Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Beefcake (2.15)

NBC Synopsis: CHUCK GETS TERRITORIAL WHEN SARAH GETS CLOSE TO AN ATTRACTIVE AGENT—Chuck (Zachary Levi) breaks up with Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) after Ellie’s (Sarah Lancaster) urging, but jealousy strikes when Sarah must seduce a handsome agent in order to retrieve Fulcrum intelligence. Morgan (Joshua Gomez) deals with his mother’s relationship with Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence) by crashing at Chuck’s apartment much to Ellie and Awesome’s chagrin. Meanwhile, Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay) talk their way into hiring the new Buy More employee but decide to search for the “Buy More Babe.”

Chuck This Ranking: 79
Dave’s Ranking: Lower

Full Write-Ups: Chuck vs the Beefcake (2.15) by Dave and 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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43 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Beefcake (2.15)

  1. Christopher says:

    Chuck vs Beefcake kicks off one of the best periods in Chuck’s history. As much as people don’t like Cole because he kissed Sarah, but out of all the agents on the male side. He gave Chuck the most respect.

    Beefcake also is where some would say Day 564 happened since the air style Sarah wore resembles the one in the video. It makes sense since Suburbs ending showed a conflicted Sarah, whose dream of living in a house like the one they played house.

    Sarah visibly bothered by Chuck’s latest break up attempt We also get closer to Orion, which is even better

  2. Martin Traynor says:

    For some reason, Cole bothers me on a level no other does, including Shaw. I think it’s because she has a clear, genuine attraction to him and she acts on it in the most intimate of ways. I’ve heard on some movies/shows that a character will tell another that kissing can be more intimate than sex. I see that here. Sarah really likes this guy – a lot. Is it no wonder that Chuck thinks he must become a guy/spy like Cole to get the girl? She’s fawning over him the entire next two episodes, kisses him (or at least allows him to kiss her) a couple of times (and these are powerful-looking kisses, make no mistake), and clearly struggles with turning him down on his offer to “play,” all of which Chuck sees.

    I never saw passion between Sarah and Shaw, but you can see here that there is passion, heat and desire, none of which I like to see between Sarah and anyone other than Chuck.

    Yeah, Cole is cool to Chuck, and even helps him, but I am no fan of his appearance on this show in any way, shape, or form. To me, he is the biggest competitor for Sarah’s affections. The only good things here to me are that she never sleeps with him, she ultimately chooses Chuck over him, and he is gone rather quickly (and yes, those are big things…I’ll admit).

    I just don’t like the way she looks at him. That look should be for Chuck and Chuck alone. I never saw here look at Bryce or Shaw that way…

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with most of that Martin. Sarah clearly is a little smitten with Cole, and they do share one hot kiss. That’s part of why I don’t care for this episode.
      But I guess I’m okay with Cole because he’s good to Chuck, and ultimately looses the girl to the nerd.
      I am even more bothered by how badly Chuck is portrayed here, he really comes across as an unappealing looser. This is easily my least favorite episode of the season.

    • Hottest kiss of the series.

  3. Martin Traynor says:

    Chuck suffers from the same malady as Sarah – not wanting/willing to pursue what he wants. You’re absolutely right – Chuck does not come off well in this episode. And while Sarah ultimately chooses Chuck, she flirts with Cole a lot here, and I hate that.

    What I really don’t like about Chuck here is that he tells Sarah that he’s letting her go, but then tries in a half-arsed way to sort of kind want to try and win her back? Make up your mind, Chuck! It’s this wishy-washy, back and forth with the characters that make this show sometimes so very painful to watch.

    Hey, if I didn’t care so much, I wouldn’t be so bothered by it, I guess.

    • atcDave says:

      I feel the same about all of that. Add in Casey and Sarah not believing Chuck can hack the chip, and there just really is painfully little about this episode that I care for. I sort of see this as the mini-S3; almost everything I dislike about S3 is on display here in an abbreviated form.
      Big difference though, I love the ending. I think it would have been a funny twist for Chuck and Sarah to be forced into co-habitation at this point. Not for any serious drama or point mind you, but I think the “awkward” could have been funny for several weeks.

      • I think because Johnathan Cake did a much better job as Cole than brandon routh did as “he will not be named” i can overlook the stuff you mention and actually find it funny! I do agree about the end though!

      • anthropocene says:

        I thought it was definitely OOC for Casey and especially Sarah not to trust Chuck’s technological abilities. Sarah was touting Chuck’s brilliance to Carina way back in early S1. And at the start of S2 Casey was trying to get Chuck hired as an analyst (admittedly under dire circumstances). And yes, Chuck was wimpy and wishy-washy, so all three of the principals did not come across well in this ep.

      • atcDave says:

        Josh I completely agree about Cole v Shaw.

        But yeah Anthro, just so much unappealing here all around.

      • Justin says:

        You know, if Chuck and Sarah had decided in Suburbs that they wanted to be together but agree to put it on hold until Fulcrum and the Intersect are no longer an issue, the Chuck-Sarah angst of this episode would have been funny in an awkward way. Sarah making an effort to hold back Cole’s advances while revealing the vow she made to Chuck.

      • Justin says:

        I’m sorry. Made an error. I meant “Sarah making an effort to hold back Cole’s advances while NOT revealing the vow she made to Chuck.”

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah I agree completely Justin. There were several times where they missed that opportunity for the “fighting to be together” sort of story (cough*S3*cough). really a waste and a shame. They basically just jumped full blast from not really together, to really together. If ever a show could have played around with more middle ground (having to hide what they really have until external barriers are removed) it was Chuck.

        I remember an interview with JS shortly after S2 ran, that would prove to be a dire warning of what lay ahead, in which he commented even with external barriers coming down, internal barriers remained.
        And I think ultimately that ties right in to why I don’t care for his writing. It was just completely backwards for this situation and these characters. It seems painfully obvious to me that the internal barriers HAD TO BE dealt with first, or it makes the characters look far less appealing.

      • Justin says:

        I agree. Some shows feel it is necessary to drag out romantic angst to make things interesting. Joss Whedon thought so most of the time. Angel/Buffy, Wesley/Fred, Mal/Inara and Echo/Ballard stand out as prime examples of that. Zoe and Wash have to be the only relationship in the Jossverse that didn’t suffer from romantic angst. It did came to an abrupt end when Wash got killed off in the Serenity movie.

        atcDave, have you thought about creating a new Alternative post in which you propose the idea of Chuck and Sarah vowing to be together one day in Suburbs and have other people brainstorm on the consequences of that change in direction? If you have a better idea for an Alternative post, I would love to hear it.

      • atcDave says:

        As we’ve said a few times, its TV formula to draw out wt/wt a step (or more) too far. I’ll always say that I considered the last of the legitimate internal barriers to be gone with Colonel/Ring. Going further undermined the characters. Funny, I remember that being mentioned way back during that summer of 2009 by many fans. And I’ll confidently say now that we were right, JS was wrong.

        I hadn’t really been thinking about it Justin. I did put up a broad S1/S2 Alternatives post several months back. Let me stew on it a few days.

      • Justin says:

        Maybe narrow down a few scenarios during those seasons of the show can incite more responses.

      • atcDave says:

        That could be fun. Themed “Alternatives” instead of by episode.

  4. Does anybody know if Johnathan Cake played James Bond?

    • garnetflintIt is possibly says:

      Not in any Bond film I have seen. He does have that Bondesque look to him. I agree that the worst thing was how little confidence Sarah and Casey showed in Chuck’s ability to hack the chip. In some ways, Cole actually seemed to take Chuck more seriously than his handlers…not really good for the ego there. And although the nerd wins out over the superspy, it does seem somethat tentative. At this point, I would have expected Sarah to have been a little more “immune” to Cole’s charms, but it does reinforce the idea that Chuck needs to be a superspy to “win the girl” and that does come back to haunt them….

      • atcDave says:

        Garnet its funny though, if they really had just been setting up the idea that Chuck thought he had to become the hero to win Sarah it might have been a good source of drama and comedy for the season ahead. Especially if we add in Sarah trying to find her voice to tell Chuck she loved the old Chuck and he needed to knock it off.
        But then we get the whole Hannah/Shaw tangent, and they really shot themselves in the foot. A story with some potential goes off the rails…

      • I really think we all should have known better in regard to S3 and Sarah…there were plenty of moments in S1 and 2 where it was clear she was dependent on Chuck in an unhealthy way and i think the writers chose to exploit the fact that Sarah held him at a much higher and unrealistic standard which was a very bad decision! Sarah actually comes off much worse in S3.0 because she’s unable to handle chuck changing!

      • atcDave says:

        I never saw any of that in the first two seasons Josh. I thought Sarah’s respect and affection for Chuck came across as quite admirable and healthy.
        But I agree about S3. Its to Sarah’s great discredit that she basically abandoned Chuck, when she should have been there to help him deal with the moral and emotional issues she KNEW he would struggle with.

    • atcDave says:

      He was clearly cast here for his ability to play “Bond-like”. But no, he never did.

  5. Dave

    I was speaking more to the fact that anytime she saw Chuck not complying with the cover or calling her out on things she became possessive or defensive, and angry. That tells me she grew an unhealthy attachment to Chuck the asset and when Chuck decided to effectively become Sarah’s equal she unfairly abandoned him because she lost what she wanted more at the time…a Chuck who needed protecting and could take her away from the CIA.

    Its terrible writing but i firmly believe that if it had been handled better CHUCK would still be on air…

    • atcDave says:

      Well again I see no defect in the first two seasons. Sarah was acting like a normal person in love; who was jealous of the object of her affection. The only malfunction there is that she can’t come out and say what she is really thinking. I’d call it a conflict of interest and a question of priorities. Not really anything unhealthy; well, not unhealthy as long as its eventually dealt with properly (either growing in to a real relationship, or breaking it off and taking reassignment).
      It looks like a normal, early stage of a relationship to me. Unnaturally complicated by some major extenuating circumstances!

      I think the fubar of it all hinges on a pretty contrived lack of communication. And not that it was completely unbelievable, but that it set up a very long arc that was just no fun at all for too many viewers.

  6. Dave

    Did JS ever admit publicly he’d made a mistake?

    • atcDave says:

      No, not as such.

      I’ve always suspected his bowing out as show runner and leaving the day to day work to CF in the last two seasons was sort of a de facto admission. And I’ll always remember Ryan McPartlin commenting at Comic Con 2010 that TPTB had learned their lesson about messing with Charah.
      The closest I’ve ever heard JS come was saying that we had nothing to complain since we had over two full seasons of Charah together. And that sounds more like living in denial than fessing up to anything!
      And of course many fans found the end of the series to be sort of a spit in the face; or the show runner’s revenge.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        JS leaving as show runner after season 3 was a baked in the cake contract from the start of the show. JS had no contractual involvement after season 3 from the moment the show started production. The likely reason was that TPTB above Schwedak couldn’t sell, or wouldn’t buy, a show without a proven (The OC) show running producer.

  7. noblz says:

    OtherDave’s rating for this episode is 88. This one made my dud list, but not the never to be viewed list (only two episodes remain on that evil list).

    My dud criteria is one or more main characters is made to be too ridiculously OOC or unlikeable. In this case Chuck is the culprit. Sarah was a bit reprehensible as well. (The only exception to this is vs Bo, in that one just too much Morgan).

    I was OK with Cole, he was actually kind of sympathetic. Chuck and Sarah were the problems.

  8. DKD says:

    I actually rank this episode higher than the average voter. I like Cole and Jonathan Cake’s performance. I always thought he would be a fun character to bring back in Season 4 or 5.

    I felt he was a believable person for Sarah to bond with in a way that we often bond with people who do the same thing we do for a living. And–I got to admit–he’s hot.

    The performance made him much more acceptable in that regard than Brandon Routh’s did.

    • I’m with you on rating this episode quite highly, DKD. I thought that the character of Cole brought an interesting dimension to the show. Previously in the series only Bryce had seemed a competitor to Chuck and it was pretty clear (even if not always so clear to Chuck) that Sarah had moved on. Here was someone new to both Sarah and Chuck, and Sarah found him genuinely attractive at some level. Unlike Shaw, Cole was not an emotional cipher.

      Russ / resaw

  9. Martin Traynor says:

    See, to me, a third wheel or point on the ‘ole love triangle doesn’t add dimension – it sucks the life out of the dimensions already there. By this point in the series, Chuck and Sarah have “broken up” a number of times and reconciled/rebuilt what they had just as many times, whatever that was to this point. I (personally) don’t need or want someone/something/anything coming between my super couple, even if “only” for two episodes.

    I know that Cole doesn’t ultimately come between Chuck and Sarah, but I did not enjoy his presence in the least. Even though he shows Chuck some respect and helps him with encouragement, I could have done without him…

    • i would have loved a scenario where Cole kills Shaw via a bullet to the head …I would have even been okay with the former coming back to remind Chuck and Sarah to stay true to themselves because they were lost on a personal and professional level during the misery arc…

    • anthropocene says:

      Although they were clearly trending toward couple-ness (and eventually, power couple-ness), I don’t think Chuck or Sarah had any claims of exclusivity on the other before Barstow. I was OK with Cole, not least because he served as further affirmation that Sarah—deep down—did not want a relationship with another spy (no matter how heroic and studly he might be).

      On rewatch, I still was disappointed by Casey and Sarah’s lack of faith in Chuck’s tech skills (Sarah could have taken him aside and said something about possible Fulcrum booby-traps). Chuck had to hack into the chip anyway to move the plot forward, but he could have done that for a reason other than stubborn defiance (maybe it could have been necessary in order to save Sarah and Casey). And his “pre-torture” behavior seemed a bit over the top for mid-S2 Chuck. He’d already handled himself better under interrogation by La Ciudad, and in the Fulcrum Intersect Lab. Nevertheless, I ended up enjoying this episode a bit more than I did previously.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with much of that Anthro, but mostly in regards to the whole arc. My final verdict on Cole is mostly favorable. But I can’t find much to enjoy in this particular episode.

    • atcDave says:

      Martin I agree with most of that. Especially about how destructive all the various triangles are to my enjoyment of the show, and respect for the characters.
      BUT, Cole gets a mixed verdict. I really dislike Beefcake, and I dislike the disruption he brings to the show and characters. But I liked him a lot in Lethal Weapon. I liked how he supported and believed in Chuck. And I liked how when Sarah had clearly chosen Chuck over Cole, he was gracious about it.
      If Cole had indeed been the last triangle I wouldn’t be the least grumpy about it, and I might even be over my dislike of Beefcake.
      But unfortunately the way JS keeps returning to triangles reminds of the verse “as a dog returns to its vomit…”

      • Yikes! Quoting Scripture to make your point, Dave. You know who bugs me more than Cole? Ellie. She says to Chuck, “You’ve got to take control of your life…” and then proceeds to tell Chuck how to deal with his relationship with Sarah. If only Chuck would have taken to heart her comment about taking control instead of her suggestion that Sarah was not the right girl for him. But that hovering, overly watchful, motherlike behaviour is rather ingrained into Ellie as is Chuck’s childlike deference to his sister. It sets up a situation where Chuck “breaks up” with Sarah and leaves an opening for Cole. I’m not even sure, though, that I would call it a triangle, as Cole took his best shot but ultimately failed. He was a “gracious loser,” as well, which earns him some points in my book.

        Russ / resaw

      • JS should sign a lifetime contract for a soap opera and stay in that realm for eternity! Chuck is the ultimate definition of a show that hooked us and then burned us…twice! although i think the second time was directed at NBC because they thought the show was easily replaceable…i for one find solace in how wrong they were!

      • atcDave says:

        Russ I agree exactly about Ellie. Two times I think she seriously overstepped; Beefcake, and in Ring II about quitting the agency. But ultimately it is her role as “mom” that leads to her meddling. I don’t really like those moments, but I get them. But both times, shame on Chuck for listening!

        I really do agree with your interpretation on Cole. By the end of Lethal Weapon I hold nothing against him. Some of this may go back to the first run syndrome; that is, watching these all a week apart the individual episode may still carry more weight for me than for many viewers who were able to power watch through whole arcs at a time. But for me, middle parts of arcs often come across badly. And Beefcake, by itself, will never be a favorite of mine.

        Sorry if scripture out of context offends! (I was wondering if anyone would even recognize the source!) But with six triangles in three seasons, even if they aren’t all created equal, I feel like the trope was grossly over-used by this show runner. To the point it impacts far more how I see the writing than the characters. (and vomit seems perfectly fitting to me!)

  10. Martin Traynor says:

    I think part of my extreme dislike for this arc and Cole in particular is because I am an avid Castle fan and saw “the Limey” first, where a similar scenario played out between Beckett and the titular character, and Castle. I wasn’t happy with that one either.

    To me (“to me” for emphasis), just because characters aren’t together, but you know they should be together, I don’t like other people added to the romantic mix. I know it’s a shame I let that impede my ability to like certain episodes/arcs (especially given that we have so few episodes with Chuck in the first place – though any amount would be too little), but that’s my problem, I guess.

    I certainly appreciate all the comments and everyone else’s ability to see the good. I’ll admit there are moments, but the overall ideology of adding romantic competition pleases me in no way.

    And I’ll agree, for the record, that Chuck’s behavior throughout most comes off as immature, juvenile, and jealous. Measured out the right way, it could have worked comedic gold, but as is fails dramatically.

    • atcDave says:

      You know I agree with all of that Martin. To me (!), a triangle pretty much always messes with the couple dynamic I’m actually tuning in to see. Whatever other issues may be involved, Chuck and Lou; or Sarah and Bryce; or whatever is just a waste of time. I’m tuning in to see Chuck and Sarah, and the third wheel is just exactly that, a useless appendage.

  11. Martin Traynor says:

    I’m with you!

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