No Can Lead to Yes. Review – Episode 3.02: Chuck Vs The Three Words

Written by Ali Adler & Scott Rosenbaum
Directed by Peter Lauer

Carina, ‘Oh my god! Walker. You broke the cardinal rule!’
The Cardinal Rule for spies, of course, being that they do not fall in love.
No suspense this time.
Favorite Episode of the series to date.
No surprise either as fan favorite writer Ali Adler is at the writing wheel this time. She along with co-writer Scott Rosebaum have crafted a snappy and crackling episode. Every instance in this episode is layered.

Chuck Explains The Finer Points of Party Crashing
Chuck Explains The Finer Points of Party Crashing

Carina. Ah Carina. A fan favorite from the first season returns and, as before, she sets Team Bartowski on its collective ears again. This time around we see that Carina and Sarah are friends as they are out clubbing and shooting the breeze. It is an interesting dynamic that Carina can be such a prototypical spy, able to compartmentalize her feelings from the job, and yet so unerringly hone into the emotions of others. A few quick interchanges with Sarah and Carina has already mapped out the emotional landscape between Sarah and Chuck. Understandable that Carina is only a guest star with such an ability.
The spy part of the story deals with Carina’s mark a weapons dealer Stromberg, played effectively by Vinnie Jones. The show continues to show us the more serious tone this season with Stromberg putting down a man with brutal disdain. In the next instant the writers demonstrate the show’s ability to seamlessly shift between genres as he answers a call from Carina in an exchange of pet names of Smooch and Smoochie. This becomes a running gag throughout the episode.
Carina and Stromberg throw an engagement party at Stormberg’s luxurious mansion where an item is being kept that is the reason for Carina’s presence. Under the cover of the party Sarah and Chuck will sneak out and retrieve the item. This leads to two great sequences. One is the laser room that requires Chuck to flash on gymnastic skills to elude the lasers while the other sequence involves ‘Uncle Johnnie.’ With Uncle Johnnie the writers have some fun putting Casey, the man of few grunts, into a public speaking role to buy more time for Chuck and Sarah to retrieve the item. Seeing Casey scrambling to draw out a congratulatory speech is a hoot.
Chuck has been trying to talk to a still angry Sarah to the point of endangering the mission. Seeing this Carina pulls Chuck aside and when Chuck tells her Sarah has been so cold, Carina berates him. ‘You idoit! That is because she is in love with you. Now pull your head out of your ass and focus on the mission.’ Carina may have missed her calling in life. Relationship Consultant, anyone?
Chuck calms down enough to flash but only after Sarah promises him they will talk afterwards. Off Chuck goes and he successfully navigates the laser alarms, retrieves the case, and returns to the doorway. In his eagerness to talk Chuck accidentally sets off the alarm, locking himself in to a rapidly gas filling room. Anyone still worried about the Chuck character changing still?
Sarah rescues Chuck and when she opens the door, Chuck collapses into his arms. But not before he says the three words of the title.
Chuck, ‘Sarah, I love you.’
Back at the Castle, a shaken Sarah asks to be reassigned but General Beckman tells her to suck it up and train Chuck to be a spy. An eavesdropping Chuck is caught by Sarah and she orders him to training. What plays out next is undoubtedly the most romantic scene in the series to date, rife with subtext. The Bo Training Sequence. Or is that beau? Sarah proceeds to lay beating on Chuck telling him to attack her using the Intersect. Chuck refuses, saying he does not want to hurt her. Sarah deftly puts Chuck on his back, stands over him, and fiercely declares, ‘ Don’t worry Chuck. You can’t hurt me.’
Oh Sarah. Yes he can. And has. And in ways you have never experienced before.
All things lead back to Casa Bartowski where a house warming party thrown by Morgan, in an attempt to score with Carina, ends in a standoff with Jones holding Carina hostage. Chuck talks Jones down, after setting Jeff’s infamous Jail Juice on fire as a diversionary tactic. The talk may be directed at Jones but it is really aimed at Sarah.
Things end well, very well in fact, for Morgan as he finds out that saying No actually gets you want in the end. His victory pump slightly beats out the shot of Morgan’s wall of shoes. Outside in the courtyard Chuck cleans up the aftermath of the party and finally he and Sarah talk. The dialogue is deliberately vague but for the first time Chuck and Sarah are on the same page. The hidden subtext is clearly understood. Chuck is resigned to Sarah withdrawing from him for not running away with her and Sarah may not have forgiven Chuck. But she is willing to stay and try to patch things up.
Episode Flashes:

  • Carina slo-mo entrance into the BuyMore
  • Smoosh and Smooshie
  • Morgan channeling Ellie as he helps Chuck dress for his ‘date’ with Sarah
  • Casey’s Uncle Johnnie speech – proof Casey is made of more than grunts.
  • Laser Room – awesome sequence and love the wink Chuck gives Sarah before entering the room.
  • Jail Juice! Jeff’s deadly mix sure to be a new staple of parties going forward.
  • Morgan’s Wall of Shoes
  • The Bo or should that be ‘Beau?’ ‘Training’ Scene – most romantic scene of the series to date.

At this point 3.02 is already a superior episode but the final scene puts this one into the stratosphere. Carina says her goodbyes to Sarah after unsuccessfully trying to lure her to St. Tropez with her. Her final act is a gift for Sarah. A memory stick which has the video from the laser room. On the video Chuck gives an apologetic and regret laden explanation to Sarah why he could not go with her. The dialogue circles all the way back to the second episode of the first season, Chuck Vs The Helicopter, where Sarah asked Chuck if he was willing to sacrifice personal matters for the greater good. Sarah gets her answer and fights back tears as she realizes Chuck’s reasons are indeed heroic.
This is a such a great scene on so many levels. For Sarah we get to see behind her mask as she tears up listening to Chuck. For Chuck the pain and anguish in his voice is plain to hear. Finally for Carina the act of giving Sarah the memory stick brings a depth of character to her we could only speculate on before. We see that not only does Carina have feelings but she really cares for Sarah. A very strong moment that holds multiple threads of poignancy at the same time. Writing does not get much better than this.
A return by Carina is eagerly anticipated. Whenever she does big things happen.

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