting his fastball.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jeff I think it’s funny that Casey gets clobbered every time he goes against Sarah, and that stayed true to the end. Although its never actually SAID out loud, she is the better fighter. And she has the sense to protect her partners male ego…

        Jam I do believe what you say is pretty common, most viewers do not care for the episode so much. For myself, I’d probably rank it number five of S1, after Pilot, Tango, Marlin, and Undercover Lover.

      • In Truth, they both admitted Sarah is the better lock-picker. Casey is the better sniper of course (top 5 in the world, and he killed one of the other 5). But if Chuck asked them who the better fighter was while they were under the influence of truth serum, Casey would never have heard the end of it.

        Helicopter is one of the top 23 in my top 14. I rank the Pilot and Marlin higher, and have it tied with Tango, Sizzling Shrimp, Alma Mater, and Truth (several of those are less popular like Helicopter).

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah it’s probably a good thing the “who’s better at hand-to-hand” question wasn’t asked while under the truth serum.

        Your list is a little different Jeff! I would put Sizzling Shrimp, Sand Worm and Alma Mater together in my next tier of episodes after those top five.

      • joe says:

        Sarah beat Casey hand-to-hand a lot, but it was often with the help of a 2×4 from behind!

        Well, sneaky counts, of course. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah sneaky counts!

      • joe says:

        That brings up an interesting thing, though.

        In a fair fight, Casey beats everybody we’ve seen hands down, bad guys and good guys.

        But who fights fair? Ellie wins with skillets, Sarah with 2x4s. Chuck takes down bombs with fruit juice, remote controls and viruses, and he takes down Intersected spies with intersect-provided skills (and when he doesn’t have that, it’s back to his sister’s skills with a skillet). (Oh, yeah. Frat boys and the members of Jeffster need not apply for this contest.)

        Clearly, the best under the most diverse range of circumstances has got to be the inventor of – (are you ready for this?) – The Morgan. It’s 100% lethal. So I give it to Mr. Grimes.

      • The Morgan is a smart attack method that is selectively lethal. Fulcrum agents die, but turncoat ETA terrorists are only disabled.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Overall I think Helicopter is one of my top twenty, but that top twenty is comprised of about 30 episodes. I think we sometimes forget how quickly and skillfully this show was launched. A lot of that is a credit to how well the cast worked together, with the relationships among the family and the Buy Morons seeming organic they need less time to establish those worlds, but the writing was also top notch, hitting all the right emotional cues. New elements and premises were introduced quickly as Jeff and Joe mentioned, but we still kept finding new and eye-opening facts, like the 24-hour surveillance in Sand Worm or the true nature of Bryce’s betrayal in Alma Mater. We were still learning new things about the spy world and Chuck’s place in it for pretty much the entire series, which is why (to preempt Thinkling) the dropped ball on a more fleshed out grand conspiracy is slightly disappointing. That aside, I’ll say the show ended strong too.

      I just watched seven seasons of The Office as a marathon, and one thing that struck me was how long it took for me to “get” Michael Scott, let alone see him as a sympathetic figure. If it weren’t for the character Jim Halpert I probably would have given up. The Jim and Pam thing, while fairly well done, wasn’t by itself enough reason to watch, but Jim was relate-able enough to give me a window into their world. So much of Michael Scott’s behavior was so cringe-inducing I just couldn’t relate to a supposedly real person behaving like that. In later seasons, 6 and 7 that phenomenon returned, and also spread to other characters to the point that it was hard to watch their destruction or any residual understanding or sympathy just evaporated. It makes me grateful that Chuck managed to avoid prolonged periods of that for the most part. (Chuckwin’s Law disclaimer) and didn’t suffer from the characters becoming caricature (with the possible exception of Jeffster) in an effort to outdo themselves in later seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I’ll buy that exactly about Helicopter being one of those thirty top twenty episodes. Shoot, it might even be one of the twenty-five episodes in my top ten…

        But I especially agree about how strong the show started. These first three in particular are absolutely brilliant and about the strongest start for a new show I ever remember.

  3. resaw says:

    Great review and great comments. This episode is very much about introducing the characters and their relationships to each other. For example, Ellie to Morgan: “Here’s one. I loathe you.” Morgan’s come a long way. I also really liked the opening, where Chuck is running like mad. Chuck’s narration makes it appear as though he is being chased by some bad guy, but in fact, he is desperately seeking to prevent Casey from killing a shoplifter. Chuck observed in the Nerd HQ panel that he didn’t do his “flash face” in the Pilot. He still doesn’t do it here. Does anybody know in which episode that starts?

    Continuity issues: did you notice that when Casey came in for the dinner party that he said he had just moved in upstairs? The courtyard in later episodes always seemed to indicate a ground floor entrance.

    Theme quote for Chuck in the early days: “Stay in the car. Stay in the car. Do not leave the car. Do not leave this car.” Chuck leaves the car, of course.

    I liked the scene following Chuck being saved from crashing the helicopter: Sarah chews Chuck out and Casey stares at Chuck with an accusing, “Look at what you did!” look.

    The final minutes of this episode also demonstrated this wonderful show’s ability to combine everything from seriousness to humor: sadness at the funeral, the threat of the assassination of Chuck by Casey, mutual apologies between Chuck and Sarah, followed by Wienerlicious “gourmet” food.

    • I didn’t think Chuck’s flash face was that back. Most of the time it was cut for the flash sequence of images.

      Casey’s bedroom was upstairs. Maybe it was a slip-up. He moved in his personal effects “upstairs” but the surveillance equipment hadn’t arrived from Langley yet, so he hadn’t moved in “downstairs.” 🙂 Actually, that was a good continuity catch. I hadn’t noticed it before.

      The “stay in the car” theme was repeated in first season Castle, with Beckett handcuffing him, Castle picking the lock, and fleeing murder suspects landing on the hood of the car Castle was staying in. ‘Stay in the car’ is almost as much of a jinx as ‘one last mission.’

    • atcDave says:

      I love Casey’s “way to go” comment after Sarah chews Chuck out. It’s like he’s proud of Chuck for irritating her. Possibly relates back to how she earlier kicked his butt.
      Resaw I agree entirely about the different moods Chuck does so well. I think that’s a huge part of why the show works so well for me, it can be funny, sweet and dramatic all in a short time.

      • I always took “way to go” as sarcasm. Casey knew that Chuck liked Sarah (tipped off by how he wanted to save her), so getting told off meant Chuck’s rescue plan of saving the “damsel in distress” didn’t work. Casey’s quip to Chuck in Beefcake reminded me of this one. Since I missed the first couple of episodes live, I saw this episode after Truth, so that might have slanted my view.

      • atcDave says:

        No he was being sarcastic. But I think he was pleased too. Chuck completely screwed up, and Casey loved it. (Casey is also the one who led him right into it, so he may have been pleased at seeing the chaos he wrought too!)

      • Good point about the chaos. Even though he was military, Casey always seemed to like things getting a little out of control. That meant he could go in and bust heads… or get handcuffed to a bed. And he never wanted to miss the guy play. Sarah, on the other hand, liked her protocols and rules. It’s what made Sarah’s speech in Prague and what she did to save Molly all the more poignant. She liked her rules, wanted to keep to them, but realized they didn’t always work. Oops, sorry. Chuckwin’s Law disclaimer.

      • atcDave says:

        Casey particularly liked chaos where Chuck and Sarah are concerned. At least until about 2.15 or so, he liked agitating and causing trouble for the two of them. As I alluded to above, I suddenly found myself liking Casey a bit better with Beefcake. From then on, I had the feeling he was actually starting to care about Chuck and Sarah as friends, partners, and how they dealt with each other.

  4. thinkling says:

    Great post. Great episode. Helicopter is an episode that I liked better and better on rewatches:

    I love Chuck racing home and the whole dinner party. It always makes me laugh.

    There are two things that stand out to me. One is all that we learn about Chuck and Sarah. Their dynamic doesn’t really progress until the end, but until the end we see their individual traits, and in the end we see some bending on both their parts to form the beginning of a workable partnership or arrangement.

    In the Pilot we saw Chuck break through a little and touch the real Sarah. In Helicopter Sarah is pretty much all handler. We see her handler persona thrust forward when interacting with Chuck and his family, but handler/spy Sarah is always simmering below the surface. She turns the softer handler persona on and off at will.

    Chuck is the same guy … no mask. He deals with the whole thing openly (if our relationship were remotely real) and isn’t yet sucked into wishing things with Sarah were real. Yet, he still reaches out to her real side and treats her like a real person … like telling her he enjoyed the date, even knowing it wasn’t really a date, trying to help her (even though it backfired).

    We see Chuck’s forgiving side toward Bryce, who (as far as we all knew at the time) didn’t deserve it, and toward Sarah, whose anger was partially justified. His apology is priceless, and along with all the ways he has reached out to her, and manages to touch her a little bit more.

    So, in the end, Chuck reluctantly yields to the spy world’s claim on him, and Sarah takes a softer more personal approach with him. This is her first handler job, and Chuck is a normal, nice person … not at all what she is used to. She is still handler, but in the very end when Chuck takes a bite of the overcooked hotdog, I think the real Sarah shows up again, briefly.

    The other thing that hit me, and it goes hand in hand with the Chuck and Sarah’s adjustments, is the awkward colliding of the two worlds. In every scene Chuck is having to navigate both worlds, and it is not smooth sailing for him. It’s more like kayaking in rapids and rocks and waterfalls and whirlpools. It is utterly chaotic, and the whole episode has that feel to it. The clash of the two worlds continues all series, but after Helicopter, and Chuck begins to learn how to navigate it a little better, with Sarah’s help.

    Of course, the collision of the two worlds sends shock waves in Sarah’s direction, too, and brings a little unexpected inner chaos into her life. Already the show is much more than just a comedy, because I want to see what happens to these interesting and appealing characters.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Interesting point about the seeming chaos and two worlds colliding. It got me thinking about the funeral scene at the end where things finally calm down and the characters start to deal with the reality of their new situation. Both Chuck and Sarah went to Bryce’s funeral, but neither felt they belonged there and stood off to the side. Sarah we’ll come to understand, probably didn’t feel she could be part of Bryce’s “real life” where friends and family gather to mourn his loss. Chuck, his presence may have been awkward for the alienated friends and family, or he just may have felt he no longer belonged in that group, but both showed up to see the guy who betrayed them both (and the guy who brought them together) laid to rest (they thought). It seems to point out a certain similarity in them now that I think of it. It strikes me how very alone they both seem to feel at that point, which makes the next scene where Chuck first includes Sarah in his family willingly a lot more poignant. They each seem to be offering their help to the other in navigating the new world they’re about to enter.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, great points, Ernie. And through their apologies, they offer each other understanding … unique understanding, because Chuck is the unique person, in that unique position that can finally offer the real Sarah some caring and understanding, and she is the only one who can, and is inclined, to offer him any.

        The funeral is an end — the end of Sarah’s nothing-but-a-spy life that could never offer her anything better than Bryce … and the end of the derailment that Bryce started in Chuck’s life. Bryce was symbolic of the all that had hurt both of them. His funeral marked the beginning of the end of their past disappointments. The Wienerliscious scene is the beginning of better things for both of them.

        I hadn’t really thought through those things before, but it makes Helicopter a really meaningful episode underneath the chaos and hijinks. And isn’t that what Chuck does best?.

      • atcDave says:

        That’s all fascinating. It makes Helicopter an episode of significant beginnings equally with the Pilot. I like it.

  5. Jerry Kane says:

    Knowing what happens in future episodes made this conversation from “Helicopter” even funnier:

    Beckman: Our most valuable secrets have been sent to an idiot.
    Graham: Well, at least they weren’t sent to his friend.

    If only they knew what’d be happening in about four years…

    • 🙂

      Beckman: Don’t say something like that. You might as well say, ‘One last mission.’ It’s not like you’re not the one who’ll have to deal with it.
      Graham: What?
      Beckman: Oh, nothing. I’m trying to decide if being dead is better than dealing with Morgan Grimes with the Intersect, calling me Becky.

    • joe says:

      Jerry, I see you’ve made a few comments since the show ended, and I don’t recall properly greeting you.

      So, hi! Welcome to the discussion.

      You’re absolutely right about our 20/20 hindsight. That kind of stuff is exactly why I still enjoy seeing the episodes in re-watch. It’s especially gratifying if you can see more than 1 or 2 episodes a week, too – that changes the entire perspective in just the way you describe.

      • Jerry Kane says:

        Thanks for the welcome. I have actually been looking around for quite a while and sometimes tried to post comments, but your filters seemed a tad too overzealous. Anyway, I’m glad my comments come through now.

        On to the episode: I hadn’t realized until my most recent rewatch that this was the debut of “A Question and An Answer”, when Chuck and Sarah were apologizing to one another at the Wienerlicious. I remember being struck by the background back when I watched it the first time, but only started noticing its recurrence around the third season or so. Such a beautiful piece.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jerry, sorry you may have ended up in the spam filter. We try to check for legit comments among the volumes of spam, but some probably slip through the cracks. Just as an FYI, if you have 3 or more links, or nothing but links, your post has a much greater chance of getting flagged. As MyNameIsJeffNImLost knows so well… Other than that we require a name and an e-mail to post so that we know who is who in the discussion.

        You do make a great observation, and had we started the “Firsts” in this episode Chuck and Sarah’s theme, A Question and an Answer certainly deserves to be noted. It was a constant throughout the series, and a marvelous touch how it was left open ended until the final time we heard it played on the beach, the theme ended. Just one of those perfect nuanced bits that Chuck could do so well.

    • thinkling says:

      Good one, Jerry! Nice catch.

  6. thinkling says:

    Okay, curiosity time: Anybody else ever wonder what happened to Beckman’s wedding ring? I can’t remember if it’s ever seen again in S1, but I’m sure it’s not from S2 on. Was that a Bonita oversight, like Josh’s oversight in Balcony? Or was Beckman presumed married early on?

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I recall someone mentioning it, I think it was Bonnie herself. She made a joke about Beckman’s torrid affair leading to divorce, but we all know the truth, when she fell for the Bartowski charm she stopped wearing it, hoping that someday she’d be part of Duck.

    • I noticed that too, Thinkling. Maybe her marriage fell apart because of that guy with the blow up doll: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSpSunT_KOg#t=3m13s

      My real guess is that retcon’ed it to get the Roan/Diane gag to work. It’s a minor change, and funny, so I don’t mind.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Nope, it was Duck I tell you, definitely Duck!

      • resaw says:

        Duck? Ernie, I have no idea what this might mean. Care to elaborate?

      • authorguy says:

        I suspect its short for Diane-Chuck, like Charah is short for Chuck-Sarah.

      • It was bad enough after D-iane kissed Ch-uck in Santa Suit and they had a clandestine meetings in a parking garage in Bearded Bandit. Please don’t encourage him.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie is the leading proponent of the oddest ‘ship on the show. We try to ignore it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Leading proponent? You mean there are others?

        Yes, as others have explained I’m a Duck shipper. How could one resist that cauldron of chemistry simmering just below the surface. We’ve all seen the looks they exchange, and noticed that Dianne seems awfully anxious to get Chuck in that bunker she has all prepared for him in Marlin, then again in Predator, or to get that b*tch Walker away from her Chuck in Broken Heart and Other Guy and Balcony. Or the lengths she went to to stop that proposal in Balcony. Those crazy kids just never caught their break.

      • Every time I see a Duck discussion, I laugh. Then I think of chapter 6 of ninjaVanish’s Chuck & Sarah Vs The Bunker and chapter 2 of Notorious JMG’s Chuck vs the Ring of Fire.

      • anthropocene says:

        And that would also explain why Roan Montgomery always encouraged the Chuck-Sarah pairing. He was protecting his turf.

      • joe says:

        Oh gee. You know that running gag in TBBT where, in front of all “the guys”, Penny asks Shelden to explain something and then they all go “Don’t get him started!”???

        Resaw, today, you’re Penny! 😉

      • Ernie Davis says:

        No it’s good to be reminded that some our new readers didnt get to experience the thrills and the heartbreak of Duck the first time around. Since I’m waiting at the MVA I have some time to recap for everyone…

    • atcDave says:

      I would buy that they dumped the idea when they got to Roan. So the real trivia is, when is the last actual ring sighting? Or is Helicopter the only one?

      • thinkling says:

        I’m going to pay close attention. It seems to me like there might be one more, but I can’t remember.

  7. FSL says:

    I never saw Chuck live until Season 5. So I’ve always watched this together with the pilot as a 2-parter. To me, the pilot is like a movie which then became a series beginning with Helicopter. What I always remember most was the Dr’s comment about the patient working at a Buy More and Sarah/Casey’s answer. That to me encapsulated the “danger” element most prevalent in season 1. There was always that danger of bad guys finding out who Chuck is which results in the bunker. Next to that would be the souffle murder scene. So funny in so many ways, especially Ellie’s comment.

  8. A little admin request… Could you please consider adding links to the posts from this rewatch into the “Blog Episodes Guide?”

    • atcDave says:

      Looks like Joe is already on it. We will make an effort to add those as we go. Don’t hesitate to bring it up if we miss something or anything else we can do along those lines that would be helpful.

    • joe says:

      I did start on it, Jeff. Thanks. That was a great idea, and I feel sort of bad for not paying attention to that page for all these months.

      What I intend to do is add in links to our main posts when they refer specifically (or at least, in large part) to specific episodes. For instance, the arc reviews we did this spring will be referenced multiple times, but the music reviews will not. It should make it a good reference for future historians who will note the glory of this web-site. 😉

      Is that what you had in mind, Jeff? – Or did you have something else for us to consider?

      • What you did is great (except for the incorrect Helicopter link 😉 ). Thanks, Joe.

        I unsuccessfully tried using it to find the Santa Suit initial reaction and review posts because of the Duck discussion. Retrofitting all of the missing links might be too much of a task, but I thought updating it each week while the rewatch is going on is a lot less of an ordeal.

        Since I wasn’t around here much before season 5, I plan on rereading the other reviews as the episodes come up. Thanks again.

      • atcDave says:

        You’re an ambitious man! We came into existence between S2 and S3, so contemporary reactions to the first two seasons won’t exist. But holy smokes we have a lot for the last three seasons!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        For Jeff and anyone else interested in finding our initial reactions I’ll point out that on the right sidebar if you scroll down past comments, tweets, RSS, etc, there is an archive selectable by month and year. But it’s probably true that some of these posts will probably be the only episode specific thing written on this blog early on in the re-watch.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jeff, links for Season 5’s first reactions posts and recaps & reviews are now active on the blog episode guide. We’ll be working our way through the page updating when we can.

      • Thanks, Ernie. More coming in a few days as a thank you…

  9. ChuckFanForever says:

    Haha, Duck! So Chuck is into blondes, brunettes, and red heads! For a nerdy guy who previously didn’t have too much success with women, he sure turned into a chick magnet!

  10. First Impression says:

    I enjoyed the episode overviews written above. The fight, the bomb, the dinner and the helicopter scenes were all outstanding. Sandwiched in there was the part where Casey was shot with the tranquilizer dart. He says incredulously, “We were wrong,” as if Chuck had something to do with that. (On a side note, I didn’t know a person could convey ‘icky’ in a facial expression until I saw Chuck’s reaction after removing the dart. Kudos to ZL for that.)

    That tranq dart became a vehicle for comic relief and for fleshing out Chuck a bit more. For the comedy, Casey’s fall and recovery in the Buy More made me laugh out loud. I wasn’t expecting physical comedy from him. Back in the car, a slightly off his game Casey gave up looking for Sarah rather quickly after finding Morgan ate the bugged quiche. Chuck became the problem solver for finding Sarah. I liked that Chuck took control of the situation to right their wrong of thinking she was rogue. Overall I thought this episode was a nice complement to the Pilot.

    • thinkling says:

      The dinner continues to be a favorite scene of mine … laugh out loud funny every time. I also like the end when she forgives him. That scene sets up appealing character qualities that continue throughout the series.

    • Christopher says:

      At first when watching this episode I like it. there is an awesome no point intended fight scene between Casey and Sarah, which really showed me how good Yvonne is when it comes to physical acting. You will see it again next episode, but what really stands out for me is the end. When they are at Bryce’s funeral. Yvonne’s expression is both emotional and conflicted because she sees Chuck and mourning her loss.

      My favorite line in the episode is Flamba still makes me laugh, but that being said I really don’t like this episode anymore. This episode doesn’t do it for me. it is my fourth worse episode behind Beefcake, Broken Heart, 3D being last

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I like this one a lot too First Impression. It sets up so much about the characters and story. And I’m always partial towards the whole forming up the team sort of thing.

      Adam Baldwin is great with comedy. Usually pretty understated, but it makes him a fun contrast in a show that’s usually the opposite of subtle. Now that I think of it, Yvonne is usually the same way, so they’re consistent with how the professional agents are treated. And it will always be interesting to watch how they respond to some of the craziness around them. Both Casey and Sarah have numerous wonderful scenes with Morgan over the course of the series. And the pure scorn Casey will have for Jeff and Lester is priceless.
      Zach plays quite a range well. From relaxed and understated, to freaking out. He really brings Chuck to life.

  11. oldresorter says:

    Chuck vs The Helicopter – My Top Ten Things

    10 – Sarah vs the teenage boys. In this ep, Sarah’s appeal to the younger members of the opposite sex was made fun of. The contrast to Sarah in grown up woman attire when she went to meet the family for dinner, you’d hardly recognize the two.

    9 – Before the credits. I enjoyed the before the credits, ‘Hi, I’m Chuck …’ type stuff in this ep. In no particular order, here are four lines for the opening moments:
    As Morgan tries to pull the table cloth, in tribute to the Bryce scene in the last ep not being an accountant, Morgan, “… is not a magician.” Later apparently, Chuck is?
    Morgan, as Casey tackles the shoplifter, “The guy’s been here 24 hours, he’s taking job way more serious than me.”
    And finally, when the camera pans to Sarah, Chuck says, “Sarah. Oh yea I know, believe me.”

    8 – Sarah vs Casey or should I say ‘hot dogs to fry’ vs ‘toasters to sell’ – Fights with plastic forks are the best? And snapping a mop in half to create a fighting stick. Epic. In the end, Casey ran off, after getting his butt kicked by a girl.

    7 – Chuck vs DC – Beckman complains as she and Graham watch Chuck and Morgan horsing around on their surveillance camera, “Our most valuable secrets have been sent to an idiot.” To which Graham replied, “At least there not sent to his friend.”

    6 – Sarah vs Chuck – Sarah yells at Chuck more often than I care to count. Plus, Casey has Chuck convinced Sarah is the double, which really didn’t make Sarah too happy. I enjoy watching the two of them bicker. Which could lead to makeup sex – Awesome’s line after Sarah requests the family leave them alone so Sarah can fix Chuck’s attitude, not exactly in the manner Awesome had in mind. She might not have fixed Chuck quite yet, but she’s working on it, isn’t she? But, she saved the best for last, and the tongue lashing she doled out as the mission ended, might have been her best dressing down of her asset in the entire 91 eps. As Casey said after Sarah stormed off, “Way to go Ace.”, even though Casey caused all the trouble in the first place.

    5 – Stay in the car. First variation of the line, Casey to Chuck. Chuck probably should have stayed in the car, as all he ended up doing is getting yelled at by Sarah, then later by Casey for his troubles.

    4 – Big Sister had a great episode, she was more important to this ep’s success than I recall her being in most Chuck eps. I approve.
    What a minute, Morgan has met her and I haven’t? (to Chuck regarding Sarah)
    I loathe you. (to Morgan).
    Did you see this? Did you know that Bryce is dead? Are you OK? I’m really sorry Chuck. (In Chuck’s room)
    I don’t know how anyone could chose Bryce over Chuck. (At the dinner table)
    Chuck Wow. I knew you had it in you. But she’s, she’s really great. (Ellie saw the ‘truth’ in some ways before either the hero or the heroine)
    Dad’s suit. (Observed as Chuck was getting ready for Bryce’s funeral)
    You’ve moved on to bigger and better girls. (Yikes, Jill really doesn’t measure up does she?!)
    Chuck, just try apologizing, it goes a long way. (Big sister advice after Chuck confided to Ellie he may have blown it with Sarah)

    3 – Wow. Wienerlicious pays well. 2nd date. A girl in a Porche. A girl in a little black dress or outfit. Whiney Chuck. Secret agenda. Perfect. Topped off by a kind of awkward good night scene, awkward yet oozing with season one type chemistry. “Dinner tomorrow.” “That’s a good idea.” Very little affection from Sarah, yet she seemed really honest and comfortable. Awkward interest from Chuck, he’s not hiding his feelings very well. Who could blame him?

    2 – Apache flight sim saves the day, or was it Agent Walker? As an ex-engineer who worked on the development of some of the Apache systems, I couldn’t have been prouder. The entire helicopter scene was great Chuck, great use of the Big Three, and Sarah Walker showed why she is a top notch handler and John Casey, well he showed why he’s not.

    And my favorite thing from the episode is …

    1 – Chuck apologized for not trusting Sarah, a great apology at the end, then Sarah did too for yelling at Chuck. Was that scene the first time the Chuck and Sarah theme song played? While the music played, Sarah laid out the foreseeable future as she tells Chuck that the intersect isn’t going anywhere, and asks, “Some people want to be heroes, and others have to be asked? So, Chuck. Are you ready?” Chuck gives a weak nod and mutters out a yes. Game on.

    In summary, based on my super-secret formula, this episode rated 10/10. I had no trouble finding ten things to like. And, same as the first ep, many things didn’t quite make the cut. Of the first two eps, this one is ranked 2 of 2, in second place behind the Pilot. But not near as far behind, as I would have guessed coming in. I can’t wait to see how ‘The Tango’ will do in my re-watch!

    • atcDave says:

      I really like Helicopter. And it’s funny, because I wouldn’t like a lot of what’s here if it were later in the show. Like Chuck trusting Casey over Sarah, is just so wrong. But it’s funny as Chuck is sort of lost in his new world. And Sarah going off on Chuck a couple times, in the bathroom and after the helicopter ride; both are excellent scenes, but they would be a lot less funny if this were later on.
      Ellie is terrific in this.

      Over all, really good job with your ten points. I pretty much agree exactly.

      • thinkling says:

        Helicopter is one I didn’t particularly care for the first time around, but now it’s one of my favorites from S1. It has more rewatches than many from S1. The dinner always makes me laugh out loud. The apology at the end is one of my favorites. It’s a great episode for further establishing their characters: Chuck’s inner hero begins showing through, as well as his willingness to sincerely apologize; and Sarah’s sense of duty and her willingness to forgive, as well as her vulnerability and reluctance to show it.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I love all of that Thinkling. It may be the only time in the series I would be enthused about distrust between Chuck and Sarah. But it is fitting and funny here.
        And you’re right, I love both the apology and Sarah’s acceptance of it. I think this ultimately reflects well on both characters.

  12. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Helicopter (1.02) | Chuck This

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