Chuck vs The Balcony (4.11)

Balcony kicks off the final arc for the front order of Season Four.  This will bring some resolution to the Frost and Volkoff stories, and end with the long anticipated Chuck/Sarah engagement.

After the jump, this week’s discussion.

I think this episode is a little difficult to classify.  I remember my initial impression was extremely mixed; I very much enjoyed the main part of the episode.  Its a light hearted and fun excuse of a plot that leads up to Chuck popping the question.  And there can be no doubt of Sarah’s answer, she’s actually working hard herself to make sure this happens.  But the end is alarming, upsetting and not particularly fun.

Yet I think this is an episode that gets much better in the grand scheme of things.  Partly because that shocking ending can be seen as the fairly minor delay that it is.  Although as an aside, I will mention that this sort of moment is exactly why many viewers are so unwilling to accept an ending that requires drawing inferences.  The show spent five years yanking chains and invalidating whatever inferences we wanted to draw. I mean, how could Balcony not end in an engagement?  Hold on, they’ll show us.  So it is no wonder to me that many viewers demanded visual proof at the end.

But of course that’s getting ahead of ourselves now.  The main part of Balcony is the sort of thing I never get tired of.  Starting with Chuck trying to launch a grand proposal, while Sarah showing a remarkable lack of perception undermines his every effort.  On initial viewing I was more than a little annoyed with Chuck over-planning this.  But I found on this tenth (or so) viewing it was much easier to laugh along and enjoy the moment.  Chuck getting so nervous, as Sarah accidentally shoots him down in flames, and leaving Morgan with the mess.  Very funny sequence.

The mission part of the episode is broken into two segments.  Both manage to be a lot of fun.  On round one, Team B recovers the chip with such highlights as Chuck ordering around his man-servent John-John, Casey grumbling about the horrors of working in France, Sarah playing drunk (again!) to rescue Casey, and Chuck (and Morgan) in an amusing pursuit of the proper bottle of wine.  Really a fun adventure all the way through.

Between missions we get Sarah over-hearing, and then getting involved with the sub-mission.  Sarah/Morgan scenes are so often terrific, and this is no exception.  We can be sure how Sarah wants things to play out, and that alone makes this a wonderful episode.

Round two is just Chuck and Sarah, Casey happily does not return to France.  The mission is almost beside the point.  Its the proposal that is the main event here. Sarah is nervous for the first time in her life, and we are treated to an almost perfect story-book sort of moonlit balcony scene.  There can be no doubt of how this will end.

Until everything goes nuts.  I hesitate to call this a great scene.  It is certainly well executed and beautifully acted. Both the arrest and later follow up talk between Chuck and Sarah at castle is another dynamite performance by Yvonne.  But I still honestly think they should have finished the proposal here.  I see no story telling benefit to doing things in the order they did.  This is the sort of story telling decision that primarily undermines my trust in the story teller.  Too much tease, not enough delivery.  Now that said, it really doesn’t register as such a big to me anymore.  The big moment is coming and will be well done when we get there.  On this viewing I found myself completely enjoying the episode, shortcomings and all, its still wonderful entertainment.

So a few secondary points to make.  This week’s “B” plot was entertaining in places, Lester’s talk about the old country, Canada, was just laugh out loud funny.  But in the end, the attempt to woo his bride and another Jeffster performance was not a very good use of screen time.  I would have preferred more Charah, less Jeffster.  Second, I really liked both Casey and Morgan in this episode.  Morgan was great as Chuck’s faithful sidekick, and his talks with Sarah were terrific.  Casey stood out in several moments; from getting stuck in traffic, to grumbling about France, to helping get the ring where it needs to go.  But Casey’s real moment to shine comes when he lectures Chuck on what really matters. I’d been thinking along such lines from the start of episode anyway, but when we get to “all you need is the girl” I wanted to cheer out loud for Casey.

So I guess my final verdict is, terrific episode.  I might have done a few things a little differently, but none of the problems seem all that troubling now with a full series perspective.

~ Dave
ct_bar

I *AM* Somebody Deadly!

Beautiful

Beautiful

And Chuck vs The Balcony is beautiful to see too, Dave. I mean, really, I can tell that the sunset from the Balcony is a matte, and the full moon is unrealistically large and gorgeous and (as Chuck would undoubtedly say) so full. I ARE an astronomer, after all, so I know these things… But the whole package, the Chateau in the Loire Valley, the young lovers that catch Sarah’s (and Chuck’s) attention briefly, the wine tasting party, Jinsana (Pooja Kumar), the atmosphere, even Jonathan, they are all perfect in this episode.

Call me Jonathan...

Call me Jonathan…

Casey: Call me Jonathan again, I’ll break your leg.

Well, maybe not Casey.

You bet it’s the perfect set-up for Chuck’s proposal. It was exactly what the fans were waiting for. Had Chuck gotten out those last few words on the moon-lit balcony and had Sarah stammered out a “Yes!”, just about everyone watching that night would have “died and gone to heaven” and the show would have been complete. Over. Done. Don’t bother coming back, there’s nothing more to see…

Well, sort of. Many of us were indeed hoping to see more Hart To Hart or perhaps Thin Man type episodes, and I was one of them. But no, this is Chuck and even I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to see the end of the nerd-boy chasing the unattainable hot spy just yet. After four seasons/years, sixty-five adventures and several close brushes with death, it couldn’t be over already, could it? It couldn’t be that easy!

Of course not. Chuck has the girl, but that doesn’t mean his life – uh, story – is over yet. Despite Jeffster and Morgan, that’s one of the real-life things built into the show that allow it to transcend farce. Sigh. Difficulties and obstacles will remain. That’s as real as it gets.

Tipsy Sarah

Tipsy Sarah

Balcony is a special treat, especially for Yvonne and Sarah Walker fans. I had forgotten how many sides of the character we see here. In fact, I barely realized Sarah had so many sides. We have Sarah enjoying a quiet date in the restaurant with Chuck, there’s agent Walker on a mission, there’s Tipsy, Ditzy Sarah in the wine Cellar and there’s “I am somebody deadly!” Walker.

I *am* somebody deadly!

I *am* somebody deadly!

There’s nervous Sarah, afraid that everything isn’t perfect, for Pete’s sake – and for Chuck’s. There’s even a character I think of as “angelic” Sarah, calmly putting the ring box back in Chuck’s pocket so that things can be perfect.

With Morgan's Permission, Angelic Sarah

With Morgan’s Permission, Angelic Sarah

 

Morgan: Sarah? You just stopped. What’s the matter?
Sarah: I don’t know. I think, for the first time in my life, I’m – nervous.
Morgan: Oh, my God. Oh, my God. You got butterflies. She has butterflies!
That’s completely natural, it’s… Everybody gets butterflies.
Sarah: Morgan, I don’t get butterflies.
Morgan: That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that’s Chuck Bartowski out on that balcony, okay? You know, he is the best friend that I’ve ever had. And listen – I know you aren’t, uh, asking and maybe it’s a little silly, but uh, you have my permission to marry him. He’s all yours, so…

Casey spots the ring box, but Sarah distracts Chuck perfectly —

Sarah: Look at the moon, Chuck!

— to save this perfect proposal.

Chuck: I just… I feel I should be James Bond right now, you know? The guy who is standing on this balcony with you, right now, in this moment…
Sarah: I didn’t fall in love with James Bond. I fell in love with you.

I’ll even praise the bit-players here, like Braeden Marcott as the smug Frenchman.

Two-Buck Chuck!

Two-Buck Chuck!

 

Chuck: I didn’t wanna have to tell you this, but there is something in your wine there.
Smug Frenchman: Yes. There is something in the wine. Two hundred years of French history! The blood and sweat of my ancestors. The pride of lords and peasants alike.
You, sir, wouldn’t know the difference between this and a glass of “two-buck Chuck!”

Did you know that “Two-Buck Chuck” made Consumer Reports list of best wines under $5 this summer? It did! (Sadly, “Two-Buck Chuck” costs $3 at Trader Joe’s these days.)

vlcsnap-2013-10-10-14h54m38s210Oh, I need to welcome back The Intersect to the show. It’s been said that the 2.0 only gives Chuck Kung-Fu, which seems sort of limited and unimaginative. But that’s not quite right.

I’ll take back what I said about Casey before. Telling Chuck about his proposal in a very unromantic (and very dingy – trust me, I know) Buffalo bus station, that he doesn’t need everything to be perfect, makes him exactly what Chuck needs.

Selfless

Selfless

Finally, we see one more Sarah Walker, right at the end. This Sarah seems helpless, maybe even trapped. She’s crying, despondent and also determined to do something that is completely the opposite of self-serving and rational.

Sarah’s going deep under cover to save Chuck’s mother. Even more important, Sarah’s going to try – only try – to make Mary’s mission a success and to turn Frost’s mistakes into victories. Yes, she’s leaving Chuck the same way Mary did 20 years earlier and it may be a fool’s errand. According to Beckman it’s also the only path to redemption and salvation.

Being that selfless is something Sarah Walker has learned from Chuck, the man for whom she will do absolutely anything.

– 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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65 Responses to Chuck vs The Balcony (4.11)

  1. mr2686 says:

    To me, Balcony is a great episode that re-watches well. So many great lines and moments that really make this a special episode…I am somebody deadly, You just need the girl, Stable on the label and the stork on the cork, drunk Sarah, the sub mission, etc etc. I love it all. Now, this episode ranks number 36 on my all time list, and that may seem like I don’t like it real well, but this episode would rank much higher in my book if it wasn’t for the Jeffster portion. This may seem odd since I usually like all things Jeffster and/or Jeff and Lester at the Buy More, but on a few occasions that portion of the story has been a bit of a drag. In this case, it’s bipolar. I love the initial part of it leading up to and including the home theater scene where Jeff is playing the sitar. I actually thought that was all pretty good. But the Jeffster performance was downright creepy (which was intended) but maybe they did just too good a job, or maybe the song just fell flat, but either way it really drags that portion down a lot.
    Overall a very good episode and one that shows a great amount of growth for Morgan. I mean, hasn’t he come a long way from Colonel where he left an IOU in Chuck’s wallet, to the Balcony where he thought ahead to leave breath mints and a Tide to Go stick in Chuck’s jacket pocket? 🙂

    • joe says:

      Morgan too was spot-on here. Product placements are wretched, obnoxious and insulting, yet he created a memorable moment for us! Ya gotta love it.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I agree with most of that MR. I don’t have episodes rank ordered as you do, but this one certainly ranks well.

    • Angus MacNab says:

      I would have liked to have seen a Trojan product placement, along with a contrite note of apology from Morgan at some point in this story, but that’s probably too much to ask for. 🙂

      Great episode. Although, I really hated the rough and poorly timed way they took Sarah into custody in this episode when I first watched it. It only felt like more formula tropism and contrived angst the way it was conceived, and It made a number of players look bad, Sarah included. Plus, it led down a road I wish they’d never turned down. Sarah should have never floated a mission like that to Beckman without first consulting the man she loved.

  2. oldresorter says:

    One of so many eps in Chuck that could have been epic if it had simply closed out the happy, epic story it told. Reminds me of the Mauser ep that way, the first Montgomery ep, Bullet Train, etc.

    Also, very consistent with how the later final arcs run with the third last ep, where the ending is brutal and followed by another stunningly unhappy, lousy episode, before the final ep weakly pays off all the miserableness – Final Exam, Balcony and Bullet Train coming to mind. Not exactly a recipe for success in a comedy.

    I don’t like this Morgan at all, he ruins Chuck eps like a little brother ruins a date in your parents basement. Suddenly, Morgan seems to get better lines with Sarah than Chuck. Morgan really needed his own girl to have touching lines with, his own story, rather than to keep ruining Chucks.

    But honestly, this ep would have been a top ten or near top ten in spite of all that, if it simply ends on the Balcony with an engagement. Pay off the story you’re telling, so you can tell more stories, rather than keep rehashing the same one over and over and over, until by the time you pay it off, the audience is so exasperated, that if you don’t pay it off, you’ll get lynched. The wt/wt worked that way, the engagement did, the wedding did, and finally the happy ending, that didn’t happen.

    • joe says:

      I know what you mean about the “cliffies”, Jason. Maybe they were overdone here in Chuck. [“Maybe,” Buckley? And you think it’s a little warm in Death Valley during the summer?]

      But I can’t help but think of them as the beginning of the next episode, and that makes ’em go down easier in my mind.

    • atcDave says:

      Well I don’t agree about Morgan here at all. But I do agree they should have ended at a good spot with Sarah saying yes. As I mentioned above, I don’t see any reason why it would even have to change where the story goes next all (Charah engaged instead of almost engaged), and it would have given us another completely fun, upbeat sort of episode.
      So yeah, I’m also no big fan of the cliffies. Although they so often are no big deal, and I enjoy a big exciting episode, but I wish they would have content to leave us in a happy place more often instead of the “shocking” sort of endings that mostly just rub me wrong.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I don’t mind cliffhangers per se. But so many of Chuck cliffs are purely for dramatic effect and ultimately have no impact on the story. That is the case here. Have Chuck propose, Sarah say yes, and tell him that she has to go save his mom. Call it an engagement present. Not a single line of Gobbler has to change.

      • atcDave says:

        I can find exceptions, examples where I think a cliffhanger worked quite well (wolf359 anyone?); but generally speaking it’s not a technique I appreciate.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think there are some examples of Chuck cliffhangers that worked.

        Bryce being in Sarah’s hotel room at the end of Seduction. I didn’t like that. But I wasn’t supposed to like it. And it did effectively play into the next episode.

      • thinkling says:

        Bingo. These are the moments [like Bryce showing up] that make S2 take a back seat to S4 for me. Just saying. Great episodes, I admit, but the geometry keeps me from loving them as much as I could. No number of other criteria can make up for that one blight.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’m not sure that those things really ‘bother’ me any more than they do you. We’re having an academic discussion, right? If we always agree, our debate becomes boring. You’re a teacher. This argument should appeal to you, lol.

        But this is exactly why I say that Chris Fedak doesn’t understand his audience. Chuck and Sarah are now a team. I (I almost said we, but I don’t claim to speak for anybody else) want them to solve problems together. As it is, they constantly tried to tell the story of them going off and trying to solve problems separately. They had a wonderful opportunity to tell us an engaging, romantic story of C/S as a couple (both in a spy sense, and a relationship sense) fighting a huge threat… and for the best of dual reasons, to save the world from the evil that was Volkoff, but also to get their family back. Make the threat seem daunting. Have C/S lose a round or two. Have them pay a price. All of that would be fine with me. Just make them fight it together. Instead they gave us a bunch of false angst and ooc moments. Those things dragged the story down. I liked it in spite of those things. It didn’t add to the story.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Nobody hates love triangles more than I do. To say they were over used in Chuck is such an understatement that it borders on silly.

        But in fairness, this is one I didn’t mind. Because it was never really a triangle. Sarah had clearly made her choice, plainly communicated that choice to both men, and our guy won.

        Now revisiting that choice in Ring was pretty annoying, I’ll give you that.

      • thinkling says:

        Bill, I would be totally satisfied with your scenario. We’ve all said we wanted C/S against the world. I’m not sure I trust Schwedak to pull it off, though … not without a few helpings of gratuitous angst. They just can’t help themselves. … It just dawned on me that perhaps they even thought that’s what they were giving us in 4&5.

        So the Seduction return of Bryce was just there to create faux angst? (LOL, couldn’t resist.) She had chosen Chuck in Nemesis, but I don’t think she really communicated it clearly to either of them until Break Up. She had communicated her choice by her action of staying with Chuck, but both men (for opposite reasons) needed something a little more direct. Even after that, in Ring, Bryce still didn’t really get it until the end (more gratuitous angst). Like you said, silly to revisit it at that point.

      • BillAtWork says:

        No, Bryce returning in Seduction was real angst. We just fairly quickly realized that it wasn’t justified.

        I’m not totally sure that she chose Chuck in Nemesis. Her bags were packed and on the bed. She didn’t answer either phone. It is entirely possible that she simply was paralyzed and did nothing. BTW, I was really not liking Sarah very much in Crown Vic. I didn’t like her much in Seduction either. She knew damn well why Chuck was there. She allowed him to slink away humiliated and defeated by his nemesis. Although the deleted scene would have fixed that.

      • atcDave says:

        First Kill gets my vote for best Chuck cliffie ever, there were others. But general rule of thumb; I like endings that make me think “I can’t wait to see what’s next”. I’m not so big on “I really didn’t want to see that.” I guess that’s sort of a “duh”, but its amazing how often writers get it wrong.

      • atcDave says:

        Seduction is another one of those I think they just shouldn’t have ended the way they did. Its a stupid sort of angst that actually makes me less interested in the next chapter. Otherwise I love the episode, really a lot like Balcony to me. Now all that said, I really love Break-Up too. I like seeing how Chuck’s anxieties at this point are really all in his head (oh I love the Sarah/Bryce dance scene so much!). But like Bill, this is another of those really awesome deleted scenes I wish they had used. It not only lowered the pure angst of the set up, it showed Chuck and Sarah in a comfortable, friendly place. Of course, TPTB clearly meant to avoid that comfortable place at this point. Really too bad, I think it only made a good thing better.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I have a theory about that Dave. I think the deleted scene was most likely a causality of the late back order. I mean they wrote that scene. They shot it and edited it. Why didn’t they use it?

        I believe the original plan was to get C/S close very fast, by Colonel which would have been the season (and very possibly series) finale.

        So when they got the back order, they suddenly had to slow them down and get them to that same Colonel point in 21 episodes (I’m not counting Ring) instead of 13. It’s why some of the story seems so out of place. I also think that Sarah shooting Mouser in Santa was a late addition.

        I don’t disagree with your and Thinkling’s point that angst was overdone. I think I would have enjoyed the original 13 episode season much better. But at least the angst in S2 was real. The angst in S4 wasn’t. We never feared that C/S wouldn’t get engaged. In our minds they were already engaged. We never questioned if they would get married. Does anybody really think they would kill off Sarah? The threat was never believable.

      • thinkling says:

        Yes First Kill was great, obviously. Was the Jill reveal a cliffy? If so that was one of the best montages for drama: Chuck with Jill and Sarah and Casey pounding up the steps.

        Yes, the deleted scene would have helped. It was an awful ending to an otherwise delightful episode. I didn’t like Break Up the first time. I like it now, but my initial response was not happy at all.

        Bill, I agree. Crown Vic was one of my least favorite episodes. Your S2 theory sounds reasonable. They should have stuck to it and retooled the show to a C/S against the world, even if secretly for a while.

      • BillAtWork says:

        The problem with Breakup is the problem with much of the show. They showed us a dramatic, entertaining scene, yet it had zero long term story value. Chuck was back pining for her in the very next episode from when he told her that she would never be normal enough for him. And even if he was lying to try and protect her, why stop in the next episode? It was pure reset for reset’s sake.

      • atcDave says:

        The deleted scene from Break-Up always looks to me like an alternate first scene to the opening we actually saw; that is, in place of Chuck moping home and looking sad an pathetic with Ellie and Awesome. And I think it was a much better opening. Bill your supposition sounds reasonable, but it is a clear difference in the mood they intended. I think they changed their minds pretty early on, the scene with the briefing in Castle doesn’t work so well if Chuck and Sarah have already talked things through.

        Thinkling I think Crown Vic is a funny one for me. Its atypical of a lot of Chuck in that I hate the beginning, and love the end. From the moment Sarah chooses to believe Chuck and go against orders it is pure gold. But as I’ve told the story a few times, its the closest Jodie and I ever came to quitting the show. Right when Chuck and Sarah had their talk at the fountain after the briefing my wife said “pause it”. And we talked about not having liked the show much for the last few weeks, and really disliking this beginning. “This show just hasn’t been much fun for a while” she said. Well I had REALLY liked the first few episodes, so I suggested we just give this episode until the end, then we’ll discuss it again. We both loved that ending. Although my wife was ready to quit again in S3 (she refused to watch Three Words on premier night; Pink Slip left her worn out and POed); but we did eventually both love the show again.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I think that’s what I would have done. They paid such a ridiculous price for Pink Slip and the misery arc, driving away a quarter of their audience and leaving even more depressed and on the verge of quitting. So why not get something out of all that pain?

        That’s what I would have had Sarah’s issue in early S4 be. Not that she was afraid of commitment. They had already shown her as eager for commitment so that wasn’t particularly believable.

        But she could tell him that she didn’t totally trust him yet after so totally breaking her heart in Prague. Yes, she loved him, yes they were together, and yes, she’d get over it someday. But to make a lifelong commitment required a level of trust that she simply didn’t have yet. She would have to go slow.

        That would have made some sense. That’s what she could have told him when she thought he was asleep. “I trust you.”

        Phase Three being about if Chuck had the Intersect or not was silly. Sarah had already made it clear that she fell for the regular guy and not the spy with a super computer. Instead it could have been Sarah’s quest to save the man she loved, and to tell him that she now trusted him and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave, after she believed him (CV), it had some great moments, bit the first part of the ep is some of the very hardest to watch.

      • thinkling says:

        Whether or not it would have made more sense doesn’t matter. It would have extended the misery beyond what the remnant of fans could bear.

      • BillAtWork says:

        It could have gotten dark. I agree that would never be tolerated. But it didn’t have to. It could have been mostly light. Sarah wouldn’t say that this was fatal. She would get over it. But for right now, she needed to go slow. It’s the same thing that happened, just that the reason would be believable.

        And it would give some closure to the misery arc.

  3. BillAtWork says:

    I liked the episode. It was funny and romantic and all of the things you would expect. The Jeffster part was creepy, but then it usually is. So, and this is a common complaint, if you’re watching this single episode, it’s nice. If you try and put it in context of a larger story, it breaks down.

    Let’s face it. Chuck and Sarah were engaged in Castle at the end of Phase Three. Making an arc that lasts for several episodes based upon wt/wt get engaged is… well, silly.

    And someone has to explain to me what was Beckman’s plan that required Sarah to be dragged off in chains? Fortunately, just like Sarah throwing her gun on the bed in American Hero, it was simply for dramatic effect. It never happened.

    • joe says:

      I think only Chuck knew that Sarah wasn’t really going to be tried as traitor at that point, Bill. Can’t completely trust the guards in the CIA, you know (I don’t trust anybody. says Beckman).

      Yeah, when did C&S *really* get engaged? I’m thinking it was even earlier than Phase Three. There was the scene at the end of Coup d’Etat, of course, where Sarah essentially says “Yes!”. And there was the non-proposal in Cubic-Z that sorta was real.

      As far as I’m concerned, they weren’t “engaged”, but they were “inevitable” in Colonel in Barstow, way back in S2.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I still say they were engaged at Honeymooners, there was never any doubt.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Joe. I’d say that they were inevitable starting with Honeymooners. Pink Slip kinda proved that they weren’t in Colonel, right? Which is exactly one of the reasons I loathe it so much.

        But in Phase Three they openly talked about his proposal plan. “I’ve got magic coming your way, baby.” Certainly they were at that point de-facto engaged.

  4. thinkling says:

    Well, I echo the love for Balcony … and also the hint of disappointment and shock we all felt at the end, initially.

    There’s one line that just about sums it up: Chuck, look where we are. Look where they are indeed. They’ve come a long, long way.

    Joe, you’re right about the many faces of Sarah here. So, fantastic. I would add one more, and that’s Sarah on a sub-mission. Usually it’s Chuck on these types of sub-missions, so it was a treat to see Sarah doing things this way.

    Chuck is the plotter-planner. Sarah is more the blurter-outer. Once she’s made up her mind, she can’t hold it in, but this time she followed through, so that Chuck could get his big moment.

    That leads me to one of the great things about this episode: the love. I don’t mean romance, although there was plenty of that. I mean that Chuck and Sarah were each trying to give the other what she or he wanted. Chuck wanted to give Sarah a perfect proposal and a clean slate. (We wrote at length about clean slates the first time around, so here I’ll just say that I love the redemption angle of Chuck.)

    Sarah didn’t need the fancy proposal, but she was crushed that she had ruined his surprise, so she made it her mission to make it happen, for Chuck’s sake. Just one of the best-ever Chuck moments. She knows that he needs to give her these sweeping, romantic, surprise gestures, so she has learned to let him. (See also Baby. “You know I love surprises.” Uhh … not.)

    Chuck, on the other hand, when he found out about Sarah’s parents’ fiasco proposal, adjusted his proposal for her. He was very good at that (see also Cat Squad and The Zoom and others).

    They each want to make the other happy, and they are gradually adapting and learning how. And that’s love beyond romance. Sigh.

    Of course, Sarah’s greatest effort to secure Chuck’s happiness (and her family’s safety) bookends the episode, with her offer to Beckman at the beginning and her going on the mission at the end. Controversial, I know, but I like the story, even if it had it’s bumps. We wanted Chuck and Sarah facing external threats, instead of internal ones. Well, this is that, and I liked it.

    I agree a finished proposal would have been better. I would have had ended on a steamy kiss interrupted by the assault team landing on the balcony. Chuck and Sarah break apart at gun point, roll credits. This leads back to Dave’s point:

    I see no story telling benefit to doing things in the order they did. This is the sort of story telling decision that primarily undermines my trust in the story teller. Too much tease, not enough delivery.

    There’s no real problem with Balcony, other than a story telling style and a promotion style that simply wears viewers down and sucks a lot of the feel-good, warm, fuzzy, fun out of the story. Then they too often skimp on the pay off. When it comes to happy endings, less is not more … at least not to me. I love Chuck, so my complaints aren’t huge, but they’re not nothing either. I still thoroughly enjoyed all of the show (minus the misery arc), especially Honeymooners on, but there was always that little drag on the fun, especially the first time through. Now, on rewatch, not so much.

    On other fronts, I thought the Jeffster plot was great right up through Jinsana’s entrance into the Buymore. After that it went downhill into some of the worst we’ve gotten from them. Uncomfortable is an understatement. Jinsana, you are too kind.

    Final verdict: fantastic episode — top tier.

    • BillAtWork says:

      But isn’t this basically what we were talking about in the last thread (I bet you thought I’d forget, lol)? They are trying to introduce angst into the story where there really isn’t any. What was Beckman’s plan? Why did it require Sarah to be dragged off in chains? And what did Sarah hope to accomplish anyway? What did she do other than what Mary had already been doing for 20 years?

      And, from a relationship POV, why didn’t Chuck know about this plan? Isn’t that something you would discuss with your spy partner and get his input? The way it worked out, Chuck was the one who solved the problem. I don’t see what Sarah did at all. Certainly it is something you would discuss with your fiancée, right? Aren’t they past this? And especially from the girl who just a few weeks ago made a fairly big point about ‘new rule. No secrets, no lies.’ Does that rule apply to Sarah? Or just Chuck? Because Sarah seems to ignore it regularly.

      And after all of this whole arc to get a big, well planned, romantic proposal, they didn’t even pay that off. He proposed in the hallway as the credits were rolling. Not that I minded that, but why all the multiple episodes talking about elaborate proposal plans?

      So for me, that keeps this from being a top tier episode.

      • thinkling says:

        Bill, you know those 1 to 5 position surveys: Disagree, disagree somewhat, no opinion, agree somewhat, agree? Well, I give you a 4 on a lot of what you say: I agree somewhat.

        I notice the things that bother you. Some may even bother me, but usually to a lesser degree. Gratuitous angst always bothers me. The angst they introduced that was false was the oh-no-they-may-not-get-engaged angst. Unnecessary and dishonest. There was still plenty of legitimate angst in the main story: Chuck and Sarah against Volkoff and the past that ruined his parents, etc. As you said, the engagement was a done deal by Coup d’Etat and de facto by Phase 3. LIke I said, let her say yes and then drop the assault team bomb.

        I don’t see as many bumps in the story as you do, though. Or they are smaller to me.

        Why didn’t Sarah tell Chuck? I think her offer was kind of spontaneous, because of all the pressure on Chuck. I don’t have a problem believing that she would have told him later when they got home from France, but Beckman’s plan took her by complete surprise. She was clearly shocked by Beckman’s solution. Meanwhile, she was too busy getting engaged, and didn’t get around to that conversation. (Now, that probably really bothers you. It’s just not a big deal to me.)

        Why did Sarah have to go under cover? Sarah said that for Beckman’s plan to work it had to be her. We can take that to mean that Beckman had some elaborate plan involving Sarah. Or it could have just meant that Sarah had to be the one to go under cover, because she was the only believable candidate. Volkoff would never have believed Chuck or Casey (and Brandon was unavailable, jk).

        What did Sarah do? If Sarah hadn’t gone, Chuck wouldn’t have had the Intel to solve the problem. Sarah and Mary worked together to get it. And Sarah’s being there gave Mary a team. Then, of course, it was Sarah that saved Mary, while Chuck was conning Volkoff. I saw Push Mix as a pretty good team effort.

        See, I minded the opera-glass proposal more than the other stuff you mentioned. I didn’t have to hear it. It was probably 5 words, max — maybe only two. Fine. But I would have liked to see it, without using opera glasses and a flash light … and for longer than three seconds before the fade to black.

        In the end, the things I liked far outweighed the other stuff, so it’s still top tier for me. I think our criteria differ. 😉

    • joe says:

      You’re such a romantic, Thinkling.
      Good catch about “sub-mission Sarah.” I like it.

    • atcDave says:

      Very well put Thinkling. I do think it has to mean putting the “arrest” off until the start of next week; but it is not such a big deal on re-watch.

    • anthropocene says:

      I’m not going to contest the idea that Balcony could have ended better, and I agree that Sarah should have at least discussed her mission plans with Chuck before committing to them, but I ended up loving the actual engagement in Push Mix so much better anyway. You could almost see thought balloons floating around between Chuck and Sarah. Okay, Mary’s retrieved, Volkoff’s captured, Hydra’s seized, Clara’s born…now can we puh-leeeze get engaged? And Chuck gets up and pops the question, perhaps wordlessly and without a shred of angst.

      • atcDave says:

        I do like the actual proposal, perhaps its one more reason why Balcony plays better in the “big picture”. But like it or not, they really should have ended Balcony with a “yes”.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Anthropocene,

        I don’t think anybody is dissing the scene in Push Mix. It was nice. But they spent a pretty large portion of half a season selling the need for a huge, romantic, over the top proposal. And that was the payoff? Really? They could have had that kind of scene anytime they wanted.

        So my objection is not to the proposal scene. I didn’t need to see a proposal scene. I considered them semi-officially engaged since Phase Three. What I do object to is spending so much time setting up a story that I knew was fait accompli, then not even really paying off.

        I would have preferred that they spend that screen time developing a story where I didn’t already know the outcome.

        Then they did the same thing with the wedding. They spent a large portion of half a season setting up a wedding, then when it came time to pay off, fell way, way short of my expectations.

      • anthropocene says:

        Bill—I agree with you on the wedding. But I thought the whole proposal plot was set up as another example of Chuck’s best-laid plans getting messed up by spy issues (compare: helping Devon propose in Marlin; the two weddings in Ring) but ultimately redeemed through Chuck’s (and sometimes others’) ingenuity or perseverance. It would have been way more cool to see Sarah crying, “Yes! Yes!” to Chuck as she was led away, but it was never that easy for them (right up to the end).

  5. resaw says:

    I feel in the minority here, but for the most part, S4 just doesn’t do it for me. Yet it has brought Thinkling back into the discussion. I guess I’m not as interested in parsing the success or failure of the storytelling craft as some others are. For me, the story is what it is, and my goal is to better understand/interpret the story as presented, rather than discuss what they did poorly and might have done better. I am fascinated with the conversation, though, even though I feel it is a bit over my head. Anyway, I have very little to add to the discussion except to say that on Canada’s Thanksgiving Day (today), I have to appreciate the number of times that Lester mentioned the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. Has that location ever been mentioned that many times before anywhere on US network television?

    I understand that, thanks to Ellie’s tweaking, Chuck’s re-downloading of the Intersect from Orion’s computer is much improved, and much more compatible with the human brain. That leads me to express my appreciation for Chuck’s glitch-free Intersect-enhanced fighting skills in this episode. I thought the fighting while preserving the contents of the wine glass was particularly well done and/or edited.

    Even though I’m not quite as engaged in this season’s re-watch as I was for earlier seasons, I still look forward to the Sunday night postings and reading the follow-up comments. Thanks, Dave and Joe, and all the others who continue to keep this conversation alive.

  6. CaptMediocre says:

    What’s it say about an episode where the girl is on her way to get proposed to by the man everyone wants (and has wanted) to do the proposing and the best scene is between the girl and the best friend?

    • atcDave says:

      Really? I thought the proposal scene itself was dynamite.

    • Prime example of the show’s Robin Hood writing Cap. Most of Chuck’s more endearing qualities had been transferred to Morgan by this point in the series. Lucky for Chuck, Morgan was so short otherwise Sarah may(should) have been looking elsewhere…

      • BillAtWork says:

        It’s funny Lou,

        They showed Morgan’s betrayal as selling out to Verbanski. But the ultimate betrayal would have been making a play for Sarah. It was kind of Fedak’s running theme. Quinn said it. “You don’t get that without an Intersect.”

        And I get that could get really dark, really fast. But it could also have been played for laughs. I can see Sarah going a tad crazy on him. Let’s put this flawed intersect thing to the test, lol.

  7. Dave says:

    This is one of the many episodes where it was great…but was tied to some un-good bits (Jeffster, ending angst). I thought the mission/sub-mission was great even though Morgan had too large a role for my tastes. So many eps in Seasons 3-5 were dragged down from great by having some un-good parts in them…a shame.

    Good episode with some needless angst and creepy comedy fail. Bottom line: an above average but still in the average range episode for me. Would (and have) re-watch many times.

    • atcDave says:

      No doubt the Jeffster part is a bit creepier than normal. The ending angst bothers me so much less now than on initial viewing this episode has actually gone up quite a few steps for me. From average, to well above average.

  8. joe says:

    I’m going to be a little OT – many of us just saw the Castle promo for next week with Josh Gomez. It’s the long-awaited episode!

    I assume most of you are aware, but just in case you aren’t, we have pages linked above for each of the Chuck stars for news, including Josh. Comments about next weeks Castle episode surely qualify. You can check it out and put comments there with impunity.

    • atcDave says:

      Good episode this week, even if I was counting seconds for the preview! Next week looks like a ton of fun.

    • oldresorter says:

      Castle is nailing it this season so far to my eye. Next week looks ‘awesome.’

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, it’s been very good — better than last season, which I liked, but I like this one better.

    • thinkling says:

      Had a thought: In the interest of keeping current threads free from Castle (or any other) spoilers, why don’t we comment on any specifics in the What’s Your Favorite — What Chuck Fans Are Watching page.

      • oldresorter says:

        If I could be allowed another thought, a blank or minimally worded weekly thread, what’s new on TV. The ‘what’s your fav’ was a popular thread, and as Chuck dies out, it might be a chance to even attrack a few new Chuck fans as it seems most of us enjoy the same sorts of current shows. much as I lament certain parts of Chuck’s story, I like the more positive, upbeat people who post about Chuck. the problem is most of those folks who are regulars here, are as bitter and disillusioned about other fans, as some of us are about s3 or anything else that might still be stuck in our craw. I’ve tried to post a couple of middle ground things about the show, most fall with a thud, which I can’t really complain about as I think I am a lousy messanger here, irregardless of the message, as at the height of the misery, few posters disliked the misery more than I did, and the final two eps still rankle me, in spite of my better angels whispering to me to let it go.

      • atcDave says:

        I think that’s a good idea Thinkling. And just so everyone knows, even after the post drops off the front page, it can be found again via the “off topic” tag if you go to the “categories” tab at right.

        I don’t want to do a weekly non-Chuck thread, but we may do similar posts again on occasion.
        And there is also no problem with making the occasional off topic comment in any thread. This will remain primarily a Chuck site, but we are also a community, and other interests may occasionally be brought up!

      • oldresorter says:

        Sounds good dave, can’t imagine how you keep up as it is, you do a great job, not meant to be critical in any way. Often, the weekly topic reminds me of something else I saw, hence I post about it. I also like getting ideas about what other Chuck fans watch. But I probably like the other tv topic more than anyone here, so I was being selfish by asking, or at least self serving. Keep up the great work!

  9. oldresorter says:

    Dave, does this qualify? Ryan Mcpartlin appeared on Heart of Dixie last night. If any of you have watched HOD a few times, or even never, last night’s ep is worth checking out. Not cause it’s good, but because the ep shows exactly how far JS’s PLI / LI loving mind can go. I liked last night’s HOD, but I wouldn’t be shocked if none of you did, if anything, it’ll probably make you happy you got the Chuck you got, vs the Chuck we could have gotten.

    • joe says:

      I’ve only seen minutes of HOD, Jason. But I got the immediate impression that it was The O.C. with a southern accent. I may have a fan-crush on Rachel Bilson/Lou (she can sell me ice-creme bars anytime!), but not enough to get into that show.

      It’s a good point about what Chuck could have been.

      • oldresorter says:

        Joe, a different POV on HOD, it may have started out a bit OC like, but it has become more like the show Buymore, at least s1/s2 of Chuck when Buymore had a heart and soul along with a story and purpose. Bilson is the lovable Charles Bartowski, and Wade is Bilson’s flawed but lovable Sarah Walker, while the rest of the cast has evolved into funny, lovable characters. The LI stuff is so overblown, it’s more like a parady of coming of age angst, than angst itself. Schwartz is in his wheelhouse when he can be snarky, with no drama in his way, HOD feels like Schwartz unplugged.

    • BillAtWork says:

      It’s exactly why anything with JS’s name on it is going to get an automatic pass from me.

    • atcDave says:

      Jason please don’t worry if it qualifies! As I said, go off topic as you wish. If it turns out to be a problem we may re-evaluate. But for now let’s say television and other topics in the current thread are fine. We haven’t worried much before, and I don’t expect that to change (unless things get really weird!).

      But some interesting stuff about Heart of Dixie. I sure am glad that Chuck was so different. It is good Ryan still has work though!

  10. First of all,thanks for the idea to post discussions on the current series of Castle elsewhere,it definitely helps we non-US watchers!!
    Despite the forced angst ending,there really was much to enjoy……………First the whole failed restaurant proposal with great performances by not only Zac and Yvonne but also hapless Josh Gomez with the carriage and balloons and even Adam Baldwin commenting on the “moron” who had delayed his arrival at Castle.

    Then,moving on,the whole Danny Kaye references,Butler Casey with his serious dislike of everything french,tipsy Sarah,her wonderful scene with Morgan,,,,,,,,,,,I could go on and on but the rest has already been said,so I will end with a mention of Jeffster and in particular Vik Sahay.

    Not much love abounding for Jeffster in this episode,it seems,although most of it brought a smile to my face.In any event,it may well have been “leaving on a jet plane”when we first realised Vik could actually sing,but he deserves the plaudits for working hard with Tim Jones and getting better and better,even with this performance,on the way to his final virtuoso rendering of “take on me”!!!!!!!.

  11. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Balcony (4.11) | Chuck This

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