Time for an epic seduction, and its Chuck’s turn. Can even the legendary Roan Montgomery make this work? The second episode of season two brings tons of comedy, and no shortage of drama as we’re treated to a great example of what makes Chuck so much fun. Join us after the jump for this weeks discussion.
To me, the comedy is what really stands out in this episode. There certainly is some drama, even some pretty important drama, but good laughs are the stand out.
As is often the case, I have a few complaints I’ll get out of the way first. I really don’t care for either of the “B” plots in this episode. Fortunately; Lester’s reign of terror at the Buy More and Devon’s inept seduction (pity Chuck didn’t remember his advice to Devon about getting romantic advice from Morgan!) are both brief sub plots.
I’m also not nuts about Chuck trying to bail out on the mission at the beginning; I won’t try to make any OOC claims or anything, just that I much prefer those moments when Chuck rises to the occasion over those where he tries to beg off.
This also leads to the only time in the entire series I thought Sarah was deliberately “playing” Chuck. Their brief discussion in the Orange Orange plays oddly to me; almost as if Sarah is doing a “rush job” on the manipulation and feels guilty about it. And Chuck, for his part, sees right through her, but plays along anyway. This one of my least favorite Sarah moments outside of the misery arc.
Fortunately the rest of the episode has a lot going for it. Some of the dramatic moments are wonderful; I particularly like Sarah standing up for Chuck to Roan, then trying to back off when Roan calls her on it, Roan’s dead on observation “the lady doth protest too much…”, and Chuck’s determination that Sarah is worth dying for. I particularly like the big kiss before Roan (and the first botched attempt!), fun and funny moment. And I love the irony of Roan mocking Chuck’s ability to seduce a “woman like her”; when in fact, he has completely succeeded. I suppose I should mention too that the Chuck/Sarah photo that was used throughout much of the remaining series was taken during the trip to find Roan, and another was taken at the pool in Roan’s backyard. Perhaps we were never supposed to notice this detail. But I like to imagine that Chuck and Sarah were enjoying themselves quite a lot while off on this errand. Even with Casey taking the pictures. I think this was a real moment that always meant a lot to Sarah. Again, I know I’m likely making too much of it; the photo taking was likely coincidental to the scene being shot at the time and we likely were never meant to pay attention. But I did pay attention, and I like it.
Which leads to the comedy that plays so well in this episode. Roan is a fun character. Chuck plays off him well. And Casey gets several wonderful lines relevant to dealing with a seduction mission. Chuck gets to execute another Chuck sort of plan to save the day; and thanks to Roan’s help it doesn’t work as well as the plan in First Date (!?). But we still end up with Chuck swinging via banner from the roof of the Buy More to save the day in classic Hollywood fashion. And we get another very nice Charah moment to wrap up.
Almost. Bryce at the door doesn’t bother me at all, and really ticks me off all at once. Sarah has already chosen Chuck and her mission. Apart from the insecurity Bryce brings to Chuck’s life he doesn’t otherwise bother me as a plot device. But I loath the stupidity of Bryce thinking he can crash Sarah’s long term cover. I’ll have more to say about this next week.
So let’s end with saying fun episode overall. A few gripes that keep it from being a very favorite of mine, but overall very fun.
Love It All
Dave, I almost have the sense that Chuck vs. The Seduction presents challenges. There’s challenges for Chuck, of course. In the course of his next adventure he has to seduce a sophisticated and hardened spy. But there’s a challenge to us here too – explain why Chuck didn’t want to take on the mission and explain Sarah’s flip-flops. Is she running for office or something? 😉
I’m up for that! Remember how we left her at the end of First Date. Sarah had just discovered that the new Intersect was a Trojan horse that exploded, killing Graham and Chuck’s chances of leaving the CIA any time soon. It also killed Chuck’s dreams of having his sedate, boring, comfortable old life back. And because she still had to protect him, it did a number on her dreams too. Sarah had dreams, didn’t she? I was convinced by the look in her eyes that she did.
Well, that’s gone now. At least Chuck and Sarah are still working together, and that’s not so bad, right? I mean, watch how Sarah enters the Buy More, does cartwheels (in his imagination, perhaps?) and kisses Chuck. Maybe Chuck’s still gotta chance with the hot super-spy.
Chuck: Is that, uh, a real kiss or a cover kiss? Because I’m confused right now.
Sarah: It’s a we-have-a-national-security-emergency and I-need-to-speak-to-you-privately kiss.
Well, that explains it. NOT!
Chuck is not giving up yet and pitches his traveling-around-the-globe with the girl of his dreams idea to Sarah, but it’s unprofessional. They can’t be together, she says. That didn’t stop her from being with Bryce, Chuck complains. But that was different, she retorts. Bryce was a spy and Chuck’s an asset. She has to protect him, but it doesn’t seem like much of a reason.
Chuck does not like this one bit, and I wouldn’t either. He rejects taking the mission and leaves the new CIA digs, Castle, wishing them well. But Sarah has one ace up her sleeve.
Sarah: Okay, look. The sooner we get the Cipher back, the sooner you can have the Intersect removed – and the sooner you can be free to live whatever life you choose with whomever you choose.
Chuck What are you saying?
Sarah I’m saying that you can have everything that you’ve always wanted.
Oooh! Dave, maybe you’re right. Maybe that’s Sarah at her most manipulative. It could be, unless she’s telling Chuck the truth. Then it plays differently. Then Sarah is just a girl who isn’t quite sure what the best course to follow is, yet. Then Sarah is just playing it by ear. Who’s to know?
There may be an answer to that question. Enter Roan Montomery as played by John Larroquette, master spy from the old school and master seducer. Just ask General Beckman about his ability to understand women. She’ll tell ya.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Larroquette is fantastic in the role. Perhaps only after Scott Bakula, Timothy Dutton and maybe Chevy Chase, he becomes unforgettably charismatic, putting a light touch on a character that could easily have been a mere drunken clown. As it is, Roan becomes Chuck’s adviser, mentor and confidant, albeit a drunken one.
Roan has a different affect on Sarah; he succeeds in irritating her. How so? By seeing through her, that’s how.
Roan: So, how long have you and Charles been cavorting?
Sarah: You mean, how long have we been working together?
Roan: Oh, don’t play coy. You have feelings for him. I mean, real, non-spy emotions.
Sarah: Don’t be ridiculous. What, because I’m protective of him as an asset?
Roan: No. The way you kissed him.
Sarah: I think you’ve had too much to drink.
Sarah’s irritated because she’s conflicted. She’s got a reputation in the CIA, you know, and a problem. It’s not that Chuck is an asset. It’s that she has to keep Chuck at arms length, emotionally, or everyone will know her secret. Her cover will be blown. Sarah needs a cover for her emotions as much as Chuck needs a cover for his protection.
Poor Chuck isn’t just getting mixed messages from Sarah; messages with two possible interpretations. He’s getting two distinct messages that couldn’t be more clear, more different and more contradictory.
When Chuck overhears that conversation with Roan he’s not sure which message to believe. Roan is advising him to be anyone but himself in order to seduce Sarah Banacheck. That’s his advice about seducing Sarah, too. Maybe Chuck is thinking that the way to Sarah’s heart is to be a spy like Bryce. If so, Roan, Sasha and Casey are telling him he’s not much of a spy. What is Sarah telling him?
Sarah: Tonight will be fine. I wouldn’t take Roan’s advice too seriously. Just be yourself.
Chuck: I doubt Chuck Bartowski’s gonna be charming anyone.
Sarah: Why not? It worked on me.
It’s not surprising, then, that Chuck does succeed in his mission, retrieving the Cipher from Sasha and saving both Sarah and Casey by being Chuck and a great spy at the same time. Those two things are simply not incompatible. If we are still wondering about Sarah’s thoughts on the matter, we needn’t. Sarah seems to be impressed with Chuck’s work.
Sarah: I suppose I should thank you for saving my life.
Chuck: Oh, you’ve done it for me a time or two. I’m probably still in debt.
Sarah: I have to admit, that was pretty impressive.
Chuck: Right? I mean, come on. I know I’m just an asset. But between the two of us, I mean, have you ever seen anyone do something like that before?
Chuck: I think it’s safe to say, Chuck, that I’ve never seen anyone quite like you.
He is on a roll. Roan’s last piece of advice is for Chuck to show up at Sarah’s wearing a white dinner jacket, with a bottle of Château Margaux in hand and a single red rose. It’s known in several countries as the “Montomery.”
So life in the Bartowski household, for the moment, is good. Chuck has done his job well, Sarah is on his side and most importantly, he can survive in both the spy-world and in Lester’s Buy More. Right now there’s no reason for Chuck to not enjoy every moment, and perhaps that’s what I like best about this episode. Whether he wins or loses, has comfort or excitement, becomes a spy or stays a nerd, at this moment Chuck has the best of both worlds.
There’s only one small hitch in that plan and it’s really the start of the next episode. As we know, the hitch’s name is Bryce. We didn’t see that coming.
Glad to see me, lover boy?
One last thing, Dave. I do believe that this is our first mention of “The Wounded Gazelle.”
Joe we agree on pretty much all of this. I do want to clarify that I think Sarah’s manipulation in the beginning is effective precisely because it has so much truth in it. Perhaps this is something she learned from her dad? But I think Sarah honestly has no plan for her future. As late as Colonel she will tell Chuck “one mission at a time” after she has clearly chosen Chuck over mission! As we were discussing last week, I suspect Sarah is already past the point of no return; that is, she is already at the point where she could never leave (or at least would decide to return quickly after doing so). But she’s living in denial. She is focusing on one mission at a time because she isn’t ready to think about what happens next. We also know that in time Chuck will get everything he ever wanted, including a less dangerous life with exactly who he wanted. But for Sarah, embracing that dream and that life will be a long and slow journey. She will first choose to stay with Chuck apart from the mission at the end of season two; but Chuck and Sarah won’t completely embrace the same vision of the future until mid season four.