Chuck vs The Tooth (3.16)

Well if Role Models last week was completely average, Tooth is a different thing altogether.  I think this episode represents the extremes of Season Three all by itself.  There are some beautiful perfect moments, and some pretty ugly ones I don’t care for at all.  Now I do think the good outweighs the bad here. Really there’s some terrific stuff in this episode that makes it quite easy to enjoy the re-watch.  And with this episode we really start the run up to a very exciting season ending arc.

After the jump, we’ll look at episode 3.16.

I have to start by saying I think this episode has held up extremely well.  It really manages to be entertaining from beginning to end.  The highlight here is clearly Sarah’s story, and how she finally comes to tell Chuck what he needs to hear.  Her growth into being more emotionally open is now fully underway.  She will prove to be remarkably patient with, and tolerant of Chuck’s foibles.  Good thing too.  Because Chuck is returning to his lying dirtbag ways that we saw much of earlier in the season.  I wanted to cut Chuck some slack this time.  Especially in the end when Sarah has her big moment; so Chuck decides to enjoy the moment with her, right?  Well, he’s already fudged on his health issues earlier in the episode.  And he flat out lies in the end.  Chuck has become entirely too comfortable with lying to those he claims to care about.  Its one thing if its work/mission related.  But of course this is no where close.  Just the opposite.  Rather than clue in his partner and significant other, he lies. I would have completely understood had he said “The doctor cleared me for duty, and we’ll have some other things to talk about later…”  That would be a decent thing to do and say.  But no, he says he’s fine.  That’s a lie and I’m not fine with it.  And then he lies about his nightmare too…

It is however, just one little thing.  And I don’t mean to let it ruin the episode for me.  There was so much that was done well here.  Chuck’s dreams are both interesting and very amusing (Sarah looking for Zamibian food, too funny).  Chuck and “Cobra’s” mission is amusing too.  I have occasionally complained about too much Morgan time on the show, and honestly, if I were writing, this mission never would have happened.  But it sure was fun to watch.  I really can’t complain.  And Cobra is so funny, especially getting tranqued.  I love Sarah’s determination to believe in Chuck, especially after the funny scene where she gets the tooth.  The lab work scene is beautiful and heartbreaking, and so well played.  Which of course leads to the scene at Doctor Dreyfus’ house which is really awesome to see.  That scene alone almost makes the whole episode a winner.  Continuing on to the hospital scene; “spies attack!” and Sarah’s real rescue.  Very strong episode.

The return of Anna Wu was great fun too.  “I always knew when Anna left to break Morgan’s heart she’d come back to break mine too”.  Oh my.  Anna was always written funnier than Alex.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for Morgan, he got the better girl.  But Anna was so much more fun to watch.  Bonus points for Morgan telling her to shove off.  And he hadn’t even met Alex yet.

Even though I find the lying to Ellie a bit tiresome at this point in the show, I do like the way her story will play out.  And I like how keeping her in the dark is now the source of major trouble.  Of course that makes next season’s lies even stupider.  But Ellie’s introduction to the spy world is wonderfully conceived.

Tooth is an episode of extremes.  Those extremes; from lying Chuck, to Sarah’s breakthrough moment, sort of symbolize the entire season for me.  But the balance here leans far to the good.  I wish they’d done a better job of achieving this balance all season long; with the bad not dragged out for so long.  Perhaps if Chuck’s struggles with the spy world, his health, and knowing when to tell the truth and when to lie; had been balanced from the start with a growing, healthy primary relationship the whole arc would have worked far better for me.  But for now, at least this back arc is getting it all right.

~ Dave
ct_bar

WWJD

Merlin!

Merlin!

You hit it exactly right, Dave. The good stuff in Chuck vs. The Tooth – Anna Wu, Morgan, Merlin! – is top notch. But Chuck’s inability to bring Sarah into his complete confidence and (something you didn’t bring up) Sarah’s reluctance to finally say “I love you” are more than disconcerting. Those last things have a weird effect on me; they make me uncomfortable and always make me raise an eyebrow in a very Spock-like fashion. They are disconcerting, almost disappointing at this point and, I admit it, painful. But I can’t exactly say I see them as negatives.

Zombie! What a nightmare!

Zombie! What a nightmare!

Those dream sequences are indeed awesome. I don’t know why, but dreams are hard to portray. The combination of reality and unreality may be different for everyone, so that makes it hard to capture on TV. But in Tooth there’s a mix and a tempo, not to mention a combination of chaos and order, that are as close to my experience as I’ve ever seen. I mean, Beckman clanging cymbals? Perfect! I know I dream of that often. Don’t you? [Paging Ernie Davis!]

The fan’s nightmare is Shaw. You didn’t like Shaw? Great! He is a nightmare. Ominous and foreboding, (understatement of the year!) his re-introduction makes that explicit. But if that’s not a big enough nightmare for you…

The return of Anna Wu.

The return of Anna Wu.

Morgan’s nightmare is back too. Anna Wu returns, but wow, is she changed. Emmett’s characterization (slightly slutty with too much makeup, heels that were too high and skirts that were way too short) is meaningless now. She’s transformed into a glamorous figure. It’s not out of character either – this is where Anna was headed in Best Friends while Benji Hughes played. It’s her theme.

Anna thinks she’s moved on, changed for the better and taking a few steps forward. The worry now, though, the one we share with a certain bearded troll, is that Anna is now very much out of Morgan’s league. That’s Morgan’s reality. He is the bearded troll, after all and that’s all he’s experienced.

Chuck’s real worry isn’t that Shaw is still alive. He knows in his bones the Intersect is telling him something that’s more metaphorical than literal. Better, he knows that even if Shaw appears at his door this very evening bearing Zamibian carry-out, he’s capable of shooting his former boss again. That’s the past; it’s dead and gone. Chuck is much more concerned with his present, the amazing blonde spy upon who’s lap he can rest his head, the one for whom he struggles to be worthy. Anna has found the courage to move past The Buy More. But after all this time, is Chuck still so insecure?

The episode makes us wonder if Chuck still isn’t who he (and we and Sarah) want him to be. Maybe he is. But that doesn’t mean the nagging fears and all his insecurities just go away, you know. They nag that, after three years, everything could disappear again or be undone; he may make a mistake or Sarah may change her mind. When Sarah balks at the words “I love you” it pricks exactly at Chuck’s biggest insecurities and his worries don’t go away when Chuck wakes up, like Shaw does. His nightmare, the one he keeps tamping down deep into his subconscious, is that life with Sarah is just a fantasy.

The biggest nightmare of all, of course, isn’t the one Chuck’s having or the one Morgan’s having, but it’s Sarah’s. She knows he’s having “bad dreams” and that he’s holding something back; the only reason for Chuck withholding is the fear it’s more serious than it seems, and when Chuck starts acting irrational, it’s proof. IN fact, Chuck may be literally losing his mind (and note that we’re a long way from Season 5). It’s her first indication that the Intersect can have a powerful negative effect on a person’s brain.

Or, it would if Chuck wasn’t such a good liar now. Of course, she’s right to worry. We shouldn’t forget that Sarah’s fears are so large that she’ll grab onto any ray of hope she can find.

Welcome back, Kuti.

Welcome back, Kuti.

Ah, it’s a classic Chuck adventure, with the president Kuti of Zamibia (played by Welcome Back Carter‘s own Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs III – What? You don’t remember Freddy “Boom-Boom” Washington???) endangered by his own Dr. Kowambe (Allan Lewis), a ring agent. Only Chuck knows the truth but because of his dreams. No one could believe him.

That’s not exactly true, is it? Morgan believes him. Sarah? That’s harder to say.

Sarah really goes the extra mile to trust Chuck in Tooth. But every time she goes out on a limb for him, something shows her she’s wrong to do that. At first, it’s Chuck not telling her he’s gone a little rogue to protect Kuti. No matter, she’ll trust him. Then it’s Chuck hitting a Zamibian VIP and creating an international incident. That’s okay; Chuck has done ridiculous things before and he’s always been proven to be right. Then there’s the little lie about his first visit to the CIA shrink, Dr. Dreyfus (the inestimable Christopher Lloyd).

This is no nightmare.

This is no nightmare.

Then Chuck insists that the tooth will set him free! Uh, sorry. – that the tooth contains the proof Dr. Kowambe is a ring agent. No such luck. The tooth is 100% tooth, and that’s devastating. If you were in Sarah’s shoes, what would you do?

It’s more than disconcerting. As much as they want to, as much as they believe they should and and much as they are trying to do the right thing, Chuck isn’t 100% trusting Sarah to stay, Sarah isn’t 100% believing in Chuck. Frankly, neither of them should. That would ridiculous, foolish and more fantastical than The Intersect itself – it’s the stuff of which bad dreams and bad marriages are made. The stasis can only be broken if one of them changes and makes a move in a different direction.

Chuck can’t do that. He’s looking, acting and labeled insane, then is locked in a CIA psychiatric facility. That leaves Sarah, the girl who was, as Bryce so elegantly put it, “never good at the talking about her emotions part.”

Yeah, what would you do? Sarah gives up. Isn’t that the least likely thing you could imagine? Sarah gives up. The woman who knocks on Dr. Dreyfus’ door is defeated, without hope and desperate, something unimaginable just a few months earlier.

Sarah: [knocks] Good evening.
Dreyfus: Let me guess. You’re here because of Chuck.
Sarah: Doctor, I know that there has to be something more to his condition. He can’t just be deteriorating in this way.
Dreyfus: Why? Because you care about him?
Sarah: No. You don’t understand. He’s not like other people. He is… incredibly special.
Dreyfus: Ah. Especially to you, I gather.
Sarah: He needs to be okay. I – I need him to be okay.
I’d like to go to the hospital tonight and talk to him, try and figure this out and then help him somehow, you know? Please? I love him.

Please?

“Please?”

Mrs. Joe has a saying I’ve heard often. “Sometimes you just have to let go and let God.” Sarah’s reached the point where she has to let go of the control stick. She’s not in charge of this situation and she’s that desperate. The good news is that she has friends and so does Chuck.

Dreyfus: Ever tell him that?
Sarah: Please, doctor, I’m begging you.
Dreyfus: You’re not the only one.

Friends

Friends

Chuck’s friend inside the psychiatric facility is Merlin (Kevin West). He’s loyal, but not exactly helpful. That’s okay. Sarah and Casey are both and that makes all the difference. Chuck is only as insecure about Sarah as I am (amazing how Zac portrays that) and once she saves him, Chuck knows he’s been foolish that way.

Chuck: You came back for me.
Sarah: I’ll always come back for you.

Morgan’s overcome his inclinations in a different way. Maybe he was just lucky that Anna came waltzing into the Buy More just when he was so distracted by everything going on in this video-game of a world he entered into. And maybe it was lucky that the James Bond life just fit into his fantasy life in a way that made sense to him. In any event, Morgan’s grown up a bit. He doesn’t look on his Buy More past in quite the same way.

"You're right. I have changed. See ya later."

“You’re right. I have changed. See ya later.”

Anna: Morgan Guillermo Grimes! I refuse to be denied an audience with Buy More’s assistant manager. If you run off on me one more time, I swear, I’ll call corporate.
Morgan: I owe you an explanation. I’m so sorry. Last few days have been insane.
Anna: Morgan, I’ve been trying to get a second of your time to give you this – some stuff you left behind in Hawaii. Thought you may want it back.
Morgan: [sifts through the box full of games and toys] I’m okay without it.
Anna: Well, here’s something else you may have forgotten. [Anna plants a big wet one unexpectedly on him.] I gotta hand it to you, Morgan. You know how to play a girl.
Morgan: Well, you know, some men have it and… What are you talking about??? I don’t…
Anna: You know what they say about not knowing you want something until you can’t have it? It’s true. You’ve changed, Morgan. I want you back.
Morgan: Wow. Really? If it took me running from you to realize that I’m somebody you want, then I don’t think you’re the person I want. So, yeah, you’re right. I have changed. I’ll see you later.

It’ll be a long time before I stop missing the character and Julia Ling. If it’s any consolation, Anna, Jeff doesn’t mind leftovers.

They still need to talk.

They still need to talk.

There’s one more nightmare to resolve, though. It’s ours. You see, Chuck still has a problem; The Intersect still may be overpowering his brain. He’s not sure, Dreyfus is not sure and the whole situation may amount to nothing. Or it may kill him. It’s not like he didn’t try to tell Sarah the whole story.

Chuck: Hey, Sarah, hey. We need to talk.
Sarah: Sure, but…
Chuck: No, look, this is very important.
Sarah: I love you. It shouldn’t have taken me this long to say it, but I’ve never felt this way. Before you, the only future I could think about was my next mission. And now, all I can think about is a future with you. I love you, Chuck.
Chuck: I love you too. [they kiss]
Sarah: So, what did you wanna tell me? Is it about the doctor? What did he say?
Chuck: [hiding the truth] He said that… I’m fine. So… [they kiss again]

Sarah found a way to finally do the “talk about her feelings part” and Chuck knows exactly how much courage that took. He knows exactly what it means for her to say those three words. He still fears worrying her needlessly, though. The consensus is that Chuck’s being very much a coward here but I’m not quite so sure. What he doesn’t know is how much pain the news will cause her, and hurting Sarah is the last thing he wants to do. This is neither the time nor the place.

It’s hard to tell you this,
It’s hard to tell you this.

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

But when is there a better time or a better place? It’s a very hard thing to discern sometimes, with many ramifications; not cut-and-dried at all, if you’re honest. That’s pretty deep for a mere TV show.

In the course of this episode I found myself laughing (especially at Merlin) and cheering (especially at Morgan) and really, really happy that Sarah has finally told Chuck she loves him. All that, yes, and then I found myself wondering about the implications and ethics of what I had just seen. That’s why I chose the word “disconcerting” earlier. I always wind up wondering what I would do in that situation. (That’s what the J is for – Joe.) I know Chuck should have spoken up. Maybe it’s a moral failing of mine; I’m just not sure I could do any better.

And that’s not something negative. That’s amazing.

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 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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51 Responses to Chuck vs The Tooth (3.16)

  1. joe says:

    I think I took all of Dave’s pictures! 😉

  2. Justin says:

    Hey atcDave,I was wondering when I should post parts of my alternate Season 3.5? Should I post along the alternative posts in the future or could I post them along the non-alternative posts? Or should I post the summary of my vision of the second half of the season right here?

  3. resaw says:

    Great reviews, guys. Dave, I agree with you that this episode contains extremes. In fact, before re-watching this episode, I was remembering this episode as the worst of season 3 (I know… we do NOT agree on the so-called “misery arc”). In retrospect, recognizing that the Intersect can be dangerous to its host, especially after what happened in Season 5 (as Joe hinted), was an important topic to explore. I’m not thrilled with the overall execution, however.

    There are two things I didn’t like here: the first, the already mentioned is Chuck’s lying. Very disappointing, although, as you ask, Joe, would I have done ay different? The second thing was that too much of the show was played for laughs at what I felt were inappropriate times, Merlin and the mental hospital being the most egregious example.

    Not to say that there isn’t some really good humour in this episode. The scenes with Morgan work well in my estimation, and one little silly one that I liked a lot was where he botches the name of the (made-up) country “Zamibia.” The wind machine effect on Skip’s hair as Morgan walks by is also used to good effect. Morgan does not come across as a “troll” in that scene. I kinda wish there had been more time devoted to Anna’s return, though, but it was good to have her back even briefly. Jeff and Lester were suitably creepy, however, upon seeing her enter the store.

    It makes sense to me that Chuck would have dreams/nightmares about shooting Shaw. It makes less sense to me that somehow the Intersect would interact with Chuck’s subconscious to reveal to Chuck that Shaw is still alive ( a dream that subsequently turns out to be true). It’s as though Chuck has a realtime pipeline of information from not only the databases of the CIA/NSA but also The Ring.

    Ellie’s ignorance of the truth about Chuck, Sarah and Casey is the foundation for what goes wrong in the final episodes of this season, but it shows once again that lying/deceiving/concealing information from your loved ones is seldom a good idea. Even so, I liked the way Devon deals with Ellie’s discovery that Casey owns a rather substantial arms cache. “Is that creepy? Yes. Is that illegal? Sadly, no.”

    Special scenes: As mentioned above, Sarah’s confession/display of vulnerability in front of Dr. Dreyfus at his door and Casey’s appearance at the door. Marvelous stuff. Casey says nothing but his presence speaks volumes about his love, compassion and respect for Sarah. I also liked the way Yvonne portrayed Sarah at the hospital visit: “Sarah, you can’t give up on me, okay?” “I won’t. I’ll get it tested.” Then her eyes brim with tears. Amazing stuff.

    You know, Joe, I get your point that Sarah’s clear declaration of love might cause Chuck to hesitate to share the concerns about his health, but something I heard yesterday in a sermon in church yesterday made my think just the opposite. The preacher’s message included a quotation from a book by Timothy Keller: “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and fully loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any any difficulty life can throw at us.” In my view, this quotation has remarkable applicability here.

    • mr2686 says:

      I will start off by saying that I like this episode a lot. With that said, IMO, it’s not only the weakest/worst of season 3, but of the entire series. When many say they do not like the misery arc because it’s too dark, they rarely point to this episode (or others) and mention how dark they are. This episode, my friends, is as dark as Chuck gets. It’s for this reason they feel the need to go over the top with the comedy, just to even it out.
      Some of the best moments:
      1. Sarah going to the Doctor’s house and finding Casey already there. Obviously this is a top moment in the series, and ranks right up there with all other Casey character development moments. Would first season Casey even have given a grunt about this?
      2. Morgan being tranqued by Casey.
      3. All things Merlin.
      4. Chuck trying to do Kung Fu while sedated.
      5. Sarah’s joke about Spies Like Us.

      To me, the real weakness in this episode is how Christopher Lloyd was used. I thought his character would have been much more fun if it would have been played like Doc. Brown from Back To The Future. What would have happened if Chevy Chase was real serious throughout his arc? I think those episodes played to his strengths with all of his quips and one liners, but this episode did not play to Lloyd’s strengths at all.
      As for Chuck lying, well that’s kinda what he’s always done. It’s his way of, he feels, keeping his loved one’s safe. Whether it’s lying about working for the CIA, or lying about his health, it’s all part of the spy (or wanna be spy) package. Let’s face it, how many husbands have gone to the doctor and been told their blood pressure or cholesterol was too high, and then went home and told their spouse that everything was fine. I don’t see this, at least in the Chuck world, as any different than that.
      After this episode, we start to bounce back up with Living Dead and then hit a series high note with the last two episodes.

      • joe says:

        I sure agree with your list, Mr. I gotta say that Lloyd took me by surprise here. I think I went in expecting Doc Brown or maybe even Jim Ignatowski, and we got something far different. I like that. Made me appreciate that, as an actor, he’s got great range.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I actually liked Lloyd’s character here. He saw through Sarah’s defense mechanisms and called her on it inb a very doctor-like way. I get that a lot of the things from Chuck are thinngs from Fedak’s youth. But I wince a little when that’s too obvious.

        “I must break you” made me wince.

      • mr2686 says:

        Don’t get me wrong, I think Lloyd did a great job based how they wanted the mood of the episode (he’s a great actor). I guess if the episode was too light, you wouldn’t quite get the payoff in RingII. It just seems like they could have lightened it just a tad, especially coming off Honeymooners and Roll Models. This was like jumping off a cliff after having a great meal.

      • mr2686 says:

        By the way Bill, I liked “I must break you” as well as “if he dies, he dies”. It’s kinda expected in Chuck, and you could probably only get away with it on Chuck. Kinda that wink wink, nudge nudge throughout the series. Like the, ahem, Subway commercials.
        One that flew over my head (pun intended) in this episode was the Asylum common room looking similar to that of the one in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I don’t mind the shoutouts so much. I like them better when they are more subtle. I enjoyed the constant references to Spies Like Us (which Fedak obviously watched one too many times, lol).

        I like it a lot less when they hit us over the head with it. And someone has to to explain what they were thinking when they cast Bo Derrick as a Morgan LI. It was the creepiest moment in the whole series. For one thing, Morgan would have been in diapers when “10” was released.

      • atcDave says:

        As I’ve often said about the misery arc, dark is only part of it. Tooth is an excellent example to me of how a pretty dark story can still work, as long as key elements of the show are working (specifically, Charah). I like the idea of Chuck having nightmares and struggling with making sense of them. I even like the idea of Beckman and others not being sure if they believe him. I don’t like Chuck becoming the lying dirtball. And that is the single biggest problem I have with the back part of S3. In the first two seasons, he only lied about the Intersect and the CIA to civilian friends and and family, and he clearly didn’t like doing it. Even to the point of needed fairly regular encouragement from Sarah that he was doing the right thing. S3 crossed a line. Chuck became a habitual liar even when it wasn’t needed. What a shock, I mostly mean to Sarah; but he continued lying to Ellie when it became ridiculous (once Devon knew, lying to Ellie was just asking for trouble) and will soon be lying to his dad too. This is by far my biggest problem with the show outside of the misery arc. I don’t like it all, it makes Chuck less likable and less relatable. I think it was a pretty poor story telling decision (I do oppose any story decision that makes Chuck into a jerk. This will come up again). I do like the way the lies will play out as the season wraps up, but ironically, I don’t think it will really be fixed until Sarah snaps him out of it in 4.01. But this is also the issue makes S3.5 my least favorite period of the show that I actually like (I only rank S3.0 below S3.5; but that’s WAY below…)

      • joe says:

        @Bill

        I like them better when they are more subtle.

        Oh yeah. As I kid I was taught that the first rule of great art is “Less is more.” (And the first rule of trash is “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” Don’t you love it?)

    • joe says:

      I love that wind machine, Resaw! Putting Skip Johnson (with his hair) in the frame with Morgan was a bit of comic genius too. 😉

      I’m really sorry that I left out everything about Ellie and Devon. I had already written too much and their story is a bit tangential to this episode (but definitely not the next).

      That sermon was spot on (and more than a little inspiring, Resaw). I’m so glad you picked up on the point I was trying to make, but that just added to it immensely.

  4. BillAtWork says:

    First off, I agree. The scene at the doctor’s house when Sarah tells him that she loves Chuck… and he asked her if she has ever told him that makes whatever flaws in the episode (and there are some) seem insignificant.

    But the writers seem to constantly want to slip in things that have absolutely no story value just to make us dislike the main characters. Sarah wearing the earrings that Shaw bought her had zero long term value. It totally felt inserted just to generate some cheap artifical angst and make us dislike her. Same with Chuck lying to Sarah here. It is especially oderous given that she had just told him ILY for the first time and apologized for taking so long. It would have been the perfect place for him to be honest, optomistic maybe, but honest.

    I get that the characters need to have flaws. Otherwise they begin to look plastic. But Chuck and Sarah both have plently of flaws organically. Sarah has hangups that are detailed more in S4. Chuck is insecure, stubborn, and makes foolish decisions. But we can look at those flaws and still like and root for them. We don’t need artifical ones.

    • joe says:

      I do understand where you’re coming from, Bill. But you know me. I can’t quite see this darkness and the angst here as “cheap” or “artificial.” Maybe it’s just differing life experiences, but these are the very moments when Chuck stops being a comic book and starts getting very, very personal to me. Meaningful, even.

      But you’re right that the writers are on this path constantly after S2 ended.

    • uplink2 says:

      I’ll comment later but had to say so glad to see you posting here again Bill! Hope all is well and moving forward!

    • atcDave says:

      I agree 1000% with that Bill!

    • aerox says:

      The earring scene isn’t in this episode

      • BillAtWork says:

        Umm, yeah. I understand that scene wasn’t in this episode. The point was broader.

  5. Bill says:

    I did not like this episode when it first aired, and have only re-watched it once or twice. Watching it again last night, I found a couple things I do like about it:

    1. Casey and Morgan are funny playing off each other. We see this more and more as the series continues into S4 and S5.
    2. Sarah’s plea at the doctor’s door, followed immediately by the revelation that Casey is already inside the doctor’s house. Two fabulous moments back to back.
    3. Merlin!

    However, the bad far outweighs the good for me:

    1. The first twenty minutes present some of the most surreal material the show ever aired. When did we step through the looking glass?
    2. This is an early example of stuntcasting that goes over like a lead balloon. Neither Lloyd nor Hilton-Jacobs do much with the meager material they are given.
    3. Ellie gets hit hard with the stupid stick in this one! And, we’re actually supposed to believe that after Justin shows up in the Buy-More while she’s shopping there, she doesn’t immediately call or text Devin to let him know?
    4. Casey’s weapons cupboard door does not have a latch? Or, he’s not careful enough to latch it?
    5. In what proved to be Julia Ling’s swansong, Anna is portrayed as the stalkerish ex so we can see how independent and grown up Morgan is becoming? I call that unnecessary roughness.
    6. Chuck promised Sarah in American Hero that he’d never lie to her again. Promise broken, folks. Repeatedly!
    7. Shaw lives (good grief).

    Next week: Chuck vs. The Undoing

    • atcDave says:

      Although I feel the good outweighs the bad, I do agree with most of your specific complaints Bill. The stunt casting mostly did nothing here. I have no particular complaints about Shaw in this episode, although I’ll always wish he’d been left dead.

      The lying bothers me most; I think its a really poor story telling decision to portray the main character so negatively.

      • BillAtWork says:

        What this episode highlights to me is the writer’s tendancy to drift towards farce. Sometime they wanted to be taken seriously but often times they intentionally made it Get Smart style farce. It is hard to take much of what happened in this episode seriously.or at face value. IMO, that was intentional. For those of us who were looking for a serious story, much of Chuck is frustrating.

        But I think I’m with Dave here. I can forgive a lot as long as I can root for C/S. When I can’t do that, the show edges on unwatchable.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree exactly about the farce aspect. A big strength of the show in the first two seasons was Chuck as the decent, relate-able guy. They drew a lot of humor from the “fish out of water” aspect of the story, and let us laugh with Chuck on occasion (his “girlish screams of terror”) but never really had us laughing at him.
        That changed a lot in S3 when they pushed his lying in aspects that made him more contemptible than sympathetic sometimes (this undoes the “decent, relate-able” part mentioned above). BUT, to their credit, that particular issue was (mostly) dropped at 4.01.
        But instead, they gave us occasional whiny and neurotic Chuck. They often made him into a buffoon that was cringe worthy. That very thing I loved about Chuck in S1 (see my comments on Tango), they undid somewhat in S4 and S5. They had us laughing at Chuck instead of just with him. I will always regard that as a mistake.
        Funny thing is, I think this bothered me less than many folks we’ve had comment here. But I still see it as a less than ideal situation. Perhaps its part of that balance they never quite recovered after S2.

  6. Bill says:

    “What this episode highlights to me is the writer’s tendancy to drift towards farce. Sometime they wanted to be taken seriously but often times they intentionally made it Get Smart style farce.”

    Well put, B@W. And on this occasion, it plays like farce on hallucinogens, particularly during the first half of the episode.

  7. BillAtWork says:

    The Shaw being alive thing is a new low. They always say “if you don’t see the body”. Well, we saw the body, floating face down in the Seine, with three to the chest. At best he’d die of infection in that polluted water. I guess that Chuck and Casey just left the body floating there. I guess that nobody reported to Beckman that one of her agents was killed and she didn’t send soomeone to deal with the body. It’s simply not plausible that he’s alive. But he must be one tough dude. He survived for 2 years in prison without a governor.

    • atcDave says:

      I guess I’m not that concerned about the “stupid” part of it; I mean a body in the river… could be lost, maybe. Stuff happens.
      But what I don’t like is that the one time Chuck was motivated to use deadly force, he escapes all consequence. As always, I’m not really that keen on making a huge thing of such a dark theme. But it seemed important to me that Chuck would use deadly force to protect a loved one, but then they punted…

      • authorguy says:

        What always bothered me about the bridge scene in Other Guy is that Chuck has a preference for tranq guns and he was behind Shaw. Why not pop him in the neck and drag him away?

    • Bill says:

      Yes, indeed, it is. For me, it’s the low that ended my fanaticism for the show. From LD on I was a much less avid viewer.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But they were so adamant that Orion was dead. And that actually could have made a powerful story. Imagine if Orion and Frost didn’t really abandon the kids but have been watching over them from afar for the past 20 year, together when they could be, talking daily when they couldn’t. And now it’s time to bring in the kids (and his badass wife) into the family war. Chuck and Sarah would become the Orion and Frost, 2nd generation. I’m telling you the show would still be on the air.

        If Shaw can be alive, certainly Orion can be. I would actually overlook that plot hole if they gave us the Orion/Frost back (love) story.

      • atcDave says:

        I do think its one of the great lost opportunities of the show that we never got Frost and Orion together.

      • anthropocene says:

        Or—alternatively—they could have done so much more with the idea that they only teased us with: Chuck and Sarah seeing the sad fate of Orion and Frost’s relationship as an object lesson, and being determined not to repeat it.

      • atcDave says:

        Anthro that’s exactly the lesson I wanted to hear they’d learned in Gobbler/Push Mix. Obviously we’ll get more into this in a few months, but I was disappointed in Sarah asking Mary for coping strategies. Should have been the other way around, Sarah advising Mary on priorities and ENDING that mission.

      • anthropocene says:

        Yes, exactly!

  8. Jason says:

    Like Honeymooners and Role Models, I liked tooth more on rewatch. I recall on my original watch, disliking several aspects, most aspects of the ep. I don’t like Morgan. I don’t like Shaw. I don’t like Chuck lying. I don’t like plots (Ellie’s) that rely on stupidity to tell a story, esp when that stupid person is largely an innocent. Chuck was mostly stupid too, taking Morgan on a mission rather than asking Sarah for help.

    Plus, I don’t like the intersect gone haywire stories. I don’t like chuck acting neurotic, and Morgan acting smart and all knowing.

    I almost dislike Justin as much as Shaw.

    Yet, somehow the ep was better than I recall. I liked the beginning on the couch, until it was ruined by Shaw. Sarah had a good ep, near great ep. Casey too.

  9. Joel says:

    I might give Chuck a pass for lying here if this were the only instance – it’s wrong, but somewhat understandable. But it really becomes a problem in the rest of 3.5, especially when you add Dad in.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree Joel, if this were the end I’d be fine with it.

    • authorguy says:

      Given that the whole point of the story is about Chuck’s mental imbalance as a result of the Intersect overload, I’m inclined to ignore the lying and all the rest of it, as there is no way to say how much of that is really him. They do make it look like the main effects of the overload are physical pain more than mental imbalance in later episodes, but here it’s quite clear he’s not thinking clearly either.

      • resaw says:

        Chuck often displayed unclear thinking but I’m inclined to think that in this situation it is once again a demonstration of his insecurity and anxiety.

      • atcDave says:

        Except that Chuck’s casual attitude towards truth continues into 4.01. It’s noticeable to the point two different groups of more casual viewers I’ve watched that episode with commented on what a habitual liar Chuck had become.
        It’s ironic that it falls on Sarah to call Chuck on it. I really do appreciate that they ended it and it was not a recurring problem anymore. But I think of it as the last fragment of the misery arc, the last artifact of the 3.01 reinvention; it was allowed to persist for too long.

  10. ref51907 says:

    -I really enjoy this episode a lot. I lump a few episodes together as my personal favorites of the season and this is one of them. As mentioned before it has a lot of great moments. However the best scene, in my opinion didn’t make it in the final product.
    – There is a scene in the declassified scene section that has Sarah at the apartment drinking wine and thinking. Morgan walks into the apartment and asks her what’s going on. She explains the situation to him and what they believe is going on when Morgan basically slaps some sense into her, metaphorically speaking of course. “…sometime you have to take a leap of faith despite the facts. Do not let Chuck rot in some CIA facility. I am begging you.”
    -Also for all that was happening with Chuck and Sarah, I think that this episode, if you were to include the declassified scene, was equal parts Chuck, Sarah, and Morgan, with Casey coming in very close behind.
    -I personally don’t mind, or even think that Chuck lying to Sarah is out of character. I can honestly see him try to come up with a fix, or solution on his own and then tell Sarah about it after the fact all in the name of not wanting to make her worry.
    -And then there is Ellie. I like where that road is going to lead.

    -I read in the comments about the differing view points on the various plot points and the characters reactions to what was going on. And I don’t know what would hold up under detailed analysis and I don’t really watch shows for that. All I know is that at the end of all the episodes I enjoy seeing how the characters react to different situations, despite my opinion about their reactions.

    Erik

  11. uplink2 says:

    I rewatched this episode last night for the first time in quite a while. A few things stood out this time as I reflected on what my reaction was when it first aired. First, thanks Joe for reminding me that the President was Boom Boom Washington. But I do have to correct you that it was Welcome Back Kotter and not Carter lol. Maybe because it was on the air during the Carter administration lol. But who could ever forget one of the sweathogs!

    But back to the episode. This episode is important for me as the day it originally aired I began my adventure into the online Chuck community when I joined ChuckTV. The reason I joined was because of Zach’s duet with Kat McPhee on Terrified as I had been involved as a mod on a fansite for Kat and I volunteered to reach out to the Chuck fans to try and work together and get the song sent to radio as a single. I spent most of my time there for a number of months and found this site a bit later on. I can’t tell you what an experience that was for me as I learned I wasn’t alone in how I felt about the show. That day over 3 years ago sent me on a journey I am still traveling and enjoying a great deal. It’s a journey whose end still seems very far in the distance.

    When I first watched the episode I had no idea Shaw was coming back and after having hated him the character and the actor’s performance for so long I was very disappointed we only got 2 episodes without him. Now I agree with Bill and others that bringing him back was a real low point for the series as it took away a critical moment in Chuck’s story and made it less than it should be. It didn’t completely negate it but it diminished it that’s for sure. But I’ve come to understand their logic in doing so though I disagree with most of it. First of all on a business standpoint, bringing back Routh was cheap. Cheaper than bringing in a totally new character I bet. Second, I think there was some element of hubris trying to vindicate the decision to bring him in in the first place. Even though these decisions were made and the episodes written before his arc was even airing, they already knew it wasn’t working and that the fan reaction was not going to be good. Hell from what we’ve heard their own staff knew it as the episodes were being produced. Even with that, they underestimated how bad the reaction to Shaw and the trapezoid was going to be. I’m still convinced that the post Mask interview was set up as soon as they saw the air dates and knew there would be a 3 week break. It was not set up because of the postings on Sepinwall’s episode review blog and the Chuckpocalypse explosion after Mask aired. They knew it was coming and went to Alan a long time in advance IMO. It just ended up being even worse than they imagined and that interview, unfortunately for them, made things worse.

    But I think “once they knew how to write for Routh” they decided to extend him to try to salvage the Shaw character by making him a villain and as has been their history the impact of those decisions on the main characters was less important than the story they wanted to tell. We see that all through the show beginning with Season 3 and afterwards. The desire to salvage Shaw was more important than the impact of bringing him back from the dead on Chuck’s character. Why that didn’t apply to Orion we will never know. They will probably also say that the back order of only 6 episodes made it impossible to create a new character/villain effectively. But that logic is thrown out the window with Quinn. IMO the decision was totally based on what I said above, a desire to salvage the character somehow and money.

    But overall even with my unhappiness that someone I had rejoiced was “dead” wasn’t really, and I agree with all of the huge plot holes regarding how that happened, I still enjoyed this one because of those moments many mentioned above. The evolution of Sarah Walker here is very important and even though I still have a few issues with the whole stretching out of the I Love You for 4 episodes it was a beautiful moment that Yvonne nailed as usual. Though Chuck lying is a real problem, I can give it a pass here but when he doesn’t tell her the truth next episode is when I have a real problem with it. When Sarah gives him her spy will that’s when he should have confessed if not sooner. That was the tipping point where my opinion of him again was tarnished.

    I do agree that “Doc” played the character too low key but I think that is what they were going for. I think the stuntcasting was too good to just let the character play out that way, however. Something more could and should have been done with him.

    Overall I enjoyed this episode even with the return of plywood. It isn’t a favorite but it isn’t as bad as many have said where one fan I know calls it the worst episode of the entire series. How anything can move Mask or Fake Name out of that spot is beyond me.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I would definitely call ths a “good” episode, but not so good I want to constantly re-watch it! Just that its fun when it’s turn comes up.

    • joe says:

      Kotter. Ack! KOTTER! [Burning into brain-cells commencing…] Thanks, Uplink.

      Your analysis is well taken here. I’m still a little easier on TPTB than you (or most of the fans, for that matter) and a tad more favorably disposed to the story as it stands. But I do see the truth in what you say.

      Funny. Mrs. Joe is the one who prefers the dark meat (and I get the light) when we have chicken.

    • Dave says:

      Uplink and atcDave

      By and large I agree with your comments. This is the one lie that I give Chuck a pass for.

      Also, an observation on the opening scene where they are channel-surfing, to me it seemed a gender juxtaposition. Did anyone else get that vibe?

      When I say that I mean if someone was sitting up on the couch operating the remote it would have been me and Mrs. Dave (thanks Joe) would have had her head in my lap commenting (usually negatively) on whatever I changed channel to. It was just something that struck me the first time I saw it and it has stuck with me.

      Good episode, not one I would specifically load up to re-watch, but no real heartburn with it.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah and the whole thing of what Sarah’s struggling with is role reversal. I’d say they did a really good job flipping a lot of the details around.

      • mr2686 says:

        I have to agree about the channel surfing. It’s all me, all the time in our household. Also, I forgot to mention the great line that Chuck says while Sarah is channel surfing and says there’s nothing on, “Yeah, Monday night is a wasteland for tv”. Of course, Chuck was on Monday’s at the time. Too funny.

  12. Jason says:

    Someone mentioned a new show to watch, King and Maxwell, first season, fifth ep just aired. Think Sarah Walker gets fired, and joins up with another ex agent, a cross between John Casey (he can fight, was both an agent and a lawyer) and Chuck (smart guy, scruffy, kind of nerdy). It’s taken from a book that evidentily the pair never hook up in the book, might not in the show either, but they do have some pretty neat chemistry.

    I liked the show. So far, the show isn’t trying to do too much, which I thought often got Chuck in trouble. For my eye, I simply wanted chuck and Sarah to go on a mission each week, while having some overriding save the world thing going on in the background for the season, with a stop at the water fountain every other ep or so, while they explain what is going on to each other.

    But I digress … I wonder if the male female detective / spy show will ever get old, or if we’ll keep getting some version of it. In some ways, the Thin Man started it, so it’s been around a long time. The modern version has the role reversal thing going on, where the lady kicks butt while the guy sits in the car, in some way shape or form.

    • Dave says:

      Jason

      That was me who suggested King & Maxwell. I think it is a slightly older and of course much more dramatic version of Chuck. Waiting to see how it does. It’s getting 2.7-3.7 M viewers in that late time slot. It’ll probably make it, cable always seems easier than broadcast to stay alive, I mean look at Covert Affairs.

  13. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Tooth (3.16) | Chuck This

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