Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Santa Suit (5.07)

NBC Synopsis:  Chuck and Sarah learn who is trying to destroy Carmichael Industries; Ellie’s Christmas plans come undone; a computer virus threatens to ruin Christmas at Buy More.

Chuck This Ranking: 36
Dave’s Ranking: A little lower

First Impressions: 5.07: Chuck vs The Santa Suit – First Impressions

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs The Santa Suit (5.07) by Dave and Joe
The 12 Days of Chuckmas – Chuck vs The Santa Suit by 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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23 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Santa Suit (5.07)

  1. Justin says:

    Some of this episode was pretty dark for Chuck. I’m talking about Shaw’s torture of Sarah. It was hard to watch and made me want to watch Shaw suffer more than he did by Chuck’s and Ellie’s hand. Shaw being the one behind the conspiracy made sense but I would have preferred a new villain. I mention Quinn would have been my choice back then.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I agree with most of that Justin. I can “accept” how most of this episode went, including torture of Sarah, but it will never be a favorite.

  2. Martin Traynor says:

    Agreed with the part about Sarah. Just painful to watch, especially considering that I, for one, was hoping for a baby Chuck at some point BEFORE the series ended (or at least one in the oven, so to speak). Shaw just pummels her here repeatedly, plus the hypothermia can’t do her any good, either. Brutal is the word I think of when I reflect on this episode.

    I know much has been said in previous threads about the end, when Chuck stays with Ellie rather than race to Sarah’s aid. It really bugs me, even though I tell myself (and almost believe it) that Chuck was probably just trusting in Morgan and Casey to get/save her (perhaps the only two people with whom he could/would trust the person who is most precious to him, after all). But it still really, really bugs me that he doesn’t race after her.

    There were some fun moments, like Chuck as Santa and that steamy kiss with Beckman (she knows she loved it!), but overall, I’m not too satisfied with how CHUCK the show handled Christmas through the years, and this is another example of that.

    Now, Shaw as THE big bad of this little conspiracy didn’t work for me. I know this has been said before as well, but there is no way that given the tech out there to REMOVE the intersect from Chuck so many times (three?), that there is ANY REASON Shaw should have been imprisoned still sporting this year’s highest tech fashion accessory. Ridiculous is all I say to that.

    Looking forward to v. Baby and the baby “scare” in v. Kept Man, but not much else left this season to relish…that immediately comes to mind, that is…

    • atcDave says:

      You bring up two really good points Martin; I also would have really liked ending the show with a Baby B. And the whole chatting with Ellie thing really bothers me, that’s the single biggest demerit for how I rank this episode.

      • anthropocene says:

        I would have liked to see the test come out positive in “Kept Man,” and then to see what happened in some subsequent FF stories: the memory-wiped Sarah realizes she’s pregnant, and that shock contributes to her recall and her return to Chuck by series’ end.

      • atcDave says:

        Of course I have no doubt some fan fiction writers could turn that into a true horror story too!

        But yeah, I think that would have been a very positive (!) twist. Although I think Chuck would have had to say more at the end of 5.12.

  3. oldresorter says:

    episode was a missed opportunity. It had the structure of becoming a classic Chuck episode. The setting was such that any number of bones could have been thrown to the long term fans, especially given the writing was on the wall that the show was in it’s final season. Instead, the episode seemed widely inappropriate to me, with slap stick humor in the B plot (or was it the A plot), along with morose violence in the other plot.

    Dave when I say I miss the first three season’s writing team, I want to explain myself better. I love, love, love the big picture notion of the last 2 1/2 seasons, with Chuck and Sarah together. Even the ending on the beach, as un-fulfilling as it was for me, they were together, more or less. What I miss was the razor sharp wit from the first 2 seasons, the writing the generated the chemisty, what I thought was much more ‘love’ for the two lead characters, and a base line understanding of how those two characters act, think and feel in a manner that made fans love them and their story. This ep’s story was not one to love regarding Chuck and Sarah, either collectively or individually, for a variety of reasons, not just one.

    Again, s1-s3 writers had to write a story around the wt/wt, while s3-s5 got to write around the love story. My POV, is I would love to see the same writing team tackle the same white board begin and end pts in each ep of the final 2 1/2 seasons. I think the old team would have filled in the show time with sharper lines and more fulfilling stories, even if each one started and ended identically.

    • atcDave says:

      I really think most of the difference in writing relates to the budget issues; they reduced the time for each episode and the number of writers available. I think that impacted the polish and continuity.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      They lost one staff writer position and a day of production time in addition to the budget cuts. I sometimes wonder why they agreed, well not really, but I wonder if they would have if they knew that they would be making another 56 episodes under those conditions as opposed to the 13 NBC told them they’d get.

      The biggest change in actual writing staff came between season 3 and 4. By the end Chris Fedak was the only writer from the original team. The writers they picked up were mostly very good, but in general less experienced.

      Other things that I noticed in later seasons is that production values on the newer or temporary sets had dropped and they didn’t shoot on location nearly as much as they had in season 2. Both of which made the show feel smaller and less real than it had to me in season 2.

      • atcDave says:

        I would agree exactly on the production values; although one advantage of the adventure/comedy format is that certain things (Swiss cable car, Japanese bullet train) could just be played for laughs for their pure cheesiness.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Indeed, The Rule of Cool was employed to maximum effect in the later seasons.

      • oldresorter says:

        I don’t doubt the new writers were good, heck maybe even better, but I’m more pointing out different. I think there is a ‘way’ certain writers craft stories. With yet another reboot coming, I can’t help but think of the Gilmore Girls, which was written with razer sharp wit. west wing comes to mind as a another. This team had more a That 70’s show (which one of the writers wrote for it) feel to it, more hi jinx, less deep double entendre type lines. And the first team seemed to have a knack for tossing out a shipper bone at the right time.

        Ernie, do you watch Limitless? I thought of you or let’s say of a show you watched the other night when watching limitless, Wonder Falls. The kind of off beat lead character narrative used reminded me of Wonder Falls. I wouldn’t want every show to do it, but it seems to work in Limitless.

        I found the end of the XFIles to be awful. I suppose they knew they were getting more eps. Good news for rebooting Chuck I suppose, as 24 hasn’t quite died and now it looks like XFiles isn’t either. I don’t watch the new hero’s, is it going to make it or get cancelled?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I do not watch Limitless, but I understand your point about writers style. And yes Aaron Sorkin has a very distinctive one as did Schwedak. Once Josh Schwartz stepped back after season 3 and Fedak became the primary show runner the style did change a bit. That plus the new writers it was bound to. Even Schwartz and Fedak have commented on the halcyon days of season 2 when they had money and time. So all things considered would I have preferred the show was produced with the season 2 staff and resources for it’s entire run? Sure. Maybe. But I prefer getting all 5 seasons to the real alternative. And we got some exceptional episodes from the newcomers like LeFrank and Judkins or Kristin Newman.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll split the difference. Of course I would have loved to keep the budget and resources from S2; but I would not have wanted back the original writers. They did some good work, but the style NEEDED to change (grow) and I’m not confident the original staff was up for what was needed.

      • garnetflint says:

        Last I heard Heros Reborn was “ending after one season” which sounds like spin for cancelled to me.
        Shaw as the big bad would seem to suggest that he was a baddie from the start (if we accept that Quinn was the intended original host) and that I have a hard time swallowing.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        True, new writers who saw the characters in a fresh perspective, or as fans of the show first, did add some new nuances to them and the writing. I always look at the opening episodes of season 4 as having retroactively fixed some problematic aspects of season 3.

  4. In the miscellaneous comments category concerning this episode: Near the beginning of the show, the prison in which Shaw is held is called Clarksville Penitentiary. Whether intentional or not, I was reminded of the old Monkees song, Last Train to Clarksville. If Shaw was returned to that same prison at the end, I suppose that song title might actually be quite appropriate for him.

    I seldom agree with Shaw’s perspective, but I’m glad he called Decker a “slug.” Truly one of the more odious characters in the list of bad guys on Chuck.

    The newscast when they were all gathered around and before the Christmas party, there was a funny line about other news, about “a dog that barks like a duck.” Sometimes the writers just want to have some fun.

    If the series was about Chuck’s “hero’s journey,” that was often easy to forget as Sarah’s journey often felt the more compelling. Or perhaps one could speak of a a joint journey that both Chuck and Sarah were on. However, this episode was a reminder to me that the show is called “Chuck,” not “Chuck and Sarah,” as much as I would wish it were otherwise. There are occasional Sarah-centric stories, and Baby is surely one of them, but as we approach the end of the series, Sarah’s journey is effectively wiped out and Chuck’s journey is fully realized when the underachieving man who depended on Sarah becomes the fully-realized man upon whom Sarah must put her trust. Perhaps this paragraph is a few weeks too soon, but I haven’t watched the rebooted X-Files, Limitless or Heroes Reborn, so I didn’t have much else to say.

  5. noblz says:

    Got a new computer. Took a while to get everything right.

    This is a good, solid episode. Not in my top 10(29) but probably in the 40’s for me.

    Did not care for the Sarah torture but there were some very good things in here. The Chuck/Beckman scenes were good. Chuck triumphs without the Intersect. I also like the near Adorable Psycho moment when Chuck tells Sarah that Beckman kissed him. Beckman almost expects Sarah to blow-up as if she’s seen it before.

    The cliffhanger at the end was pretty good. This was good despite the “serial show killer” Shaw. Watching him getting kicked around is always a plus.

  6. noblz says:

    I’ve been watching Limitless and it is very Chuck-like, to me. He has a pill and an evil force (Sen Morra) and he’s handled by the FBI, but the set-up is very close to Chuck’s set-up.

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