Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Cougars (2.04)

NBC Synopsis: CAT FIGHT—NICOLE RICHIE (“THE SIMPLE LIFE”) AND BEN SAVAGE (“BOY MEETS WORLD”) GUEST STAR—Chuck (Zachary Levi) learns more about Sarah’s (Yvonne Strahovski) past when they run into her old high school nemesis Heather Chandler (guest star Nicole Richie). Sarah’s teenage insecurities come to surface and she tries to avoid Heather at all costs. Chuck, on the other hand, does everything he can to hear more about Sarah’s hidden life. When Heather’s nerdy husband Mark (Ben Savage) turns out to be a key player in a new mission, the agents must attend Sarah’s high school reunion to prevent the sale of potentially dangerous super-bomber plans — all the action ends with the ultimate cat fight. Meanwhile, Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence) leaves town for a day and Buy More’s new assistant manager Lester (Vik Sahay) decides to implement a new sales policy.

Chuck This Ranking: 11
Dave’s Ranking: I agree

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs The Cougars (2.04) by Dave and Joe.
Couagars by Joe.
Summertime Top Ten: Cougars by Dave and Thinkling.

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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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37 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Cougars (2.04)

  1. thinkling says:

    Definitely in my top ten and one I never tire of rewatching

    • oldresorter says:

      Wasn’t Cougars in season 4?

      • atcDave says:

        No?

        Heather returned though in “Cubic Z”.

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave wasn’t it a season 4 toned episode though. Had it been ep 4×02, with the most minor of changes, it works, right? Same with Role Models for that matter! Those are my favorite eps.

      • atcDave says:

        A lot of the tone in Cougars has Sarah frustrated with her real self being exposed to Chuck. The sort of stuff Chuck knew well by the time we got to S4.
        It certainly could have been tinkered with to make fit. And it does end on a pretty heartwarming note. But Cougars really strikes me as a pretty essential S2 sort of episode.

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave I was making a very light hearted celebration of the happy couply nature of the episode, no two step back cringeworthy feeling moments like s3 or even during s2, so the ep’s tone felt more like season 4, when the steps back were baby steps at best. I’d call Sarah’s struggle vs her old self part of the story not the tone, and the struggle was mostly done with a comic flair, not something ugly or unhapp. I guess you didn’t agree. I think such a story, struggling vs her old self, just like she did in suitcase, or with the thought of kids, would have fit in season 4 with a few small changes too, and had they gone to her class reunion in s4, much of the plot could have remained in place. Oh well, it was posted more as a joke and for fun, and saying I liked the ep so much it might have been mistaken for s4, when I liked near every ep’s ‘tone’.

      • atcDave says:

        Sorry if I ruined your joke.

        But I do think when S2 and S4 were at their best, they were very similar in tone. I remember commenting a few times that S4 was like the return of the show and characters I loved.
        So yes, I agree about the tone!

    • atcDave says:

      Mine too. Well, on my 33 episode top ten list!

  2. DuneSeaJedi says:

    I love it. I love Chuck The Series, and I don’t know what to do about it. How is it exactly that a grumpy, cynical old geezer like myself can be so affected by a silly network TV show? Thank Heaven this community exists and is still active several years after the fact.

    Hi all, DuneSeaJedi here, short-time lurker, first-time poster. I remember when Chuck first aired on NBC, and I think I saw the pilot, but life was simply too busy for me to watch it at the time and I didn’t have a DVR then, so I’m one of the Netflix watchers. Wish I coulda bought sandwiches to help support the show. Oh well. I’ll do whatever it takes going forward to get more Chuck.

    I first watched the show last year about this time, and even before I finished S5 I purchased the BlueRays of the entire series. Good thing, since by the time I got through the Finale I was seething. I was so disgusted with what TPTB did to the faithful viewers (and those of us who would’ve been had it been possible) that I had to walk away from it until this past summer, when I did my first rewatch of the show. This time after the Finale, rather than walk away I sought answers to my desperate questions and I found you guys. My first stop was Dave’s post about the Finale and his recommendations of some fan fic that addressed many of my concerns. Then I found Think’s two Finale posts that gave me much badly-needed perspective and lead to her own version of what happened next. So on behalf of my sanity, I want to thank you all for your posts and comments and stories that have helped restore some hope that I’m not completely bonkers.

    BTW, I have mostly come to terms with the Finale – it is what it is – but I’ll likely never be ok with it. I absolutely believe C & S will end up together, but I still have nightmares that Sarah will have lost so many of the 5-years-worth of precious memories that we all shared with the two of them. It’s just a really awful thing to do to two such great heroes.

    I look forward to the rewatch, although I’ve had to work through S1 and the first 4 eps of S2 in about two weeks time to catch up. One episode a week may lead to withdrawal symptoms, but will be good to curb my OCD tendencies. I look forward to making this journey again, this time with a community. And even though there will be challenges with some of the episodes and arcs, I anxiously anticipate lots of what are sure to be lively discussions.

    • thinkling says:

      Welcome, Jedi, and thanks for the kind words. It’s nice to know that Chuck is still worming its way into people’s hearts like it did ours. Hang out with us an chime in often.

    • atcDave says:

      It is always awesome to hear from another fan, thanks for the comment!

      So many of us share your pain DSJ. This site, and fan fiction became my therapy after the show ended. I think I’m in about the same place with it you are.

      And don’t be shy about commenting in any old thread. Comments will show up under the recent comments header for a few days, and you’ll often find others will join in or build off of comments you made. And that way you watch at your own pace, while still enjoying the community.
      We always look forward to new comments!

  3. resaw says:

    Such a great episode. One of those I will happily watch over and over again. The thing that puzzled me this time around was its relationship to the previous episode, which was titled The Break-Up. In what respect did they break up? I mean, it sure looked like it was the end of the unspoken but very real love that they held for each other, but I don’t think I ever really saw in this episode the kind of tension in their interactions I would have expected. Sarah’s hostility toward any disclosure of her past, even to Chuck, would not have been any different, I suspect.

    The conversation between Chuck and Casey in front of the lockers after Casey saves Ratner (while giving credit to Mad Dog Carmichael) about love being for suckers makes it pretty clear that Casey still sees love as the defining characteristic of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship.

    At the end, when Chuck declines Sarah’s offer to reveal something about her past, that’s as much a declaration of love as anything seen to this point. They don’t declare their love to each other but everything about this episode lets us know that their unspoken but very real love continues.

    I don’t know whether I’ve said anything that hasn’t been said by others, including during the full writeup, but I enjoy still thinking and writing about Chuck. Once again, thank you for keeping this blog going.

    • atcDave says:

      I think I’ve commented on that several times; that Break-Up doesn’t break up anything!

      I also really enjoy the way the love is shown in this episode.

    • thinkling says:

      Agreed. There’s quite a contrast between Truth (a real break-up of a fake relationship) and Break Up (a fake break up of a real relationship). Break Up goes farther toward acknowledging the relationship and then pretends to put create some professional distance. But it’s too late, the lid is off.

    • uplink2 says:

      What I find interesting is that this is another example of great, dramatic and powerful scenes that ultimately meant nothing in the following episodes. Sarah shooting Mauser, the Breakup fountain scene, Carina’s surveillance video. Powerful moments that “poof” seem to be forgotten about going forward. The scene in the hotel room at the end of this episode could easily have been the ending of Seduction or First Date. What happened at the fountain in Breakup meant nothing here. As Dave said Breakup broke up nothing. In fact, you could easily move Cougars, and Tom Sawyer up and go from Breakup to Ex and it would work very well, possibly better.

      I do really think this is a perfect example of really great Ali Adler writing. It may be her best episode. I just kind of wish she had stayed at these high standards going forward.

  4. carrol.chuck.fan says:

    A very fun episode, definitely. I even enjoyed Nicole Richie in her role as the nemesis Heather. Sarah’s facial expressions in the Orange Orange at the beginning while Chuck is going on and on as “Jenny’s Chuck” are priceless. I do agree with Dave and thinkling that Break-Up really did not affect their feelings for one another in the least. However, it did seem as though they did not try very hard to just be friends and keep any real professional distance after that whole discussion in Break-Up. I was a little surprised by that and by how truly open they were with their affection for one another when I first saw the episode. Perhaps they imagined the conversation alone had done the work for them, though it is pretty obvious it had no effect at all on their feelings.

    • atcDave says:

      I think it does have an effect when we get to The Ex. Regardless of Chuck’s feelings for Sarah, he feels like he has no future with her. And I think that stated “no future” is what led to Chuck being vulnerable to Jill.

      • carrol.chuck.fan says:

        You may be right about that. Throughout the Jill episodes, he still has obvious feelings for Sarah. But he does pursue the relationship with Jill. She is the one that got away, shows that she is interested in him (though for nefarious reasons, as we learn), and he is probably a bit starved for real romance at this point in time.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think that’s exactly right.

  5. Wilf says:

    This is definitely one of my favourite episodes, maybe even in my top 5. I, too, never tire of watching it and if I actually told my wife how often I’ve watched this and other episodes too, she’d probably ascribe to me a fair measure of autistic behaviour 😉

  6. oldresorter says:

    Chuck seems really self confident in this ep. He was in Honeymooners too. Be interesting to list the eps he was, my guess is some of those would be my fav’s.

    • atcDave says:

      I don’t know if confident is a requirement; but the opposite is terrible. Neurotic and whiny Chuck is one of my least favorite things.

      • Martin Traynor says:

        Chuck seems to find his strength, confidence and skill when Sarah needs him most , or he perceives that she needs him most. My favorite eps include scenes where Chuck and/or Sarah go above and beyond for each other. It really shows the friendship, love and devotion that make them such an awesome team and couple.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah, and I think that was true from the very start.

  7. Martin Traynor says:

    That, to me, is the heart of the show. You get it also with Ellie /Devon and later with Morgan/Alex, but it’s those selfless acts that touch my heart. When Chuck acts in Sarah’s best interest, and doesn’t do it in a silly way, it’s pure magic. And Sarah made a career out of putting Chuck first, which is perhaps the main reason her character is so very dear to my heart.

  8. Its funny, Sarah kept the world at arms length and yet even as early as season 1 she finds herself being affected by Chuck’s mere presence; Yvonne plays that sort of “naive denial” brilliantly…

    My favorite line in this episode: “you know what mark, sometimes the nerd gets the girl!” The Paula Cole song in the background was as perfect as you could ever get and the slow mo moment leaves me smiling every time:)

    • thinkling says:

      The Nerd gets the girl. That scene, with the music and Sarah slow-moing into the gym and Chuck connecting the dots is one of my favorite Chuck scenes. This is just a great episode on so many levels. And then Sarah’s inadvertent verbal admission that she has fallen in love with Chuck. Perfect.

      • resaw says:

        You are referring to Sarah’s retort to Heather in the midst of their fight, correct? That caught my attention this time around. It seems like every re-watch brings for me a new discovery, or a new “agenda.” This time, it’s mostly been noting hints that Sarah’s feelings for Chuck are deeper and more profound than she is willing to acknowledge. At a point of stress, though, as in this fight, she lets her usual guardedness slip. And of course, it’s always nice to hear others (even enemies, like Heather) correctly observe Sarah’s feelings for Chuck.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Resaw, that’s the one. It’s more like she’s admitting it to herself and then buries it again until her video log entry, when she admits it more openly and calmly, though still only to herself.

      • atcDave says:

        I think by this point Sarah is almost on to herself…

      • thinkling says:

        Herself and her childhood issues … another funny throw away scene.

      • Wilf says:

        Yeah, I think those are some of the best scenes in the entire series.

  9. noblz says:

    This episode is in the top ten (10) of my top ten (29).

    The non-break-up, Casey the Charah shipper and Sarah oh so sexy working the heavy bag with that spritz of perspiration. Not to mention Sarah’s treatment of Dick Duffy for handling the merchandise. What’s not to like.

    Mrs Other Dave’s favorite all time.

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