Morgan finally looses the Intersect, and there was much rejoicing. But since he made it so well known that he had it there is now a government hit out on him. This leads Chuck and Sarah on an undercover business trip to try and flush out the killer.
After the jump, we’ll discuss the fourth episode of the final season.
Business Trip weighs in at 42 out of 91 on our episode poll. That pretty clearly makes it average. Good thing average is so much fun! For myself, I would call it a strong episode. It is fun, and I completely love seeing this version of Chuck and Sarah. They are a happy and capable team, and a happy couple as well. As Sarah says, they’re more nice than normal. And normal will be a recurring theme once again as Chuck and Sarah discuss (!) the normal life and what it may mean for them. This is also about the middle of the Grand Conspiracy Arc. This really makes Season Five the most serialized season of the show. I would say only Baby and Kept Man really count as stand alones.
To describe the parts I like would pretty much involve repeating the entire episode. As I said above, my favorite part is how well Chuck and Sarah play off each other. They talk a few times about normal, mainly to acknowledge that they are not. I particularly like the “fewer evil cabals, more taco nights” discussion. Bonus points for the talk at the hotel when they discuss the Viper’s modes of killing, and Sarah suggesting Chuck just lead the killer back to her. Not normal. Sarah is briefly happy to have found a friend, who naturally turns out to be the killer. We really needed Jen the Librarian to drop by. But all ends well (ish) with a Chuck style gathering of friends and family at the end and a gushing Sarah toast. Sure Casey gets hauled off for multiple murders he did just commit, but that’s more of a nuisance for this team.
Apart from the completely enjoyable main story we have a couple of secondary plots in play. Devon is as awesome at being a full time mom as he is at everything except lying, which he promptly gives up when he learns how much Ellie is hurting to be back at home. And Lester takes desperate action when he discovers he can’t control non-brain damaged Jeff the way he is accustomed to. One of my minor beefs with this episode is Sarah just shrugging as she walks by Lester’s attempted break room fumigation. Apart from being a woman of action, she also owns the Buy More, I would have preferred she did something to stop it! Of course it does lead to a couple of excellent scenes, both the Buy More evacuation with Big Mike yelling “Pineapple!” and Chuck’s latest bomb disposal adventure. I would have to say this particular bomb disposal gave Chuck the nicest view of any of them.
In many ways this was a stand alone episode. Its an easy one for me to re-watch just any old time without worrying much about the greater context. But Decker is the driving force here, and Decker ties into the big conspiracy. And there can be no doubt the end here drives us directly to the next episode with Casey (and Lester) in jail. We’ll talk more about the conspiracy in the next three weeks as it fizzles to an end. But I think I’ll leave this write up here. As is so often the case, I have less to say about an episode I thoroughly enjoyed. I wish we’d had many, many more like this.
When Mama Ain’t Happy…
Trivia time! Who recognized that the book Jeff is reading in the Buy More is Flowers for Algernon? How appropriate! It’s a subtle visual for a “hit-em-upside-the-head” reference. I love it. Of course, it’s not the only instance.
With good reasons, everyone’s unhappy in Chuck vs. The Business Trip! Ellie clearly wants to be home more with Baby Clara, Alex can only bring herself to glare at Morgan and in a memorable line, even General Beckman sees fit to dress down Team B.
Beckman: Stop Playing With Government Toys! You have plenty of your own.
Should I include Lester with this group? He ain’t exactly happy with Jeff’s new found sanity, you know.
I won’t forget the men here. Morgan is having a tough time letting go of the Intersect, and so is Chuck, if only by proxy. Devon is putting up a great front doing his baby-yoga, but even he confesses by the end that he missed being a cardio-surgeon. Casey is steaming mad about the hurt Morgan has given to Alex.
Although she hides it well, I’m going to say that, all considered, newly-wed Sarah Bartowski is the most unhappy of this entire group. It’s wrong to psychologically analyze fictional characters (“So wrong!” as Chuck would say), but the others have choices available to them. Ellie and Devon can change their mind about the arrangement they’ve come to with Baby Awesome, or not. Alex can change her mind about Morgan, or not. Diane Beckman can order a nuclear strike on Castle (or NOT!). And each of those have the support of people close to them (presumably, Diane’s uncle Sam supports her).
Sarah, the woman who can do anything, is stuck; she can’t seem to find normal friends. She has Chuck’s unquestioned support, but he’s been unable to find a normal life ever since the day the Intersect, the CIA and Sarah came into his life. Despite all the changes and choices they’ve made and despite everything they’ve shared, together they are not a normal couple. The regrets will not go away completely.
And I just don’t know what to do,
My head has such a cloudy view
Chuck: How great are Ellie and Awesome, huh? They’re just a nice, happy, normal couple.
Sarah: Yeah. They are.
Chuck: We aren’t all that normal, are we?
Sarah: No, no, not really. But we’re happy and we’re nice.
Chuck: It’s just, you know, my best friend is being hunted, his brain almost turned to mush. I haven’t slept in nearly a week because our family business is on the brink of bankruptcy, and we’re spies who aren’t allowed in the CIA. I just think, you know, maybe we’re at a fork in the road.
Sarah: Well, you know, you wanna not be spying?
Chuck: I just wonder what it’d be like to be a normal married couple. Regular nine-to-fives, more taco nights, less evil cabals.
Sarah: Okay, I know things have been a little crazy right now. But Morgan’s gonna be fine, and we’re gonna figure out this whole free-agent spy thing.
Chuck: Even now that we don’t have the Intersect?
Sarah: Yes. Even now.
It’s good she remains strong, but there’s no doubt that Sarah’s beating heart is pained. Here comes a spoiler now! When Jane (Catherine Dent, who’s also been seen on Castle and on The Mentalist) comes out of nowhere (Riverside CA, actually, Mrs. Joe’s old stomping grounds!) to be Sarah’s friend at the annual Buy More “Salesman of the Year” convention, Sarah’s ready to be suckered in by one of the world’s most determined assassins, The Viper. She’s the one who made Morgan’s monotracer go “BOOM!”.
Actually, the bad guy, who continues to get badder by the moment, is Decker. He takes the perfectly fiendish delight in attempting to terminate we last saw in Ted Roark, but adds the smugness of government sanctioned justification in the mix. The Viper is just his tool. Her badness isn’t in what she fails to do to Morgan, but rather, what she succeeds in doing to Sarah.
Watching Sarah lose her new-found openness and trust to a false friend is a much more serious thing than the danger hanging over Morgan’s head. Before the closing scene, we’re not monitoring our racing pulse as Chuck (once again) fights to disarm a bomb – this time without either the help of Irene Demova, fruit juice or The Intersect. We know he’ll do it, somehow. Instead, we worry that Sarah will revert to the cold-school spy we know she once was and retreat behind the wall Chuck spent years penetrating.
But Sarah is better than that, and we love her for it.
Sarah: Uh, I’d like to make a toast. Chuck and I have been a little sad this week that we aren’t normal people. I’ve been having a hard time with the fact I have no real friends. But I look around here at all of you today, and I realize that because of Chuck, I do. Nobody in the world is closer than we all are. So thank you, and cheers.
So start ahead now while you can, and someone will take you with silver hands.
Waltz in form on down the aisle, with perfect pace and in single file.
With patterned plans to mend your streets, they rise in form beneath your feet.
Our darkest days are gone for now, we’ll adorn our suits and our best gowns.
Whew! Relief! We haven’t lost Sarah Bartowski to the cold realities of the spy world in which she’s enmeshed. Not yet, anyway. For that and for all the subtly that was put into that message, I have to rate this episode just a bit higher than our pole results. Perhaps it belongs with the 30 or so episodes that I have in my top ten list, because it’s that enjoyable!
All the problems are not completely resolved, although putting Lester in prison is a good start! Alex is estranged from Morgan and Casey is under arrest for the Viper’s murder. We’ll see how that goes in the coming weeks.