Chuck vs The Kept Man (5.09)

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.

His cover? Bond. James Bond.

His cover? Bond. James Bond.

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.

~ Dave
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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!

South Beach

South Beach

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?

Stop Gawking!

Stop Gawking!

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!

Made!

Made!

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.

Who knew he had the makings of a real spy?

Who knew he had the makings of a real spy?

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.

Still a spy.

Still a spy.

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.

Not Completely Successful

Not Completely Successful

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.

The Kept Man?

The Kept Man?

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.

The kept man!

The kept man!

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.

– joe

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 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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15 Responses to Chuck vs The Kept Man (5.09)

  1. phaseou812 says:

    Man I miss this show! It really was a lot of fun.

    • atcDave says:

      Hey stranger. I was just reviewing an older post and noticed you as a commenter we hadn’t heard from in a while!

      I miss it a lot too. And I felt kind of melancholy after finishing this post; the finale arc starts next, and I feel like I’ll never have a completely good time with the show again. So although we still have four episodes to write up, an era has already passed.

      • phaseou812 says:

        It has been a while and time does fly. Thank you for the reminder of supporting the efforts of Zac; although no one truly knows the character of someone from afar; but Zac has always seemed like a genuine individual that carries the “what you see is what you get” personality well . . . which I can respect and admire . . . especially in the entertainment industry. So not a “gamer” but happy to support his charitable efforts.

        As I now go melancholy . . . I do reminisce countless times of excitement waiting for new episodes and then reliving it through the authors and commentators of this site. I still cannot say I have really had any others shows that have made me feel passionate about wanting more and reading more regarding its fictional characters. I know I have said it before, but what a fabulous job you guys have done in creating a platform and driving the dialogue to make this show far greater than just a “show”!

        And not to re-debate the show’s final arc regarding anyone’s opinion of the final chapter’s . . . but so much “angst” for me in the lives of characters that I had grown to love and cheer for.

      • atcDave says:

        Thanks for the encouragement phaseou812. It means a lot if we can help others have as much as we do.
        Agree completely about the angst. I do not mean to be completely critical of the end, some great moments still lie ahead for us in these next few weeks. But it’s the light hearted, fun all the way through feeling that appealed to me most with Chuck. It’s easy enough to see in the my favorite episodes. And that is now done. Bummer.

  2. gatesoutcast says:

    Greetings: Another good post. Thanks to Netflix I introduced a fellow nerd pal to Chuck and her comments said that after they started to leave the Buymore gang behind the show lost interest for her. She also had a difficult time that all the NON good looking folks worked at the Buymore and had stupid jobs or no lines,; where in our real nerd work force it is quite the opposite.(She is a big sister for girl image project). The episode was average, but I love the rise of Jeff that he is a brilliant man like Chuck but got lost all the way. Every time I see the amount of reality TV garbage I thank Netflix for keeping Chuck around for those of us who do not watch TV. Keep up the good work Dave, I just contributed to the Nerd project by Zac.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny, that may be the first person I’ve heard of who wanted MORE Buy More!

      I agree completely about the state of most television, it is so hard to find anything decent on the networks.

      Glad to hear you pitched in!

    • joe says:

      Hi, Gates. Funny; I often wondered if a straight TV Sit-com set in the Buy-More (or equivalent) featuring a Chuck-like character could make it. You know; no Intersect, no CIA, no world-class romance and no bad-guys worse than a hyper, Big-Mike type of manager and Harry Tang ass. man. Just antics, morons and occasional bad dates. I think it would!

      Not that I would watch too many episodes…

      • atcDave says:

        In my dream world Chuck would have spun into two new shows; a half hour sit-com called “Buy More”, and an hour long adventure called “Chuck and Sarah” (or “The Secret and the Agent”).

  3. As we are inching nearer to the end of the re-watch, I only found this site when you guys and gals were watching Cliffhanger! It’s been fun talking about Chuck with people who have as much enthusiasm as I do for it. My friends and family can not believe how much I am getting back into this show haha. The scene where Chuck says he is the most insensitive husband ever with Casey calling him out was funny at least to me, and the seatbelt line from Sarah.
    This episode was good fun, and now we get to the beginning of the end of our beloved series soon..

    • atcDave says:

      You can always post comments on older write ups. It may not draw as much attention, but you never know, we’ve seen some good discussions on older threads too!

  4. hvacmaster says:

    I only recently found this site and have really enjoyed reading the writeups old and new. I just finished a rewatch of the series recently myself, but I chose to end it at the end of “Baby”. As atcDave mentioned in the writeup for that episode, I felt that was the place to end the story for me. I personally hated the memories arc of the finale and this episode proivdes a perfectly acceptable alternate ending in my opinion. After being upset with the finale, I realized the story can be what I want it to be by just pulling the plug a little early. By ending the series at 5.08, it doesn’t feel like anything is missing or unresolved. Morgan and Alex are back together, Chuck and Sarah have decided to leave the CIA on their terms instead of being forced out. Casey is Casey.

    Although I love the scene from the beginning of “Bo” where Sarah explains her plan for the future to Chuck and they in turn read in Casey and Morgan, I get more satisfaction in the “happy ending” and knowing that “it may take months or years of hardwork” but that C&S will take the future on together with all their memories in tact.

    • atcDave says:

      Its always great to welcome new readers to this site, and we’re really glad you’ve enjoyed it!
      There are some great moments ahead yet, like Chuck and Sarah on the Bullet Train, but no doubt the emotional baggage increases a lot as we go on.
      Have you tried reading any post series fan fiction? For some of us, it helps a lot to see how things might have unfolded after 5.13. I would recommend Thinkling’s “Sarah vs Finding Herself” (the “normal” epilogue) or Angus MacNab’s “Chuck Versus The Lost Years” (the “epic/comic book” epilogue) as a great place to start. I’ll get into this a lot more when we get to the finale.

  5. noblz says:

    KM was an episode I first didn’t care for due to how idiotically oblivious they made Chuck. But on reconsideration….

    I found too much good stuff in here to dismiss this episode. Absent Chuck’s antics and the Florida swamp scene (I grew up in a Florida swamp and to me that was just too ridiculous), the rest was hilarious. I even found Jeff and Lester entertaining and that’s saying a lot for me.

    The poolside-hotel room scene was an Yvonne instant classic. Casey was a hoot as well.

    At first not so good, but upon rewatch it was just too good to put in the dud pile.

  6. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Kept Man (5.09) | Chuck This

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