Nearly perfect episodes are becoming almost routine. Every one of these first five episodes is dynamite. I think Tom Sawyer often gets over looked as a result. And perhaps this episode’s only long term impact is introducing Emmett Milbarge to the show. Who’d have thought that making Jeff a bigger part of the story could actually be a good thing?! But this episode is fun all the way through; with great comedy, action, a little drama, and another poignant, sweet ending. After the jump, let’s look at the second season’s fifth episode
Tom Sawyer does start with Chuck in his recurring funk, a combination of his brutal hours and a life that seems to be going nowhere.
Of course that’s made worse by Ellie thinking his life is going nowhere too! We may know great things are ahead for Chuck, but he’s not yet ready to embrace his destiny.
We learn some Jeff back story in this episode, not to mention another installment of creepy stalker Jeff, but “my name is Jeff and I’m lost” may be the single funniest Jeff punchline of the series. Fortunately, even if Jeff plays a role in the story, his part isn’t particularly big. The actual adventure falls to Chuck and Team B again, as it should.
There are some great moments here for the whole team, I love Chuck’s “night out” with Jeff (very funny), our first brief encounter with Chuck’s hacker past, and of course Chuck unseating Jeff as the greatest Missile Command player ever!
Sarah has some stand out moments from “Chuck is like a duck”, to a convincing diversion at Atari, to cleaning out an entire terrorist cell single handedly. And of course Casey gets to dress very cool for the Atari mission.
Apart from the surprisingly melancholy Jeff story, I think the real hook of this episode is all Charah.
Sarah’s declaration of trusting Chuck is almost a cheer out loud sort of moment, and we all know Casey had nothing to do with getting Chuck his diploma. Theoretically, this is another buddy episode for Charah, just like Cougars last week. But the warmth and affection flowing both ways here is pretty strong. Next week we will see some fall out from Chuck trying to distance himself (or is it lowering expectations?);
but for now things are very friendly, and it really looks to me like Sarah is not giving much thought to distancing herself.
I really don’t have much more to say for Tom Sawyer. I really have no complaints, and just enjoyed it all the way through. It is a stand alone episode with little bearing on the rest of the series. But its a calm before the storm. Like Cougars, its one of those 30+ episodes on my top ten list. This is fun every time.
More Than Meets The Eye
Okay. We have a character that was once on top of his game. He was a winner, had a future and maybe was even cool. But that was then, and his best years are behind him now. He’s presently a burned-out zombie working in the Buy More.
And then there’s Jeff.
Like Jeff, there’s obviously more going on with Chuck than meets the eye. The problem is convincing Ellie! Chuck may look like a burned out zombie to her, but it’s just a role he’s playing now, right? By night, he’s a spy on missions with Sarah and Casey, wearing disguises and, as Morgan put it, saving the world. In the Buy More, he’s still king, in the sense of the one-eyed man in the land of the blind. When important decisions have to be made, everyone in the Buy More asks WWCD.
Just as Chuck he gets to meet the new efficiency expert, Emmett Milbarge, a man who trades in “dirty bombs” and who trained in Somalia enters the Buy More. And he’s after Jeff. Now that’s weird, even for this show. The man’s name is Farrokh Bulsara (played by Faran Tahir), a real bad guy. So Chuck gets to be Jeff’s new best friend, if only to see what’s up.
At the same time, Ellie wants to be Sarah’s new best friend, if only to see what’s up with Chuck. The fact that “what’s up” seems to be that he’s hanging out with Jeff, and that doesn’t bode well for Chuck’s future as far as Ellie is concerned. So while Chuck is getting to know Jeff, Ellie is getting to know Sarah. Chuck finds out that Jeff has been stalking Anna and Ellie finds out that Chuck is like a duck.
And I find out that I’m thoroughly amused and entertained. I just love all the parallels!
Dave, you’re right that this episode is nestled among others that boarder on genius and that makes it easy to gloss over. Personally, I find that I just love this episode and have always had a hard time understanding why. Certainly, one reason is that it’s an incredibly tight, fast-moving 42 minutes of fun. The way the threat is set up, the adventure part of the story, is intricate and even bold; Sarah’s fight scene in the TV station is awesome! The humor, bolstered this time by Scott Krinski‘s great performance (and of course, by Yvonne’s great line to Ellie) is first rate. I can go no further before praising Tony Hale as Emmett, but his performance gets better later in S2.
I love the way Chuck gets his “hero’s welcome” in the Buy More, being carried off on the shoulders of his fans for accomplishing his great feat.
How does it feel to be a hero, Mr. Bartowski?
And of course, any show that can feature the music of Rush has to be something special! 😉
But for all that, there is something subtle going on. The romance aspect, so important to every episode of Chuck, is downplayed. There’s even a bit of sadness, Dave, as you pointed out, in Jeff at the very end. It goes along with the idea that Chuck is being carried off for the wrong reason. It’s a fake reason. All that roll playing in front of Ellie comes at a cost.
Now I know it’s exactly that subtlety and even the subdued tone at the end that I enjoy most every time I see Tom Sawyer, much more than the revelry and fireworks we see when Chuck gets to the kill screen.
What we have instead of fireworks is something real. Sarah and Casey make it possible for Chuck, the man who once asked “What good is it to be a hero if nobody knows about it?” to show the world that he’s accomplished something. They present him with the diploma he’s earned. No mock-ups, no string-pulling by government officials and no fooling.
It’s real, Chuck.
That line resonated from the first. We know it’ll become more important.
And Jeff is okay – he’s retired, and he never did like the feeling of having the whole world gunning for you because you’re #1. He’s had is moments of glory. The Buy More is no longer leaderless; Emmett is officially on the job as the new ass. man. Everyone should be subdued.
But did I just say there wasn’t any fireworks? I was wrong.
You see that star out there on the horizon? That’s the Air Force bouncing Morimoto’s satellite off the atmosphere and burning it up. Make a wish. It’s yours.