Another average episode? I think that’s a standard reaction to this episode. The most lasting memories of this one may be Lazslo, a nightmare anti-Chuck character; and Sarah’s Halloween costume, which is almost an iconic image of Chuck, season one.
After the jump, let’s see if we can find a more enduring memory for the sixth episode of our favorite show.
Just like Sizzling Shrimp before, Sandworm is solid entertainment from beginning to end. Chuck continues to struggle with balancing his new spy life with his normal life, and trust issues will rear their ugly head again, although perhaps with better cause than the last time.
The driving force of the story here is Lazslo. There are some parallels with Chuck’s story; an unwitting CIA asset forced to do the government’s bidding. Lazslo is also a genius, can be charming on occasion, and claims to want a normal life. But of course these parallels are false or misleading. Lazslo has lived his adult life in a bunker for starters. Later events may indicate Lazslo’s instability may have at least a little to do with him being locked away; of course we can never really know the cause and effect of that.
But Chuck will feel strong compassion for the man; no doubt in part because he knows the bunker was also a threat in his case. And when Lazslo proves to be completely correct about the level of surveillance Chuck is living under it raises immediate concerns. It is true Chuck has precious little privacy; and much of the privacy Chuck thinks he has is false. This will come up again in season two.
But Lazslo is not Chuck. We will see he is manipulative, violent and a liar. Chuck’s anxieties about surveillance will end abruptly when he realizes he needs Casey and especially Sarah.
We have interesting scenes for both agents in this episode. Casey may be mostly comic and gives us the long remembered “Team Chuck’s fat kid” quip and the sandwiches on a desert island moment. Sarah will come across very well once again; she “handles” Chuck well as she explains and encourages, but I particularly like when she calms Chuck down and offers encouragement for his Buy More interview.
This is clearly outside of her job description. Perhaps it could broadly be described as looking out for her asset’s well being, but I see it as something more personal. She is helping Chuck deal with life like the friend she has become.
I think the various sub-plots work well in this episode too. Morgan getting maturity lessons from Devon is very funny. And they truly don’t seem to take; Morgan will do some serious growing up on this show, but not until later when he finds his own motivation for doing so. Chuck’s job interview. I know I was a little disappointed by the outcome; and I like to think if C.S. Lee hadn’t found another job that Harry Tang’s eventual downfall and self destruction would have been epic. He was such a great character to hate. Oh well, we all know that is part of the game for television.
What is the impact of “Sandworm” on the full series? I think mostly not much, which is fine. We learned a little about how the CIA treats bunkered assets and we learned some about the surveillance Chuck is under. We saw trust issues come up again due to that surveillance; but I think we saw a more fitting reaction and resolution than we did last time (I’m still not a fan of Chuck’s snit from Wookie…) This episode ends in a pretty comfortable place for Chuck, his friends, family and Sarah. So even if its mostly “unremarkable”, it is an easy episode to just sit back and enjoy.
Joe’s Take – Every Little Piece Of Your Life Means Something To Someone
You’re right, Dave. Sandworm is an easy episode of Chuck – the word “gentle” comes to mind. I mean, the big concern is Ellie’s Halloween party and Chuck’s traditional (but disgusting) two-man “Sandworm” costume. Oh, there’s a bad guy beating up on Morgan. Lazslo Mahnovski absolutely destroys Morgan – in a game of “Guitar Shredder” at the pier, you remember, and then threatens Chuck with a water pistol, for Pete’s sake! How threatening is that? To paraphrase Casey, is he going to hurt Chuck with his mind or something? Harry Tang is a much bigger problem!
Seriously, there’s no existential crisis here. Chuck’s got things to worry about, certainly, like being promoted to assistant manager at the Buy More. It’s his big break, after all. And there’s the fake girlfriend situation.
I think we all simultaneously said “What’s up with this???” when Chuck found Sarah waiting for him in his bedroom. It was too soon. But maybe Carina was wrong when she said that Sarah didn’t know what she wanted yet? Yeah! That’s it! And was she – nervous? Maybe? Chuck was more than a little gratified when she presented him with a picture of the two of them at Comic-Con.
That was nice – sweet. And I did get a shove to try out Arcade Fire’s first album. ;). In actuality, Chuck never did play that for Sarah, but played The Weight of the World by The Editors instead. Good choice. The mood seems right. Maybe Chuck actually could get a little lucky.
There’s only one problem (you dreamer you). Chuck and Sarah had never been to Comic-Con. Chuck’s not close to “getting lucky” either. Ack! Not an existential crisis, but a disappointment for Chuck, none-the-less. I think it’s important to remember that, from the start, he’s always trying to tamp down his expectations as far as Sarah was concerned. Chuck is quite aware that nothing real was ever going to – to be – for them. You can just hear the inner monolog: “Too bad, Chuck. Pull up your big-boy pants and move on,” can’t you?
But back to Lazslo, something is not quite as it seems. Casey (and therefore, we) are shown what the prodigy is capable of doing with his mind – his CIA handlers found out too. The little demonstration in the Home Theater Room involving S.A.C. bombers sure convinced me that the man is dangerous (so props to Jonathan Sadowski). The man may be paranoid-insane.
Flies in the Ointment, Bugs in the Walls
Did you notice Chuck’s reaction? He’s scared, but trusts Casey and Sarah to get him out of that situation. They are the professional spies, after all. But what really affects Chuck down to his core is that Lazslo could be right when he raves about the CIA. It gets worse when he says “Trust your handlers exactly as much as they trust you.”. Those words have to echo in Chuck’s head like a bell of a medieval cathedral. Maybe they’re more like an alarm clock going off.
Chuck absolutely levels Casey with a verbal punch or three when he finds the bugs in his room. So much for trust; I don’t recall Chuck quite this angry before. Chuck’s next victim, after Casey, was his best friend. It’s time you grow up, Morgan. There are just some things in this world that are more important than “whale tails” and even more important than the Buy More.
Now it’s an existential crisis. As he’s telling Morgan to stop with the juvenile shenanigans, Chuck’s telling himself to stop being so naive and get with the program. It’s more of that inner monolog.
The tongue lashing sure has it’s effect on Morgan. Maybe it is time for him to grow up. It’s up to Devon to teach the little bearded man to tuck and to use “product”. But that’s superficial. Morgan trying to speak up on Chuck’s behalf (to corporate’s Mr. Mercer – this is the first of three times we meet him), even when Chuck appears to have abandoned everybody, is not. He’s not sure where his buddy has gone, but for all their history together, Morgan trusts Chuck to be where he needs to be.
Chuck’s no-where. He’s not a spy, he’s not the assistant manager, and he’s not going to let his feelings for Sarah get the better of him (again) either. Lazslo’s given Chuck a dose of reality and like Morgan, it’s time for him to grow up and be more hard-nosed. Funny that Sarah is much easier on Chuck than he is on himself.
Sarah: Hey. You look nice.
Chuck: Thanks. I feel like crap. I screwed up. I severely pooched the Lazslo situation last night.
Sarah: [Adjusting Chuck’s tie] Yeah, well, today you have a job interview.
Chuck: Do you – Do you think I care about making lower management at a Buy More? Are you kidding me? I aided and abetted the escape of the next Ted Kaczinski, Sarah. I just… I can’t believe that I – I was so wrong about that guy. No wonder you bugged my room. I’m an absolute idiot.
Sarah: You know – just because you trust people doesn’t make you an idiot.
Chuck: Yeah, well I should have trusted you guys a little more. I’m sorry.
Chuck’s verbal punches are aimed at himself this time, and Sarah knows it. Still, every time I see that scene, it hits me again that even while Chuck is saying the words, it’s Sarah who’s sorry for having planted the bug and for having broken his trust.
Casey and Sarah are off to get Lazslo, following the GPS in the herder that “somehow got turned back on.” But like the song said, every little piece of your life means something. The drawing Lazslo used to pay Chuck back for a midnight breakfast causes Chuck to flash on his real location, far from where Casey and Sarah can help. It’s such a little thing, but just like that, Chuck is the only one capable of doing something – anything – to stop the would-be terrorist.
What’s Really Important – Pancakes!
That drawing, the realization that Lazslo had lied about never having seen Goldfinger, Sarah adjusting Chuck’s tie – it’s surprising how the little things can be so important. It’s a roll of the dice sometimes. Chuck lost his chance to be the assistant manager at the Buy More. Unimportant. Chuck saving people (including Casey, Sarah and himself) by not believing Lazslo – important. Sarah bugging Chuck’s room – maybe less important than we thought. Sarah adjusting Chuck’s tie? Very important.
And what about Morgan? What about being there for his friends and family? Where does that fit in Chuck’s newly revised scale of importance? Chuck knows enough to make amends, and does by letting Morgan be the head in the Sandworm costume this time. When all is said and done, Chuck wants to save the world. He just isn’t going to let that come before his friends and family if he can help it.
Dave, you said (if I may paraphrase) that in the greater scheme of all things Chuck, this episode has no great impact. I understand that. But I think that’s because it doesn’t change the direction in which the show was headed. Instead, it’s more like it sets the course (appropriate for these early episodes). It establishes that in the face of his changing world, Chuck is not going to lose his head and chase after chimera (or Sarah, for that matter). He’s going to find a balance between “saving the world” – if he has to – and his friends and family – if he can.
What’s great about Sandworm is that, the moment Sarah tells Ellie that Chuck is “something of a hero”, we know she understands and admires that. Despite the sarcasm with which I wrote the first paragraph today, this is a gentle episode. They could have hit us over the head with danger and heroics and issues between Chuck and Sarah, all of which could have threatened to blow the whole thing up in a display of pyrotechnics. Instead, we get Sarah saying one word – “smile” – to give a real picture to Chuck.
That word again, Real. Chuck asked for something – anything – real in Wookiee, and we were all pretty sure that he didn’t get anything then. Sarah could barely whisper her real middle name when Chuck’s back was turned. Now, for the first time, she’s giving him something that is real freely, without reservation.
Perhaps it was another roll of the dice. If so, for such a small thing, it was an important one. Nothing can compare.