Chuck vs The Sizzling Shrimp (1.05)

I think Sizzling Shrimp is a rare thing for Chuck, an average episode.  It often scores poorly in fan poles, it is a stand alone episode that gives us a little more character development, it is funny in places, has some good action sequences and was the highlight of my television week when it first ran.  So in hindsight, pretty average for Chuck.  After the jump we’ll remember this mid season one episode.

I think the most enduring legacy of this episode is that we learn a little something about Chuck’s mom.  Funny, since that is not the main plot.  The really good news is that there is no grounds for crying retcon here, nothing about the tiny amount of information we get is ever contradicted.  Although as a humorous aside, this is the first time the “official spy files” that were at  would be contradicted (maybe not directly, but by way of suggesting mom’s departure was separate from dad’s) .

Those files claimed both Bartowski parents were killed in a traffic accident. I believe they were dropped from the official site late in S2, but I know one scrap of info from them has remained in fanon (quasi-canon?), the idea that Sarah went to Harvard. But this early bit of mom’s story is a part of the “B” plot that involves Ellie and Morgan missing Chuck badly and bonding, a little.  They aren’t quite the good friends yet they will be by series’ end, but I believe we already have a series “last”; Ellie will not tell Morgan to just go away again.  Or maybe its just the Sizzling Shrimp itself that is the enduring legacy…

Chuck learns a little something about stake outs and tailing someone.  He also repeats his tendency to push Sarah and Casey into missions not of their choosing or orders, but because its the right thing to do.  Although very interesting in this case, Chuck thinks he can excuse himself from the rescue mission once Sarah and Casey have committed.  I don’t believe we will ever see Chuck try that again!  And of course, once the pros get in trouble, Chuck will use his creativity to save the day.

Sarah learns a little more about what friends and family mean to Chuck.  Although she is always a good sport about her involvement in Chuck’s life (and we know her later admission to already being a little smitten with him), and I enjoy seeing the first signs of her having fun with Morgan, but it will be quite sometime yet before the real barriers start to come down.

The main plot here strikes me as fairly unremarkable.  I do enjoy the kitchen fight scene at the end; and of course James Hong reprising his role from Big Trouble in Little China as Lo Pan (true to Chuck’s tendency to mine the same material over, the hero of Big Trouble in Little China was Jack Burton.  Too bad Chuck never said he was feeling “kind of invincible”).

I always enjoy re-watching this episode.  Even an unremarkable episode of Chuck is great entertainment.  And I think Sizzling Shrimp is the case study for that.

Team Building and Character Building – Joe’s Take

Dave, I get what you mean about Sizzling Shrimp being an “average” episode. It’s not one where “the bad guys” (Ben Lo Pan, as played by actor James Hong) come off as terrible, deadly threats. Even “the good guy” (Mei-Ling, actress Gwendoline Yeo) is more imposing!

But several things in Chuck vs. The Sizzling Shrimp are absolutely unique. I’m most surprised that I hadn’t noticed before.

For instance, right from the start, before the credits are run, Chuck and Morgan – and then Chuck and Sarah – have a conversation about “An evening of Morgan.” There’s something that seems much more “unscripted” than their usual dialog. It’s in the timing and in the way Chuck and Morgan interact spontaneously. I always think it’s the way Zach and Josh interact. It’s the same between Chuck and Sarah also.

Morgan: [To Sarah] An evening of Morgan will begin at 7 sharp. Bring your A game. Love you, pal.
Sarah: [To Chuck] An evening of Morgan.
Chuck: Okay. So here’s the thing. Uh, he’s my best friend. And I haven’t gotten to spend any time with him or Ellie this week. And so he really wanted the whole bunch of us to hang out tonight.
Sarah: For an evening of Morgan?
Casey: [Interrupting] I thought being stationed in the Khyber Pass for six months was brutal.
Chuck: If you’re so sad about not being included, Casey, you could just say so.
Casey: Dinner with you and Morgan. I’d rather Afghani warlords bleed me from my liver. [walks away]
Chuck: [to Sarah] He’s a happy person.
Sarah: Mm-hm.

We’ve been talking a lot about “firsts”. For my money, this is the first time we see Chuck acting like a team member. It’s the first time we see Sarah and even Casey treat Chuck like something other than a complete outsider to the spy world. They may even be starting to bond.

Chuck already has a strong bond with Morgan, of course. But we do get to see the strength of this bond when Chuck shows his concern over Morgan’s addiction – to Chinese made fireworks… (darn. My sarcasm key is stuck again!)

Oh, really! It’s a cute scene. Sarah’s eyes show concern, at first, that Chuck’s friend has a real problem. But then, a split second later, Sarah’s smile shows us that she’s becoming ever more endeared to Chuck and his ways. And so are we.

Love is easy to fake on television; actors do it all the time. Real comraderie is something else. It carries through. It has the effect of somehow making the characters much less cartoon-ish, and therefore, much more real, than I expected at this point in the series.

That can’t be accidental – not in this show with these actors. For the first time, Chuck is not exactly thrown into a situation by forces outside his control. No, he flashes on Mei-Ling’s tattoo, brings it to Sarah’s attention and then gets involved. That’s inadvertent, at first because allowed Ben Lo Pan to kidnap Mei-Lings brother. But then he stays involved quite intentionally by insisting that Team B do something about it.

Team Bartowski. Yes, they’re a team now. Sarah and Casey follow his lead in this one, participating in a mission that Chuck started. Of course, Chuck still has much to learn (like, about the 30 yard rule for tails. Or is it 30 feet?). So he’s still told to stay in the car to play with his sizzling shrimp. But we all know Chuck’s not going to stay there. In fact, he proves his worth early on with his understanding of the TKX-50 security cameras used by Ben Lo Pan. No Intersect necessary.

Chuck’s understanding of the equipment here is not the only way his “real life” is intertwined with his spy-life now. In fact, the more serious entanglement is with his sister Ellie. Chuck’s been busy with Sarah and as much as she appreciates that, Ellie, of course, doesn’t know the half of it. It’s all good, except that when Chuck seems to prefer yet anther date with Sarah over their once a year “Mother’s Day”, it borders on too much. Chuck crosses the line when Chuck lies about being at Casey’s.

Ellie: I went to Casey’s, Chuck. No one was there.
Chuck: Oh.
Ellie: When did we start keeping secrets from one another?

Chuck helped Mei-Ling save her brother precisely because that’s what he’d do for Ellie. And he’s protecting her now. It’s heartbreaking that Chuck cannot tell her anything, especially now that he’s taken a very definite step into the spy world.

We learn something very important about Ellie, though. She’s not immature or vindictive. More than anyone (including Sarah, right now), Ellie is the one who knows where Chuck’s heart is. She’s the one who trusts him to do the right thing.

Ellie: I figured it out. I know.
Chuck: You do?
Ellie: You haven’t had a girlfriend for a long time, and you’re in love.
Chuck: [Chuckles] Heh. Yeah. – I am?

Chuck hasn’t wanted to put that to words just yet. He’s been avoiding the issue as much as he can. But Ellie knows and we know. Never underestimate Ellie’s perceptiveness.

And never underestimate the big sister. Chuck dropped the ball with Morgan’s little problem. He’s been coming in dead last in Big Mike’s sales contest (third place gets to keep his job). But of all the characters, Ellie shows us that we should never sweat the small stuff and saves Morgan’s job easily. “It’s a Mother’s Day miracle!” and just a little bonding. From now on it’s all going to be small stuff in the Buy More.

Now when I watch Chuck vs. The Sizzling Shrimp I see an episode that goes a long way to cementing the relationships between characters while Chuck takes a small but definite step into his new life as a spy.

Dave Again

Great point Joe about the team building here.  I think that whole cast chemistry was always special about Chuck, and I do love several scenes in this episode that show it.  Pretty much everything before the credits, and again at the final scene.  Of course those type of interactions were always a huge part of this show’s appeal for me; whether its the brother sister relationship, Chuck and Morgan’s friendship, Chuck and Sarah’s under the undercover thing, or even the Chuck/Sarah/Casey friendly antagonism.  For me, that dynamic is the key to the show; and much later, when that dynamic is fractured, the entire show suffers for it, badly.  But here it is satisfying to see the relationships functioning well in an early status quo sort of episode.

And of course, how funny is it that Ellie sums up the major hook of the entire series, at a time when Chuck himself isn’t so sure (“…you’re in love.”)  Chuck won’t really admit that for a couple years yet, and Sarah won’t for a little longer.  But we all know its already true.

Thinkling’s Thoughts:

Dave, you’re right that Sizzling Shrimp never ranks very high on people’s lists. Though it may seem like just an average episode for Chuck, I really love the undercurrents and intangibles running through it.

I’ll get a running start, because I’m enjoying seeing how Chuck and Sarah’s story unfolds. There’s the Collision of their two worlds, followed by Chaos, at least for Chuck. In Tango things settle into an unorthodox rhythm, but Wookiee brings Confusion for both Chuck and Sarah as to how you dance the dance or play the game in the other’s world.

My word for Sizzling Shrimp is Cost: the cost of the spy world to families. Up until now the spy world has been an intrusion and an inconvenience in Chuck’s life. He had to lie to Ellie and Morgan. But they were small lies, mostly of omission. They didn’t do any real damage. This time, though, his spy life and the lies cost him. To do his spy job, he had to hurt his sister and his best friend, and he couldn’t tell them why. It’s a whole new level of spy pain for Chuck.

The cost of the spy world to family is mirrored in Mei Ling’s situation with her brother. She will move heaven and earth, go rogue, and give up everything to save her brother. Sound familiar? In the end Mei Ling’s kidnapped brother trumps Chuck’s date with Ellie, and Chuck pays the price for being a hero. He disappoints his sister, who can’t know that he really is doing something worthwhile with his life, that he is the most valuable intelligence asset on the planet and a hero to boot. Ellie’s words sting, “You’re life isn’t going anywhere, and your job isn’t either, and you’re not superman out there saving the day, but …” and voice the warning of the ultimate cost of being a spy, “you’re a good person, Chuck. You’re a good brother, and you’re a good friend. Don’t lose that.” (As a side note, it is here that Ellie reminds Chuck that he can come to him about anything. Only much later does he take her up on her offer … when he feels like he has lost himself (the good person Ellie told him not to lose).)

This theme, the cost of heroism and the spy world, continues to play the bass notes throughout the series. As their story unfolds, we learn just how much the spy life, or being a hero, has cost the Bartowskis and Chuck and Sarah, individually and ultimately as a couple.

In spite of the overtone of cost, there is a strong note of hope, at least for Sarah. Sarah didn’t grow up having what Chuck and Ellie have. What chance does a girl like her have at a normal life … family, children. Whatever glimmer of hope she might have secretly held was extinguished after the Ryker/ Baby mission. I can’t help thinking that this evening with Chuck and Ellie, and the mother’s day reveal, may have rekindled that hope. Chuck and Ellie had a normal life, but it was taken from them. Like Sarah’s was taken from her. Then in spite of being abandoned by their parents, in spite of their abnormal circumstances, they found a way to rebuild it. Maybe there’s hope for Sarah.

Fun Moments: Heh, Dave, you mentioned the gradual (maybe glacial is a better word) development of Sarah’s friendship with Morgan. We also see the contrast of Casey’s relationship with Morgan. In Sizzling Shrimp, Casey would rather Afghani war lords bleed him from his liver than spend an evening with Morgan (his future roommate and possibly son-in-law/father of his grandchildren). I had to laugh.

Another thing that appears here that we will see again and again is Sarah’s bemused affection at Chuck’s … umm, Chuck-ness. Look at her face as he leans forward to get his take-out. She’s smitten, or at the very least finds his Chuck-ness endearing. Sarah’s looks of amused affection always make me smile. I think this look is the precursor to the open adoration we see on her face in S5, Hack Off, in particular.

As for Chuck, his overprotective concern for Sarah surfaces again (and always will anytime she’s in trouble). When he sees that Casey and Sarah are taken, his thought is pretty much only for Sarah. Obviously he would also save Casey, but Sarah is the one he thinks about … again. The other thing I like is that he remains open with Sarah, even though he knows she can’t be open with him.

Dave Just Can’t Shut Up

I really appreciate two things you bring up here Thinkling.  The cost issue is huge, but I think it’s informative that the cost was diminished (changed?) somewhat later in the series when Chuck started coming clean with everyone.  Much as everyone knows I love Sarah as the hero, I’m a little disappointed that she became the instigator for much that.  I think the ball was dropped a little in that after Chuck bottomed out in S3, he remained “truth challenged” until Sarah was hurt by it in Subway and she insisted on more honesty and openness in Anniversary.  I wish we’d seen Chuck as the one to push for honesty with Sarah, Ellie and Morgan.  Oh well, I like where things wound up by S4.  We finally saw everyone in on Chuck’s “secret” life.

I also appreciate your extra insights on Casey’s relationship with Morgan.  It really is funny to think about that odd couple.  We’ll see more of Casey almost killing Morgan before things start to change some in S3.  Truly my favorite part of the main arc for that season is the growth for Casey and Morgan.

Chuck firsts in Chuck Versus The Sizzling Shrimp

Sizzling shrimp and stakeout mixes will be very important to our heroes at some time in the future.

The Nerd Herd call as cover for Chuck’s absence will haunt Chuck in the Emmet Milbarge era.


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 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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74 Responses to Chuck vs The Sizzling Shrimp (1.05)

  1. ref51907 says:

    Wow, great reviews. I’ve never really thought very hard on some of the things that were brought up. Very, very insightful.
    For me this was the first episode that was not overtly about Chuck and Sarah relationship. When I watch it I see the Sarah/Casey spy relationship start to emerge. First outside the club while they were being frisked. All Sarah had to do was did Casey a slight nod and then the bouncer was taken care of. Then inside when Sarah tells Casey no kill shots, she knows what Casey will do before he does it. The slight nod made another appearance when Sarah tried to run away as a distraction, allowing Casey to get word to Chuck to leave, which of course he doesn’t do. I believe it was in this episode that began Sarah to think of Casey as a partner, the words she spoke in, Truth. However I don’t think she fully trusts him yet, but that to is a slow process for her, and who can blame her for that.


    • thinkling says:

      Good catch Ref. I noticed the same thing and almost put it down as a first. (Then I remembered her nod to Casey in Tango … on the roof top when Casey was watching through the door.) Still, their partnership was more overt. I loved the nod to warn Chuck to leave. It reminded me of her nod to take care of things in Business Trip … and his acknowledgement after he had.

  2. resaw says:

    I think I’m on board with all three commentators this time around. One of the things that stuck with me, though, was the silliness of Chuck’s behaviour, especially on the stakeout: ordering takeout, asking rather silly questions about tailing another vehicle, and providing a “stakeout mix.” Mei-Ling spoke the truth when she said to Chuck, “You idiot!” As I think about it, it is odd to me that Chuck can always be looked to as the real “go-to” guy at the Buymore, but can act so silly elsewhere.

    Speaking of silly and Buymore, the “wounded raccoon” ploy by Jeff and Lester, intended to assist Morgan in his sales efforts, was hilarious.

    Another scene that I noticed. In the courtyard, as Chuck, Casey and Sarah were talking, Sarah was busy “grooming” Chuck, picking off lint, etc. Presumably, it was to perpetuate the cover, but it became a pattern of behaviour, an act of endearment, I think, that carried on to the finale, where Sarah instinctively adjusts Chuck’s tie at the dance. As was noted above, there are these little tip-offs to the underlying affection that Sarah is developing for Chuck.

    The fireworks have been mentioned. Here is where I think there was some nice storytelling going on. An apparently meaningless little bit about Morgan’s addiction to fireworks becomes the means by which Chuck distracts the enemy and frees his team. It’s a very nice payoff.

    I like Thinkling’s alliteration. Not being nearly as creative as her, the word “conflict” just comes up for me each time I watch an episode. Here the conflict between the imposition of Chuck’s new spy life on his life with his friends and his family is made very clear. The happy outcome is that Ellie and Morgan find a new connection, bonding over Chuck’s absence in their lives. Another happy outcome is that Sarah is included in the celebration of “Mother’s Day” (along with Morgan), and as you observe, Thinkling, sees that something resembling a family life can be built, even in less than ideal circumstances. Future gatherings in that apartment become so very important as the series progresses.

    Yes, an average show in the first season of the series, but upon reflection, Sizzling Shrimp still has a lot offer.

    • thinkling says:

      Aha. Nice catch on Sarah’s touching Chuck to “groom” him. Is that a first? I think it is, and it’s a series favorite.

      Chuck using the fireworks he formerly eschewed was a nice turn around and a step toward bravery, on his part. I also liked that he got to be the one to stop the bad guy from getting away … redeeming himself from his former blunder.

      I almost sited the party as the first Bartowski party, but then I remembered the meet-the-family dinner in Helicopter. This party though has more the feel of future parties, where Sarah is included as “family.”

      • I used to think Sarah being included in Mother’s Day was a big thing for her. At the time, I figured Sarah had some kind of broken family like most spies do.Vesper’s meet cute with Bond in Casino Royale comes to mind, immediately pegging him as an orphan. After finding out that Sarah couldn’t see her mother because she was effectively serving as Witness Protection for Molly, the scene has even more depth. The writers might not have planned that far in advance, but it works.

        Another first: “spastic colon.”

      • Bill says:

        I always loved it when Sarah adjusted Chuck’s tie or brushed his shoulder. Such a little thing to do, but so very telling when Sarah does it.

      • thinkling says:

        Me, too, Bill. In this instance alone, she can get away with it as “cover.” Hereafter, though, it is definitely more than that. I mean who’s watching in Chuck’s bedroom the next time she does it (Sandworm)?

      • atcDave says:

        I do like Sarah’s attention to Chuck’s grooming, and it’s final return in the finale; but I don’t think this is the first instance, I’m pretty sure she did it in Wookie too. I definitely think its an act of affection; like maybe it’s as much as she dares let herself get away with this early on.
        I do like Chuck’s silliness at times like the stake out too. I also find it instructive to watch the blooper reel here, I think the cast really was having fun as they shot this scene, and it’s awesome when that sort of moment comes through for us viewers too.
        I always love the family scenes on Chuck. They’re one of those things that made the show special for me. Hmmm, I could get a lot more specific about that, but I’ll let it pass for now. Let’s just say the family gatherings make me happy to see, and the show couldn’t be the same without them.

    • joe says:

      Ah, the grooming! I meant to bring that up as a “first”, but never got a chance to go back and check to be sure this was the first time we saw it.

      Such a little thing. But it made such a difference for my enjoyment level!

  3. Bill says:

    I recently re-watched this episode for the first time in a long time. I was struck by the genuine affection the actors already seemed to have for each other, as evidenced by their delivery of their dialogue. It really sounds like friends playing off each other at times.

    I’ve always thought of this as a lesser episode for some reason, maybe because I was already such a “shipper” by ep 5 (even if I had no idea yet that there was a term for it) and this episode isn’t as focused on the relationship as some of the earlier ones were. But, watching it now I appreciate it as a solid bottle episode with some nice comic beats (like Chuck asking Mei Ling to fill out a satisfaction survey at the end), our hero again demonstrating his bravery by tailing his captured teammates and using his smarts to help them, and another early Bartowski history reveal followed by a heartwarming Chuck/Ellie moment. What’s not to like about that?

    • atcDave says:

      I agree exactly with all of that Bill. Good observations.

    • joe says:

      I rather like Chuck’s puppet-play with the shrimp in the car, myself, Bill. Always makes me chuckle.

      • klara says:

        I was always wondering what striked me as so charming about this episode. Certainly these moments when Chuck, Sarah and Morgan are going out and Chuck and Morgan are doing this playful-clumsy Kung’ Fu-fighting while Sarah, an experienced real fighter, is watching them, amused and understanding.
        And then the “real” adventure” gets started and there is a lot of troubles and action, which is driven – as Thinkling insightfully stated above – by Chuck this time, who imposes (?) his values on Sarah and Casey: He did something wrong and feels an obligation to undo the damage he caused while the trained and sort of cold blood spys would just leave things as they are in this case.
        But in the end of the story life is back in “good order” again – like in fairy tale. Me thinks this alltogether, including all the moments that display the agreement or correspondence between the “heros of the story” – as was shown in the analysis above – makes “Sizzing Shrimp” such a light hearted, heart warming story.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Klara I think that almost “fairy tale” perfect ending is something Chuck often did extremely well. There are so few shows on the air anymore that are so satisfying and good hearted very often; Chuck was a rare gem.

      • joe says:

        Hi, Klara. Glad you stuck with us!

        I love the way you used the word – charming – about this episode. That’s it, exactly. Even more than “fairy-tale”, to me that describes most exactly what I always felt in the background.

        You know, I’m not just talking about Yvonne as Sarah Walker, either (although the word comes to mind almost automatically when thinking about her). But Zac, Josh G and even Adam come across as charming (well, maybe not Adam as Casey, but as himself, the way he was at ComicCon).

        Of course, we were all charmed by Bonita as Beckman! 😉

  4. garnet says:

    Shrimp was my introduction to CHUCK as by kids were watching the first season on DVD and I had, to that point, no interest in watching a show called CHUCK. I have to say that I was hooked practically immediately (once the kids patiently explained the flashes/intersect). We all went back and wacthed the preceeding episodes to allow me to get caught up. Shrimp remains a favourite of mine, mainly for the fact it was my first time with the cast/characters. Yes there was the silliness of ordering takeout on stakeout, but perhaps that type of silliness was what lead me to describe CHUCK as “Get Smart meets Scarecrow and Mrs. King” (and of course Bruce B was not only in Tron, but also Scarecrow) when asked to explain the series to a newbie. All I can say is that I’m glad I decided to watch!

    • atcDave says:

      Funny about the name “Chuck” garnet; I’ve always suspected the show’s title was a bit of a barrier. It’s aggressively boring and says nothing at all about the show.

      Thanks for sharing about your introduction to the show. Even though I called Sizzling Shrimp average, it’s too good episode not to be special to someone!

      • garnet says:

        There are others that debate the importance of a name for a movie/show. The one that rings true to me is “The Shawshank Redemption”. A movie made in about 1994 starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. When I rented it I loved it, but who would guess from the title that it was a prison movie (based on a Stephen King story). It did rather poorly at the box office, but lives on on cable etc.
        Would CHUCK have done better with another title? Who knows. All I can say is that “CHUCK” does nothing to draw one in. Another movie that I liked as a kid told the whole story in the title “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” starring Kurt Russell. I can’t helpbut think that a similar title could have helped CHUCK.

      • Mel says:

        Now, I can’t imagine the show being called anything but Chuck, but I admit the name doesn’t do much to draw new viewers in. At least not viewers with similar preferences as I have.

        I remember one interview where Adam Baldwin reminisced about a talk he had with his agent after shooting the pilot. His agent had told him that if the show called CHUCK was to surive, the guy playing Chuck better be damn good. Luckily for us, he was.

      • anthropocene says:

        I always liked the Season 1 blurb best, so maybe it could have been “The Secret and The Agent”?

      • atcDave says:

        I like it Anthro, much better title!

      • anthropocene says:

        Thanks Dave. It also wouldn’t have been an instant spoiler like “Chuck and Sarah” would have been.

      • atcDave says:

        While “Chuck & Sarah” I think would have made a better title than just “Chuck” did (for all the reasons we’ve discussed previously); “The Secret and The Agent” seems far more elegant. It accomplishes everything “Chuck & Sarah” would have, and it also has the advantage of actually saying a little about the show itself. I really think that would have added audience right from the start.

      • anthropocene says:

        No question “Chuck & Sarah” would have drawn a much bigger audience than simply “Chuck.” But don’t you think it might have implied a romantic relationship even before it had time to develop?

      • anthropocene says:

        OK, here’s a wild fantasy. The Chuck _movie_ could be titled “The Secret and the Agent,” and it could be a reboot of the whole concept back to Bryce’s e-mail, but with a lot less angst and wt/wt, no triangles, etc. It worked for James Bond and Batman….

      • joe says:

        That’s an interesting idea/fantasy, Anthro. But it’s a bit of an opinion that they succeeded for Batman and James Bond.

        For is old-timers, the re-boots sort of live along side the originals, and that’s the best they can hope for. They’ll never supplant the real thing. I can easily imagine that newcomers are happy with both, though. 😉

      • jam says:

        “Reboot” implies new cast, I wouldn’t be interested in Chuck without ZL, YS and the others.

        If there’s a movie, it’d have to continue the story of the show.

      • anthropocene says:

        Point well taken about the reboots, Joe. Definitely IMHO (though I think I qualify as an old-timer who watched Star Trek and Batman in prime time and whose first Bond movie was OHMSS)! 🙂

      • anthropocene says:

        No, I couldn’t imagine a Chuck movie without the principal cast either—certainly ZL and YS! Perish the thought! I was thinking only of a plot reboot.

      • joe says:

        Another good point, Anthro.

        I’m not sure that I’d be interested in a Chuck movie that suffered even one cast change (including Bonita F. as Beckman, which is strange because she’s the only non-original!).

        Oh gee. I would even want to see the original Skip Johnson and Fernando in it! ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES! 😉

        Well, maybe I could put up with a substitute Clara… maybe.

      • I like “The Secret and the Agent.” It’s a little long, but is probably still better than the other two ideas I had: “The Intersect” and “Versus.” Neither is as descriptive of the show, but they are memorable. Outdoor Life Network became Versus in 2006, so that name couldn’t have been used anyway.

        I don’t like the idea of a reboot movie, even with the same cast. Putting Chuck and Sarah together in a two hour movie would be way too rushed. The Pilot+Helicopter+Marlin would be a good movie, though.

        Batman Begins was after Batman (1989) and Batman (1966), but there were actually dozens of other Batman incarnations, the first in 1943. Daniel Craig is the 8th James Bond (3rd in a Casino Royale movie). Reboots can be better or worse. The original isn’t always the best (Sean Connery was not the first. Barry Nelson played Jimmy Bond 8 years earlier.) However, Chuck’s plot elements weren’t what made the story great. It was the character arcs, the chemistry, the humor, and so many other little things that would not survive the reinvention of a reboot.

      • joe says:

        Can’t argue with anything you say, Jeff (and yes, Sean Connery was the best Bond!)

        But you know, I sorta understand Antho’s idea, in a way. I mean, I would love to see Harry Tang and Emmitt Milbarge and Anna Wu again. And Scooter from the O-O!

        Well, only the reappearance of Emmitt would need a re-boot. But it sure would be fun to see the others.

      • atcDave says:

        Anthro I think the “Chuck and Sarah” re-title was appealing to to a lot of us who like the idea of Sarah as more of an equal lead with Chuck, as opposed to the clear number two she was on the show we actually got (the gap wasn’t as dramatic in S4 and S5; but prior to Honeymooners her part was clearly much smaller). So I admit when I consider putting her in the title I’m thinking of a slightly different show from what we actually saw. But I think your suggestion works either way.

        I’m not so opposed to a complete reboot… twenty years from now. But for now, Chuck HAS to be Zach and Yvonne. Other characters could be written out if their performers are unavailable, or even replaced for tertiary parts. But for me, Chuck MEANS Zach and Yvonne for now. Their chemistry and interplay defines the show for me. If someone comes up with a crazy reboot idea twenty years from now, I MIGHT be interested.

      • anthropocene says:

        Agreed. In hindsight I see that I should have used something like “do-over” or “restart” or “mulligan” rather than “reboot.” LIke everyone else I couldn’t imagine a Chuck and Sarah other than Zach and Yvonne. I was just imagining the original story minus the stuff that didn’t work so well. But moving forward from the finale is a nice thought too. Speaking of which…got some work to do.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I wouldn’t be opposed to finding out one particular season was just a bad dream! (kidding… sort of). Other than that, I prefer the idea of just moving forward. And yeah, get back to writing Anthro, I’m running out of stuff to read.

      • authorguy says:

        How about “Secret+Agent”?

  5. jam says:

    The scene towards the beginning with Chuck, Sarah and Morgan in Chinatown is one my favorites. Sarah has some nice expressions on her face as she watches Chuck and Morgan do their Enter the Dragon impression, and when she learns about Morgan’s addiction.

    • atcDave says:

      I love Sarah watching Chuck and Morgan play. She told us just the week before she was “good here”, it really looks to me like she is enjoying herself a lot. That’s probably something that doesn’t happen to her in many assignments. Of course, it will be a long time before she admits that to Casey!

    • joe says:

      I love that scene too, Jam – especially the way Chuck goes from “Enter the Dragon” to concern over Morgan’s still being “on the stuff” (and, of course, the change of expression on Sarah’s face).

      But I swear, what I see is 3 people actually enjoying themselves immensely – Zach, Josh and Yvonne, not Chuck, Morgan and Sarah. Is that bad acting? If so, I DON’T CARE! It’s exactly that friendship and spirit that attracted me to the show and kept me there for 91 episodes.

    • thinkling says:

      I love that scene, too, jam. From the get-go, Sarah looks like she’s actually enjoying herself, and not in the cover way. It really is a gift for her, I think, to participate in and enjoy the innocence of normal life, friendship, and family … something she has rarely experienced, if ever.

      I also had to smile at Morgan poking Sarah’s tummy. He really has no filter. Reminds me of First Fight.

    • The scene is made all the better by the dramatic musical cues and the flash of concern. The light-heartedness of Chuck’s world consistently takes her by surprise.

  6. Love, love, love Thinkling’s take on this. I’ve always been annoyed by the secret-keeping in hero narratives, but I hadn’t really considered how well it works in Chuck to define the changes that occur in his life.

  7. Ernie Davis says:

    Lots of good stuff here, but I’m surprised nobody has remarked on a bit of Chuck trivial about this episode. It was supposed to be the fourth episode instead of Wookie based on the production order. In one sense the switch works, with Sarah first being included in the family in Wookie, then seeing the stress she is unwittingly putting on those family ties in Sizzling Shrimp. In another sense I think Sizzling Shrimp should have come first so we see Sarah’s entrance into Chuck’s personal life a bit more fleshed out in Sizzling Shrimp, and then in Wookie we see the emotional toll being included in a family takes on Sarah. This is something she wants so badly, to be able to have a normal life and to share with a family something about her that is real and not a cover, but how her career and the life she’s chosen makes even wanting that a problem.

    As has been said, this is an often overlooked episode, but on re-watch I appreciated it a lot more than I thought I would. There is a lot here to love, from Sarah’s first tentative steps into forming real relationships despite it being a cover to Chuck refusing to stay in the car when his team, or an old man in a wheelchair, needs help.

    • atcDave says:

      I do agree the order change here causes some slight changes in how the two episodes feel individually. But I think the end result is the same, and there was nothing overly serialized about either episode that causes problems (unlike the S2 switcheroo that we will address/fix!)

      I do agree this episode has held up well to rewatch. But then I often like the stand alone episodes. It’s nice to be able to enjoy the characters and setting without as much context to worry about.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I agree this switch doesn’t cause any continuity issues, per se, but I thought the original order would have been a smoother and more gradual transition to Sarah’s joining the family and starting to form real relationships. Also (and I know I’m getting ahead of the re-watch) I always thought Sandworm and the stress in the Chuck/Morgan relationship and Chuck and Sarah’s relationship and trust issues worked better in the aftermath of Wookie. Laszlo and the rift he causes in the team builds naturally on the theme of Chuck having his eyes opened to what these people are normally like established in Wookie. It also has a better flow to the Morgan as third wheel subplot that gets a better resolution in Sandworm than Sizzling Shrimp.

      • thinkling says:

        Hmm. Since I watched in bulk, I watched the first time in production order, i.e. Sizzling Shrimp then Wookiee. Now that I think about it, the flow is better with Sizzling Shrimp first, and it makes more sense on several levels, already mentioned, but it’s not a huge deal.

        I had forgotten about it until Ernie mentioned it, but I remember thinking at the time that having Wookiee first would be odd.. C’est le Chuck.

    • ref51907 says:

      Real quick question. I see talk about production order. As someone who is totally clueless on that, came someone enlighten me please. I have an idea but not 100% sure.


      • Quick question – long answer

        Sometimes shows are produced in a different order than they aired, especially first season, because of extended post production time. In large ensemble shows with multiple equal leads (not like Chuck), it’s sometimes done because different characters are featured in different episodes. Special effects heavy Babylon 5, Farscape, and Firefly had these issues first season. A side effect of this is the actor’s performances are sometimes uneven in early episodes. Occasionally small continuity issues creep in, some because the checkers can’t keep in straight, some unavoidable. The most blatant I can think of is Bab5 spin-off Crusade had to add in scenes on the show where they explained how the uniforms changed drastically and then changed back.

        Sometimes the order is fixed on the DVD release to the “intended” order, which is may be different than the production order and the order they were aired. This was not done for Chuck.

        Chuck’s issues were minor, partly because the cast nailed their parts so well at the beginning of the series. The biggest issue was season 2. Suburbs and Best Friend were aired out of order. This happened because of a last minute Obama speech preempted Best Friend. (The economy will probably still be bad in 5 months or 53 months when he leaves office, but my DVDs will always be out of order.) Suburbs had a Valentine’s Day theme, so they decided to leave it in the same slot and move BF two weeks later. Unfortunately it stayed that what on the DVD. If you watch 3-D, BF, Suburbs, Beefcake in that order, Chuck’s and Sarah’s actions towards each other at the beginnings and ends of episodes make more sense.
        3-D end: getting over the lie;
        BF end: holding hands
        Suburb beginning: awkward V-Day celebration because they know they can’t act on their feelings
        Suburbs end: Sarah refusing movie night at house
        Beefcake beginning: Ellie convincing Chuck to break up with Sarah because the house sitting did not go well

        The status of Morgan and Anna’s relationship also makes more sense in that order.

        Chuck had a similar problem in season five when the broadcast premiere date was slipped. Bearded Bandit had Halloween decorations in the convenience store, but it was aired after Halloween. They couldn’t switch it because the plot was serial.

        I don’t know the story about why Wookiee and Sizzling Shrimp were flipped. It could have been something like trying to build the audience by bringing in an attractive guest star/model sooner.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Based on the production numbers the original order was Chuck Versus Santa Claus, Chuck Versus the Best Friend, Chuck Versus the Third Dimension, Chuck Versus the Suburbs. One other possible factor was that Chuck Versus the Third Dimension was made in 3D to be heavily promoted with the Super Bowl and to air the night after (back when NBC actually bothered to promote Chuck and to try to build an audience). Depending on when they thought they would premier, break, and come back for the second half of the season, they might have had to tweak the episodes to get 3D in the rotation the night after the super-bowl. Some people have said that the Mauser resolution in 3D seemed tacked on, I’ve often wondered if part of that was that it was supposed to happen in Best Friend, but then because of the order change it was literally tacked on to the 3D episode. There are however some things that seem to indicate 3D was intended to happen before Best Friend, but they also could be after-the-fact changes to the timeline.

      • atcDave says:

        3-D clearly had some changes made to the script to change its place in the sequence. It may not be a great resolution to the Mauser shooting, but it is a resolution; and Best Friend makes no reference to it at all, in addition to no obvious tension between Chuck and Sarah (except for the friendship argument). So whatever happened there, they were able to tweak the scripts to make the Santa Claus/3-D/Best Friend sequence work. But they couldn’t fix the next one. The order episodes aired in simply made no sense Best Friend/Suburbs/Lethal Weapon is really the only way those episodes work right.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I always thought that the “we do whatever it takes” speech Sarah makes could have also fit into Best Friend somewhere, leading to the resolution over Mauser. Chuck betraying Morgan would have been a parallel to Sarah being forced to kill Mauser. Doing something to protect a friend that could cost you their friendship. Also the charm bracelet featured prominently in Best Friend as Sarah plays with it while Chuck talks about friendship and being there for a friend. I’d love to be able to ask TPTB about some of this stuff, but it’s the sort of trivia that rarely comes up in interviews. And now that Chuck is over it’ll come up less and less. Hopefully there will continue to be NerdHQ panels for Chuck, and since Firefly has established the precedent perhaps a Chuck re-union at Comicon some day.

        P.S. If you are as much a TV nerd as some of us around here you can find some of the information, like the production codes on the Wikipedia pages for Chuck or Firefly episodes.

      • joe says:

        Great question, Erik. And even better answers. I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but except for the Best Friends/Suburbs switch, I was unaware of the others.

        I think that means they did a decent job at maintaining continuity regardless.

        Now, the real question is, will I have to go back and re-watch in the order of production???

        The answer is <snark>Oh, twist my arm, why don’t cha.</snark>

      • atcDave says:

        Well Joe, as we were saying, the 3-D/Best Friend switch occured early enough that changes were made in the episodes themselves. So I think watching them in the “original order” now would not be beneficial. Possibly some interest in thinking about what changes were made and when, but both episodes were changed. If memory serves, they knew the schedule had been changed before they even started shooting those two. Whereas the Suburbs/Best Friend switch happened after both episodes were complete and in the can.

      • joe says:

        Ah, I see, Dave. No gain in doing that, then except for Best Friends/Suburbs, of course. That opening, with Chuck so uncomfortable about spending Valentine’s Day evening with Sarah at the beginning of Suburbs really mystified me when I first saw it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        See this is why they need to release the super-special-directors-cut-special-edition-5-season-boxed-set complete with extra materials and original scripts.

      • atcDave says:

        And seperate writer/cast commentary for every episode…

        (and by cast I mean Zach/Yvonne NOT Zach/Josh!)

      • joe says:


        Oh. Dreamin’ again… sigh.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well from the season 1 commentary it’s obvious that Zach, Josh, Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz all share a similar nerdy sense of humor, and I think poor Yvonne just feels lost when they start tossing around the obscure references and riffing on each others jokes. Also word is that she’s actually very shy. Still I wouldn’t mind hearing her thoughts on how a scene played or what she liked or disliked about the show.

      • atcDave says:

        It just always seems when Zach and Josh get together its ALL ABOUT their nerdy sense of humor, and the actual show gets forgotten. That’s also why I want seperate commentaries; give the writers one, and Zach and Yvonne another. Maybe even a third for the whole extended cast. But it seems to me the grouping we actually usually get is just about laughing and having fun together (not that its a bad thing, just not interesting to me to listen to for an entire episode).

        And yes, I know its just a pipe dream. Never gonna happen.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh and I do get that Yvonne is shy and the commentaries don’t really seem to be her thing. I’m not honestly sure I’d want to do anything like that either. But its too bad, because I think she has given so many excellent interviews; she is thoughtful, and always has a slightly different perspective from “the guys”. Her perspective on things is the hardest thing to actually find, which helps make it the most interesting.

      • joe says:

        Oh yeah. A pipe dream. “And there’s no way there will ever be a third fourth fifth season movie (strike marks pending) either”. 😉

        C’mon, Dave. Dream a little!

        You know, I almost think the person from whom I’d most like to hear commentary is Sarah Lancaster. I have a feeling she’d be very insightful. And besides, I still have a thing for brunettes…

  8. ref51907 says:

    That was extremely helpful and answered one question I always had when watching Suburbs and Best Friend. Something just seem to fit right when at the end when Chuck and Ellie were talking about is stay at the Suburbs and what that meant for Chuck and Sarah. However if viewed as it was aired, the last scene in Best Friend, to me, makes more sense with regard to Sarah’s flat out rejection of Agent Cole Barker.
    Anyway thanks guys. I actually learned something about tv today. Who would’ve thought.


  9. First Impression says:

    From the commentary above, it seems that I must be settling into a typical Chuck episode with smaller nuggets of truth but still lots of action. Let me say that I did enjoy it. At the beginning of the “Enter the Dragon” scene, I was a little surprised in how comfortable Chuck looked with his arm around Sarah’s shoulders. I didn’t remember seeing them as relaxed at the end of the prior episode. Nice to see, just the first time I saw him initiate contact.

    I liked the “my 4 favorite words” sentiment for Chuck (stay in the car), for Morgan (Chuck’s not here Morgan) and for Ellie (I’ll let myself out). Many have mentioned how Chuck always thinks of Sarah when there is trouble, but I’ve noticed Sarah did that as well in the restaurant shooting. She tells Casey, “They think we are with her. They’ll kill a Chuck.” She’s focused, but still seeing the big picture.

    Chuckles for me: ‘Private Eyes’, Chuck playing with the sizzling shrimp, Casey being 2nd in sales behind Tang, the ‘want to grab a hot dog’ emergency, which deer head to hang for ‘decorating’ Casey’s apartment, Chuck referring to Casey’s camera as the lipstick cam, and Lester calling Morgan the bearded buffoon. Makes me smile.

    • atcDave says:

      “Typical” is something that will change in time. Its maybe more accurate to say typical for this point in time. Roles and relationships will change so much, typical is a moving target.
      In one sense, Chuck and Sarah have a very comfortable, very friendly relationship almost from the very start. Of course in another sense it will be awkward and high tension for quite some time yet. Their dynamic is fascinating to the very end.
      Sarah gets VERY protective of Chuck. Its often quite entertaining. Think lioness, or mama bear. The only thing more dangerous in the Chuckverse than picking on Sarah is picking on Chuck. Because then Sarah gets REALLY ticked.

    • lappers84 says:

      Certainly nice to see new viewers posting on here, so much so – I’ve gone back to watching the early episodes again myself. And it’s funny watching Morgan making an idiot of himself in an attempt to win the sales competition.

      • First Impression says:

        Thanks lappers84! I was hoping I wouldn’t be a bother by joining the game so late. I’m amazed how active this site is with such loyal fans.

    • thinkling says:

      You know one of my favorite scenes, or moments, is Sarah trying to hide her smirk at Chuck’s reply to Casey rebuke: Hello … that’s why I used an alias. That just always makes me smile.

  10. Chris Byrnes says:

    What stands out about this episode is how for the first time Chuck thinks of a plan on his own. He got Casey and Sarah to buy in to the whole defect in order to help Mel-Ling brother. He also used Fireworks to lure the henchmen out so he can make the save. He is showing progress albeit slow, but its starting to mold into itself.

    The other scene I love is when Sarah wipes stuff of Chuck’s shoulder and fixes his hair this is a pattern Sarah does throughout the season, which leads to Chuck thinking there is more to the cover thing..

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Chris there’s no doubt Sarah likes Chuck right from the start. And of course she will latter confess that as well. It’s fun seeing the little ways it shows through.

      But Chuck really has taken initiative from the very start. Even in the Pilot, he led Sarah and Casey to the bomb, then disarmed it when they didn’t know how. In Helicopter he went to rescue Sarah against Casey’s “orders”. I think what stands out here is its a little more involved plan than the others. But still not much, he will get much more creative in the future!

      • Christopher says:

        your right about the defusing of bombs. Seems like he missed his calling as a bomb squad cadat for the Burbank PD, I still think defusing a bomb with fruit juice is a very classic scene for me. However, he was not comfortable like the plan to defect Mei-Ling was really cool for someone new to the game.

    • thinkling says:

      Oh yeah, Chris. I love that almost from the get go, the cover is a double cover for Sarah: a cover for the spy gig, sure, but also a cover for her to be able to safely express her feelings for Chuck — something she is both forbidden and afraid to do openly. Exquisite!

      • First Impression says:

        Thinkling, I love the idea that Sarah’s cover allows her express her feelings for Chuck. A double cover – very nice. 🙂

  11. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Sizzling Shrimp (1.05) | Chuck This

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