For me, Honeymooners is the point when the show is back on track, and will never look back. This may be my favorite episode of the entire series, only a couple can ever challenge it. It is fun, sweet, and important to the remainder of the show. And ends with, what I still think, is maybe the most romantic scene ever shown on television.
So after the jump, we’ll have a fun look at a favorite episode.
Reinvention can be a sore subject. I’ll always stand by saying the first reinvention of Chuck, that which led to Pink Slip, was a betrayal of sorts. I don’t mean to make too big a thing of it. It is just a television show. Lives are not on the line. But it was a betrayal to many viewers who had fought hard to keep this show on the air. We fought for a product, that was then changed in ways many of us intensely disliked.
Honeymooners is sort of the second reinvention of the show in a fairly short time frame. It will always make me sad that so many viewers who would have loved the second reinvention of the season, had already been scared off by the first. I remain convinced that if episode 3.01 had looked more like Honeymooners and less like it did, we’d be celebrating the end of S6 right now. I believe that in part because this episode is so strong, so joyous and so much fun; I believe if it had run on January 10, 2010 instead of the first episode that did, we would have better energized that night’s large premier audience.
Now I know many of you who strongly disagree with me are getting a little cranky right now. But I didn’t say any of that for the purpose of upsetting anyone. I said it because I believe this is one of the absolute strongest episodes of Chuck ever. I think it showcases the action, humor, friendship and romance that was Chuck at its best. It highlights what is different and special about our show. Pink Slip looks like a weak attempt at a serious show like Alias. Honeymooners looks like nothing else on television. It is overflowing with joy, it puts the very special Chuck/Sarah relationship center stage, the action is exciting and funny and the characters are likable. Wow. great episode.
One thing that I think most of us will agree on is that its about time. Chuck and Sarah seem to have bad luck with actually running away successfully. But at least this time they got to enjoy the scenery a little. In spite of being dominated by pure fluffy fun there’s some very important things happening in this episode too. The obvious is just that Chuck and Sarah are together now, and there’s really no looking back. Chuck is back to being a unique show again. Really, the relationship will no longer be a source of any angst to speak of, it will be played for laughs and for heart and to show what’s important and worth fighting for. But its for keeps too. That is a unique and special thing on television today. And yes, I still believe something was lost during the arc that just ended. But to be fair, its a story telling/entertainment mistake that will not be repeated. And I really appreciate that. It is human to error, it is awesome to learn from it. So I’m willing to let it go, and enjoy what lies ahead.
I think the permanence of the new coupling is beautifully shown in the faux vows too. They may not be legally binding, but I think in the ways that matter Chuck and Sarah are married. They will not turn back or doubt, and they will show extraordinary commitment over the next couple years of the show. The actual wedding strikes me as less significant than these vows. I also like that they will be spies together too. That may be sort of a “duh” observation, but I think its important that they see themselves as professional partners as well as intimate ones. Of course that will be a less permanent situation, and I will whine and complain plenty in a few weeks when we get to Ring II, but the work relationship will also, mostly, be satisfying to the end too. And of course Beckman will know by the end of the episode. Really one of my favorite moments of a favorite episode (“release Agent Walker!”). Beckman makes Casey look warm and cuddly. But she does grudgingly agree to the new arrangement. She has to know it will mean less drama on her team.
Morgan is well used again this week. I mentioned in Other Guy that I thought Morgan was well used there too. This will continue for most of this season. I think Morgan is a lot of fun as an eccentric addition to Team B. I will have Morgan complaints in the future, but for now, I like what I see. Of course its great to have Casey back on the team too, but did anyone really think that would take very long? Chuck and Sarah need Casey to play the part of disapproving big brother. Even better, we know he’s just playing a part, Casey will fight for his friends.
Ellie and Devon’s part may be the weakest of this episode; especially Ellie looking like a frighteningly co-dependent sibling from Hell. And I think Ellie, with only a few exceptions, will not be well utilized for quite a while. But I may be getting ahead, those few exceptions are coming right up.
And again, that end. I was not a Nina Simone fan before, but Feeling Good is on my iPod now. Perfect moment.
Perfect moment is right, Dave! For me, that perfect moment starts off about 30 seconds into the Chuck vs. The Honeymooners, when all that tension, worry and angst disappears, just like you said. It’s a holiday. Time to celebrate!
What a romp! This is the way it should be and what we wished for the young couple from the beginning. Even with my Catholic Schoolboy upbringing, it’s hard not to say “Awww – nutz. You deserve to have a good time. Go for it, kids!” 😉
Okay. I’ll calm down. Really, it’s easy to think that there is nothing more to this episode than the simple, obvious joy of Chuck and Sarah getting together. And certainly, there are a few very obvious and simple ideas running through this episode.
After the trauma of the last few – um – months, Chuck and Sarah are more than ready to start a new life together and a train ride through Europe sounds like a great start. It is. I wasn’t surprised when they started to have second thoughts, though. Chuck wouldn’t be Chuck if he wasn’t second guessing himself, and Sarah wouldn’t be Sarah if she wasn’t considering all contingencies.
Sarah: Beckman expected us back in Burbank today. So did Ellie and Casey and Devon… We can’t just run away like this.
Chuck: Why not?
Viva la difference! Their indecision is not paralyzing them this time. Not only are Beckman’s cell phone calls not being answered, the cell phone is flying out the window. The plan gets more extreme quickly.
Chuck: We should do what I should’ve done in Prague. We should run.
Sarah: But, Chuck, is that what you really want?
Chuck: I want you.
Right from the start, Chuck and Sarah are addressing the important questions squarely and, just like we saw in The Other Guy, they’re making some important decisions. This is what’s known technically as A Good Thing ™.
Chuck: Sarah Walker, do you agree to quit the spy life with me?
Sarah: I do. Chuck Bartowski, do you agree to quit the spy life with me?
Chuck: I do.
Cute tease. Honestly, I expected that – the teasing of the audience. Just like they did before, Chuck and Sarah have decided to leave their old lives behind and run – this time, without stopping. It’s just too romantic an idea to give up on!
Of course, it’s not that simple. When Sarah spots a passenger on the train sporting a gun and, at the same time, Chuck flashes, it’s clear that trouble is finding them with more ease than Morgan and Casey. While this is going on, Ellie and Devon are planning a going-away party before they leave for Africa. It promises to be a downer when Chuck can’t be found and Jeffster can’t be avoided.
But it’s still a romp of an adventure. It turns out that person at the center of the nest of spies discovered by the couple is one Juan Diego Arnaldo, a member of Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Eta, a Basque terrorist group). “Oh my God, you even make terrorist groups sound sexy,” says Chuck (and “Fer sure,” says Joe). It would be irresponsible – even criminal – of them to do nothing about this, so Chuck and Sarah assume the cover of the newly wed couple from Texas, the Charleseseseses, complete with a fake wedding band. Oh, it’s cute, and once again Yvonne gets to flex her comedic muscles and treat us to her amazing talent for getting regional accents just right, y’all.
And there’s more. It’s no accident that we hear Chuck and Sarah exchanging vows and donning wedding bands, even if the vows are wrong and the bands are fake. The fans want to get ahead of themselves every bit as much as do Chuck and Sarah. The writer, Ali Adler, knows this, and I don’t mind this tease one bit.
[As a side note, I missed several times that both Chuck and Sarah define their relationship now as “dating, exclusively.” My understanding is that, since dating is being transmorgafied by the young folks these days into stages that begin with “hooking up” and ending with “living together,” exclusive denotes a stage that comes after having a formal dinner together and before forsaking all others, at least temporarily. I miss the ’50s. But then again, I am an old foggy.]
The lighthearted adventure hides an important point; as much as they want to start a new life, Chuck and Sarah both really want to be spies. Convinced that the other only wants a temporary diversion from their plan, they both promise “one more mission” and proceed to wreck Interpol’s operation with the surrendering Arnaldo. It gets more complex, though, when real Eta terrorists, led by Elia masquerading as a Canadian, show up to take Arnaldo back. With the help of Arnaldo’s wise advice, Chuck and Sarah come to a realization. They don’t have to choose one over the other; a life together or the spy life.
Sarah: Chuck Bartowski, do you agree to not quit the spy life and be with me?
Chuck: I do. Sarah Walker, do you agree to not quit the spy life and be with me?
Sarah: I do. [They kiss]
Thinking it’s one or the other is just a habit they, and we, learn from repetition. No one is guaranteed success, but everyone should try for the brass ring at least once in their lives. That’s what Chuck&Sarah intend to do. The celebratory theme of the episode continues!
Chuck&Sarah have once again changed their minds, but I must say that there’s something different about it this time. There’s a kind of sober reflection – they are not acting impulsively.
That’s subtle. I’d like to point out something else that’s not quite so obvious. You see, you can’t really have a celebration without reflecting on how you got there. Chuck and Sarah have traveled a difficult road with more than a little sadness mixed in with the laughter. Who’d have guessed that it’s Jeffster, of all people, who remind us that others are affected by every decision we make?
There’s so many times I’ve let you down,
So many times I’ve played around.
I tell you now, they don’t mean a thing.
Every place I go I’ll think of you,
Every song I sing, I’ll sing for you.
When I come back, I’ll bring/wear your wedding ring.
The song was chosen with great care, it seems. It’s an apology, you see, from Chuck to Ellie, from Sarah to Chuck and maybe even from Ali Adler to the viewers. I have to admit something. If that’s Vik singing (I think it is), I like this version. He’s performing it every bit as effectively as Peter, Paul and Mary or even John Denver without the folksy vibe or country twang. Chuck and Sarah aren’t the only thing that real now (and as Beckman would say, “It’s about damn time.”) So is Jeffster.
Yes, it’s true, Dave, just like you said. Sarah is different now and so is Chuck. They’ve grown up quite a bit. The whole show is different.