Okay this is important because, you guessed it, we’re now up to the episode with the shortest title of the entire series…
Hmmm. Or how about the beginning of the finale arc? That sounds better. Bo introduces us to Nicholas Quinn, revisits Morgansect, and features those dreaded words; “One last mission”.
After the jump, we’ll discuss the start of the finale arc.
I have to admit I was not looking forward to this one. Not that Bo is a bad episode. It ranked at 48 on our overall poll, so most viewers rank it as average. I might rank it lower, but still in that average sort of range. No, I wasn’t looking forward to this one because we are now in the home stretch of this re-watch. And even though I’m an optimist where the finale is concerned, I still don’t particularly want to go through it again.
As far as Bo itself is concerned, its harmless enough. Like most average (ish) episodes there is good and bad here. What I call bad here I’m sure will surprise no one; I really don’t care for the trashier aspects of this episode. Way too much smutty humor involving Bo Derek and rainbows; and none of that is really my sort of thing.
A lot of what’s good in this episode is very good. Just like last week I like the “B” plot with Jeff and Lester quite a lot. Even when they’re being clever, they’re still morons. At least they’re funny morons in this episode. I love the Vail Buy More, very funny in a Twilight Zone sort of way. Especially Big Michelle and the manager’s safe. This may be the funniest incarnation of the Morgansect of the entire season, especially how clueless Morgan is about how much of an idiot he was! “Don’t trust Bo Derek” was laugh out loud funny; and it was funny when she was being interrogated and Chuck observed what a talkative sort she was.
This is also when we meet Quinn. All things considered I felt he was an acceptable villain. Not as much fun as some, but plenty menacing. As mentioned in a previous write up, I would have been fine with him being tied into the earlier conspiracy as the ringleader. I think they sort of missed an opportunity by not doing so. He definitely worked better as a villainous mastermind for me than Shaw did.
As is so often the case, the real highlight of this episode is Sarah. This episode and Bullet Train have her at the pinnacle of her growth as a character. She has not only embraced the idea of having kids, she’s also got a plan for a safer future, specifically to raise a family. This is just beautiful growth from a favorite character. And she’s so much fun as she sets out to accomplish her plan. I particularly like the team meeting including her new Chief Googler, and her happy excitement as she is up all night planning at the end.
Which leads to the hardest part of this episode. It will all come crashing down. The final action sequence is fun. And its impressive as I remember the interview were it was claimed they had a stunt double on set for Sarah’s big scene, and they didn’t use her. Nice. But this is truly the beginning of the end. All will never be right again for our favorite team and couple. Even if we assume all is well at the end, and I do, we will never see it. So this episode has a lot of baggage for me. Its an average one that I really didn’t look forward to watching. Even if I can laugh and enjoy myself through so much of it.
I really want to ditto Dave here. I too wasn’t particularly eager to re-visit Chuck vs. Bo and pretty much for the same reason. It’s truly the beginning of the end, so much so, in fact, that I dislike seeing Nicholas Quinn’s (Angus MacFadyen) face on screen.
Sorry ’bout that, Mr. MacFadyen. Fact is, even I can see that you’ve done a great job as “the bad guy” here. There’s menacing and there’s insane and Quinn is both. Appearing insane is the way, it’s said, that (the then) Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston in February of ’64. Clay/Ali convinced the former inmate that he was the one kind of person every prisoner is taught to avoid, a raving lunatic. Clay ranted convincingly in front of cameras to prove it too. That was a very good idea and well executed. But because I know what’s coming, I hate seeing it personified in Quinn, the man originally tapped by the CIA to be The Intersect.
I’m also a bit mixed about that last idea. Having Quinn appear essentially out of nowhere and inserted into the Intersect mythology at this late date seemed a bit forced even on first viewing. Not terribly so, mind you, and certainly the idea is no worse than any major introduction. But I must say it didn’t quite feel as seamless as was, say, the introduction of Ted Roark, who came along with Stephen, or Volkoff, who came along with Mary. But I can’t make too much of that. It’s minor.
There are, as Dave said, some great things about Bo, not the least of which is Jeff and Lester. Even at the beginning of the episode they are so close to the truth that it takes drastic measures by the now first-class spy team of Casey and Grimes to cover Chuck’s tracks. It’s necessary. Jeff and Lester don’t need the burden.
By the end of Bo Jeff is sufficiently frightened (yes, he can’t handle the truth!) and Lester sufficiently cowed that they are unlikely to cause more trouble – or want to. And that will protect them. Win-win.
Another win for this episode is, like Dave alluded, the Vail Buy More. Ya gotta love it. Having broken limbs is apparently a requirement to shop there. For my money, watching Ellie regress Morgan back to his youthful crush-stage was hilarious too.
Oh! Don’t forget that Yvonne the comedienne is allowed to strut her stuff in this episode too!
Chuck: Hi, Bo Derek. I’m Chuck. My name is Chuck. Really big, big fan. Just loved 10 so, so much.
Morgan: We really do.
Bo Derek: I know what you did with that poster.
Great timing. The biggest gift given to us by this episode, though, is something that I had to look hard for. In fact, I had to reconsider something I’ve long held to be true, which is really my excuse for not quite seeing it before. And that, dear readers, is this:
There are not, as I have always maintained, two Sarahs, the cold-school killer known as Agent Walker and the Sarah Walker who came into existence sometime after Chuck fixed her phone and before he defused a bomb with a computer virus. There are three and between you and me, I love Sarah Bartowski, wife, companion and hopefully, mother-to-be, most of all. That’s the Sarah who finally wants to leave spying behind and have a life as a real person.
Sarah: I just ran to the front door with a gun because I heard the newspaper being delivered.
Chuck: Yeah. Parents can’t be shooting their paperboy.
Sarah: Look. I’m a spy and that’s all I ever thought that I could be. But I realized that we don’t have to give up what we’ve already built.
Let me expand on that. We see Agent Walker only a few times, you know. In Chuck’s flash we see her killing French assassins, we see her shoot an unarmed Mauser, we see her gun down a table of Hungarian kidnappers (also assassins) before she met Chuck and we see her rampaging through Thailand in search of him later. Most everything else we know of Agent Walker is by reputation; she’s an ice-cold warrior, a wildcard, incapable of emotion. Or, at least, undeterred by emotion.
We see Sarah Walker much more often. She’s the one mostly fighting with Agent Walker to soften her position on the best way to execute the spy missions. She’s the one who, despite her training, calls Chuck “my guy” and yet points a gun at Casey with no intention of pulling the trigger. Maybe. She’s the protector whose worst nightmare is to see Chuck dropped from a roof top or blown up in a herder. Sarah Walker turns down offers of getaways with MI 6 heroes and with her best friend. She also admits to having issues and not being very good at relationships. There’s also the fact that she’s quite able to use a small truth to hide a bigger truth while being quite troubled by the implications of withholding from those for whom she cares.
I said that wrong. The agent isn’t separate and distinct from the protector. One person, Sarah, has grown and become more than she was to encompass both.
But there’s also Sarah Bartowski. Oh, there are hints all through season five; she’s the woman who feels very much at ease attending a Buy More convention with her husband, happy, even. Very briefly in Baby, much more in Kept Man and all the way through Bo, we see her, finally, as someone who looks forward to the future and wants, someday if not right this moment, to be the mother of Chuck’s children. This is a woman in love. Really, Agent Walker seems to be a distant memory.
Still, it’s not exactly right to say that the agent is gone. Instead, Sarah’s quite whole now. Agent Walker and Sarah Walker are still part of the woman as much as Sarah Bartowski is now (and in fact, it’s Agent Walker who makes the decision to put on those tainted Intersect glasses, I think). Yet, when all is said and done, it’s the whole person that makes Chuck vs. Bo worth watching. That’s who we wanted Sarah to be.
You can say much the same thing about Casey and about Chuck. The $12 an hour nerd-herder and Charles Carmichael are still there, but the person we see most is Bartowski, a devoted husband and a complete person. That’s quite a statement to make about a group of fictional characters. It’s also quite an unusual theme for a mere television show.
Take a load off, Fanny
Take a load for free
Take a load off, Fanny
And (and) (and) you put the load right on me
(You put the load right on me)
The sadness I experienced last week is even deeper this week, mostly because we’re getting closer to the end. But there’s one other reason. You can hear the anxiety in Chuck’s voice and in Sarah’s.
Chuck: It just seems like no matter what, the Intersect keeps finding me. I keep trying to break free and the very thing that started this keeps hooking us back in.
Sarah: Chuck, we’re gonna finish this, and we’re gonna move on, I promise you.