Chuck vs The Business Trip (5.04)

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.

~ Dave

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.

Mama's not happy

Mama’s not happy

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.

Alex is seething!

Alex is seething!

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).

In need of a friend

In need of a friend

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.

A false friend, indeed!

A false friend, indeed!

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.

– 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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41 Responses to Chuck vs The Business Trip (5.04)

  1. resaw says:

    I agree, Dave, that this is a strong episode. I really don’t like the whole Decker story line, but since, in a way, Decker is at one remove from the major baddie of the show, that is, the un-recallable assassin, Viper, I find his role in this episode less objectionable.

    Joe, a question for you, and Dave, too, I suppose. Joe, are you genuinely suggesting that Devon truly missed being a surgeon and that’s why he went back to work? I think I saw this, and I think, Dave, that you saw the same thing, that Devon was actually getting into the parental leave thing but gave it up because he heeded the insight from newly lucid and intuitive Jeff that Ellie was not happy being back at work.

    There were a number of highlights for me:
    1. Beckman observing the video games in Castle and saying, “So shocked you are running out of money”;
    2. Chuck testing Morgan’s memory by referencing all kinds of nerd movies, and Morgan responds by saying it all sounds like “gibberish,” to which Sarah says, “It is”;
    3. Chuck wishing for “Regular 9 to 5s, more taco nights, less evil cabals” (although like Dave above, I would have preferred to have heard “fewer” rather than “less”);
    4. Several other items that you gentlemen have already mentioned.

    Joe, I always appreciate you seeking out the videos for the songs that are played in these shows. Two of my absolute favourites from the Chuck soundtrack are in this episode: Heartless Bastards’ “Only for You,” and Alameda’s “Silver Hands.”

    Because we are watching these episodes week after week, without extended breaks between seasons, I felt like the scene where Morgan was taking one last opportunity to use the intersect to catch the “stars” (sorry, I’m not very up on weapons lingo) was a bit derivative of the relatively recent scene in Agent X(?) when Chuck demonstrated his Intersect skills to Ellie. Even so, it was kind of fun to watch.

    Sarah’s toast at the end is so very poignant in light of what we know is coming at the end of the series. That the memory of these moments of joy and contentment — not easily attained — were taken away from Sarah still strikes me as cruel.

    Thanks again, for another great review of a great episode.

    Oh, and: Go, Canada! (at Sochi).


    • joe says:

      Resaw, to answer your question, yeah, I think Devon was being truthful when he said he wanted to get back to work. He’s a transparent character, completely without guile. It’s quite ironic, really, since he was originally conceived to be a foreign spy!

      The music of S5 has definitely grown on me this time around. Silver Hands is a great piece! I’ve heard Buster Poindexter’s Hot. Hot Hot! before, but watching Morgan taking the Intersect out for one last spin with it in the background was a trip – right back to Nassau and Paradise Island! 😉

    • atcDave says:

      Resaw I think I saw Devon’s actions more like you did, he made a heroic sacrifice by giving up the daddy time he was coming to enjoy because of what he learned through Jeff. In fact, I though how awkward he was in that last scene was precisely proof of what a lousy liar he was! I thought I saw right through him.

      Sarah’s toast is really tough in the whole context of what’s coming! But I do still look at it in the most positive light, I’m confident she remembered it fairly quickly. But dang, I’ll never appreciate that they left us to question that. really sometimes to question the growth of the whole character! What a loss.

      • joe says:

        Oh! I see what you mean, re. Devon. But at the same time, his little deceit became his little truth too. Didn’t it? I mean, only Devon could convince himself that that was what he really wanted.

        Yeah! That’s the ticket!

      • atcDave says:

        I have no doubt Devon would convince himself to happy about it either way!

      • thinkling says:

        Yep, Devin is a glass half full kind of guy most of the time. That said, I think it was sacrifice on his part to give up his paternity leave so soon. I saw his decision to go back to work as purely for Ellie. AND I think I saw a look of understanding and acknowledgment pass between him and Chuck (at the final party scene) that told me Chuck knew exactly what was going on. I think there was even a brief thank telegraphed to Devin in the look Chuck gave him.

    • I agree with you Resaw, about Devon giving up the Paternal leave to make Ellie happy, ultimately a sacrifice a husband would often make. I also like the first two lines you pointed out, Great lines, especially Sarah’s. The ending with her speech as you go back to it, it hurts to know what happens at the end, to know everything that she holds dear is gone.

  2. mr2686 says:

    Another great example of why average Chuck is still great Chuck. I have this at number 40, so I’m pretty much in agreement with the poll. I love Casey screwing with Morgan on what movies to watch first. I also love the scene where Sarah walks past Lester and ignores his actions. That shows me that she’s grown in to Chuck’s Buy More world and now knows when it’s best to give things the ol’ Sgt. Schultz routine. Also, much like Wedding Planner, Sarah is now showing some vulnerability by being tricked by the viper’s friendship intentions. Last but not least, I love the “other” Buy More store stories that are shared at the sales conference. Buy Morons getting scurvy from eating only the candy from the store and losing their teeth in the candy is too funny.

    • atcDave says:

      I forgot to mention Casey and the movies! That is such a funny little bit. Leave it to Casey to weaponize Lucas…

      • Wilf says:

        Yes that was very funny and I was surprised that Casey would have known enough about it in any case. And after all, it is all “gibberish” 🙂

      • thinkling says:

        I loved the gibberish line. Really great dry line, delivered flawlessly … including the facial expressions for both Chuck and Sarah.

      • joe says:

        Oh yeah. It’s perfect! I compare it to Sarah’s other dry line to Morgan “I *am* somebody deadly.”

  3. revdr says:

    Okay; first the news about Batman (1966) and now the announcement that The Wonder Years (The Complete Series) is slated for the 2nd half of 2014. It’s shaping up to be a very good year.

    • mr2686 says:

      Yep, and with “most” of it’s original music…which of course was the sticking point for this release. The music really helped give it that authentic feel IMHO.

  4. thinkling says:

    Not so much discussion on Business Trip. I guess that means that our commenters generally like it. I like it a lot. It’s one I can rewatch any time and still love it. I love Chuck and Sarah working together and figuring out the life they want to share. The obvious pull toward a more normal life, especially in Sarah, is simply perfect. The seeds long dormant have sprouted. She wants friends and a normal life … and just maybe she’s beginning to imagine “Mommy and Me” classes in her future. It’s heartwarming in the extreme. All of the heartwarming comes to a satisfying climax at the party, with Sarah’s toast. Sigh.

    But I also love Business Trip for how it fits into S5. The theme of the season (depicted in the final scene of Zoom, Chuck and Sarah standing within reach of their dream –just on the other side of the fence — with the unseen spy world lurking near by and plotting against them) continues in the exquisite contrast throughout Business Trip.

    As much as I love the heartwarming part of the episode, I also like the raising of stakes and the tightening of the spy noose. It’s good story tension — the kind I prefer — tension around Chuck and Sarah but not between them. This incredibly heartwarming, lighthearted episode has deep, dark currents of evil, with the spy world constantly obstructing the Bartowskis’ pursuit of the normal life they want.

    The game is definitely afoot, and it’s slowly sinking in that it’s a winner-take-all contest.

    The last montage is one of the all-time best of Chuck: the light and color and warmth and happiness of the normal life inside casa Bartowski contrast with the cold, gray tones of despair in the ally; the love of family contrast with with the ruthless world of assassination; and finally the laughter and smiles we see contrast with the mournful music we hear. Wow. I think this scene is the best in its class.

    • atcDave says:

      See this is exactly why you should write in the main post more often! That was all very well put.
      That and it does so often seem we get less commentary about the really strong episodes. Too bad in a way, but easy to understand, there’s only so many ways we can say “great episode” without getting pretty repetitive! This is absolutely an episode I’ll happily re-watch any time.

      • revdr says:

        Thinkling I’m with Dave and Joe!!! I think though that a lot of us don’t comment more on Business Trip, and season 5 in general, is a two fold answer. 1) It’s season 5 and the end of the series and to quote Bryce Larkin “it’s hard to say goodbye”. It’s the end of all things Chuck, and it is just hard to watch knowing that the end is near. 2) Being in the vocal minority, season 5 is tough to watch because the end is near and we don’t like the end (it’s hard to WATCH Goodbye). And although season 5 gave us some really good episodes, Business Trip being one, it has been still been difficult watching it, and others, knowing what the end result will be. Many of us have come to terms with the ambiguity of the ending, but still many of us haven’t. Me, I’m still watching, but it’s a tough watch for both of those reasons.

      • thinkling says:

        You’re right Revdr. It is hard to watch Goodbye, and as we role through this last season, we experience a myriad of emotions. I feel great hope, knowing that they have a destination … one that we see emerging all season … and one that I fully believe they reach. But I do get how hard it is not to actually see it. So, yeah, it’s hard to watch, yet I can’t help watching, because it’s the stunning fulfillment of all that I want for them.

    • joe says:

      I’m with Dave on this. MORE THINKLING! [The cry goes up!]

      You hit on something that I can’t believe I missed! It’s another one of those incredible Bartowski dinner scenes. A long time ago I wrote a couple of posts about the places where we heard the truth, which was usually hidden amid the necessary deceptions, unwanted distractions and unspoken words of the spy world and the Buy More. The fountain always comes in first that way. But the Bartowski dinner table is a close second.

      The truth here is the joy over a successful, life-saving mission (3 lives, actually) and Casey being taken away by the g’ment for murder.


      • atcDave says:

        Or like, “I’m glad Bryce Larkin is dead and not in my bedroom making out with my new girlfriend…”

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave what a line that was.

        Of course, now the truth and love can be completely open. I share Ellie’s sentiment about that!

    • noblz says:


      I agree 100% with your take and will add a couple of things I also liked…

      I liked Sarah, essentially, throwing Chuck on the floor to “get busy” only to be interrupted by Beckman, that was a very good scene throughout.

      The whole Buy More convention was hilarious…especially Sarah and the guy with the Bunny suit. The look on Sarah’s face was priceless (Yvonne really has a skill there).

      I liked this episode a lot. If only it had a little less Morgan it would have made my standout list!!

      • thinkling says:

        Oh, yeah, Noblz. I was trying not to gush on and on, but I love the scenes you mention, especially their romantic moment. Beckman has abysmal timing. And of course, you’re spot on about Yvonne’s amazing face. This wasn’t a particularly dramatic episode, but her face still portrayed quite a range. And her portrayal of the stages of Sarah’s growth … superb.

        The other thing I really like, starting with this episode and going forward, is normal Jeff. It made me actually enjoy the Buymore this season, something I haven’t done for a lonnggg time.

      • noblz says:


        I agree on the Jeff thing as well. After more than 4 seasons of stoned Jeff, the new Jeff was almost hilarious in its incongruity.

        Sarah’s development is also neat here. Had Chuck pushed it during the romantic moment, I think Sarah would have folded and gave up the spy life, she seemed conflicted…until she took matters into her own hands. Chuck was a little too tentative…or maybe he didn’t really want to quit…hmmmm.

      • atcDave says:

        I love sober Jeff! I love how he discombobulates Lester.

      • thinkling says:

        Noblz, I think they’re both a little conflicted. For a long time, they’ve both wanted the best of both worlds, and it’s taking them a little while to realize that that’s just not possible … that, as they believed on the Honeymooner train, they will have to choose. After that, the choice becomes very clear and easy. Funny about the romantic moment … I get the feeling that Sarah’s question is a hint that she may be about ready to “quit spying.”

        I do like that it’s ultimately Sarah who makes the decision.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah it’s so awesome that Sarah initiates quitting, we see again in Hack Off that she still isn’t so sure. She just isn’t sure what else she could do.

        Then we see such a dramatic progression, between getting beat up a couple times, drawing on the paper boy, and a maybe pregnancy… And seems to settle her mind on it. And she affirms the decision again in the finale, just huge.

      • noblz says:


        Just watching the end of the episode again because of the comments and how could I forget Chuck defusing the bomb between Sarah’s legs (pun intended) while Sarah distracts the Viper…Hilarious!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        That scene is ripe territory for gifs and screen caps.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Well my feelings on Chuck Versus The Business Trip pretty much mirror Thinklings. This is where season 5 finished laying the foundation that they would build on right to the final moments of the show. And yes, one of the best demonstrations of their mastery of the montage, EVER.

      The final scene set the stage for everything to come. Because of it we understood why the fights were more visceral and brutal, why the stakes to the family more personal, and when even Casa Bartowski could be invaded by the spy world, nobody was safe.

      But we also saw the future, the life they were headed for, even if there was a price to be paid before they could truly start that journey.

    • atcDave says:

      Some pretty good stuff there!

      But uh, no reading ahead FI! Back to S1 for you…

    • joe says:

      Oh my.

      I can’t tell if this is good news or what. Schwartz is being very cautious and brazen at the same time. Can’t read in between the lines

      And besides, as important as he would be to the success of such an effort, I don’t think he’s as indispensable as Chris, Zac and Yvonne would be. Close, but not quite up there.

      But as you read my words, remember that I’m in a mode of not getting my hopes up too high – for now.

  5. candm3407 says:

    What I love most about this episode is the continue maturation of Charah. The fact that are showing more communication with each other really has show how much they progressed. Sarah trusting Chuck with telling him about having no friends, and to realize that they have a house full of them really is touching.

    Sarah is right…They are all family and in season 5 they all need each other in some way. When you think back to the series as a whole. Chuck really had a special cast. if you closed your eyes you would think they were really the Characters they were portraying.

    I have images in my mind that they were that close like they were in the kitchen. The only thing I can say as a fan of the show. Its really sad that its over….A show the fans want and we can’t have……

  6. candm3407 says:

    The problem with doing a Chuck movie is making sure all the original cast is free to do the movie. You can’t have anyone else play the roles. For example, only Yvonne can play Sarah. Only Zac can play Chuck and so on. Even Bonita has to play Beckmann. It just would ruin the movie if they casted someone else to play a role that work so well on the show. Plus I would love it if they did what 24 or Arrested Development did and add a 13 episode season just to regenerate the series. A movie would help.

    Since its been off the air. I believe the show has gained so many more fans through the use of sites like Netflix and Hulu Plus much like a dead artist has gotten richer from being dead. Chuck has a bigger following now they then when it was one. The ratings will be better for it.

    • candm3407 says:

      * Correction

      Chuck has a bigger following now then they did when they were on.

    • atcDave says:

      Zach and Yvonne have both said they’re interested in a Chuck movie, so that is certainly a good sign. Obviously they are both irreplacable for anything with the Chuck name. I imagine other parts can be made bigger or smaller based on availability of the cast. Adam Baldwin and Ryan McPartlin apparently both have new shows they’re involved with, but hopefully both could at least make a small appearence. And of course, exactly who is available and interested could change a lot based on when such a thing actually happens.

      Obviously more people have been exposed to the show now, especially since it came available on Netflix. But it is so hard to judge how that will translate into enthusiasm. During the original run we werer a very involved and active fan base. How much of that enthusiasm can be recaptured? I’m guessing a good amount, especially since so many seem to want more after that ending. And how involved would newer fans be? I am pleased with the number we’ve had stop by this site and our traffic numbers are up compared to a year ago. But we’re no where near where we were four years ago (around 1000 hits a day now vs 5000 hits a day then). So I am cautiously optimistic.

  7. John G. says:

    Favorite part of this episode, and second favorite part of Season 5? Sarah in the Nerd Herd uniform. Yowza.

    I wish Season 5 had been longer, ended differently, and had more episodes like this one. I love seeing Chuck and Sarah married and happy and on missions together.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with almost all of that John, although I think I found the “disarming” scene more distracting than the Nerd Herdette. How Chuck was able concentrate and do what he needed I’ll never know…

  8. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Business Trip (5.04) | Chuck This

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