The last episode of the Season Four Romance Arc. Not surprisingly Coup d’Etat is light hearted and fun, and easily the strongest episode since 4.02 (!). In terms of a fun start to a season, only Season Two did any better.
And best of all, we see the return of Alejandro Goya, easily my favorite character of Season Three. After the jump, Coup d’Etat.
Picking right up with the false proposal from the end of Cubic Z, this episode is pure fun and funny from beginning to end. Even if it fails to be “important” or dramatic, there is little or nothing I would change if I could. We get another relationship episode, broadly based on “are we ready for marriage?” as a theme. Side stories involve Goya and his wife with rather explosive marital problems, and Morgan trying to decide if Alex is worth the possible risk of getting involved with Casey’s daughter. So we can safely say the main theme is all relationship based. But every one of these stories is entertaining.
The hardest part for me would be singling out what I like. A few favorites would be Goya’s cheesy tourist video, Chuck trying to get Sarah to do the “relationship exercises” from Dr. Fred’s book (when Sarah describes Chuck as “tall” and “brunette”; I choked on the pop I was drinking…), Goya serenading his wife, Hortencia launching the revolution with a demand for her husband’s head, Sarah being distracted by relationship talk when Chuck tries to convince her Goya’s weapons are nuclear, and Morgan’s pro/con list for dating Alex (“smells good”).
I suppose if we look at deeper meaning issues, there is a little meat to this. Sarah is scared of any change initially. She is happy with her life, and apparently fears any change could be a disaster. She finds her peace in the end when she and Chuck end a revolution with some reasonable relationship advice. The last scene reveals how completely at peace she now is.
We also get a new tidbit about Frost; not much really, just corroboration that she is with Volkoff. Next week will be more meaningful for this story-line. We also get another meaningless lie to Ellie. Its not a big thing, but its there.
And I think I’m going to stop with just this very brief write-up. As has been observed many times, its easier to complain than praise. And since I rank Coup d’Etat as a purely fun and well done episode, that leaves me with little else to add.
So Change Ruined Things
Precisely, Dave – and stop reading my mind, will ya?! I went into re-watching Chuck vs. The Coup d’Etat thinking this episode was going to be enjoyable but bereft extraordinary moments; there would be nothing deep or particularly memorable for an episode of Chuck. Admittedly, that’s a pretty high bar for them to clear episode after episode.
Um, I was close, but that’s not exactly what happened.
First of all, let me sing the praises of Armand Assente. I enjoyed his appearances as René Benoit, also known as La Grenouille (“the Frog” in French) on NCIS. But he also has an amazing presence that I’ve seen once before, watching the late, great Anthony Quinn playing Tevya in a stage version of Fiddler on the Roof at the Kennedy Center. It’s an ability that allows the great ones to make the audience laugh or cry or sing or even dance, and it’s something that demonstrates the magic of theater. Assente has that in spades, even when he’s playing it strictly for comedy, like he does here as Premier Alejandro Goya, (aka, Casey’s favorite South American dictator). About this performance, what’s not to love?
Speaking of love, this is where I developed yet anther fan-crush (YAFC), this time on Mekenna Melvin. Maybe it’s because it was also the episode that Morgan crossed that same Rubicon with Alex. It’s yet another great pairing (YAGP) in a series that had more than it’s share of GPs with tons of chemistry. Really. Chuck&Sarah, Ellie&Awesome… I’ll even throw in Roan&Diane here, a romance for the ages. Alex and the new, improved Morgan made me forget about the old Morgan and Anna Wu.
Then of course there were other memorable scenes that I’m ashamed to admit I had forgotten. (Major “Oh Nooooos!” I must be getting old.) Let us pause a moment to refresh our memories with music and a visual aid.
Ah, but that’s all just pleasant fluff. As is often the case, the words of that sage, Morgan Grimes, get to the heart of the matter, which is all about Chuck and Sarah are being lousy communicators.
Chuck: We’re not that bad!
Morgan: You’re great. You’re right, I’m sorry. You don’t know whether or not you proposed, or if you did, if you’re happy about it, or if she said yes or no to what may or may not have been a proposal, or if either of you ever want you to actually ask her for real. Yeah? Yeah.
Diagram that sentence, please!
Morgan’s got it right, certainly. Even when C&S make themselves talk, their conversations often miss the point (“Tall and brunette” hits it exactly, Dave, as does negotiating over how much Halo time Morgan needs every week). Chuck’s insecurities, the ones that make him afraid to rock any boat Sarah may have boarded, are bad enough. But Sarah’s are making the situation worse. Make no mistake, it’s not just that she isn’t quite talking to Chuck. Hot mystery that she is, Sarah’s not quite talking to us either!
Sarah? Insecurities?? PLURAL??? You betcha. Last week we noticed how she she reacted to the idea of having babies. This week, it’s something a little different.
Sarah: Why do we have to talk and push and change things? Why can’t we just be?
Chuck: Uh, Sarah?
Sarah: Everything is great. What if we do “I do,” and it changes us?
Chuck: It’s nuclear.
Sarah: Exactly! Everything we love about us could be destroyed!
Ah, so, it’s not exactly babies she’s afraid of, nor is it marriage, I contend. It’s the idea of changing that has Sarah a bit spooked. She’s always a little tentative about taking that next step because everything could blow up, like we saw when Sarah demurred about moving in and when she resisted unpacking her suitcase. Some people just hate change.
Hortencia: [shouting] Bring me my husband’s head! I want him dead!!!
Chuck: Not the strongest of marriages…
Like Hortencia. That’s the other GP is this episode – Goya and Hortencia (played by Tia Texada). Their relationship has gone nuclear too. Once they were young, very much in love and happy planning revolutions as they hid in the caves. Now Goya seems to have moved away from revolution and the palace is Hortencia’s prison. No, that’s not right. It’s their marriage that’s the problem. It’s not what it once was and that’s a trap to which many – I dare say, all – of us are prone.
Chuck’s final speech, which honestly did not impress me much the first time around, seems much more important, now that I understand Hortencia’s frustrations, disappointments and anger. The problems with the Goyas’ marriage can have some pretty serious ramifications, which is exactly what Sarah is afraid of. Change may indeed ruin everything…
Chuck: But change is unavoidable. Unavoidable. Life is full of changes. Constantly changing. The question is, no matter what the changes are, is the love still there?
The answer this time is spoken by Goya, but it’s provided by Chuck and delivered to Sarah. The love is there and won’t change.
She brings me the music
And I am slowly falling down again
She brings me the music
And my feet won’t touch the ground, oh, again
Ah, logic can’t prove it
And I don’t know where I am bound
She brings me the music
And now I’m floating in her sound
And now I’m floating in her sound
So I was wrong. That is a bit memorable, and just a bit profound. What I missed the first few times was the way Sarah made the connection and understood the message. And you know what? When I look at Chuck’s (unconscious?) Mona Lisa smile at the end, it’s not a reaction solely to Sarah saying ‘Yes!’ to the proposal Chuck has not yet made. It’s also because he understands they are finally communicating.
And that is something I’ll remember.