Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Colonel (2.21)

NBC Synopsis: CHUCK AND SARAH RISK EVERYTHING TO FIND CHUCK’S FATHER— TONY HALE (“ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT”), CHEVY CHASE AND SCOTT BAKULA (“QUANTUM LEAP”) GUEST STAR—When Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) go AWOL to rescue Chuck’s father Steve (guest star Scott Bakula), they discover that spending time together without any surveillance allows for unchartered chemistry. But as the two get closer, Casey (Adam Baldwin) zeroes in on their hidden location. Meanwhile, Morgan (Joshua Gomez) becomes the pariah of the Buy More after mistakenly getting Emmett (guest star Tony Hale) promoted.

Chuck This Ranking: 1
Dave’s Ranking: Top Ten, but not Top Three

Full Write-Up: Chuck vs The Colonel (2.21) by Dave and Joe
Chuck vs The Colonel: “Chuck’s” Finest by Faith
The Colonel by 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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63 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Colonel (2.21)

  1. Justin says:

    Great episode. From Chuck and Sarah kissing each other in bed to the reveal that Chuck is free of the Intersect to Chuck and Sarah on the brink of a real relationship. It almost felt like a series finale. Unfortunately, Roark isn’t done with Chuck and his family yet.

    • atcDave says:

      In a way, I think this is the end of the first version of Chuck.

      • Justin says:

        Exactly right.

      • thinkling says:

        Part of me agrees with that. And that’s the way it feels as we move forward from here bit by painful bit.

        But in the context of the whole series — looking back — I see this as the last piece of the prologue … the moment just before the pivotal moment when their fated journey begins. A journey requires a destination. Up until now, neither of them had a destination other than the status quo, which isn’t a destination. The first two seasons have led them to simultaneous, but separate epiphanies that there is a destination worthy of a journey that will require a drastic change of course … stay tuned for next week. 😉

      • Justin says:

        That’s beautifully said, thinkling.

  2. Wilf says:

    It would have made a pretty good and satifying series finale, at that time

    • atcDave says:

      It would have made fo a tragically short series! But it might have been better to avoid some of what lies ahead.

    • Wilf says:

      Now that’s a good point. I’ll take all the rubbish from season 3.0, even the series finale, as payment for at least having got 5 seasons.

      • this doesn’t have anything to do with Chuck and is more of an observation or comparison but as I’ve nearly finished The Hunger games series (NO SPOILERS PLEASE) I can safely say, what Sarah goes through in last two episodes seems like a relative cakewalk walk compared to what’s happening to Peeta, talk about breathtakingly sad 😦 i have 3 chapters left though so as i said before NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!

        Anyway i agree with Dave this episode is top 5 not top 3 but it’still amazing!!

  3. Martin Traynor says:

    I think it’s definitely near the end of the first iteration of Chuck the series, and Chuck the character. If the series were a movie trilogy, this would be the climax of the first installment, with Ring being the falling action to close it out.

    Then Season 3 up until Other Guy is part two (I’m thinking original Star Wars here, so Empire Strikes Back). From Honeymooners on is Return of the Jedi (at least to me).

    I’ve been enjoying some Fan Fiction. Dave, you are the Man! Sorry I took so long to start reading, but I’m having a lot of fun.

    Theses are really some great episodes here, and I hate to harp, but season 3.0 and the series finale really do still taint some of the best C/S moments for me…

    Maybe someday they won’t, but I keep watching. In fact, we just watched season 1 again. It’s amazing how easily I forget just how strong a first season it is. It’s a shame it was so short, but season one is incredible on so many levels. So full of hope, potential, some payoff and heart.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all of that Martin. I am glad you’re enjoying some fan fiction!

      • Martin Traynor says:

        I really am, Dave, and I can’t thank you enough for turning me on to it. With less and less fiction to read and no new episodes, I don’t know how you do it. At least I have some good fiction to read yet, but the well’s got to dry up sometime.

        Have you written anything yourself? I’m sure I’d love to read ANYTHING you come up with!

      • atcDave says:

        Well I’m flattered, but no. Writing fiction is not my thing. I was a sounding board for Thinkling’s epilogue, that’s probably the most impact I ever had on a story; but no doubt Thinkling is the author.
        I know I’ve recommended a few to you, but my whole favorites list is very long (at right, under the fan fiction header). It took me a long time to find all of that. There is no doubt new material has slowed way down now. I think many weeks Costas’ latest story is the only new thing I’ll read. Very sad.

        Even this site, I feel like I’ve said about everything I have to say. Between the whole series re-watch we did, my Alternatives series and my Overview posts…. I just don’t feel compelled to add a whole lot more, apart from discussion every week, which I do still enjoy!
        My new stuff now is over at planedave.net, and sadly, I don’t talk much about Chuck and Sarah much there.

      • authorguy says:

        ygbsm just released a new chapter of A Good Man Goes to War, that I was very happy to see. I’m sorry you’re no longer following the nine2five series. I’m into S5 now, trying to shift their focus from spying to family.

  4. Martin Traynor says:

    Oh, and Josh, I thought the same thing when I read the Hunger Games.

  5. atcDave says:

    Okay funny thing. I was just looking over our site traffic for the day (sometimes I do this!) and I noticed someone had gone to a post called “The Colonel”. Uhh? I totally missed this.

    When I put together these links I mostly look at our “Blog Episode Guide” linked from the top header menu. Periodically I’ll also do category searches by season because I know we missed some links on the guide.
    But someone was more energetic than I! They must have searched the title specifically or something; because this post was from back in our site’s early days and had no category or tags. Its just sitting there all by itself. But thanks to some mystery reader I saw it and added it to the above links.

    If any reader does see any other such posts we missed that belong with an episode link, let me know!
    These links posts are about to get a lot more interesting. This site was founded the summer before S3 started. So there will start to be a lot more on each episode, and a lot of “First Impressions” type posts too. And Dave’s Sunday afternoons will get a lot busier…

    • joe says:

      Not too busy, I hope, Dave.
      I gotta admit, I’ve enjoyed reading the old posts again (at least some of them. I cringe when I see one of my old typos).

      I have to apologize for my absence. The ol’ hard drive finally failed – as luck would have it, recent backups existed! But for a while there, I was stealing time on Mrs. Joe’s PC. We’re pretty close to being back to normal, though. So I’ll be catching up!

      • atcDave says:

        Well its good to have you stop by Joe!
        I’ve also enjoyed re-reading a lot of our old stuff. And likewise, some of my really early stuff is a little embarrassing.

  6. I like Thinkling’s comment that we are arriving at the end of the prologue. I have never been to Bartstow, but evidently it is one of the most romantic spots in California. The kiss there at the beginning of the episode, the removal of the intersect, Sarah extending her hand to Chuck at the end, not “for the cover,” heck, even Morgan removing his shirt and quitting the Buy More to Lester’s cry of “You’re free, Morgan. You’re free,” all point to a significant transition. Oh, I also want to add Devon’s awareness that Chuck, Sarah and Casey are spies is a huge event. Of course, as a result it leaves Ellie even more isolated from the truth.

    I keep on thinking I’ll eventually lose interest in this show, and it is true that I don’t re-watch the episodes at the pace I used to, but I still find Chuck thoroughly entertaining. I’m glad you keep on posting these episodes of the week, Dave, even if scale models of World War II airplanes are finding fresher attention from you.

    Russ / resaw

    • atcDave says:

      Hah, yeah well I do still love the show! At this point I don’t have another round of lengthy essays in me, but I enjoy the discussion and it always makes me very happy when new fans find their way to the show and this site.
      Chuck more or less led to a three year hiatus for me from building models. I completely enjoyed the break; I think I enjoyed this site and reading fan fiction even more than the show itself (it was actually shortly after we launched Chuck This that the model building wound down). But yeah, now I’m sort of getting back to my core interests.
      Although I fully expect if a movie ever happens this will become an all consuming passion for another period!

    • noblz says:


      Been to or through Barstow several times on my way to train in the desert with the Army (Ft Irwin, the National Training Center or NTC is near there), even stayed there one night with Mrs Other Dave on our way to San Diego , and I can categorically state that the only thing romantic about that place would be what happens inside a motel room. OBTW, we stayed in a more upscale place than our heroes. Barstow must hold some significance for one of TPTB because they use it twice within a few episodes. Remember, Orion’s little trailer is I think “90 miles east” of Barstow. That would be halfway to Las Vegas.

      • Nice! I guess that for those who live in the greater LA area, Barstow and environs represents the bleakest end of the earth, the natural place where the evil Fulcrum would set up a base, where Orion would hide, and where, since there is apparently absolutely nothing in Barstow to attract one’s attention, Chuck and Sarah would finally yield to the inevitable.

    • anthropocene says:

      I’ve spent plenty of time in and near Barstow in the course of my work in the Mojave Desert. Noblz is right—there’s not much there to recommend except some good Mexican food, but it is a convenient jumping-off point for miles and miles of magnificent desert backcountry.

    • anthropocene says:

      The thing is, though, that Barstow is not so remote (it’s on two major interstates and a transcontinental railroad) nor so sparsely populated that a little thing like an airstrike would go unnoticed….

  7. Wilf says:

    I guess there is some significance in the choice of Barstow. Never been there – I’m British (but can at least say I’ve been to Santa Monica beach) – but I just noticed that in the Sheryl Crow song, Leaving Las Vegas, Barstow is mentioned, as in …

    “Used to be I could drive up to
    Barstow for the night
    Find some crossroad trucker
    To demonstrate his might”

    So I guess it’s known for something, at least!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I think the Chuck writers used to have a favorite set of cities to use when they needed a location. Barstow, Prague and Omaha all were used repeatedly. But Barstow would be familiar to LA residents who drove to either Las Vegas or Lake Havasu.

  8. noblz says:

    This one episode is what makes the Misery Arc ridiculous. From the motel room to “two beds?” to the rehearsal dinner (“this is real”). This episode invalidated everything they did.

    OBTW: this was one excellent episode in all its parts. This actually made my top ten not just my top ten (29).

    • atcDave says:

      Of course I agree with all of that Noblz.

    • joe says:

      Heh! And they invalidated everything so well! 😉

      Noblz, you should write that up in an expanded and detailed form. It’s really clever.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Actually it was next episode that they walked it back with Sarah’s cold feet. Chuck asked her to spend some time together to see what real looked like between them and found out much to his chagrin that it looked like Sarah leaving the next morning with Bryce.

      • noblz says:

        Yes, Ernie, but then they went back to status quo ante when Sarah refuses Bryce and chooses to stay. We’re getting ahead of ourselves. Next week we can deal with that.

    • Ridiculous indeed…i can’t see how they weren’t “on something” when they wrote PS. I’ mean seriously, who in the writers room would right this otherwise; besides JS of course!

    • Wilf says:

      Actually, I don’t think there was anything wrong with PS per se [runs for cover] and, in some ways, I quite like the second half of that episode. More to the point, the problem was that they then saw a need to draw out the consequences of PS for such a ridiculously long period.

      • thinkling says:

        I think the only thing wrong with PS were the LIs. Why, you may ask, since the LIs don’t appear in PS? Well, shining a light back over the first part of S3, the LI shadow is all over PS.

        I think the entire first 13 episodes were crafted around maintaining the wt/wt trope and, by extension, Schwedak’s preferred device for maintaining said trope … the LIs. I mean so cool, right … to have two superman actors step in as LIs for Chuck and Sarah? Wrong!!! Having taken Chuck and Sarah as far as they did in S2, especially Colonel, the only thing that would make LIs remotely believable would be an apocalyptic CRM. They had to destroy the CS relationship to make LIs believable.

        Get rid of the LIs — and everything that set them up and resulted from them — and you get rid of the most repugnant moments of S3.

        I could accept a (shorter) setback. There was plenty of organic, dramatic material without deploying LIs or shredding the CS relationship. They could have made the CS relationship stronger (even without putting them together as a couple — in fact it would make sense to delay that moment some) as they faced even greater challenges presented by the thing that set everything in motion so long ago: the Intersect. This Intersect threatened to turn Chuck into a super assassin. S3 should have been Chuck’s battle against the Intersect … his battle for control over the Intersect. Would he control it, or would it control him? Would Chuck become the Intersect that the project runners wanted and lose himself in the process … or would he prevail and retain his Chuck-ness. If he won the personal battle and fell short of the project’s goal for him, would the government bunker him or kill him? Sarah, with her greater knowledge of the darkness of the spy world, would be very conflicted about what was happening to Chuck and her part in it. She would be terrified for him — for what he might become or for what might happen to him if he didn’t — even as she committed to help him become a good spy without losing himself.

        To me that’s where the organic drama lay, and after hinting at all these dangers, they minimized them in preference for contrived relationship angst and forced LIs. Poor choice IMO.

      • thinkling says:

        I would also add that having Chuck battle the Intersect instead of his own emotions would have made for a much stronger dramatic plot and a much more appealing main character!

      • anthropocene says:

        If the show had gone in THAT direction in S3, maybe we’d be discussing S8 instead of rehashing S3! :-0

      • atcDave says:

        Thinkling and Anthro you know I agree exactly with all of that.
        Although I would add, even without the LIs I probably never would have liked PS. But if the ensuing story had been richer, more adult like you describe, it could have just been one bad episode leading to something great. I love the idea Sarah helping Chuck deal with his moral difficulties, more than just the “training” part of the story; even if it caused short term difficulties for them as a couple.
        Unfortunately, it’s legacy is as you say, it’s just set up for a new round of LIs.

      • noblz says:


        When atcDave did the S3 alternatives thing a while back, my alternatives were as close as possible to what aired just to show that TPTB were close to having a good season if they had just changed a few things (first off no OLIs and a couple of other directional refinements).

        Your idea of Chuck fighting the intersect is a great one. If you recall in 3.02 they planted some seeds that could have led to what you laid out. First, when Sarah asked for a reassignment Beckman told Sarah she would have to protect the World from Chuck (as well as essentially telling Sarah to have a relationship with Chuck). Then there was the scene where Beckman is begging Shaw (his face not shown) to tell the Team because it was just too dangerous (What was too dangerous?). TPTB just dropped this and it was never revisited unless you count the Laudanol episode.

        Your idea would have made a great story and could have launched from what was already in there.

      • thinkling says:

        Dave, I think if PS weren’t the setup for the OLIs, then it wouldn’t have had to be so apocalyptic. The delay of romance could have come organically from the new Intersect paradigm (instead of relationship trauma). There would have been no leaving Sarah with her suitcase on the train platform, hence no angry Sarah or cheese-puff Chuck. They would have moved forward, together (though not as a couple) against a new threat. If that’s how PS had gone, it could have been a really good episode.

      • thinkling says:

        Exactly Noblz. Beckman spelled it out, and Casey confirmed in Tic Tac (Take the Laudanol, Chuck. It’ll make you the Intersect you were always supposed to be.) They hinted at it and then dropped it. It would have been completely in keeping with the ever evolving Intersect plot, and we could have had a more mature CS believing in each other and fighting for each other. Certainly would have appealed to me more than the direction they took it.

      • joe says:

        Strange coincidence. Because of my recent disk-crash, I had to restore my trusty old music database. Couldn’t resist doing a bit of “upgrading”, too.

        Wow – it’s tough for me to see these song titles and not play them. After reading these last few comments, this one struck me as timely as it did the first time Amy introduced us to the song.

      • noblz says:


        Almost anything would have been better than what we got. But I think either having Sarah and Chuck move forward and have Sarah helping Chuck while hiding their relationship (that began at the end of Colonel) from Shaw (my idea)…or…Having CS fight the effects of the Intersect while hiding their relationship from Shaw (No OLIs but keep Shaw as senior agent team trainer because you will need an internal villain trying to change Chuck and we already hate Shaw).

      • noblz says:

        forgot a sentence

        Would have made for a great Season 3.

      • thinkling says:

        Noblz, I have no problem with keeping Shaw … as long as you keep him away from Sarah. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Amen to that!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I found Shaw a problematic character from the beginning in his conception, casting and construction within the show’s universe. He really only worked for one episode for me, First Class, and even that was dodgy. Once he became a villain he worked a lot better.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I actually *mostly* agree with that!

      • Wilf says:

        Actually, if Shaw had turned out to be a villain all along, that would have been a much better story, for me at least. Instead, he was portrayed initially as this top notch, above-everyone-else spy, who, despite that, unbelievably, kept making stupid novice-like mistakes. How ridiculous was that? Now, if the mistakes had been played for laughs, that might have been a different story.

      • atcDave says:

        Buffoon Shaw absolutely could have worked. They were half way there.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        No, buffoon Shaw could not work. That is one of the most problematic elements. Shaw hat to be, conceptually, a super-spy. A super competent ideal spy, someone Chuck was supposed to aspire to be and Sarah was supposed to be drawn to as an ideal partner. But Chuck needed to surpass him as Chuck. I see it as a flawed conception that could never work. It has to diminish one or the other. They never squared that circle.

      • atcDave says:

        Ah that’s better, we completely disagree again!

        Chuck is a comedy. I think the moron from DC that the team has to work around just to survive would have worked just fine. I don’t buy any mandatory connection to Sarah at all, beyond saying she should have recognized him as an idiot from beginning to end. Casey called it in First Class, Shaw is a moron. It was a fatal mistake to ever stray from that judgement.
        It could have worked fine if Chuck was initially dazzled by the CIA biggie who seemed to believe in him. But pretty quickly he should have realized too that Shaw would get them all killed.

        Of course it could have worked too if Shaw was a great spy and a great mentor to Chuck. It could have set up a great clash of wills as Shaw was trying to turn Chuck into the solo assassin type vs Sarah (and possibly Casey) who is trying to protect what she first found so special about him.
        This way could have actually led to some drama when Shaw turns traitor. Especially in the situation where Chuck has to take down a mentor we conceivably cared about to save Sarah.

        But the bottom line is Season Three started as a blank slate. There was never any need for a Shaw character at all. They could have told a million stories, including some far worse than we saw. Apart from Chuck gaining professional standing and Chuck and Sarah growing together I would say no other details matter at all.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Granted, I’m going on the way they went with Shaw as opposed to the possibilities, but the way they went with Shaw, from conception, was problematic. Buffoon Shaw meant buffoon Chuck and buffoon Sarah for following him, which was clearly their concept. Now, where there other ways to go? Sure. But from the introduction of the character it was clear that they had a direction in mind. The season would live or die based on Shaw being the ideal spy for Chuck to aspire to, at least for a time, and for Sarah to respond to as an ideal partner. All the while him being wracked by guilt/grief over the death of his wife. Which was frankly the way they could have made that character work.

        How responsible was he for her death? Did he put her in a place where the CIA was unsure of her loyalty? Did he put her in a place where she was turned? How did he move forward based on that?

      • atcDave says:

        The season went off the rails when they did the love triangles. The irreducible minimum is that those had to go. Shaw the hero or Shaw the buffoon could be made to work.

        For so many of us this show worked when it was Chuck AND Sarah’s story. Their friendship, partnership and romance. Season Three tried to put it all on the back burner and confuse the issue with romantic distractions. The only possible result is a show I don’t want to watch.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        No, I disagree. The decision had been made that Shaw would be the instrument of bothChuck and Sarah’s growth. The success of Shaw at that point made the season totally dependent on him being a successful character. You are still positing on the possible directions, I’m talking specifically on what they did. The love triangles were incidental to making Shaw the plot device that drove both Chuck and Sarah. The two conceptual flaws were that Chuck and Sarah would get together as the climactic moment of the series, which I can both understand and forgive, and that they needed a third party to shake things up, for both Chuck and Sarah. For the entire season.

      • atcDave says:

        I understand that exactly Ernie. What you call incidental is what ruined the season for so many of us. I could imagine delaying Charah until the end of the season working (liking it is a stretch, but accepting is a remote possibility), but the mechanism chosen was completely unacceptable.
        I’m also not so forgiving about the whole decision to delay things. I think that is the moment I lost confidence in our show runners. I won’t recite the whole rant here, but bottom line is I’ve seen so many amateurs put together a better story. I just don’t hold canon in very high regard.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        You’ve seen amateurs with no need to please networks, sponsors or an audience wider than those willing to read them put together better stories. It is not a luxury TPTB had.

        Canon operated in a very specific environment, one that fan fiction seems particularly unforgiving if not unaware at times of.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        Hold on to your hats but I don’t disagree with what Ernie is saying.

        “… making Shaw the plot device that drove both Chuck and Sarah.” THIS could’ve worked.

        However instead we got Sarah being the plot device that drove Chuck and Shaw. It didn’t work so well.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I am not tolerant of excuses for a miserable product. I also don’t believe any of the things I object to were ever mandated on the writers by outside forces. It was a fubar of their own doing. No doubt it was a product of a system that discourages risk taking, but they clearly knew they were taking a huge risk as it is. Just the wrong kind of risk.
        The best I’ll grant them is that they intended to create a good product and failed. But they should have known better for so many reasons.
        I’ll always call that hubris plain and simple. They had just come off a strong, even brilliant stretch, and were so sure of themselves they paid no attention to outside sources.

        CaptM I’ll say the same to you I did to Ernie (that doesn’t happen often!), they should have known better than to do what they did.

  9. Rick Wade says:

    Who writes the blurbs that go with each episode? Someone should tell them that it isn’t “unchartered chemistry” but “uncharted” chemistry.

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