Bullet Train is a fast paced, high adventure sort of episode. Quinn becomes the series ultimate villain, in a couple senses of the word. And the final act starts to take shape.
After the jump, we’ll look at this week’s episode.
This is a well regarded episode; at number 23 on our poll it is also the second most popular episode of Season Five. For myself, I would rank it a bit lower, more around 50. I can easily see much here to like, but there’s much I don’t like too and it is a heavy burden.
The good is wonderful. Sarah and Casey rescue Chuck, Chuck and Sarah get very affectionate, and the “B” plot is very funny. No doubt the Charah scenes are the highlight for me. I like them bonding over what it is to be an Intersect, and of course, practice. I also really like when Chuck is racing to remove Sarah’s Intersect. The Buy More story is very well integrated with the main plot; Morgan and Devon as incompetent rescuers, and Jeff and Lester saving the day (for Canada!).
I know many viewers had a problem with Angus MacFadyen as Quinn. They found him underwhelming (or overweight!). But I thought he was pretty ideal for this part. He is dangerous and frightening, and not fun like some of our baddies have been. But given his crimes, I’m fine with that portrayal.
But even so, that does get us to what I’m less enthused about. This is one of those episodes that I find suffers in the big picture. There is simply too much baggage here for me to enjoy this episode much. Sarah is fine for most of this episode, but in the end, she is horribly brutalized. And that very end, was an intriguing hook on initial viewing. But now I don’t want to watch. This episode is really the last we see of Sarah Bartowski. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe she made it all the way back and is currently in her third year of a very happy marriage. But we will not see her for the last two episodes, except possibly a glimpse in the very last scene. And after all this time, that still burns me up. Especially since we don’t know on initial viewing that it is time to say goodbye. I still feel ripped off as a viewer. It happens too soon, and more than ever, I’m not okay with that.
Next week will a tough episode.
Yeah, I know. I didn’t want to see Sarah suffering like that again either. It was really, really hard to watch even one more time. And that’s a pity, because there’s more than a few reasons to see Chuck vs. The Bullet Train again.
Don’t believe me? Right from the beginning, we have Kasabian’s Days Are Forgotten backing up Intersected Sarah in a fight scene that will get your blood going if anything can.
Days, days are forgotten
Now it’s all over
How to disappear
Oh, that’s good, and it gets better. Sarah doesn’t have to go on a tear through Southeast Asia to find Chuck this time. No, her flashes lead her to Toyko and the bullet train where Quinn is holding Chuck captive. And Chuck’s not quite helpless either. He is, after all, a master spy. What a team.
These past five years, Chuck and Sarah have had a pretty good time doing things like that. In fact, they’ve been enjoying the adventures and relishing the power that the Intersect puts in their hands.
Chuck: It’s the coolest thing in the world, isn’t it?
Sarah: The coolest ever!
Chuck: Do any parkour?
Sarah: Off a bridge, onto a moving truck and then onto a car going in the opposite direction.
Chuck: Oh, awesome!
Sarah: You know, I’ve been a spy for so long, and I’ve never felt this powerful in my entire life. It’s incredible.
Sure! I would have felt the same way when I was their age. It’s great to be able to “step up” when the call comes and you’re the one they’re depending on. However, things change. Needs and priorities change.
Chuck: Are you ready to say goodbye to all of it? The guns, the bullets, the parkour?
Sarah: I don’t wanna live my life in danger anymore. I’m ready to retire and start a family. Our future is exciting enough.
When it seems your subjects
have all forgotten you,
I need you to pretend that you are mine.
And the water is just deep enough to
take another chance,
ah, but the river doesn’t want you tonight.
I’m going to brag unconditionally and confidently (but with no supporting evidence) that no one has enjoyed their adventures and victories more than I. The ride has been unforgettable. Yet, at the same time, I find even more enjoyment in the picture Sarah paints, one of family life and normality with Chuck.
S5 has been a wonderful, almost uninterrupted story of the couple’s victories, maturation and ascension into this life of normalcy she describes. I’ve been hanging on to that thought because normal isn’t the same as boring or mundane, you know. Normal means they’re like us; they are looking for a different way to “step up” to life’s challenges. Just like everything else, the challenges change and so must we.
Speaking of which, did you notice (or remember) that Morgan rises to the occasion also? Good thing because Casey and especially Alex are counting on him.
Casey: [Over the comm] The case in front of you, open it. Put in the comm device, sync it to my phone. Do it!
Morgan: Okay, we’re hot, boss.
Casey: I’m gonna talk you through this. Grab a rifle, the Sig and a survival knife. Leave the heavy stuff. You’ll just blow yourself up.
Well, Casey likes to hedge his bets, clearly. Even though Morgan and Devon are not 100% successful in their attempt to free Alex from Quinn’s henchmen, they are 100% hero. When the call came, they answered. So too do Jeff and Lester.
Jeff: Did you see that? In my previous state of impairment I wouldn’t have cared or noticed that Grimes’ woman – forgive me, not PC. – Grimes’ significant other was just taken at gunpoint.
Lester: The newly unimpaired you is a master of the obvious.
Jeff: This is the call. We’ll find the truth even if we have to face mortal danger.
Dave, if it’s entertainment you’re looking for, I have to say I enjoyed Jeff and Lester here more than I ever have before. Still buffoons, they are. But LOL and lovable buffoons. Even more enjoyable, though, is the way Chuck treats them. Despite everything, Intersect, Orion, Shaw, Roark and Volkoff and even Quinn, Chuck is fundamentally the same guy we saw helping a ballerina through a minor crisis in the Buy More. He’s a friend.
Chuck: I know this sounds crazy, but I’ve worked with those guys for years. They may seem like botulism victims but they’re loyal. They can do it.
Not only are Chuck and Sarah a team, but everyone surrounding them are people to trust and count on. More than anything, that gives me satisfaction.
Satisfaction, it turns out, will be a necessary ingredient. Sarah’s in deep trouble because of the tainted Intersect and even more because of Quinn. Despite all the good stuff (lasting well past the 30 minute mark of a 43 minute episode, sans commercials) the lasting memory is, well, disheartening is the word that comes to mind. The Sarah we all loved just ten minutes earlier seems gone. We know Chuck will seem helpless, his growth and maturity gone as much as Sarah’s memories.
We’re not going to find that ingredient here for Chuck and Sarah, and certainly not in the penultimate episode – that’s by design. But we’re going to see how that plays out for the others, the Ellies, Devons, Caseys, Alexes, and most importantly, for the Morgans that make up the characters in our lives.