Chuck vs The Santa Claus (2.11)

Well our timing is nearly perfect.  We at Chuck This are watching and writing about these episodes a week ahead of their posting.  So we get to watch Santa Claus Christmas week.  It’s almost like we knew what we were doing…

But if that were true we would have made it here a week earlier for you readers.  We just almost lucked into it!

After the jump, we’ll take a look at a very exciting mid-season break episode.

Overall impression is, dynamite episode.  So much of what I love about Chuck is on display here.  Chuck is in charge in his self effacing way.  We have a funny, yet menacing villain.  The Buy More is perfectly integrated with the spy world; in fact, world’s collide might be a better way of putting it.  Chuck and Sarah are at their sweet and charming best.

And then something happens…

I think the climax to this episode is dynamite.  And for me, this is where Chuck really excels.  By making the show so much fun, and the main characters so appealing, the stakes are far higher than on the currently popular darker type shows.  I actually care what happens to these people.  I care about the decisions they make and how they treat and react to each other. So when Sarah finds herself in a no win situation I can agonize over the decision with her.  We can do the math with her as she realizes she has no choice but to do something she’d rather not.  And to protect Chuck, she has to do something he would never approve of or ask for.

I mentioned a couple weeks ago the angel symbolism they’d been pushing pretty plainly on Sarah.  More specifically; She displays remarkable patience and forgiveness in Gravitron, Morgan refers to her as an angel in Sensei, her dad calls her angel in DeLorean, and there seems to be an angel charm on the bracelet Chuck gives her.  And then we have a horrific moment at the end of Santa Claus.  Now I must point out, in the Judeo-Christian tradition angels are supposed to be terrifying.  The first words they speak to humans (in the Bible) are “do not be afraid.” Every time.  Perhaps that’s what Sarah should have said to Chuck after she shot Mauser.

But Sarah really isn’t an angel.  We know about her questionable past.  We know she doesn’t shy from using deadly force, and other unappealing tactics in the defense of the greater good.  And we know she will lie to Chuck.  Unfortunately, her lying here is far more about protecting her image in Chuck’s eyes than anything else.  And it backfires on her pretty badly, because Chuck saw it all.  Actually, that’s not quite true; he may have seen what Sarah did, but he missed some of the context, and the situation looks far worse than it actually was.

Now I have to say, I think the end scene was pretty badly overplayed.  I get the impact and the “horror” they were going for.  It could have been brilliant.  But I think Chuck’s reaction was too much.  He gave us a “10” when a “7” might have been more fitting.  The thing is, Chuck already knows what Sarah is capable of.  He flashed on her at the end of the Pilot (killing two men after she disarmed them).  He’s seen her in action many times.  This may have been the most extreme situation he’s seen first hand, but not by that much.  And surely Sarah is deserving of far more trust than he gives her at this moment.

There is so much that is wonderful about this episode, and it really does remain one of the best examples of how awesome this show can be.  But the end takes some of the shine off.  To me, it doesn’t play true.  I guess I’m partly biased because I still remember two different friends asking me in the days after “what was Chuck so bent out of shape about in the end?”  They saw the same thing I did; Sarah’s actions were justifiable and should not have been shocking to Chuck.  That, and I’m never so enthused about the more angst filled endings. The good news is; in the very next episode Sarah will apologize for the lie.  The even better news is, that’s enough for Chuck.  The lie will apparently trouble him more than the shooting, and that seems right to me.  The bad news is, it will be seven weeks (!) before that episode aired.  This was the longest, and most excruciating cliff hanger of the series to me.  Lucky for us, it will only be one week this time!

~ Dave

Taken By Surprise

Perfect timing, indeed, Dave. Ah, Christmas in Burbank. It’s so traditional. You know; the hot temperatures, the angry customers and, of course, the annual Salvation Army con… what more could we ask? Why, a desperate bungler of a man crashing through the Buy More. That’s what.

Chuck had no idea what was coming. For weeks now, I’ve been noting that Chuck and Sarah were being good friends after their break-up. Well, very good friends. In fact, I recall thinking the first time I saw this episode that they were past friendship and really deep into a romantic relationship now. Sarah, the secretive agent who habitually withheld anything “real” from Chuck, was opening up about her childhood. That’s not at all like she used to be. Remember?

She never knew she was a beauty
She must have made a lot of grown men cry
In her eyes she’s always playing out some movie
She just told a dying love goodbye
She was innocent then,
Blind to any help
No one knows what she did,
And she’ll never tell

And Chuck, the guy who couldn’t face women at his birthday party and worried that he could never hold a candle to someone like Bryce Larkin, had become a pretty good spy.

Pretty good? He had saved LA from a missile, saved the mission, Casey and Sarah more than a couple of times. Generally, he’s been a hero and sometimes he had even been Sarah’s personal hero. The kicker – Chuck even impressed her dad, the guy who’s only real talent was to read people. We can’t underestimate what that meant to her.

So with good reason, Sarah had come to trust Chuck. Fact of the matter is, Sarah had also come to respect the way Chuck prioritized his world; friends, family, normal life. Chuck never failed to complete the mission. Was it possible to be “a good guy” and complete the mission, she wondered. Somehow with Chuck, the answer always came back “yes.”

Think of it this way; they were rubbing off on each other.

It was Christmas of 2008 and even the most casual of fans knew that Charah was inevitable. Oh, it wasn’t going to be simple, and Nathan Rhyerson (Jed Rees), a.k.a. Ned, was surely going to be the crisis that our couple had to resolve. But, bungling, mousy Ned? Really? He was just a poor, desperate guy who lost his job and wanted to buy presents for his wife and kids. Certainly that didn’t require the help of the CIA, NSA and the Intersect. The local L.E.O.s could handle that situation.

Emmett and Big Mike even see an opportunity to increase sales, since Mike’s cousin, Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), is on the job. Besides. There’s a real L.A.P.D. hostage negotiator on the job too, Lieutenant Frank Mauser (Michael Rooker). Well, maybe it’s a little more serious than that. Ellie and Awesome are at the store early when Ned comes crashing through waving a gun around, demanding that they lock down the exits. It’s really the perfect time for a hero to show up. Too bad Ellie and Chuck are insisting to Devon that it’s not.

Maybe they can negotiate. Chuck bargains to let everyone call out to let people know they are alright. Ned calls his wife, Ellie and Devon call the very Awesomes, Lester calls the love chat line, Jeff call prisoner 27318, a.k.a. “mom” at the Lompoc Women’s Correctional Institute. Casey, a.k.a. “Johnny Boy”, calls his mother too. Chuck calls Sarah over in the DVD racks (the romantic comedy section), setting up one of the sweetest scenes ever. I TOLD you they were more than friends.

It's real.

It’s real.


Sarah: That was pretty smart to call me. Protect our cover.
Chuck: Yeah, well, you are my girlfriend. Sort of.
Sarah: So, does that mean your offer still stands for Christmas?
Chuck: See? I knew you could be heart-warmed. [Chuckles] I actually, um… I have something for you. I was gonna give it to you tomorrow, but considering the circumstances, I kind of wanted to give it to you today.
Sarah: Chuck, we’re gonna get out of here. We’ll be fine. I promise. [Chuck hands Sarah a charm bracelet] Wow. That’s beautiful.
Chuck: It’s good luck. It was my mom’s charm bracelet. My dad gave it to her when Ellie was born.
Sarah: Oh, Chuck, I can’t take this. This is something real. Something that you should give to a real girlfriend.
Chuck: I know.

That is a special moment; I don’t think Sarah knew it was coming.

Ned. Not a Bungler.

Ned. Not a Bungler.

But I meant it when I said Chuck didn’t know either. It’s just that I meant, about the guy with the gun. Ned is no mousy bungler. The change of expression on his face (yet another technical masterpiece of acting) tells us Ned’s a much bigger danger than Devon will ever know, even without a gun, or he wouldn’t have been so gung-ho about tackling him.

A second big moment, a Christmas helping of surprise that makes this episode surpass most everything else on television, is when we realize Ned isn’t the biggest threat. Mauser is. He, and therefore Fulcrum, know that there’s something of importance going on at the Buy More. Worse, now he knows that it isn’t Bryce Larkin. It’s Chuck. Took me by complete surprise.

The depth of the threat is stunning, and the action gets intense. Mauser will have Ned kill everyone, starting with Ellie, if Chuck doesn’t go with him. And that means a Fulcrum cell. Forever. They’re not as cushie as CIA detention centers, I hear. With that, Chuck changes Devon’s mind about this not being the time to be a hero.

Sarah and Casey have figured out what’s going on, and see that Mauser’s got Chuck. At least Devon’s plan actually works, thanks to some great middle-linebacking by Big Mike and more than a little heroic action by Morgan.

Sarah’s shot disables Mauser’s van, and Chuck escapes to a nearby Christmas tree sales lot with Mauser in pursuit. Sarah catches up in time to save Chuck, but has to fight Mauser one-on-one. She orders Chuck to run back to Castle, for his safety, which is more important than her own, it seems. But as he starts to run, Chuck stops, reconsiders and watches. Sarah wins the fight (barely), and has Mauser at gun-point, dead to rights. Now take a deep breath, because it’s not over.

Mauser: You may have beaten me, Agent Walker, but Fulcrum’s won. I know Chuck Bartowski’s the Intersect.
Sarah: Chuck’s secret is safe. And you’re going straight to a CIA detention facility, never to be seen or heard from again.
Mauser: Well, you go right ahead, Agent Walker. Arrest me. But say goodbye to Chuck. You see, I’m not like those other Fulcrum agents. They’ll do whatever it takes to find me. And when they do, every Fulcrum agent we have is gonna know Chuck’s the Intersect. It’s gonna be the end of his pathetic existence. So take me in, Agent Walker. I’m ready to go.

Mauser smiles, surrenders. Sarah hesitates, considers. Maybe she’s thinking WWCD.

Not Thoughtless Or Easy Anymore

Not Thoughtless Or Easy Anymore

Then she shoots him dead. It’s by no means a thoughtless or easy thing for her to do. Maybe at one time it would have been. Not anymore. Now, it’s agonizing. Chuck sees that act, but maybe doesn’t hear Mauser’s threat. We don’t know. What we do know is that it’s what Agent Walker had to do. We also know it’s nothing Chuck could have done.

If we thought that Chuck and Sarah were rubbing off on each other (and I did), then this should have given us pause. When faced with the question “Is it possible to be a good guy and still complete the mission?” her answer came back “no” this time. Sarah reacted, ultimately, like a CIA operative.

Chuck knows he could not have done that, no matter what the reasons. He may not be temperamentally suited to be a spy. Ever. And because of that, because he is the way he is, he did not complete the mission either. Not this time. He failed to be the hero, leaving it up to his partner to do what she had to do.

I did not see that coming.

Yes, Sarah then lies to Chuck about it. Even after what Jack told her about her boyfriend, it is about trusting him, after all. What I said before? It’s all in question now. Chuck and Sarah are still far apart.

She barely prays above a whisper
And when she cries she doesn’t make a sound
She offers tithe
But never takes communion
So scared to death of Jesus finding out
When she’s nervous she checks in some out of town motel
What she screams in her pillow,
She’ll never tell
What she screams in her pillow,
She’ll never tell

We, the fans, loved every second of this episode. The adventure was intense, the bracelet was a perfect gift and we were ready to see our couple celebrate Christmas together.

In the biggest surprise of all, that’s not exactly the way it turned out. If this is a journey, both Chuck and Sarah have further to go.

– joe


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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91 Responses to Chuck vs The Santa Claus (2.11)

  1. aerox says:

    My first reaction too was: “…Why is he throwing a hissy fit exactly?” Still to this day, haven’t figured it out 😦 Fun episode–and of its usual quality in season 2–but the end left me bewildered.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah, real head scratcher to me. I get that he hasn’t seen it first hand before, but he’s known what she was capable of from the Pilot. This always strikes as the manipulative sort of false angst. It is particularly too bad because the whole episode, including that climax was so well done, then undermined by the hissy fit. I was briefly considering (at the time, December of 2008) that was just too insensitive; but having my two best friends who were also watching react the same way I did gives a little more confidence in just saying it was overdone.

      But before we make too much of Chuck making too much of it (!), I was (mostly) okay with how he got over it. I wish they’d discussed it a little more specifically; but I think from here to the end of the season we’ll see Chuck start to really grow up about the world he’s a part of, without loosing his moral center. That part of the story will be very well done.

    • authorguy says:

      So how do you feel about the nightmare sequence in the next episode, then, pretty much an extension of the same ‘hissy-fit’? Perhaps Chuck had gotten used to a kinder, gentler Sarah too, and seeing her revert to her self of two years before was a bit of a shock. I thought Devon and Ellie’s reactions, right after a hostage crisis, to Chuck’s having nightmares was ridiculously understated.
      I was quite surprised that Mauser baited her like that, knowing that she would just kill him right there. And what did the police do, when a police hostage negotiator was either found shot dead or not found at all?

      • aerox says:

        The dream sequence was good for one thing and one thing only: black teddy. For the rest it was idiotic.Of course this solely depends on how Chuck processes information from the Intersect. If it’s just memories through text, then I sort of understand how seeing her pull the trigger can shock him (although I have to stop and wonder why he immediately assumes she’s a cold blooded killer. We’re 24 episodes in the series, surely Sarah has proven to him more than once that she doesn’t make rash decisions (unless they’re in front of a faux-bomb)?). If it’s visual information–like the viewer receives it–then I don’t see why he’d be so freaked out about it. Shocked? Yes. But not like this. And what’s even more annoying: they start building this massive angst train of Chuck not trusting Sarah, and they solve it with one of the lamest heart to hearts they’ve ever done. And IIRC (haven’t watched the show in ages) she basically tells him exactly what everyone knew. So in that regard, I was left dumbfounded as to why they went this route in the first place. But then again, this is only the first in a string of them going to the dark side of television, only to try and fix it with a lighthearted moment and completely missing their own point. *cough* Shaw’s death had no psychological impact on Chuck whatsoever *cough*. But that’s Season 3, so I’ll be sure to return for that one in a couple of months 😛

      • atcDave says:

        I do think Chuck’s continuing reaction in 3-D (and suggestion it’s been several weeks) is still an over-reaction. But at least he works it through. I don’t think Sarah apologizing for the lie really plays into it too much; it has to do with working with Tyler Martin and realizing the importance of what they do, and that Sarah IS someone deserving of his complete trust. This is what we’ll talk about next week too. I think the resolution fails somewhat because its all stuff Chuck should have already known. But at least it IS resolved fairly quickly.

      • joe says:

        I’m going to disagree, if only a little, with Aerox and Dave. My take is that Chuck really was upset by the killing, enough to have nightmares. It’s certainly consistent with what we have coming in S3.

        But the question I have is: “Is that what we knew about Chuck before Santa Claus?” I’m not sure I got that he was so anti-gun and anti-killing before this. What I got (especially from Alma Mater) was that he was just (very) nervous with them, and fumbled guns a lot. Now he becomes philosophically opposed to them, which is a bit different.

        That makes me think the whole “Chuck is traumatized” thing was a bit of a set-up for later developments. Maybe they weren’t plotting out S3 just yet, but it was a point they wanted to make important later. That sort of explains the nightmare and, at the same time, explains why he reconciled with Sarah a bit too easily in 3-D. His opposition to guns was just put on the back burner for a bit.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m actually less bothered by the nightmare (maybe I was distracted?) than I was by the end of Santa Claus. Honestly it may have had more to do with Zach’s performance than anything, just too overplayed.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, I can sort of see that. If he had dialed it back to a 9 instead of an 11, the ending would have fit better with both the end of 3-D and Best Friends. I’m not so sure about Suburbs, though.

        This is premature (and I’m sure we’ll get to it later). I just don’t get Chuck’s reluctance to spend Valentine’s Day with Sarah unless it’s tied to his reaction to The Mauser Incident (for which I here-by invent the TLA, TMI).

        Either that, or Chuck is all over the map about being with Sarah, swinging wildly from episode to episode. That doesn’t ring true with what we saw up to now.

      • atcDave says:

        It is a little early for it…

        But I did not see it as reluctance, actually I think he wanted to ask her out again but it got all jumbled up (he used similar dialogue to First Date). I think they both liked each other a lot and were trying to test the waters, but both were also timid and aware of both obstacles and past misunderstandings and rejections. We’ll see shortly how aware Sarah is of the obstacles (Broken Heart), and Chuck is presumably concerned about how Sarah will react, and what Bryce told him. So Suburbs really starts with them awkward, but in a good place. Just a matter of sorting it all out. But Sarah flips a switch again when she gets a talking to from General Beckman at the end of Suburbs. I think that will be so discouraging to Chuck because of their history. And really, Chuck will be somewhat weary of it all until his hope is rekindled in Colonel (and yeah, it’s more involved than that. We’ll be walking through these episodes one at a time the next few weeks).

      • anthropocene says:

        I always wondered about Mauser’s taunts, too—obviously, a truly professional response to his defeat by Sarah would have been to simply surrender without saying anything, and wait for his eventual rescue by Fulcrum. Of course, this is the Chuckverse we’re talking about here—and that was hardly the only foolish or OOC action used to advance the plot. Fortunately the sweet and unexpectedly touching moments (see: charm bracelet) always counterbalanced the head-scratchers. And I loved this episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Anthro I think its funny to try to make sense of Mauser’s taunt. Maybe he was afraid of what the CIA might get out of him and was trying to get killed? Maybe he just thought it was some smack talk between professionals and didn’t realize Sarah’s level of “investment” ?(I like that one!) Or maybe Mauser was just a moron?

      • anthropocene says:

        All interesting hypotheses, Dave!

  2. ChuckFanForever says:

    Well, Chuck just witnessed his “girlfriend” shoot someone in cold blood, and yes, he knew she’s probably killed before, but this was the first time she’s done in right in front of him. That just made it all so much more “real” to him, and it didn’t seem like over-reacting to me after just re-watching this episode on Christmas Eve (on my brand new computer with a Blu-Ray player!). In fact, I see it the other way around, Chuck probably forgives Sarah a bit too easily later on, but that hasn’t happened yet. =)

    • atcDave says:

      As I said CFF, your points do warrant a “7” on a 10 point scale; but I still feel strongly that the “10+” we got was too much for the circumstance. He absolutely knew what she was capable of, and he KNOWS her well enough to give her every benefit of the doubt. The scene just smacks of manipulation to me; Chuck conveniently not hearing what was said (and for the record, if this was true, he should have KNOWN that he didn’t hear what was said) and seeing exactly the most incriminating moment.
      I could see him being frantic to talk to her about it, and being disappointed when she lied; but I still feel his “horror” was over-played. It was too much for the situation.

      • ChuckFanForever says:

        So, in your opinion, what “would” Sarah need to have done to warrant the “10+” reaction that Zac displays? Shooting Mauser in cold-blood and then also shooting Ellie/Morgan in order to cover up for witnessing it? =)

      • atcDave says:

        That would probably do it!

    • I’m with Chuck Fan here. He watched her shoot a man who had his hands behind his head, and he had no idea why. I couldn’t think of anything I’d find more shocking from a woman I was in love with, spy or not. In a lot of ways, this episode shatters the innocence of both the character and show. And all Chuck did was look in surprise and pout when she lied to him. It’s not like he fell to the ground screaming.

      I feel like people have become so desensitized to murder in TV/Film that we often lose perspective on what a horrible thing it is, justified or not. It’s the single worse thing that one human being can do to another.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny, I’d say we’re over-sensitized. Sarah’s in a tough business, she’s killed before, Chuck’s seen her kill before. It’s always been with good reason, and it’s always been to protect Chuck or do her duty. To me, that means get the whole story before getting all worked up.

        I get being a little unsettled in the context, especially after Sarah lies about it. But as I said, 7 out of 10 seems more fitting. I’d also repeat, this is largely a matter of the performance. Now granted, I’m more of the keep your cool while the plane crashes short of the runway sort; but Chuck switching to Don Knotts mode irks me a lot.

      • Who had he seen her kill? Were they actively trying to kill her and him, or were they unarmed and surrendering? For civilians, the first is self defense and the second is murder. For the military, the first could be consequences of war and the second is a war crime. For spies, it’s a grey area. That’s what Chuck was having a problem with. Chuck is a DC comics guy. Superman and Batman don’t kill defenseless people. Heroes don’t do things like that, based on his comic book view of the world. In Chuck’s mind Sarah was idealized like a superhero, not a spy.

        I know if I had seen a woman I had just given a family heirloom blow a hole through a surrendering man’s forehead, with (as Morgan would say) brain matter flying out the back, while wearing the heirloom, I’d be freaking out at least the 9 level. Even without the lying. The ease of lying would bring into question whether anything she said or acted about was real. It would eliminate the chance of giving her the benefit of the doubt. I wouldn’t have internalized it for a month, but only because I wouldn’t have had the limits of a TV programming schedule.

        Season 1-2 Chuck overreacted frequently. That was part of his character before he made the choice in Ring. His reaction seemed appropriate and in character to me. I also didn’t like Sarah as much after that episode. It’s why Santa Claus doesn’t rank as high in my favorite episode list.

      • atcDave says:

        Chuck saw her kill in Tango, and he flashed on her poisoning a group of people in Helicopter; AND shooting two men she had just disarmed in the Pilot. As I said in the post, this was clearly the most extreme he’s seen first hand. But again, I say Sarah has earned benefit of the doubt over the course of a year and a half together. I actually thought very highly of her after this episode for everything except the lie in the end. She tried to minimize collateral damage several times, she clearly didn’t want to do what she had to do in the end, but she did it anyway. I remember the first time I saw this one saying “she has to shoot him” moments before she did. It was completely logical in that situation. Cold, ugly and brutal; but logical.

        And I can’t deny Chuck is prone to over-reacting. I can only say I dislike it every time. And I think I blamed him for Sarah’s dilemma right from the start; he told Mauser, and left Sarah with a no win situation. He makes a mess, then blames her for cleaning it up.

      • In Tango and the pilot flash, they weren’t surrendering. He really didn’t see anything in Tango and the pilot wasn’t live and was something in the past which is easier to distance himself from. Chuck had a similar reaction to the unarmed French diplomats, until she explained it. This time, she lied instead of explaining it. Chuck has to talk through everything, even in season 5. He always overreacts (or does something stupid) when he can’t talk through whatever is bothering him.

        I don’t like the blame game.
        – If Sarah called for the CIA/NSA team to come in instead of relying on local law enforcement, LAPD negotiator Mauser would never have been allowed close. Covers would have been maintained because Ned’s activities could have been called “domestic terrorism,” justifying a Federal presence. Casey and Sarah wouldn’t have to take any direct action, and Ned would have been easily overwhelmed by twenty or so armed personnel under Beckman’s direct command. But Sarah pushed for the locals.
        – Casey should have just taken out Ned. Everyone would have bought it. This is the best plan because the spy plot line would be so short that many of the Buy More scenes would have been replaced with Bartowski family Christmas celebration scenes. I “blame” Casey for us not getting Charah snuggling while watching Twilight Zone. 🙂
        – Beckman could have realized that Larkin’s college roommate was a logical target for finding Larkin, meaning he was a stupid diversionary tactic. Faking Larkin’s death would have made Fulcrum think the Intersect was dead. Chuck would’ve been safe. Instead they used Larkin, and by extension Chuck, as bait. So it’s Graham’s, Beckman’s and Larkin’s fault.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t particularly like the blame game either, that’s why I hadn’t even brought it up before. My only point is, I see Sarah as trapped with only bad options. It was a carefully constructed scene for that. It was also carefully constructed so Chuck only saw the worst with no context. I also said clearly that Chuck had a right to be upset about it all.

        I still think it was overplayed. I thought Chuck’s reaction was extreme and silly. I still do. The last scene of the episode diminishes the drama of what actually did happen just before. The ending is more about Chuck’s hissy fit than it is about Sarah’s conscience. The writers make it all about Chuck instead of the (to me) far more interesting issue of how Sarah deals with it. I’m not in any way surprised by that, except that it makes for a disappointing ending to an otherwise dynamite episode.

      • Zach did overact in the scene, but we could probably put some of the blame on the director. Perhaps he asked Zach to ham it up for the camera. Although, from what I’ve read in interviews, the cast seemed to have a lot of freedom to play scenes the way they wanted. So maybe Zach was the one who decided to play the scene that way.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Jenny I think that is exactly the issue.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        Might I offer that Chuck’s reaction to the Mauser shooting isn’t the issue. The problem is trying to link this reaction with the “under the rug sweeping” non-resolution of the shooting and Sarah lying about it.

        The shooting and its resolution are linked. They have to be. By not giving enough “weight” to the consequences of the shooting, the drama of the shooting has to be lessened in order for the continuity (yes, I know) to flow properly. Thus making Chuck reaction excessive.

        A problem that would plague the from this point forward.

      • ChuckFanForever says:

        Which part do you consider the “hissy-fitting”? Where Chuck commiserates with Morgan on the Nerd Herd desk on “what should you do if you see your girlfriend doing something so horrific that is becomes permanently burned into your brain?”

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree Captain. I never really had that much of a problem with what happened and Chuck’s reaction, besides it does give us that great scene at the beginning of 3D 😉 but it was the fact that once again even in the great season 2, they created a great dramatic moment only to squander it when it got in the way of where they wanted to go next. I’d agree with OD that it started even before this with the Jill arc and the squandered drama of the great reveal at the end of Fat Lady. Sweeping things under the rug became a tried and true fallback for these writers many times that ultimately reached its peak in season 3. But even then they did it in season 4 and 5 as well. It’s just to me the most egregious ones happened in 3.

        Overall I liked this episode and I liked the transposition of the great Charah bracelet scene with Sarah’s shooting Mauser. It showed the great spectrum of the grander story they were telling. Plus doing a Die Hard homage and including Sgt Al Powell was a stroke of genius.

      • atcDave says:

        CFF its in the comically exaggerated looks of horror.

      • ChuckFanForever says:

        Alright Chucksters, I have a mission for you: When Sarah hugs Chuck in this scene at the end, it sounds like she whispers something in his ear, what does she say?

      • At what point do they sweep this under the rug? They refer directly to it in the next episode.

  3. FSL says:

    I really loved how the threat (in this case Fulcrum) slowly closes in as the season progresses. To say that the Buy More is getting attention in the spy world is great.

  4. resaw says:

    There are some elements of this story I really like, but it is not my favourite. The things I don’t like include the ridiculousness of Big Mike’s cousin, Big Al, Milbarge’s cowardice combined with marketing opportunism, Ned’s nebbishness which suddenly gives way to ruthless murderer/martial artist, and especially the way Chuck quickly gives away the secret that he is a “VIP” to TPTB in law enforcement.

    There are on the other hand some very nice touches, often found in brief lines or exchanges of dialogue: “the annual Salvation Army con job,” “This store has a very strict ‘no bravery’ policy,” Sarah maintaining her cover to Ellie by saying, “I’m just scared. I’ve never been this close to a gun before.” At the absolute top of the list is the dialogue between Sarah and Chuck as Chuck gives her his mother’s charm bracelet. In my mind, right there, Chuck has officially unbroken up with Sarah.

    Got to head off to work, but before I finish this, I just want to ask about a figure of speech uttered by Chuck. He says, “Ned shot Casey ‘on accident.'” I would have said “by accident.” Anybody care to weigh in on the prevalence of the one vs. the other way of describing the situation (aside from the fact that Ned shot Casey quite deliberately)?

    • atcDave says:

      I’m really sorry I neglected to mention Chuck’s blabbing about the Intersect. It does open a whole other can of worms (like, what was he supposed to do? I guess lie, but we know that still doesn’t come easy for him). But of course it is Chuck’s loose lips that lead to Sarah having to kill Mauser. Basically he makes a mess, leaves it to Sarah to clean up, and gets mad at her for doing so…

      “By” vs “on”. Interesting. Maybe a regional difference? You’re right, I also would have said “by accident”. But the other doesn’t sound THAT odd to me.

      • It appears to be an age thing:
        According to a study, “use of the two different versions appears to be distributed by age. Whereas on accident is common in people under 35, almost no one over 40 says on accident.”

      • joe says:

        I caught that too! I always wondered if Zac’s brain started to say “… on purpose”, realized it was 180 deg. off script, and turned it into “… on accident”.

      • joe says:

        Just crossed posts with you Jeff. That is an interesting fact, if true! How strange this brain stuff is. Ah, now I must insert a quote that few under the age of 40 will remember…
        Brain and brain! What is brain?!

      • atcDave says:

        Great…. One more way to be a dinosaur…

      • anthropocene says:

        Ah yes…plucked from the inky shadows of the repository of the worst episodes in TV history!

      • joe says:

        Oh, not the worst, Anthro. Close, though. The worst would have to be Bill Shatner’s overacting in The Twilight Zone! 😉

      • I couldn’t figure out which one I normally say. Both sound ok to my ear. I think I say ‘by accident,’ but I’m more likely to say ‘accidentally.’ I’m barely between the ages, so I’m stuck suffering in grammatical limbo, without age as an excuse. I prefer the Oxford comma, though.

        Joe, I had to look up the quote. I’ll say one of the worst ST:TOS episodes in history. Since a lot of people here like ratings and surveys, it has a 5.7 on IMDB. Everything on IMDB has to be viewed as on a curve of a different type of voter (i.e. Chuck Season 3.0 averages almost 8.6), but only three original cast productions rate lower: the hippie one, the one where the kids don’t care about dead adults, and Star Trek V.

      • joe says:

        You had to look it up??? Oh gee. Now *I* feel old! 😉
        Yeah, I agree with those ST:TOS rankings too. There’s another one, where Kirk is trapped for months on a planet, goes native with the locals and the Enterprise is being chased by an asteroid. It’s the point where I realized that their S3 was, um, not good.

        Most of the hippy episode wasn’t so bad, but Spock playing a futuristic Sitar … FAIL! Well, I take it back. It was bad. Anyone who got their notions about the ’60s (and hippies, for that matter) from that episode was seriously misinformed.

      • resaw says:

        Thanks for the “on” vs. “by” conversation, guys. I asked my 25-year-old daughter today, and she said her first inclination would be to use “by,” but believed “on” to be a way of speaking she has heard before. I’m based in Canada but work with call center staff in Omaha and Ft. Worth. I’ve heard “on accident” from those locations, and I presume they are younger voices.

  5. Wilf says:

    I just love this episode. I particularly like the scene where they all ‘phone their “loved ones” (as mentioned here by Joe). Sarah’s/Yvonne’s facial expressions are so good – moving from “lost, sad, with no-one to ring” to the smile spreading across her face when she picks up Chuck’s call (obviously for the cover only, of course)

    • joe says:

      Always something new, Wilf. Believe it or not, I always sort of missed that Sarah was alone in that scene, at least, until Chuck called. I always sprinted ahead to the bracelet and saw it from Chuck’s POV, I think.

      What you just described is a great take on it – You just made the scene fresh again. Thanks!

  6. anthropocene says:

    Another element of this complex episode that relates to these threads of discussion, but which hasn’t come up yet itself, is Sarah’s promise to Chuck upon being compelled to depart the Buy More with Casey and leave Chuck behind: “Trust me—I’ll never let anyone hurt you.”

    This came soon after Chuck gave her the charm bracelet (shown prominently when she puts her arms around him) and laid out his feelings for her once more, both of which actions had an immediate and powerful emotional impact on Sarah. Then she has to leave him behind, and their parting is an intense scene even though they haven’t yet learned about Mauser’s and Ned’s true motives—as they embrace, it sounds as if both of them are sniffling and very close to breaking out in tears. It was a great scene: a fine example of Chuck & Sarah “love in a moment of peril” scenes that this show always did well.

    So Sarah makes that heartfelt promise to not let Chuck get hurt—but almost right away, that’s exactly what almost happens when Mauser kidnaps Chuck. Given Sarah’s intensely protective responses whenever Chuck is threatened, the fact that Mauser almost took him could have been motivation enough for Sarah to blow him away the second she got the upper hand in the fight.

    One could argue that this suggests Sarah showed extra restraint with her unwillingness to kill Mauser, until his direct threats to Chuck forced her hand. Just sayin’….

    • atcDave says:

      I think showing great restraint is sort of Sarah’s main characteristic. She is restrained and guarded, right up to the moment she lets go, as Mauser and many others have found out.

  7. resaw says:

    So, another thread in the show: Chuck urging Awesome to refrain from actively trying to take out Ned, and then changing his mind. “There is a time to brave and a time to be timid. This is a time to be brave. Do it.” Initially a very dramatic scene, it makes less sense to me in this rewatch. Chuck asks Awesome et al to show restraint because a man with a gun, Ned, is dangerous. Then, when he finds out how dangerous Ned really is, much more dangerous than he had previously thought, instead of re-emphasizing caution, he asks them to take action. Chuck’s character has largely been about self-sacrifice for those he loves. Here he’s asking his family and friends to risk it all in order to save him from captivity. To me, it doesn’t fit.

    • atcDave says:

      Maybe its a difference between taking a foolish and unnecessary risk vs doing something because it needs to be done?

      • Yeah, it made no sense when he thought Ned was a confused idiot with a gun. When he’s a possible Fulcrum agent who’s threatened to murder his sister, that equation changes.

        What always bothered me about that scene was Awesome’s reaction. From Awesome’s perspective, Chuck would look almost as cowardly as Emmit. First he screams “no” when Sarah gets out, then after negotiating with Ned at the agent, he mysteriously gets let go before all of them. And now that he’d be out of danger, he tells Awesome, go ahead and risk your life. If I were Devin in that situation, I’d be pissed.

    • ChuckFanForever says:

      I don’t think Chuck urged Devon to taken action to save himself from captivity, as he was going with Mauser anyway, it was to save the others. Once he realized Ned was Fulcrum, perhaps he would have no qualms about shooting all the witnesses once Chuck and Mauser left the scene. Just a thought.

      • That’s the intention Chuck has, and we understand that, because we fully understand Chuck’s situation. Devon and Morgan have no way of seeing Chuck’s actions through that scope.

      • ChuckFanForever says:

        Good point! You guys have become so good at watching episodes from the other characters’ point of views!

  8. joe says:

    Happy New Year, everybody.

  9. Random peeve, but I hated Anna in this episode. Her expectations of Morgan were ridiculous, and then she ignores that he put himself more at risk than anybody else in the episode. I mean, how much more brave can you be than going up against a gunman with a snowblower to save your friend.

    It was cool to see Morgan being the Magnet already, though! Awesome’s “sacrificial lamb” comment was probably my favorite part on rematch.

    • ChuckFanForever says:

      I believe that Anna did not see Morgan’s act of bravery, neither did Ellie, as both were busy attending to Lester’s wounds. Yeah, I’m pretty sure in real life the others would have filled them in afterwards, but this is TV! =)

      • atcDave says:

        I think you’re right about that CFF! But it still could have taken some time. I think we also know from other Anna moments (I’m thinking Nemesis) that she’s not exactly fair or normal in how she makes decisions.

  10. Ernie Davis says:

    Some interesting comments about this episode, but most interestingly most come down to some complaints or quibbles with the resolution of the conflict set up at the end, or that Chuck would react as he does. My take, context matters.

    These past few episodes have seen Sarah acting a lot more like a real girlfriend, and needing Chuck to act like a real boyfriend. It was a distinctly softer Sarah who re-assured Chuck that he didn’t do anything wrong in Sensei or who needed and gratefully accepted Chuck’s support in DeLorean. It was a more open Sarah who let her dad tell Chuck stories about her childhood with nary a trace of panic that Chuck now knew she was raised by a career criminal as his accomplice, because Chuck doesn’t care who she was, because Chuck knows who she is.

    It is this Sarah we need to be looking at, the same one Chuck sees. The same one Chuck wants to make a part of his family. The Sarah who accepts a family heirloom and an invitation to be heart-warmed for Christmas is accepting that there is a real relationship and real feelings between them, even if they can’t yet fully act on them. It is because as he has gotten to know Sarah he no longer sees a killer and a cold blooded assassin described in intersect files any more than he sees a conman’s daughter. And I think I’m correct, Chuck hasn’t seen Sarah shoot anyone since she kneecapped Reardon Paine in Chuck Versus the Truth. It has been easy for Chuck to forget the Sarah he flashed on because he has rarely seen her shoot let alone kill someone.

    He sees his version of Sarah.

    His Sarah doesn’t kill people in cold blood. Except she does. He saw it with his own eyes. Chuck has invited a very deadly woman, capable of cold blooded murder, into his life and his family. That she killed an unarmed man not to protect “the intersect” but to protect Chuck from being stashed in a bunker would probably make it worse to him. That is why Sarah’s eventual defense, “I did what I had to do” is so non-responsive.

    Sarah made a promise she might not have been ready for and a commitment that spies shouldn’t make, and her only painful choice was to pay whatever price to keep Chuck safe, even if it meant lying to Chuck, and risking his trust.

    Now, was it well resolved? Not really, because I believe it was supposed to be resolved in Best Friend, where these same themes play out for Chuck with Morgan, and where we see Chuck pull back from seeing Sarah as a part of his life and family until the end. 3D was essentially a bottle episode, Chuck Bartowski’s Day Off, with the Mauser conflict tacked on the beginning and the resolution on the end. Third Dimension was scheduled for the Superbowl Monday and would be shown there regardless of where the story was. Schwedak talk about this in the season 2 DVD extras, they were approached with the possibility of a 3D episode to follow the Superbowl and could be heavily promoted. They jumped at the chance, and probably rightly so, but it didn’t really work out. Best Friend was supposed to be the next episode, but the promotion the 3D episode was getting trumped the need to treat the Mauser conflict as the core of the next episode’s story. Then they went and switched Best Friend and Suburbs so they could show the Valentines episode, Suburbs, which by the way flows effortlessly from the end of Best Friend, near Valentines Day. In the end the audience for 3D never stuck and this part of the season gets a bit confusing and, as seen in this thread, disappointing to some.

    • atcDave says:

      Except you are factually wrong about one thing Ernie. Best Friend, was not intended as the follow up to Santa Claus. The production numbers are jumbled up due to production issues, including the availability of 3-D cameras. Best Friend was the one shot to be a stand alone episode. Santa Claus and Third Dimension are one mini-arc; while Suburbs, Beefcake and Lethal Weapon are the next. It is unfortunate Best Friend wound up breaking into an arc (between Suburbs and Beefcake) instead of standing alone between arcs, due to some odd scheduling choices by NBC. But for itself it offers no resolution to Santa Claus, the incident is never even mentioned; while it is mentioned and dealt with in 3-D. That so many viewers found the resolution to be unsatisfying may be a knock on the writing or performances; but IT IS intended to be a resolution.

      I would tend to agree however that Chuck got a rather jolting reminder about who Sarah is and what she’s capable of. As far as that goes I think it was beautifully executed and a very dramatic moment. I think its unfortunate that the end scene was played more to comic extremes than as real drama. I’m not sure if the issue had to do with the director, or Zach himself over doing it, but it still plays false to me. Chuck got a reminder of things he knew, no real revelation was involved. His reaction seems too broad and too forced for the reality of the moment.

      • atcDave says:

        BTW, I’ve been unable to locate the NBC forums, they seem to have been deleted? But I well remember November of 2008. For a long time the forums showed Santa Claus – Best Friend – Third Dimension as the pending order. But at some point in late November the order was changed with the explanation it had always been wrong, and the production order was NOT intended to be the broadcast order.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Dave, I know things were changed during production to show in the order they did, but according to Schwedak 3D was added, not part of the original planned episodes. It was written around there being a lot of 3D stuff, not around the conflict set up with Sarah executing Mauser. That’s why I think Best Friend was originally intended to follow Santa Claus, to draw out the conflict and put Chuck in his own Mauser situation, where he had to potentially sacrifice his friendship with Morgan and do something he hated himself for doing to save his friend’s life. Now clearly they adapted the episodes to show in the order they did, with 3D offering the resolution, but with minor changes Best Friend would have done a much better job.

      Yes, I’m speculating a bit, but there are just too many parallels and callbacks in Best Friend for me to believe they are just a coincidence.

      • atcDave says:

        That is certainly possible, and of course Best Friend is a far stronger episode. If the Mauser story had been integrated into the Chuck/Sarah issues we saw in Best Friend it might have been a more satisfying conclusion. But as filmed, 3-D is the conclusion of the Mauser incident. It starts with Chuck’s nightmare about it, and ends with his and Sarah’s talk about it. While Best Friend looks at the slightly different issues of life long friendship and it being an alien concept to Sarah.
        Without significant changes, Best Friend can’t just be re-inserted after Santa Claus, since it completely ignores the issue left hanging from the earlier episode.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Who said anything about reinserting it. As I said things were clearly changed in production to the point that it doesn’t work. But if you look you can see a lot of Santa Claus continue into Best Friend. For one thing the Anna stalking in Best Friend follows pretty naturally from the end of Santa Claus. Anna doesn’t even appear in 3D. Also the charm bracelet features prominently in Best Friend, especially when Chuck is talking about family to Sarah (who is toying with it just before she has to slap Chuck down for putting Morgan’s feelings above the mission).

      • atcDave says:

        That is all true.

    • Back to your original comment, about Chuck’s reaction to the shooting, I there’s a very interesting parallel with the end of the season 3.0. I like that they both react to the idea of execution in essentially the same way – as though it shatters their ideal of each other and puts them in a new context. They even come to the same conclusion – that although their perfect perceptions of each other don’t include such horrible things as murder, they ultimately realize that they completely trust each other.

  11. uplink2 says:

    Quick question guys, do you intend to do this re-watch based on air date or original plan with Best Friend preceding Suburbs? I do think that the ending of Suburbs sets up what happens in Beefcake much better than Best Friend does. Also Best Friend sets up Suburbs better than 3D.

    It’s funny, looking at the episode writers of season 2 a couple of things stand out. The episodes we have talked about with weak, sweep it under the carpet, poorly execute resolutions to great setups, Graviton and 3D were both written by Fedak. To use a sports analogy it’s like he was wide open on the way to the end zone, thrown the perfect pass and fumbled it before crossing the goal line. It’s also interesting that the weakest episode of the great Orion arc to me at least, Predator, was written by him as well. I don’t think any of the top 15 episodes of season 2 were written by him except Ring which was co-written with Ali.

    • atcDave says:

      We’re doing 3-D, Best Friend, then Suburbs.

    • atcDave says:

      I’ll actually disagree about CF here. First Date is one of the very best, I loved Predator and Gravitron, and the things I hold against 3-D have nothing to do with the end.

      • uplink2 says:

        I love First Date but the episode blog here has Matt Miller listed as the writer. If he wrote it I stand corrected but Graviton, 3D and Predator are still bottom seven or eight of season 2 for me. Now it is season 2 and even the worst episodes of season 2 stand head and shoulders above 80-90% of Season 3 but still.

      • atcDave says:

        You’re right about First Date Uplink, my bad.

        The main thing I hold against Fedak is how he ended episodes he thought could be series send-offs, including the one that actually was. Even Ring and Ring II which are generally popular episodes, end on sort of a “now what” note. And I’ve seen the interviews with him that indicate that’s how he means to do it. But it leaves me very unsatisfied.

        As I’ve said before, Cliffhanger is the only one of his “possible” series send offs that I find acceptable as a send off (and yes, I do have issues with the episode. But it works as an ending for me).

  12. Late to the show as I have booked a last minute flight from London to New York tomorrow to see Yvonne in Golden Boy on Tuesday!!!
    Just time to say whatever flaws there may have been,it remains,for me,the best TV Xmas episode ever!!The bracelet scene will always be a favourite for Chuck fans,but I also thought it was an inspired choice to have the Sarah/Mauser fight and assassination play out to the strains of “Silent Night.””

  13. Thanks for the response, Joe.Just off to the airport,I definitely will if I get the chance and I don;t succumb to total brainfreeze!!
    Will report back on my return.

  14. With my semi-colon in “don’t”-it looks like I already have!!Now where did I put my glasses??

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  16. Bob says:

    Firstly, love this episode – it would easily make it into my personal top ten, and probably top five. Very different in tone and execution to most other episodes to date, but to me it works very well on all levels.

    I find the number of people who think Chuck overreacted to seeing Sarah shoot Mauser interesting, as it makes complete sense to me. I’ve been thinking about “why” as I’ve been reading through the comments, and it really boils down to a couple of things:

    I understand the point many people are making about Chuck already being aware that Sarah can kill, but it’s one thing being intellectually aware of something like this and entirely another thing witnessing it first-hand. I can probably best explain through a personal anecdote – perhaps others have a similar situation they can relate to? A friend of mine is a cop. Intellectually, I know that his job may one day require him to shoot / kill someone. I know that if this ever happens I will trust that it was justified, and won’t be shocked by it. But if I was 15 metres away and watched him actually do it, it would freak me out. I’m sure I’d get over it much faster than Chuck does (and it wouldn’t affect my perception of my cop-friend long-term)…

    … but in Chuck’s case, he didn’t just watch someone he trusts and cares for kill another person, he watched them do it in cold blood – and while that person were obviously surrendering, no less. Back to my personal anecdote, if I personally saw my cop-friend kill someone /in cold blood/, that would /seriously/ freak me out, and I’m sure I wouldn’t ever get over it. Now, my personal anecdote is a obviously different to Chuck’s situation, as I can’t think of any good reason why a cop could ever ethically justify killing someone in cold blood, whereas there clearly could be (and was) a justification in a CIA agent’s case. However…

    … Chuck has no context, and hence doesn’t know the justification. There’s really only two options as to what goes through his head here. One, he doesn’t figure out a possible justification / trust that there is one – in this case he’d rightly be 11-out-of-10 freaked out, thinking someone he trusts / loves is a cold-blooded killer. Two, he DOES figure out a possible justification (whether it’s the correct one or not isn’t relevant), or at least trusts that there IS a justification, even if he doesn’t know what it is. Let’s assume his brain went for option two (as if it went for option one then his 11-of-of-10 freak-out is definitely justified). So, he runs with the knowledge / assumption of there being a justification…

    … until he asks Sarah what is it (asks what happened to Mauser), and she lies to him. What could he be thinking at this point, really, other than if there was a justification, why would she lie to him?

    So he’s rightly freaked out – it’s like he’s back at option one, above – he’s at a point where he currently thinks that someone he trusts / loves, someone he holds in very high regard, has killed another person in cold blood without a good reason. I think that would do a number on just about anyone. Now, of course, I’m making assumptions about the thought processes that happened here, but I think my explanation stands up logically pretty well.

    This also explains his relatively quick calm-down in the following episode to – whether his brain went for option one or two, above, he relatively quickly realises that there really was a justification, after all. I think he may even have said this explcitly in 3D? I haven’t watched that again yet.

    Finally, on top of all the above, there are also other factors floating around the edges. You could argue he’s never seen Sarah kill in /cold blood/ before – Sarah explained the dinner party to him, and killing the two guys after she disarmed them in the early flash is not quite “in the heat of combat”, but also not quite cold blood either. Plus, in those two situations, even if Chuck regarded them as cold blooded killing, he would at least be cushioned by knowing she was most likely ordered to make those kills – which can’t have been the case with Mauser. And probably most importantly, while Chuck may intellectually be aware of Sarah’s capacity to kill (in cold blood or not), that is the “old Sarah” – not the Sarah who has clearly changed over the course of 1.5 years together, who he has come to love, etc.

  17. Bob says:

    A couple of other random thoughts about this episode – thought I’d put them in a separate comment as my last one was already a monster. Similar to the comment I made at the end of the Chuck vs the Marlin discussion, two fairly subtle things jumped out at me on this re-watch that I’ve never noticed before:

    Firstly: everyone loves the bracelet scene for obvious reasons. Amongst other things, it’s yet another example of Yvonne’s wonderful ability to convey emotion through her facial expressions. But I think this time it’s Zach who is actually saying the most through body language.

    Watch the very end of this scene – especially Zach’s face – just after Sarah tells Chuck that the bracelet is something he should give to a real girlfriend. Up till now, I’d taken Chuck’s response to be “I know I shouldn’t be giving this to you, but I want to because I have feelings for you”, or something like that (which of course has layers of meaning below it too). Watching this time though – and watching Zach’s facial expression in particular – I think what he’s actually saying is that he wants to give the bracelet to her because he wants her to be a real girlfriend. i.e., he’s not saying “I know [that I shouldn’t be giving this to you, even though I want to because I have feelings for you]”, but rather “I know [that this is something you give to a real girlfriend, which is why I’m doing it]”. Similar, but also vastly different.

    I know that probably sounds a little daft – and perhaps it is, perhaps everyone else got this immediately – because /we/ all know the latter is exactly what he actually wants. But remember that going right back to Break Up, Chuck was the one who cut off this possibility with Sarah – he “broke up” with her. From the character’s point of view, and despite perhaps (quite obvious) clues to the contrary, the facade of “I don’t want to date you” has still been up from /Chuck’s/ side – up until this very moment.

    Also, despite my defence of Chuck’s end-of-episode freak-out (as per above), this also perhaps adds some extra context to it – Chuck has finally just let /his/ guard down, and then almost immediately sees the person he’s let his guard down to do something “horrific”.

    Secondly: this one is probably over-thinking things, but the “realisation” hit me so strongly on this re-watch that I thought it was worth mentioning. The scene where Sarah hugs Chuck as she leaves the Buy More in the middle of the episode – does this remind anyone else of another scene, say at the end of First Kill? There are a lot of parellels… although it could just be it’s hard to make whispering-while-hugging /that/ different 🙂 There is also the dialogue from Chuck before the hug at the end of First Kill though, too – it ties in nicely with what Sarah whispers in Santa Claus.

  18. First Impression says:

    After just seeing the Sensei and the DeLorean, the show had settled into a rhythm. Chuck and Sarah are friends, Chuck and Casey are making an art of picking at each other, and Team B is catching bad guys.  The car chase being shown on the Buy More TVs arrives inside the store, but it’s still business as usual as evidenced in some favorite lines: 
    Ned: Who’s in charge here?  Morons (pointing): Chuck.
    Chuck: This store has a very strict no bravery policy.
    Chuck: This is John Casey, who’s even more harmless than she [Sarah] is.  
    Ned: I’m really sorry about your friend’s toe.  Chuck:  It’s ok.  Sometimes I feel like shooting him myself. 
    Jeff: Inmate number 27318, aka mom.
    Casey: Mother? It’s Johnny-boy. 
    Sarah: You should give this to a real girlfriend.  Chuck: I know.

    Then business as usual began to feel skewed.  Lt. Mauser walked in, removed his bullet-proof vest (not quite LAPD protocol), and suggested a trade for two hostages. Mauser selected the injured man (Casey).  Ned selected Chuck’s girlfriend and Chuck panicked.  Sarah hugged Chuck and said, “Trust me, I’ll never let anyone hurt you.”  

    At this point, I was already suspecting Mauser but still viewed Ned as slightly less intelligent than a Moron.  But Ned was working for Mauser, and suddenly I realized shooting Casey in the toe was not an accident, nor was the removal of Casey and Sarah.  

    ‘Silent Night’ played while Sarah searched for Chuck in the Christmas tree lot.  Locating him, she  told him to run back to the Castle. “Your safety is more important than mine.”  Not quite as brave this time, Chuck decided to run – perhaps fully realizing the threat to his freedom.  The fight ensued, with Sarah taking quite a beating.  Mauser’s monologue as Sarah held him at gunpoint seemed odd.  What did he mean when he said, “I’m not like the other agents.”?  Sarah struggled with her choices, but finally shot Mauser, doing the only thing that will ensure Chuck’s safety.  Unfortunately, Chuck sees only the shooting.

    Sarah walks into the Buy More looking beaten and defeated.  She puts on a smile, rushes to Chuck for a kiss and hug.  “It’s ok. You’re safe.  I got the fulcrum agent.”  Chuck asked, “What happened to him?”  Then she lied.  It took me by surprise, but I think she was protecting him.  It was as if she believed, like she once told Casey, that Chuck couldn’t process it.  Plus she kept her promise to never let anyone hurt him.

    I had more of an issue with the fact that Chuck even asked the question.  Was he testing her?  Was he up on a moral high-horse judging her actions?  So Chuck, ‘what do you do when your girl does something so horrific that it’s burned into your brain?’  Apparently, you forget about the fact that she just saved you from life in a secure facility with no hope of ever seeing your family and friends again.  

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah FI I also had more of a problem with Chuck than Sarah at the end. She was in a hopeless, no win situation, cleaning up the mess HE made! Overall I thought a very strong episode, but the end is a little off.
      I will be very interested in your reaction to the resolution in the next episode.

      One scheduling thing to be aware of; the “official” episode order coming up is mixed up. NBC flipped a couple episodes, for unknown reasons they never fixed this on the discs or download sites. The order we use here WILL have better continuity.
      So be sure you watch Third Dimension (2.12), Best Friend (2.14) THEN Suburbs (2.13). Viewers who are unaware of the switch are often confused by some inconsistencies in emotional tone when viewing out of order (or, err, in order…)

  19. Christopher says:

    This episode to me reminded me a lot of another episode in season 3 but I won’t ruin things for First Impression, but Dave, you will know it reminds a lot of the final exam. except the roles are in reverse and the problem I had with that episode and this episode is Sarah actually, but we will wait for First impressions to get to that episode before discussing it further,

    What do you thnk Dave of my view on it.

    • atcDave says:

      There’s some thematic similarity. But that episode does the most thorough character assassination of Sarah imaginable. I can’t hardly imagine doing anything to make a main character look more idiotic than that episode does.

      We discussed this much more thoroughly in that episodes “Alternatives” post.

      • noblz says:


        And the resolution is totally different. And when FI gets to FE, we can discuss the Sarah damage…don’t want to spoil too much.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah its funny, we really never tried to avoid spoilers in these posts. In fact, the idea was sort of a “big picture” perspective, and spoilers abound! But still, this isn’t the place for it.

  20. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs Santa Claus (2.11) | Chuck This

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