Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Sensei (2.09)

NBC Synopsis: HURT FEELINGS—MORGAN FAIRCHILD, BRUCE BOXLEITNER & TONY HALE GUEST STAR—Chuck (Zachary Levi) is still reeling from the discovery that his ex-girlfriend Jill was a Fulcrum agent and goes on a mission to take his mind of off his shock. Casey (Adam Baldwin) gets a shock of his own when he finds out that his sensei Ty Bennett (guest star Carl Lumbly), who taught him everything he knows, is now one of the most wanted rogue agents. While on the search for Bennett, it becomes clear that Casey may be too emotionally involved to continue with the mission. Meanwhile, Awesome’s (Ryan McPartlin) parents Honey (guest star Morgan Fairchild) and Woody (guest star Bruce Boxleitner) make a surprise visit to help Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Awesome plan their wedding. At the Buy More, Emmett (Tony Hale) reinstates the employee of the month contest, but Morgan (Joshua Gomez), Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay) have other plans.

Chuck This Ranking83
Dave’s Ranking: A little higher, but not a lot!

Full Write Up: Chuck vs The Sensei (2.09) by Dave and Joe


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 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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26 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Sensei (2.09)

  1. Justin says:

    atcDave, out of curiosity, if it was up to you, how would you have Chuck and Sarah hook up during S2? I’ve heard you mention more than once that you think it was possible for them to get together a lot earlier than S3.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, that’s not at all a challenge!

      As I see it, the main issue in delaying things is Sarah’s conflict of interest. At the start, she has no experience with what a long term stable relationship would look like, but she hinted as early as Crown Vic that she might want to find out how it works. That combined with her later claim she fell for Chuck immediately, I can imagine Sarah deciding quite early on Chuck is worth taking a chance on.
      But its the conflict of interest; the idea if it becomes known how drawn she is to Chuck, she will be immediately reassigned, yet she can’t trust any one else with Chuck’s safety (I love the deleted scene from First Date where she questions Casey on if she has to worry about Chuck’s safety at the end of the mission). So how to get Sarah to decide the personal/emotional issues are worth violating her professional ethics that determines the timing of the first two seasons.
      So the most obvious thing to me is just if she came to see her superiors as corrupt and their rules as invalid. I could easily see the events of Marlin pushing her into that. She was so close to siding with Chuck AGAINST her bosses. So continuing that theme, I think if she knew about the kill order, she might be more unreserved in siding with Chuck.
      Other possibilities could be deciding she doesn’t want to loose Chuck to Jill, or maybe some sort of realization on how she takes him for granted. I think there’s really an opportunity almost anytime in S2 for her to make just one slightly different decision, and suddenly she and Chuck are a real couple. That’s part of what makes S2 so appealing, there is just so many possibilities.
      I think this could have led to a more incremental sort of development than what we got. Like first stealing moments together, being careful not to get caught. Then gradually getting bolder, maybe trying to sell Beckman on a “cover” co-habitation, even a “cover” engagement at some point. They could play it for laughs if Beckman and Casey are on to them all along. Or drama if a reassignment is hanging over everything.

      Honestly I’ve read so much fan fiction on this, I see more possibilities than problems.

      But I also want to be clear, I have no major problems with wt/wt PRIOR to Colonel. I’m fine, mostly, with the first two seasons. Its only later that things NEEDED to be done differently.

      • Justin says:

        Your thoughts on where S2 could have gone sound very interesting. But I agree with there not being a issue about wt/wt before Colonel. I just wanted to know what you thought.

      • Justin says:

        Another question: how do you feel if the series had ended with Colonel?

      • atcDave says:

        Better Colonel than Ring! I think it would have been good as far as many of us would have forever liked and admired both main characters more than the canon versions. But, we would have missed the terrific S4 and S5. On balance I’m glad we got more, and I’ll just have to deal with my season of discontent.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m just thinking though I might have been very happy if a tragic computer glitch destroyed every bit of content after the end of Baby! Hmmm, or maybe just the last 15 minutes of Bullet Train to the end. A little over two full episodes lost for all time due to a freak power surge…. Yeah that works for me!

    • I think there was a waste not getting them together earlier…the amount of chemistry is the best I have ever seen for two people…I sight the pilot and pieces of S1 episodes as evidence (wookie, hard salami and marlin jump out to me) I would be curious to see Zac and Yvonne work on something else together!:)

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Josh I’d love to see them paired in another romantic comedy sort of thing. Maybe something with Zach as a strong heroic sort and Yvonne as a frail damsel…

  2. oldresorter says:

    I haven’t rewatched Sensei near as much as others from s2. Not sure why, I suppose at heart, I’m not that big of a casey in the lead type eps. Will try to take a look at it this week sometime. Some good news for the ‘nerd pursues the girl in an action type setting’ lovers, The Librarian franchise seems to be coming or came to tv. Here is an excerpt from the review I read, haven’t watched it yet, but it seems right up my alley:

    “TNT’s new pluralized extension of The Librarian, its made-for-TV movie franchise that actually predated the Syfy drama, snatches several gifted but flawed geeks out of their day jobs to safeguard a magical warehouse/library of powerful ancient artifacts. There’s even a blossoming romantic subplot between the BAMF government agent lady and the office goof. However, the “tough professional woman falls for manic pixie dream man” trope never really gets old for me, so I’ll allow it. Especially since The Librarians’ phenomenal cast makes the series a welcome addition to the Sunday-night lineup. ”


    • atcDave says:

      I do think, of the Casey centered episodes, this is by far the weakest. But it does have a couple of nice moments. as We’ve often said, even the weaker episodes of Chuck are great television.

      Sounds like I may have to check out the Librarian (!).

  3. Martin Traynor says:

    I’ll need to go back and rewatch, but I remember loving the scene near the end where Chuvk realizes the key go victory is to “unleash the Casey.” And then he starts making Casey mad, which prompts Sarah to chastise him , whereupon he gives her that finger and the grunt that says, “hold on and trust me, for I know what I am doing.” Just like he did in the pilot when diffusing the bomb with Irene Demova. Great stuff. I love when Chuck figures it out before or instead of everyone else.

    Back to my original thought , I remember liking this one more. Why such a low ranking? ( again, my memory, she ain’t what she used to be).

    • atcDave says:

      I think the main knock is just that Chuck himself seems to be buffoonish and overplayed in parts. It’s not as terrible as in Curse, but I think it’s the first use of the broader, goofy sort of comedy, and it doesn’t sit real well with me.
      But there are certainly some good moments here; chocolate and peanut butter, “action ready”, and angry center all stand out. So not a bad episode at all, just not one of the greats that we will see so much of this season.

      • resaw says:

        The Casey-Sarah conversation is interesting. Casey is sufficiently perceptive and/or Sarah is that obvious about her true feelings that the chocolate/peanut butter comment is made, but Sarah does not concede, at least not to Casey. When Casey asks her to admit her feelings for the nerd, she only admits she has feelings in general, and uses that statement to urge Casey to admit that he has feelings as well. I wonder, in the Chuckverse, would Casey have had to report the situation if Sarah had admitted she had feelings for Chuck, that she was “compromised”? Certainly the 49B scenario near the end of season 2 raised this more explicitly, and as I recall, Casey was by that point quite protective of his partner, but would he have been as protective/supportive at this point?

        I like this episode because it provides some backstory for Casey, which is always interesting, but it ranks relatively poorly in season 2, in my view.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I do like the little glimpses we get into Casey, and I figure this may be one of the big bonding moments that later made Casey willing to stand up for Sarah (to the 49B). For now, Sarah is very careful with her words!

      • carrol.chuck.fan says:

        This episode may not be as good as some of the other Season 2 episodes so perhaps its rating suffers in comparison. I actually find it a pretty enjoyable episode. Chuck is so excited to get to know more about Casey and try to bond with him as a friend, he and Sarah are re-cementing their relationship after the Jill debacle, chocolate/peanut butter conversation with Sarah and Casey, Chuck finding Casey’s motivation to defeat the Sensei, poor Ellie having to deal with the Awesomes taking over her wedding. Plus, Carl Lumbly is always enjoyable to watch (hope I spelled his name right). I actually enjoyed the broad comedy part with Chuck handcuffed in the OO trying to reach his cell phone, even if we don’t always see that type of comedy at this point in Chuck. So, as a stand alone episode, pretty entertaining.

  4. oldresorter says:

    Many / most of the mid season finals are now done for me shows. Has anyone else either read this opinion or come to the same conclusion as I have, I like the midseason finals more than the season finals? I came to this conclusion about Chuck while posting here a few weeks ago, I thought that opinion was limited to just Chuck, but after last night, I’m pretty sure I feel that way about most shows.

    • oldresorter says:

      that’ll be ‘my’ shows, not ‘me’ shows, spellcheck can’t overcome bad writing

    • DKD says:

      “after last night”. What happened last night?

      I haven’t detected any pattern in regards to shows. Every one is different. Some shows I watch don’t even have “mid-season finales”.

      I recently started writing down my “top of the year” list for 2014 and I realized my most memorable shows were closed-ended or don’t split their seasons. For example:

      Fargo – close ended
      True Detective – closed ended
      Game of Thrones – single season/no split
      Orphan Black – single season/no split

      Have you been able to define what it is you like better about mid-season finales?

      • oldresorter says:

        In chuck, I’m not even sure what the mid season final was s2, but s3 mid season ended the ‘get them together’ arc definitively both in terms of killing Shaw and putting CS together, while s2 and s3’s season enders were more open ended, with Chuck and Sarah not much of an issue, and the spy story very much left in a to be cont state.

        The engagement ended the next arc well, and Volkov was arrested, and while the end of s4 was OK, it still had the ridiculous Morgan intersecting thing that set up the very unsatisfying to me S5’s sarah amnesia story. Without the last scene of s4’s final, chuck and sarah driving away in the limo would have been a perfect ending to the show. S5 the same thing, baby ended the show so well, reuniting Sarah with her mom and placing Chuck and Sarah in a happily ever after scene.

        The end of the show s5, left literally everything open, no home, no job, most of friends and family moved on, no money, no memories. I get the end, nothing but them on the beach, it is sort of cool, would be an awesome artistic ending to a mean spirited show like Revenge, that isn’t happy and hasn’t earned happiness as the star characters do really bad things, over and over again.

        In terms of mid season in other shows this season, it was more a general thing, I liked Flash’s as the yellow suit was an epic ending. Arrow was breath taking and awesome with the Felicity / oliver scene nailing things near perfectly followed by (don’t want to spoil the ending) the mountain climb, fight scene and result. Madam Sec, a show I think is just so so, blew me away with it’s ending somehow bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war in what felt like a very real way, and seemingly redeeming the most obvious bad guy(s), which I like (don’t like the obvious choice for bad guys to be bad). Revenge, I never thought it could figure out how to make the ridiculous story work, yet the ‘I got a bigger plan, trust me’ and the death at the end, and how easily the story will flow from that death, nailed it all 100%. Castle had one of the worst end of seasons for me last year, made me like this season considerably less, the mid season ending has me interested in what’s next, rather than ready to vomit because I got played investing in a story that was not paid off.

        I think I’m ok with death or breakup or unhappy or open endings, but I don’t want the things to come from left field, I want to have an ah ha moment, where it all makes sense, and I can see a path, and feel like the journey was paid off. Not a path forward, but backward as to how all the season makes sense vs the result that ended the arc. For me, mid season endings seem to do that better, while end of season stuff often seems to come out of left field, often setting up the next season, and seem to often ignore the major theme of the season just ended.

        Long answer, hope it made at least some sense.

      • atcDave says:

        Chuck’s S2 break episode was Santa Claus, which was a pretty brutal/bleak note to go out on.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I mostly agree OR. Although part of that is the wait is shorter at mid-season, so even when you’re less enthused with the story you can still expect a quicker resolution. I particularly thought Castle and Forever went out on strong notes. Castle looks like it will be a hoot next year! Love the PI twist. Not that I expect to last long, but its always good when you go out with a big laugh.
      Usually season finales are more self important and dreary. Often my least favorite episodes of the season!

  5. Martin Traynor says:

    Dave, you took the words out of my mouth. I also like the mid-season finales, mainly, I think, because the wait is so much more abbreviated than a season finale. I, too, enjoyed the Castle, Forever, Flash and Arrow finales and think as well that the Castle PI thing won’t/can’t last too long (not unless Beckett, Javi and Kevin quit the force to Join Castle Investigations :-)). I like Castle on the force, as it were.

    What I liked about Sensei was that Chuck pulled it off in the end. He was the one who knew Casey and used that to help him overcome his own weaknesses. It’s what Chuck does best. He’s actually a lot like Sarah’s father, in that his greatest skill may be that he reads people. Only he uses that to help them, rather than swindle them. He reads people, he connects with them and he usually comes out with more respect from them in the end (I especially love the respect he gets from Colt in vs. the First Date).

    Maybe that’s what drew Sarah to him in the first place? He is like her dad, only better. He’s like dad 2.0

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I definitely loved how Chuck motivated Casey at the end of Sensei. That’s the sort of thing that ensures eve a middling episode of Chuck is still a ton of fun!

      • I’ve talked to several people who never realized that Adam Baldwin is a Baldwin; easy to over look considering Adam is not awkward like his brothers and doesn’t seem to be concerned with fame to the level of his brothers…

      • noblz says:


        Adam is not related to Alec, Stephan and William. Adam is from the Chicago Baldwins and the others are the NY Baldwins.

  6. Really, well I guess that explains everything…I didn’t even know there were two Baldwin families…

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