The last stand alone episode before the Season Four finale arc gets underway. We see Chuck and Sarah duped out of their wedding money by a con artist, which leads to Sarah enlisting her dad’s help on a mission to first get even, then restore their professional reputation.
After the jump, we’ll discuss this late S4 episode.
It seems to be a consistent truth that Sarah centered stories make for the best, and most popular Chuck episodes. Our polls had Wedding Planner as a top twenty episode, and the third most popular of Season Four after Phase Three and Push Mix. For myself, I would absolutely call this a very strong episode, and really I only consider Phase Three to be better from S4.
I think there are several elements that make this such a strong episode. For starters there’s Chuck himself. We really see him at his best from beginning to end, well maybe not on the Super Shuttle, but other than that, we see a Chuck who can do his job well and provides support and council to his fiance; even if he is taken by a con artist. Although my favorite Chuck moments would be first how deluded he is about how he looks when flashing, and secondly trying to convince Jack Burton to actually be there for his daughter.
As a Sarah centered episode, we get to see plenty good from her too. She is funny early on, especially when trying to show Chuck how he looks when flashing. The reaction shot when the General sets the entire government against their wedding planner is just as perfect. And can we forget her Jersey accent? It is possible Sarah’s comic moments are most appreciated because of their rarity, it is a shame she is normally the straight character. There’s plenty of Sarah drama here too, mostly of the sweet and sappy variety; but I’m a pretty big fan of sweets so it suits me fine. But the dance with her dad at the reception, explaining to Chuck about disappointment, and the final scene alone with her piggy bank are all really nice moments. Really, this episode completes Sarah and her dad’s story that was started way back in S2.
Another wonderful part of this episode is Gary Cole as Jack Burton. He manages the right balance between affectionate father and disreputable rogue. We believe he will do anything for his little girl, except stick around. Just as in his first appearance, he discerns that Chuck is the better man. Jack is easily one of the top, and most memorable guest characters for this universe.
The flashback scenes of young Sarah, or whatever she was going by at the time, tell us a few interesting tidbits. Sarah always seemed to crave time and attention from her father. She learned all the cons and became quite proficient at them, as part of spending time with dad. But more than anything, she seemed to learn to deal with disappointment, as we see from adult Sarah’s hard learned evaluation of her father’s qualities.
The small “B” plot in this episode involves Casey facing Kathleen. Some nice moments, especially as Casey shows he’s achieved professional success. I’d call it a story more moving for its tragedy than anything; it clearly tells us what Casey lost through his life of service.
So, as is so often the case with the very best episodes, I don’t have a whole lot else to say. This is a very satisfying episode. Very nice for Sarah especially. It has no deep consequences for mythology or season arcs. But it is a moving and heartwarming episode for a favorite character.
What I Like About You
Pistols at dawn. I see no other way to resolve the disagreements I’m about to have with Dave. (And I’ll let you know how this works out!) You see, in my estimation Chuck vs. The Wedding Planner is an amazing, wonderful episode that simply can’t be praised too much!
As far as I can tell, only a brief appearance by Ellie (ah, a brunette!) would make it better, but even then, Kathleen (Clare Carey) goes a long way to make up for that. The humor is, like usual, first rate, except that Sarah imitating Daphne Paralta (Lisa LoCicero) complete with “Jersey accent” is even better than first rate. And if you aren’t chuckling yet at the memories, I have two words for you. Fake Flash. Ha!
The Buy More just isn’t missed this time. Oh gee, I’m even willing to say that Yvonne is officially a master of accents! As for the music, I’ll try to refrain from exclaiming, but only a little. The songs from this episode can dominate any play list; they’re that good. The adventure pitting the con-man Jack Burton, and his daughter against three Hungarian scientist/terrorist/brothers is a good respite from the Volkoff empire, which otherwise dominates S4.
I agree that Gary Cole is once again fantastic as the roguish Jack Burton; ya gotta love that guy. But the effect of Jack’s appearance on Sarah leads me to my big revelation this week, and to my point of disagreement with Dave. No episode since the beginning of S3 has succeeded in taking me back to the beginning, back to the feelings I had in S1 and S2 about Chuck and Sarah, the way this episode has. Chuck vs. The Wedding Planner shows us who Sarah was by showing who she’s always been through her father’s eyes. And who’s that, you ask? Bartowski’s been asking that question for years!
Don’t drink don’t smoke – what do you do?
The opening scenes with Alexa Blair Robertson as young Sarah tell us that she was smart and a good little con artist, determined to make her father proud of her. How to do that? Never be the sucker. As it turned out, Sarah worked very hard at doing exactly that – at never being the sucker. But making her father proud? Of that, she was not so certain.
Without psychoanalysing a fictional character too much, it’s safe to say that “not being a sucker” is always part of Sarah Walker. That’s mostly a good thing, but taken too far, it tends to make one cynical and build walls where they needn’t be built.
Perhaps you remember when the big discussions were all about WT/WT, but that was the wrong question. Now I realize I was really asking “Will she let him?” Without ever consciously putting it to words, I was wondering much more about Sarah’s character than about the shows’ direction and wondering if Sarah would ever let Chuck love her. Or maybe putting it better; would she ever let herself be loved? We could never be certain of that; there was so much in the way, Sarah had her reasons and her demons and the question is very different from “Will they/Won’t they”.
So I can’t see this episode as standing alone, not by any means. Here I saw for the first time that Sarah had resolved the question hanging over us since S1. Her wanting to elope instead of having family at the wedding, her reluctance to start the wedding preparations, her initial, gentle refusals to let Chuck in, all that is over. Now they act as a couple and as a team to get their $26,300 back from the con-artist. They even go against the orders of General Beckman – together. It’s the way we’re going to see them act from now right up until… well, you know.
Daphne, Diane and the Brothers Klüg are not the big problems in this episode. It’s Jack. He was a lousy father. Sarah has to come to terms with the man, flawed as he is, with herself and with the love she still has for him or there will always be demons (like her desire to elope) that will appear at inopportune times. Can Sarah forgive him? You bet.
Forgotten and forgiven. Just ask Casey and Alex. We’ve always known that the daughters are lustrous. It’s the fathers, Jack and Casey, that seem to come up short sometimes. About them, we’re asked to judge through Sarah’s and Alex’s eyes, not our own. We can ask one question of them, though. Despite Jack’s devotion to himself and addiction to thrills, and despite Casey’s devotion to country and addiction to danger, are they capable of truly loving their daughters?
I’d say by the end of this episode we know the answer is yes.
I love you like grave danger
Like moon shining disguise
When I wake up with your makeup
And spread blush cross the sky
Like a meteor crush
I’m gonna tell the world
Been a million years full of tears
But I found my girl