Chuck and Sarah have a mission together. The rebuilt Buy More is looking a little too spiffy; and Devon is suspicious. That may sum up the major stories, but everything comes together in a very entertaining way as Season Four gets going.
Suitcase is the start of a sort of mini-arc that puts the romance front and center, while laying some of the ground work for the season ahead. After the jump, we’ll look at an episode that is all about fun first.
I always find it a little ironic that the title of this episode refers to the only part I find lacking. Sarah unpacking sure seems redundant after she already moved in several months before. But pretty much everything about this episode is pure fun, so that little nit is hardly worth picking.
Several scenes or moments are pure gold, and there is really nothing to detract. The first real stand out moment would be Casey offering Chuck some big brotherly advice, that is significantly better than Morgan’s advice was. Chuck and Sarah’s mission to Milan is completely entertaining. Even Chuck’s poorly chosen “last words” are good for a significant laugh.
And I love everything about the mission to the hotel room; from a rejected Spiderman kiss, to different unpacking habits (“no really, say it…”), to Sarah neutralizing The Hulk with one punch, to “is she naked?”, to “put some clothes on…” This whole sequence is entertaining in the way I wish we had more of. Its the sort of thing that just never gets old for me.
More good humor in the returning home scene with Devon and a nice, sweet moment while (not) unpacking.
The return mission is as good as the first. I wish we more often saw Chuck as the creative inventor, who’s stuff works even when it seems unlikely.
Of course slapping The Hulk made me laugh so hard it hurt. And then Sarah gets a big fight, funny how she often struggles more with other pretty women than she does with hulkish security guards. But the action is wonderful right up to the final punch, and Sarah acknowledging her audience.
The last scene of the episode is a favorite of mine. I always like the sappy sweet stuff anyway. But they sure got it all right here. I particularly like “you are my home”, and Sarah’s panic face when Chuck pushes just a little too far.
I think the “B” plot, of restoring the Buy More to its inefficiency, really highlights the biggest lingering problem with S4. Although it is certainly good for a laugh here, and I love the Buy Morons’ big entry, the Buy More never feels more pointless than it does this season. Especially when a major part of the story is to protect the equally pointless lie for Ellie. I don’t want to make too big a thing of this. It was funny. And I think the Buy More is there to be funny. But I do wish a better use of it could have been found.
This is another episode I just don’t have a whole lot more to get into. But that is largely because I just completely enjoyed it. I wish they had more often been content to just have fun with the characters and setting like this without trying so hard to be important. Sometimes its good to enjoy the status quo.
All About Sarah
It’s nice to have my computer back! Over two weeks with limited Internet feels like two months, lemmee tell ya. Falling behind in this re-watch meant I had to suffer through The Ring Pt. II and Anniversary in rapid succession, followed immediately by Chuck vs. The Suitcase, all alone, without benefit of – you guys. (Sniff). Somehow I soldiered through.
Oh, I jest, but only slightly. – No suffering involved because those episodes are fantastic TV. You scoff? Heh! Well, I know you’ll readily agree with me about The Ring Pt II, I know. After all, who doesn’t like to see a determined, confident and even powerful Chuck beating the living daylights out of Daniel Shaw and hearing Sarah tell Chuck that he’s great?
But why would I praise Anniversary so unreservedly, you ask? No, no – it’s not because I like to toss grenades into conversations! It’s because of Sarah calmly walking up to Dolph Lundgren and landing a haymaker. It’s because of Sarah and Casey recognizing the wisdom of packing parachutes. It’s because I like the idea of geeky Chuck convincingly threatening Marco about touching his girlfriend after taking out ten of Volkoff’s men, and because every time Howlin’ For You by The Black Keys comes up on my playlist, one particular scene set in the interior of a Lear Jet comes immediately to mind. [Go ahead. I defy you to go to that video and NOT have that scene pop into your brain! Can’t be done!] In short, I just enjoyed every second of it.
Suitcase is different from those episodes, though. In the others we’ve just seen, there’s a major, second conflict happening purely in Chuck’s head and heart. He’s promised Ellie to leave the CIA, and in fact, Chuck’s working hard to make himself believe it’s a good decision and something he wants. A normal life still has it’s attractions for him, especially if Sarah can share that life. But that question keeps coming back to me; what does Chuck really want? It’s pretty clear that Sarah is okay with his advertised decision but it’s even more clear that the fans are not. Mostly, we don’t know what Chuck wants and Chuck doesn’t know what Chuck wants, and it’s unsettling.
So yes, that’s the conflict. It’s not really about Chuck lying to Ellie – I watched carefully, and a case can be made that he did no worse than withholding some unreliable information about their mother and the knowledge that maybe there was going to be danger. Probably there was going to be danger. It’s borderline, obviously. But Chuck is caught between his desire to save his mother and his promise to Stephen on one hand and Ellie’s emotional comfort on the other. Like usual, I’m willing to cut him some slack, and that’s not new territory.
What’s different about Suitcase, for me at least, is that Chuck’s story is almost unimportant compared to Sarah’s. Now, I often deliberately try to understate and minimize whatever I write here about Sarah Walker, mostly because it’s so easy to do the opposite that it feels like cheating. But today, that would be the wrong thing to do.
Yes, there’s a great story here for Morgan, as he challenges authority to grab the reins of that indispensable corporate entity, The Buy More. What a giant leap forward! His first job? Whip the store floor personnel into shape, even if he has to search far and wide for key people who have the necessary skill sets, training and demeanor for the job. Go Morgan.
Casey has a new job too. Up to now, he’s been a kind of Shakespearean Claudius (the murderer of Hamlet’s father) whispering poison in Chuck’s ears about spies never putting down roots and not have feelings. He’s been acting as tough, cold and professional as possible, especially around Morgan. That lasts as long as it takes for Casey to learn that Alex would like to get to know him. Now, he’s a father.
Dave’s absolutely right about the pitch-perfect humor of “The Spiderman Kiss” and the idea of slapping The Incredible Hulk (Lou Ferrigno) in the face. And I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Yvonne’s fight scene with model Karolina Kurkova (Sofia) is my second favorite of the series after the fight scene in Best Friends and tied with the fight scene in Cougars. This episode is about Sarah, though, and in a surprisingly understated way.
It may seem like I’m stating the obvious, but I really like the character. Forget Yvonne’s beauty; it’s because Sarah whispers in Chuck’s ear “Take off your watch” and because she’s ready to give up everything for him early on. It’s because Sarah is a little upset that Chuck doesn’t seem enticed by her salmon colored dress when Bryce is around. It’s because Sarah expresses her emotions when she shouldn’t, like the times she thinks Chuck has met his demise, falling six stories off a building or in an exploding herder. I like Sarah Walker because she likes making Chuck breakfast in the suburbs and sharing a hamburger with him when she can.
One of those reasons is not this, though; Sarah has a jealous streak. I must confess, I barely noticed that she has one ’till now! Thinking back, Sarah started to confront Lou, you’ll remember, in the parking lot. But for Chuck’s sake, she dialed it back to say only “Don’t hurt him” in a commanding way. Her streak showed up when she and Chuck prepared to heist the mask from the museum, and talked about Hannah all through the preparation. Sarah was always aggressive around Jill, of course. So yes, she can be jealous.
Sarah has no reason to be jealous here in Suitcase. After all, Chuck is just clumsy-as-usual in his appreciation of the CIA’s photographer’s work and of Sofia’s (ahem) “perfection.” Yet Sarah expresses irritation both about Sofia (and her dress-that-didn’t-conceal-much) and about her boyfriend’s new obsession with her suitcase.
Ah, the suitcase. That’s not Chuck’s obsession. It’s Sarah’s. Chuck, Morgan and even Ellie are right to think it’s weird and she knows that. Such a trivial thing, after all; to unpack after six or nine months (an intention obfuscation, it seems). Yet Sarah can’t seems to bring herself to do that tiny, if highly symbolic, deed. Indeed, Chuck vs. The Suitcase is really mis-titled. It should be Sarah vs. The Suitcase. It’s her struggle.
The observation is that, once it’s pointed out, Sarah takes on this struggle and wins it quickly. It’s almost a small thing in the story that Sarah wins this fight with demon from her past. Indeed, Sarah stands there, wearing Chuck’s white shirt and a smile, to display the now filled closet in a way that makes you hear the “Ta-Da!” in your head, like it was nothing.
Somehow, it seems significant, though. If Sarah’s had one motto throughout the series, it’s what she told Chuck in Barstow – “One mission at a time.” Yesterday it was accepting Chuck as her “exclusive boyfriend” and later, moving in and then finally saying the words I love you that, until then, we only heard in our personal, inner episode transscripts. Today it’s unpacking. Tomorrow?
We get a glimpse of what Sarah’s next inner-struggle will be like the moment Devon (and then Chuck) wonder aloud who will be next. She’s changed a lot in the course of the three and a fraction seasons leading to Suitcase, but Sarah always takes baby steps, and only one at a time, when it comes to her emotional growth. Even then, it’s never easy.
Lucy takes the long way home,
meets me in a field of stone
She says “i don’t know how I’m s’pose to feel.
My body’s cold my guts are twisted steel.”
And I feel like I’m some kind of Frankenstein,
waiting for a shock to bring me back to life.
But I don’t want to spend my time
waiting for lightning to strike.
So underneath the concrete sky
Lucy puts her hand in mine.
She says “Life’s a game we’re meant to lose.
But stick by me and I will stick by you.”
“Cause I’m like a princess in a castle high
waiting for a kiss to bring me back to life.
But I don’t want to spend my time
waiting for just another guy.”
And that’s okay. She took the biggest step the very first day, after she walked into the Buy More, before she saw a bomb defused with a computer virus and when she realized that Chuck was not just another guy. He’s more important than that now.
Chuck is an amazing show, not only for those laugh-aloud moments involving Jeff, Lester and tranqs and not just because it gives us characters that we root for. Sometimes it gives us quieter moments when the story actually makes us consider the important, everyday things.