Another episode with Chuck starting in a funk. And while this episode is quite funny in places, Chuck saves the day again, and “B” plot plays well; for obvious reasons this manages to be one of my least favorite episodes of season two. After the jump, we’ll discuss “Chuck vs The Ex.”
I do not mean to suggest this episode is awful. When it first ran, it was clearly my least favorite Chuck episode to date.
But I have never skipped it when doing full re-watches, and I do still find it funny is several places. Sarah/Yvonne remains an effective dramatic “heavy”, and in some ways this episode (and the whole arc!) is all hers. I think my favorite moments would be Sarah’s scenes in the van, both with Casey, then later with Chuck. Her volunteering to do the dangerous presentation (which is really an obvious thing for her to do, even if Chuck did act like a jerk in getting her to do it!), the presentation itself (gee, Sarah can do Australian, who’d o’ thunk it…), Sarah’s chase down of the Fulcrum agent, then her reaction to Chuck and Jill’s kiss and subsequent phone call are all stand out moments.
Chuck kissing Casey may be the funniest moment of the episode, in a very uncomfortable sort of way.
But I think my favorite laugh out loud moment is Jeffster’s amazing diversion so Morgan can steal the test answers. Rabies and panties are both very funny moments.
But really I don’t have much more to say this week. I have a strong bias against love triangles regardless, and those on Chuck always particularly rub me wrong. Why do we want to see the star of the show get involved with a guest star?
This is the very definition of pointless and doomed to me. The highlights I mentioned are more about trying to salvage something than actual enjoyment. This is clearly an episode I would rank as weak, and I’ll leave more involved comments for others.
Awww. Really, Dave? Don’t you remember how excited we were? The ‘net and the NBC boards were abuzz for a week about that great cat-fight between Sarah and Jill in the Buy More and…
Oh wait. That was between the dummies. And we certainly were (dummies, that is)! I think that rumor was the last time I took spoilers seriously at all. To paraphrase Roger Dultrey, I won’t get fooled again!
I don’t think we knew it at the time, but there was a lot riding on Chuck vs. The Ex. If I may recap, Chuck and Sarah were in a good place, and had been for a few weeks. Well, yes, at Chuck’s insistence (and with a minor shove from Bryce), Chuck had officially “broken up” with Sarah, and for real this time. That wasn’t easy, not because they had been a couple for so long, but precisely because they were just getting started.
Especially, as far as Sarah was concerned, they were just getting started. Somewhere between “He’s my guy!” and Heather’s unintentional taunt that she would never fall in love with a dorky guy, Sarah realized that she liked this dork uh, guy, who offered her hamburgers with extra pickles and didn’t pry too much into her past.
Then the dork went and proved that he’s a hero. Repeatedly. Somehow, Sarah thought she could pretend that she could put all that aside and just be a spy. So Chuck and Sarah mutually agreed to be “just friends.” Sure. That’ll work.
Actually, it did. For a couple of adventures, Chuck and Sarah actually did work together very nicely as friends. They even saved the world by their good work (or, at least they saved a few thousand people in the greater Los Angeles area). Maybe this LJBF‘ing isn’t so bad. In fact, we the viewers could easily believe that C&S were destined to stay that way for a long time.
But no. Chuck has a bad habit of pulling the rug out from under Sarah’s feet. If he’s not telling her point blank that life with her would never be normal, Chuck actively looks for someone to have that normal life with. First Lou the sandwich girl and then this Jill character. I told you there was a lot riding on this episode. Sarah’s wheels should have been turning! She certainly did not want to pretend any longer. If I were a gambling man, I would bet that as we open this episode, Sarah is on the verge of deciding that being “just friends” isn’t good enough.
Enter Jill Roberts, played by Jordana Brewster, and Sarah’s worst nightmare. She’s more than a blast from the past. She’s Chuck’s first love, which is always important. Worse, this is the second piece of the Bryce puzzle. He took her away from Chuck, which is treachery. Even if Bryce has been acquitted of the charge getting Chuck kicked out of Stanford for cheating, he’s still guilty of that treachery.
Doesn’t that make her Chuck’s worst nightmare? No. It means Chuck needs closure, and Sarah will certainly fail in her attempts to dissuade him from seeking that closure. So will Casey and Ellie. It’s a hopeless quest. Chuck is getting involved (again) with Jill and there’s nothing Sarah can do about it. As far as Sarah is concerned, she’s just learned that Chuck is no longer there for the asking.
So Dave, I ask you. Is that so bad???
Heh! Really. I mean, Jill is bright, accomplished (PhD in microbiology), exactly Chuck’s “type” (cute, petite, brunette) and before The Ex is over, we can see that she is just as taken with Chuck as he is with her. She should be. Chuck is charming when…
When he lies to her? When he tells her that he owns a chain of 16 (or 17, he can never remember which) computer stores and a Ferrari? Or does he charm Jill when he tells her he’s just a nobody who still cares? Clearly, both work, but telling the truth work better in her hotel room. We can see that The Truth ™ works better on Sarah too, because she’s listening in and can’t help but react to Chuck’s sincere apology.
The funny thing is, Jill finally persuaded completely when Chuck tells her the one thing that’s unbelievable; that he works for the CIA and that Sarah is (just) his partner. Chuck can’t even bring himself to tell Ellie that story; it’s so outrageous. There is only one other woman in Chuck’s life who understands, and Sarah’s not going to stand in his way.
Or will she? We may not like all the geometric shapes we see, Dave. But at this point in our story, I can’t imagine a better way to convince a Sarah Walker that a Chuck Bartowski is worth the effort.
While I can agree wholeheartedly that The Ex ultimately does not have the emotional impact of the episodes we’re going to see later in the season, I suspect that it’s only because it is not finished in these first 42 minutes. We know that what comes next contains a major emotional punch to the gut, a punch that makes all of “The Jill Trilogy” memorable. Jordana Brewster, with a performance that relies on equal parts sweetness, sexiness, intelligence and treachery, rises above all but the very best guest stars in the coming hours.
And what I love about it, is that Zac’s performance is equal to Brewster’s. Despite his obvious chemistry with Yvonne, I believe that their characters had a relationship in the past and are in the process of rekindling it. I believe that Sarah Walker is fighting jealousy. I believe she is affected to the core by what she sees in front of her.
And that cat-fight about which we heard rumors? I believe we saw that too, just in a much more subtle and dramatic way than any of us dummies ever expected.
But my absolute favorite thing about Chuck vs. The Ex is that we get to hear Yvonne’s native Aussie accent. I only wish we could have heard more!
Well Joe I agree, it was good to hear Yvonne speak Aussie for one brief scene. Other than that…
I can’t really argue with any of your analysis. I even would agree with saying I’m pretty happy with how this story plays out over the next couple weeks, and by the end of Gravitron I’m very happy with things. But “The Ex” is not good entertainment to me. It simply fails the fun test. And of course that completely means Charah. Although I can easily enjoy an episode where the romance isn’t front and center (Tom Sawyer and Murrrrder come to mind), I just don’t ever enjoy an episode where they are in such a bad place. “Just friends” is an appealing story, but for me that story is all Chuck and Sarah, interlopers are not welcome. I can’t argue with any of the creative decisions made on this one, the Jill story was obviously going to be told (man, I’d love to see a show though where the obvious triangle is not told, THAT would be brave story telling), and I even mostly enjoy the next two episodes. But this episode just falls flat for me. Rabies and a cute Aussie accent can’t save it.