Chuck vs The Wedding Planner (4.21)

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.

~ Dave

What I Like About You

Flash Face!

Flash Face!

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.

Jack Burton, con man. Father. Expert at reading people.

Jack Burton, con man. Father. Expert at reading people.

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?

Young Sarah, con-girl, manipulator, soon to be master spy.

Young Sarah, con-girl, manipulator, soon to be master spy.

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 should know better: "Never con a con man."

Daphne should know better: “Never con a con man.”

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
Mmm hmm
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

– joe


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 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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44 Responses to Chuck vs The Wedding Planner (4.21)

  1. authorguy says:

    Never got into this episode. Between the ‘flash’ impressions, and Beckman sending the entire government on the strength of their lie, and the attempt to arrest the con lady on the bus, it was just too full of stuff that made me wince and leave the room. Plus the fact that it’s completely separate from the main story line of the season, such as it was, and it’s an episode I can skip. I would have liked for Casey to recover his relationship with his former fiancee, not leave her behind again. The con was good, I guess. I liked the piggy bank, but it seemed like Jack Burton was the only one striving to be better than his usual self, which is the sort of comedy I can sit through.

    • joe says:

      Awww – I found Beckman’s little over-reaction kinda cute! (I’d hazard a guess that Ernie likes his generals feisty like this too, so we gotcha outnumbered! 😉 ) Besides, her reaction was also just desserts for C&S’s little deception, right?

      I don’t mind a little “over the top” comedy if the timing is right.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe I thought the comedy here was perfect for these characters. It had a fun and affectionate slant to it. Even Beckman; I love the “I don’t want to know” bit at the end.

      • thinkling says:

        I thought the plan backfire was indeed hilarious, especially their expressions in reaction to Beckman’s over-reaction to the fake flash. I also thought it was funny that Chuck knew more about the society page than the CIA reports he was supposed to know about.

        Joe, there’s one more dad cast in contrast to Jack — and another scene I really liked — and that’s Devin.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah I like how Jack can only compare knowing Clara to poker. For Devon its more like, the awesome thing to do.

      • thinkling says:

        I would have to add that the scene in the shuttle ranks right up there — er, down there — with my least favorite scenes of the series … kind of like pole dancing in Leftovers. *Full Body Shudder* However Daphne’s capture makes me laugh out loud every time.

        Oh, and Yvonne is awesome at accents.

        See I had to gush a little more.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree exactly about the cheesy scenes. Although humor in poor taste is a different category for me from certain despised story arcs; one I can shrug off, the other remains a burden.
        But no doubt, the Super Shuttle “humor” is not to my liking at all. Funny though that Daphne’s capture is, laugh out loud funny every time. Both her smug taunting immediately before the net hits her, then Sarah’s guilty grin and wave. Sooooo, funny!

      • joe says:

        I’ll second the notion about Daphne’s capture. The timing with the net is perfect.
        And Thinkling, I can’t believe I didn’t even think of Devon when I was writing about the dad’s in the series. I mean, I even thought of Stephen, but kept him out of this write up because fitting him in would be too much of a stretch for the episode. But Devon? He belongs in that discussion exactly where you put him!

      • atcDave says:

        Really Devon is the only completely good dad we see.

      • authorguy says:

        Big Mike tries, though.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave, I amend my comment about the shuttle scene to a category of trivial scenes that make me cringe, as opposed to misery arc scenes or serious character diminishing scenes. Usually this list is populated with Buymore scenes, but the shuttle scene and the pole dancing scene make the cringe-worthy humor list. These are no big deal kind of scenes that don’t ruin the episode … just skip forward to the rest of an otherwise favorite episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny how Jeff and Lester seem to dominate the cringe-worthy scene list. But Chuck and Morgan do have a couple.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well, to be fair Jeffster’s main purpose is cringeworthy humor, as was Morgan’s initially.

      • atcDave says:

        Is that like identifying the “main purpose” of Lyme Disease?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think anchovies is a better analogy. Some people like anchovies…

      • atcDave says:

        Well maybe some people like Lyme Disease too! I have plenty of sick leave…

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Uhhmm… I think I’ll stick with the anchovies…

  2. resaw says:

    I enjoyed this episode, for most of the reasons stated above. Joe, I think your comments about Sarah’s relationship with her father were insightful and made coherent my vaguer sense of appreciation for Wedding Planner. As much as I enjoyed the comedic elements, the poignant dramatic pieces were the most appealing to me. For me, the best line of the show was when Sarah says to her dad: “I found a home here, a good one, and I’m happy.”

    I’ll not add to this at this time. Thanks, again, Dave and Joe, for your weekly labours in re-presenting this wonderful series. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Joy to the World!


    • joe says:

      Ack! That’s a line that I meant to highlight, Russ (and thanks – it’s nice to have a first name). But I struggled to find a way to shoehorn it in and sorta forgot! 😉 It was Sarah’s “I found a home here” that made me realize how much this one reminded me of S1.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt this episode feels a lot like an S1 or S2 episode. Funny, since the main characters are in such a completely different place.

  3. thinkling says:

    This is one of my favorite episodes for so many reasons: from the hilarity of Sarah on the war path to the fun of the sting to the poignancy of Sarah and her dad (her wondering–hoping–if he was there b/c he was worried about her, and her trying to hide her disappointment that he left). I liked the contrast of the two men in her life: her dad who always left her and trained her to be ready for disappointment vs the opposite of that in Chuck. I loved Jack’s note. Chuck indeed gives Sarah both adventure and home.

    I could gush, but I have presents to wrap and stuff to cook. Marry Christmas to all of you and a blessed 2014.

  4. mr2686 says:

    A truly great episode in my book. Ranked as number 17 in the poll, but number 8 for me, it falls just behind Cougars and Delorean…in fact, it’s really not right to say behind because I think they are equally great. Everything from Sarah being upset about being conned, to Chuck’s fake flash, to a styrofoam cake, to Sarah’s great back-story, to the heartfelt note from Dad and the money for Chuck and Sarah’s wedding, it was all great (shoot, I didn’t even mention the great scene on the super shuttle…sorry Thinkling but I thought it was hilarious.). To me, Phase 3 is the only one from season 4 above this one, but Push Mix is a close 3rd

    • atcDave says:

      You know I really struggle with rank ordering episodes sometimes. I completely agree with calling this a top ten episode, with the qualification I have 20+ top ten episodes. But I do agree completely with saying only Phase Three from this season is likely better.
      But I’ll side with Thinkling on the Super Shuttle scene (although it is amusing that “Super Shuttle” was apparently quite pleased with this as product placement. So perhaps the meta-humor works better for me than the actual scene!).

    • joe says:

      You guys struggle less with the ranking than I do! I mean, on a good day, I’ll decide that Colonel is my favorite, and then I’ll start to wonder if maybe Honeymooners is a tad closer to perfection. Or maybe First Kill, just because I still get chills every time Sarah says “Take off your watch.” Then I’ll hear Luisa’s Bones on my mp3 player and think maybe Dream Job.

      Arg! I can’t decide!!! And that’s for my favorite. I’ll never get to number 7 or 8 that way.

      • authorguy says:

        For me it’s easy – First Date, Chuck’s shining moment as Carmichael, the moment he seizes his destiny. One of the few times I even noticed the music, with Phantom Planet.

      • atcDave says:

        Honeymooners remains my favorite, but it gets complicated quickly after that. I really even have a hard time choosing favorite episodes from each season, especially S2.

      • anthropocene says:

        That’s why I prefer to recollect in terms of favorite scenes. All the best episodes featured at least one classic scene (“Take off your watch,” Chuck and Sarah fighting baddies while handcuffed, the dream/reality montage in vs. Phase Three), but even lesser episodes could have a great scene too (e.g., first kiss in vs. Hard Salami).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m with Joe, my favorites change with time, my mood, or even what I’ve watched most recently. The best I can come up with is 30-40 that always make my top 20.

      • thinkling says:

        Like Anthro, I can find favorite scenes in many, many episodes and likable scenes in every episode. And like Ernie, there are easily 30 or 40 episodes that make my top 10 or 20. A marathon of favorite scenes would take a lonnnggg time.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, no doubt I have a lot of favorite scenes. Favorite episodes typically have many favorite scenes,

      • andereandre says:

        Another problem is that the last part of an episode is often really the start of the next one. I discovered Chuck only this year and I binge watched the thing, so for me arcs are just one episode and ranking the constituting episodes feels artificial.
        It is a bit of a beef I have with atcDave. Dave doesn’t like it when an episode ends on a downer. Totally valid on how you appreciate it when it was broadcasted. A rewatch is a totally other beast though. Now the boundary between episodes is just that point where you have to click on another file. The angst is gone and I would have expected a different appreciation there.

      • atcDave says:

        Andre we’ve often observed that viewers who can power through the whole series have a different slant than those of us who watched in real time. Especially notable with the misery arc; many of us felt back in April of 2009 that wt/wt had run its course and that Colonel was indeed the “game changer” Fedak himself called it. Well it wound up taking 13 more episodes, and ONE YEAR of real time to actually move the story forward. Many who are able to push through those 13 episodes in a couple days simply do not get the anger and frustration felt by those of us who had to wait a year to see what we were waiting for. So I do understand there is a difference in perspective there.
        That said, I don’t completely object to downbeat endings. In moderation, I think it can be an effective story telling technique. But I do think certain things were badly overused on Chuck, most significantly, the relationship angst (especially in S3). Even though it was well used on occasion; the end of Truth, the end of Beak Up, the end of Fat Lady, the end of Aisle of Terror, are all examples of using tension and angst very effectively to add excitement and energy to the story. But so often it was over done. I think the greatest, most compelling aspect of the entire series was how Chuck and Sarah, two likable, decent, yet very different people fell in love and made a life together. Too often, the show runners played like wt/wt tension was the show’s driving force (again, S3 is when they broke it, by pushing it too far for too long), even revisiting it in the very end. And that just doesn’t work for me. I’m also less enthused with endings that make either Chuck or Sarah look bad. I can tolerate, even enjoy a lot of tense and exciting endings. But I completely burnt out on the relationship angst long before the show runners did.

      • andereandre says:

        @atcDave: I understand all that. And I read all the blog entries from that time. I just would have expected that by watching it as a total your perspective would converge now a bit more with those of us who watched it that way in the first place.
        As an example Phase Three starts for me at 39:40 in FOD, and that is where I always begin when rewatching it. The weekly schedule of episodes has no relevance any more now we have the whole series as one work.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think the weekly schedule will always matter because it shaped the first impressions that will now last a lifetime. Don’t get me wrong, the “big picture” we now have does change many impressions; episodes like Wookiee that rubbed me so wrong when it first ran, I now enjoy so much the back story and series long importance of some of the things we learned about how Sarah was perceived by people who knew her prior to meeting Chuck. Fat Lady is another one I didn’t care for when it ran, but in the greater context, with no real tension with the cliffie, it isn’t such a big thing. I would also point out I always liked Fear of Death; from when it first ran until today. Its not a very favorite, but I see plenty I do like and I love what it sets up for Phase Three. I have always liked that episode.
        The episodes and cliff hangers I dislike are almost always because of things they say about the characters that upset or disappoint me; like Sarah being a moron at the end of Gobbler or Chuck a big whiner throughout Beefcake. The real time issue will not ever effect that. S3 is where I most concede it may make a difference for some viewers, and no doubt the real time issue plays a big part in my anger and frustration with the show runners surrounding that story arc. But ultimately, it is because Chuck and Sarah both act like morons and immoral slime balls during that arc that ensures I will never care for it.

  5. Wilf says:

    I’ve just never been overly keen on this episode and I guess that must put me in a bit of a minority. Yes, there were some really good moments, such as Sarah’s version of a Flash and I also liked Kathleen spotting Casey’s nervous finger movement. But it’s definitely not in my top 20.

    • joe says:

      My second biggest regret about the whole show, after the demise of Stephen (whom I’m convinced will return in a movie), is that Casey let Kathleen go.

      • authorguy says:

        Agreed. My preferred season finale was for Morgan and Casey to have a double wedding with Alex and Alex’ mom. I saw no need for C&S to ever get married, much less the proposal and marriage plots they gave us.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny, I have no interest in Kathleen. I would like to see a Morgan/Alex wedding though.

        Although Joe, I’m with you in rooting for the return of Stephen.

      • authorguy says:

        Mostly she’s a sympathy vote for me. Alex’ mom, Casey’s former fiancee. I hate to see that sort of thing just die. But Verbanski is a better match, not that we get to see enough of Kathlen to judge. They could have made it work if they’d bothered.

      • andereandre says:

        The problem I have with Kathleen is that in RL she would hate his guts. What Alex Coburn did to her was really horrible and despicable. I prefer though not to think that through because I like Casey.
        That said, I like all the reveals (“I am not a loser, I am a spy”) but this one the most. A very sweet moment.

  6. mr2686 says:

    My favorite quote from this episode: While trying to determine why the terrorist he faked flashed on was on one of the back pages of the paper (and wondering what would have pushed it off the front page) Chuck says – “Oh, one of the Kardashian girls just got her GED…. allegedly.” Makes me laugh every time.

  7. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Wedding Planner (4.21) | Chuck This

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