We’ve arrived at the end of the Season Four front order, and the mid-season finale. Time to wrap up the Volkoff, Frost and proposal story lines.
Can Push Mix live up to the very high standard of past finales? After the jump, we’ll discuss!
Well I think the short answer is yes. Our polls would indicate this is a fan favorite. Push Mix is maybe more of a thriller, and less high adventure than some; but with some excellent plotting and scheming by Chuck, another over the top appearance of Volkoff, fun comedy, a Jeffster performance and a beautifully understated proposal this episode is first rate from beginning to end.
This is hard for me to critique much, I’m pretty enthused about this episode. Favorite moments include nabbing the wrong computer expert, Chuck using Orion’s equipment to befuddle Volkoff, Sarah loaning Morgan her “too small” coat, the confrontation with Volkoff in the computer room, and the entire ending sequence of events. But I enjoyed everything in between too.
One atcDave aside, the sort of meta-humor I always enjoy, I love “The Contessa”. Volkoff brags about how state of the art it is. Well its a 1940s Victory Ship. Its visible anti-air weaponry consists of a stern mounted 5″/38 and at least one twin 40mm Bofors mount. Truly state of the art in 1942, not so much for 2011! But it probably always did have an ice cream parlour. And as I’ve said before, Volkoff proves beyond a doubt that he is evil to the core by eating his double scoop ice cream cone, with sprinkles, in front of his crew, without sharing.
A few thoughts, I wish we had seen more of this computer genius and “master planner” version of Chuck (and less of the whiner!). I think they finally wrote this part of the show more consistently to my liking in Season Five. But some of that may just be how much I like the Judkins/LaFranc writing team, they tend to be my favorite writers on the show.
Initially I felt the Morgan “yoga seal” bit went on a bit too long. That’s one of those things I enjoyed more on re-watch. I think when it first ran I had more of a “yeah, yeah, get on with the story already” feeling about it. At this point, those sort of thoughts don’t really worry me any more; I find it much easier to just relax, and enjoy the laugh.
I still don’t completely enjoy the Sarah/Mary relationship. Like in Gobbler I thought there was still a backwards slant to it. I would have preferred/expected to see Sarah pushing Mary that now they have the information they need, its time to wrap this mission up and get home. The Mary character is too damaged by the show’s own backstory to be the one offering sage wisdom. And having her do so makes Sarah look like kind of a doofus. This doesn’t horribly undermine the episode for me, I’m willing to dismiss it as building Mary as a decent and heroic character. I just bristle a little at diminishing a main hero to get there. And Sarah charging in to Mary’s rescue in the final action sequence pretty much makes up for it.
Push Mix was hyped as ending with “the best ten minutes of Chuck ever”. This show has had so many awesome scenes and moments I really hate to rank order them all. I’m pretty sure “best … ever” isn’t quite true for me in this case. But it was a terrific end no matter where those ten minutes end up.
I really do like the silent proposal and fade to black. I like that it is simple and spontaneous. That feels more sincere to me than Chuck’s outrageous restaurant scheme (or any of the “proposal plans” mentioned in Phase Three!). As I said a couple weeks ago, I think I would have liked it better if Balcony had ended with a “yes”, and then the whole undercover Volkoff mission got started in Gobbler. But this is not a huge thing to me, especially given how things played out and how great the actual moment is.
The “B” plot this week is mostly separate and quite different from the “A” plot. The biggest consequence of this “B” plot, apart from the obvious birth of Clara, is an outrageously funny Jeffster performance. I love both Ellie’s and Casey’s reactions when they recognize the music. Even better, I love that Jeffster gets arrested.
This coming Tuesday I will put up another “Alternatives” post. This one may be pretty repetitive since we’ve been discussing so much of this in little pieces all along. But if anyone has any grand ideas on how things might have been told, I look forward to hearing from you!
That’s What Makes You Great
I can’t believe how many notes I took in preparation for this write-up. It’s as if every scene had something that made me smile or made me guffaw or wanna jump up and fist-pump or – and this is a strange one – made me proud of Chuck & Sarah, proud enough to celebrate.
In the city
We know how to get down
In the city
We know how to do it right
Rocking this party
Don’t stop ’till the break of dawn
In the city
We know how to do it right
Oooohhh! And I don’t even care much for Euro-style “dance” music. Doesn’t matter. I hear Rad Omen’s piece and I can see black-haired Sarah and Mary tossing a high-tech spider into the hallway to gain entrance to Volkoff’s office like the elite spies they are. It’s a dance and they are very good at it. They know how to do it right.
And when Morgan’s with Alex, yeah, I’m proud of him too. Cuddling with Alex is easy; consoling her at Casey’s hospital bed is something else entirely. He now knows how to do it right too.
Of course, Jeffster always knows how to do it right. What we see here is the proper way to get arrested! Proud of you too, boys. Nobody needs to be born to the sounds of Coldplay…
But most of all, I’m proud of Chuck. Remember the guy we first met, the one afraid to attend his own birthday party and the one who couldn’t even make Ass. Man. at the Buy More – beaten out for the job by Harry Tang, of all people? Sarah Walker’s greatest accomplishment as a spy was believing in that guy when even he didn’t. Even when I didn’t. I have to work to remember him.
Early on we had glimpses of a different Chuck, the one that Morgan and Ellie and Sarah saw. I noticed that guy in Alma Mater when he and Bryce were playing “Spy” in the library stacks. I saw him again in First Date, facing down Luther Colt.
Chuck: [Bursting in] ‘Scuse me. ‘Scuse me – hi. Sorry to – uh. Sorry to interrupt whatever’s going on here. But, uh, Mr. Colt, I, uh, I just wanted you to meet my team.
Tell me something. Do you find them imposing? Ga’head. You can be honest. I was going for imposing.
I saw that guy in Best Friends the same time Sarah did. But most of all, we saw him in The Ring pt. 2 facing down an intersected Shaw when, even though his future with Sarah was the most important thing, more was at stake than that. I always wonder – where did is girlish screams and bumbling go?
A Victory And A Promise
Doesn’t matter. In Chuck vs. The Push Mix, sometime between grabbing office supplies…
Morgan: Office supplies???
Chuck: No, Morgan. We need a plan.
… and getting to hospital with the help of the U.S. Army, Chuck the bungler with the girlish screams leaves for good. The Chuck we have now is worth a billion, even if he doesn’t know it yet. His plan, starting with Dr. Roni Eimacher and ending with a stunned Volkoff meeting the cold, dead hand of his history is nothing short of masterful and justifies ATCDave’s (or was it Ernie’s?) oft heard claim that S4 is genius!
Much like in Star Wars (The Phantom Menace) here we have four battle fields; you can count ’em up. Sarah must free Mary, helpless Casey must somehow survive the assassin Armond (played by Igor JiJikine), Chuck and Morgan must survive Volkoff and his men. Don’t forget the last part. Ellie and Devon must survive the arrival of baby Clara. Especially Devon. It all has to work out, it just has to. Because we care. That’s the magic.
Just like Chuck, all these characters have been transformed. Finally, finally, we can see the best in all of them, plain as day. Despite the transformations there’s one thing that remains the same, however. It’s the reason Chuck made his plan, the reason Casey took the fall, the reason Sarah left as well as Mary before her, and it’s the reason they came back.
Ellie: Casey’s family. Chuck and I do anything for family.
As far as I’m concerned, family is what makes this episode (and this show) great.
It’s hard to be exuberant and cheerful about family when the head of the family is gone, though. Even so, we’re allowed a moment to understand that “gone” may be a matter of definition, a matter of what we believe. Like I’ve said before, since there is nothing to tell me otherwise, I choose to see this, the message sent to Volkoff, as a ray of hope that stays with us until a movie is made.
If Chuck vs. The Push Mix ended here, with the defeat of Volkoff and the recovery of Casey, that would have been enough to make it one of the top five episodes. TPTB found thirty seconds to give us more, though. I’ll take one song – a victory anthem – and two thousand words (in the form of two pictures) to tell you that this was the best ending ever and a fitting end to S4.0.
Oh, you may want to notice that the song contains a promise.
We lie beneath the stars at night
Our hands gripping each other tight
You keep my secrets hope to die
Promises, swear them to the sky