Chuck and Sarah are working over details on their business, when Gertrude returns to town with a job that puts Casey in an awkward position.
After the jump, we’ll discuss the series’ last stand alone episode.
Ranking at number 55 Kept Man is an average episode. As we can expect for such an episode, it has good and not so good elements. For myself, I think I would rank it a little lower than 55; but maybe not by a lot. I really enjoyed this episode on re-watch, and things that bothered me in the past didn’t seem as big a thing.
So I’ll start with my complaint. I’m sure no one will be shocked, I just don’t like it so much when Chuck himself is portrayed as the fool. And much of the humor in this episode was Chuck cluelessly pushing his “spies that care” motto, while being completely oblivious to Sarah pretty obviously thinking she may be pregnant. In the past this bothered me a lot. But for whatever reason (perhaps the problem has become exaggerated in my own mind?), it didn’t seem such a big thing this time. Don’t get me wrong, this is still my least favorite aspect of this episode. But the things I liked, I liked quite a bit.
I liked Chuck and Sarah making business decisions and over-ruling Casey (Gertrude’s job offer). I liked Chuck and Sarah actually discussing if they should be thinking about something less dangerous to do (and I love that this will be revisited next week), I liked Casey’s struggle with where he fits into Gertrude’s life, and what she thinks of him. Basically the whole “kept man” aspect of this episode. Casey and Alex have a couple of good scenes here too.
And I loved the “B” plot. I don’t get to say that often enough. Many of the “B” plots are funny. Some are even funny enough to be remarkable. But I really think this may be one of the very best. Its the sort of thing I’d thought about happening long before. And I think really even over-shadows the “A” plot. I think that may the only time this has happened. Starting with Jeff being suspicious, and then the brilliant white board. If you have a minute, go back and freeze frame some of the images on that board. He has “figured out” far more stuff than is even remotely reasonable, including agency affiliations and basic job functions. This was good for a major laugh out loud sort of moment for me. Apparently sober Jeff is more than just smart and intuitive, he’s a savant.
And then I love that in spite of Jeff’s brilliance, he and Lester still think so little of Morgan, that Morgan is able to upend the whole investigation. This may be Morgan’s finest hour. He proves his worth for protecting the team’s cover. And by getting Devon involved he provides the perfect smoke screen. Great role for Devon too. He sure does look the part! So we finish with some body building that isn’t completely legal in the US, and Jeff and Lester tranqued on the floor of Castle. Obviously this story will continue. And I love that Jeffster will have a run of good episodes now to the end.
So when do you all think the last time was I had more to say about Jeff and Lester than anyone else on the show? If you guessed “never” you win. I would have liked to make a bigger thing of Sarah deciding she likes the idea of kids. This will be an issue for the next two episodes. And then it won’t be. I can imagine she returns to these values and maturity level in the immediate aftermath of the show. But I can only call it a waste that we didn’t see it. And this episode is less for it.
One last thought, fund raising For Zac’s Nerd HQ is looking pretty anemic. As fans, we need to put our money where our mouths are. And supporting this business venture is the best, possibly only way to support a Chuck movie for now. We were known as an activist fan base for a long time, and we made things happen. Let’s do it again. Show Zac we’re behind him. Support him. He is ground zero for this whole fandom. Read the post just before this one by Ernie, or follow this link to support NerdHQ now.
Meeting In The Middle
I have a – yet another – confession to make. Before I did my re-watch for this write-up, I had a hard time remembering what Chuck vs. The Kept Man was about. My thoughts kept sliding into Bo and the finale and I knew immediately that I was forgetting something. Oh – oh! It’s one of the first signs, you know.
But Dave’s got it right. This is the last truly stand-alone episode and it brings in only the tiniest bit of new stuff to tie into what comes next. Makes it difficult to recall exactly what happened a year later, right? Other than that – This Episode Is Great!.
Can I spell that out for you? T.h.i.s. E.p.i.s.o.d.e. I.s. G.r.e.a.t., with the emphasis on FANTASTIC!
So how can an admittedly forgettable episode earn such praise, even from me?
Sarah: You know how many skimpy outfits I have had to put on for this team? Did you hear me complain when I had to put on a catsuit or 7-inch platform high heels or a belly-dancing outfit?
No, no. It’s not that (you perverted, chauvinistic little…) But as is my habit, I’m going to digress for a bit to agree wholeheartedly with brother Dave about the new and improved Jeff and especially about his white board!
Take his suggestion and check it out in detail, if you can. It’s as neat as the first one we saw on the reverse of Chuck’s Tron poster back in S2 and just as revealing.
The episode is also funny as all-get-out, which is a clue to why I like Kept Man. Jeff, and like usual, Lester, are the nominal foci of humor; we can expect that.
But Morgan conning them to believing that Devon is a real-life James Bond is inspired. Who knew Morgan has such a talent for deception and cool, detached deception in service to a higher cause at that? Maybe Alex suspected, but not I. No wonders Casey starts to appreciate the little bearded troll’s spy skills.
But like those the cheap, cable-channel commercials always say after midnight, “Wait! There’s More!” It’s Sarah who flexes her comedic muscles this time, especially as she makes Casey wear that “banana-hammock” of a swimsuit. Her growing panic (perhaps that should be in scare-quotes) over the pregnancy scare and puzzlement over the results…
Chuck: It’s changing, it’s changing, it’s changing! What is that? An equal sign, an arrow?
Sarah: A peace sign? Is that an option? Uh… uh, okay, that means no. I’m not pregnant.
… is hilarious. My favorite Sarah scene, though, is when she comes across Gertrude and Casey in the hotel room. She can barely keep lunch down.
Chuck: Sarah? What’s wrong?
Sarah: Everything. It’s all wrong.
Did I hear complaints, way back towards the end of S3.5, that Sarah had become too much the quiescent “girl-friend?” – that she had become too passive and submissive to Chuck’s missions at the expense of her own character and agency? And in English, had Agent Walker, super-spy, become a mere girlfriend to the main character? Well, yes, I did hear those complaints.
Sarah: Shut up!
Yes ma’am! And I do believe that TPTB heard too. If so, Chuck vs. The Kept Man may just have been their reply. You see, Sarah is still the spy. She is still more than able to save Chuck from Jean-Claude (at the episode’s beginning) and even if she feels a little queasy, more than willing to take on a dangerous arms-dealer, Rocky Falcone, in South Beach.
After that, at Gertrude’s request, Sarah also travels to the Everglades to tackle the even more dangerous drug smuggler, Pedro St. Germaine, without Casey’s help. Sarah Bartowski is no shrinking violet.
Don’t kid yourself, though. Something is different with our favorite spy. Give up? Sarah may crash a Humvee into a crowd of murderous drug smugglers to save the mission, but she remembers to wear a seat belt! That one little thing is important; Sarah’s not all spy and Sarah’s not all girlfriend. She is wholly and completely Sarah.
Chuck: Everything all right?
Sarah: Yeah, I’m just doing some thinking. Uh, I have a small confession to make. Part of me was kind of hoping that I was pregnant. [Boys names on her monitor]
Chuck: I thought a lot about that too. And, yeah, I think it’d be kind of exciting.
Sarah: I mean, it’s not like I want a baby right this second, but it’s not the worst idea in the world.
Chuck: No. No, it’s not. Listen to us, talking about kids and a house and a real family. Did you think we’d ever be talking about stuff like this?
Sarah: Nope. Especially not with such a huge nerd.
What more could we ask? Admittedly, I too was caught up with the idea of a Bartowski baby and white picket fences and happily ever after. But like Sarah and Chuck tell us, I was getting a little ahead of myself.
By the way, maybe you’ve noticed. Chuck’s been finding his equilibrium just as Sarah has. Dave noted how we get a reprise of bumbling, nerdy, not-paying-attention-to-the-obvious Chuck. Well, Casey gets a reprise anyway, until he hits Chuck with the 2×4 revelation about Sarah’s concerns. Even if Charles Carmichael, CEO of Carmichael Industries, is a powerful, impressive dude, Chuck the nerd-herder is never far away. We can hear echos of that in Morgan, the bearded troll, who handles Jeff and Lester superbly, if not successfully. Not a bad spy after all.
There’s one character left, though, who’s been struggling with two sides to his personality. That would be The Kept Man himself, John Casey. He needs excitement, danger and adventure the way a junkie needs a fix, but more and more, he understands that means he needs people too. You know, people like Gertrude Verbanski. With her, he dances the angriest of tangos; he’s the key to her lock and Casey discovers one last thing about himself.
He’s able to enjoy Downton Abbey with his daughter. Perhaps that’s my favorite thing of all about this episode – I got introduced to that show! 😉
(and you might enjoy this.)
I started by saying this episode is fantastic, and I mean that. But I write with a little sadness, because we all know what’s coming. No matter how you feel about the finale, Chuck vs. The Kept Man is not an episode you need to miss, though. There’s no need to deprive yourself.