Now for something a little different. After a dose of Volkoff, stand alone episodes, romantic comedy and meeting a new Volkoff; we’re heading back to some Intersect stories for a couple weeks. A-Team also has a bigger part for Casey, after pushing him to the background.
After the jump, we’ll discuss this week’s episode from Season Four.
Our favorites poll ranked this episode down in the 60s. My first thought is that I liked it a lot better than that! But to be fair, that is still sort of a middling episode, at the lower end of average; and maybe I shouldn’t argue with that verdict at all! As we’ve observed before, even an average episode of Chuck is still a lot of fun.
A-Team does have a sort of different feel to it. And I think that’s mostly due to a slightly different view of Sarah Walker. Our super Ninja girl is so often the steady and serious character on the show, but this time we see her more than a little on edge. When Devon tells Chuck that Ellie is going a little stir crazy, he mutters that seems to be going around. So apparently “stir crazy” is the connecting theme of this episode’s plot lines.
I suspect one reason why this episode is ranked where it is, is because many viewers find this version of Sarah a little unsettling. But it does make me laugh. I see this behavior sometimes in my own job. I work at a very seasonal sort of airport. With no commercial service, we see flight schools and pleasure flyers as the main source of activity. Well those are two classes of flyers who tend to stay put in foul weather. So when winter comes, we may go a week or so with nothing to do sometimes. We so often see people who can’t adjust to so much time to read or amuse themselves on our long winter breaks. We like to warn people not to come here unless you’re okay with some down time! So I’ve seen plenty of stir crazy, bored to death controllers in my career. But I think Chuck knows how to deal with the down time…
Apart from that, there is so much fun here. Down time or not, A Team or B, Chuck and Sarah are an awesome team here. Sarah is trying to be useful, and Chuck tries to keep her from getting in too much trouble. Providing Casey with unsanctioned back-up, and a mission to extract a dog are the early highlights. But I particularly like the sub-mission to get Casey’s hand print. Starting with Sarah considering cutting off his hand. Then Chuck distracting Morgan while Sarah comes in behind. And of course, small, child-like hand prints. This is a brilliantly funny five minutes or so.
Back at Castle, Chuck discovers his father’s computer, and two new human Intersects. I can feel Chuck’s moral outrage at the misuse of his father’s invention; but we all know how life in 21st century America works, there’s no way he wins that argument. Which leads to Chuck and Sarah as supporting cast to a new Intersect team. This plays out in a manner both predictable and satisfying. A team of Intersect automatons may have some advantages, but ultimately fail to show the sort of discernment, initiative and creativity that Chuck and Sarah both have. And Casey wisely sees the difference. I’m not sure if using fruit juice to disarm a nuke qualifies Chuck as a great leader; but it certainly shows imagination and outside-the-box thinking.
As I mentioned above, the “B” plot is tied in by the “stir crazy” theme. There are a few very funny moments here. I particularly like Ellie’s initial visit to the Buy More. Jeff shows a bit of insight and legitimate psychic skill; first in knowing how little Ellie thinks of him and Lester (!), and second in arriving at “Cia”. I like this sort of sub-plot, it provides some big laughs, and really ties back in to the main plot by the end. I think it also may highlight how underused Ellie was through most of this season.
So I think another fun episode. Still sort of “average”, but easy to enjoy the ride.
And Now For Something Completely Different…
A little Peter Gunn type music, perhaps?
I think I know why this episode is rated in the bottom 3rd (more or less) in our list of favorites. On first blush (you know, the impression that sticks with you the longest), Chuck vs. The A-Team seems a bit BTDT. Sarah and Casey are bored and in need of a mission; Chuck is trying to keep everybody happy, both at work and at home; Devon is struggling to shield Ellie from Chuck’s life, Jeff and Lester are deep in outer space and Beckman is simultaneously in charge of everything and in charge of nothing. So like usual, the situation is critical, but not serious! 😉
Casey: What are you doing here?
Chuck: Saving your life, partner.
Casey: Don’t need saving, idiot.
Chuck: Oh, really? I’m the idiot?
“The Turk”: Please. Let me settle this. [Guns Cocked] You are all idiots.
First impressions are deceiving, indeed. Whaaa? You don’t think that the creative talent knows we’ve seen Chuck defusing bombs without the use of the Intersect before?
Sarah: [Stating the obvious] Chuck, are you about to disarm a nuclear bomb using fruit juice?
Chuck: [nods yes]
Sarah: Okay. Do it.
With that, combined with Sarah’s wry look at Chuck, I broke out laughing. This time I got the poke in the ribs that said “Look! A little self-mocking spoof!” This lighthearted romp was not going to present something angsty, threatening to tear C&S apart again. Casey was not going to leave Team B and Shaw was not going to return just yet to resurrect Stephen only to kill him again. Nope. Chuck is not NCIS, after all, and Chuck is not Leroy Jethro Gibbs. We’re here for the pure joy of it, not to take ourselves too seriously.
Chuck: Ooooh. What are these?
Sarah: These have a camera inside of them that scan for any bio-residue.
Chuck: Yuck. Sounds like a CBS show.
[Oh, I agree! Take the whimsy out of Chuck and you might get something like this.]
I won’t go over all the laff-lines – Dave’s covered that! But needless to say, I chuckled at everything from “Cia!” to Jana and everything in between. Sarah Lancaster never made me laugh more.
That was Ellie talking a mile-a-minute. I’ll electronically slow the rest down for you to human speed, but you still have to read it fast! 😉
Ellie: Remember how I’ve been trying to keep track of Clara’s sleep schedule? Well, I finally crunched the numbers. At first, I couldn’t find the circadian cycle, then I applied some basic biostatistics. Voila. Isn’t that incredible? Oh. Wait ’till you see the data that I gathered during tummy time.
…and here is a chart of Clara’s new vocal sounds. Trust me. You can go a little loony with someone babbling in you ear all day long.
…The problem is, I only have one test subject. So, in order to control my experiment, we’re gonna have to have a second baby.
[Devon looks terrified]
There’s little here that pushes the story forward in this case and that’s fine by me. Chuck and Sarah’s romance is strong and on an even keel (Whew!). Even better, Chuck & Co. are not subject to great revelations about their inner strengths or the value of friends and family. Again, BTDT. But that’s not to say there is no movement. Quite the contrary.
Thanks to the GRETAs Victoria Dunwoody (Stacy Keibler) and Richard Noble (Isaiah Mustafa) we gain a bit of understanding about the Intersect. It is a burden and Chuck is special, if for no other reason, because he bears that burden without losing his humanity. More importantly, Ellie has Orion’s laptop computer returned to her by Director Bentley, who becomes generous for her own nefarious purposes. You can almost hear the dramatic music playing!
For her part, Ellie is quite at home studying Stephen’s files. No background character is she!
For me, it’s always important when Stephen, or, at least, his life’s work, is brought back into the story. It’ll be a little bit before we pick up those threads, but we shouldn’t forget them; they’re important.
One other thing makes this episode a little special to me, personally. Sometime after this episode aired, we were contacted by Stacy Keibler’s publicity agent and given the opportunity to do an e-mail interview with the actress and fitness model. For that, I’m still grateful! It’ll always be one of my best memories of doing this blog.
And you’ll love again
Even though it feels like the end