Role Models Recycle – Episode 4.02: Chuck Vs The Suitcase

Written by Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc
Directed by Gail Mancuso

Last season in Chuck Vs The Role Models we were led to believe that Sarah had overcome her commitment issues when she agreed to move in with Chuck. In Suitcase we learn that was a baby step. While Sarah has apparently been able to set up a few pictures on the living room mantelpiece that appears to be the extent of her initial move in. In the following eight months she has been unable to take the next step and unpack the rest of her personal belongings. This is dramatized by the starkly naked image of her half of the bedroom closet.

It would seem that an unwillingness to unpack translates into an Achilles Heel for missions, though what exactly that weakness is, is never made clear. In an episode that postulates a ‘Smart Bullet’ such answers are left to the viewer to decide. Or accept on faith.

Suitcase is an episode where the B Storyline outmatches the A Storyline in every department. Isiah Mustafah as this week’s Greta outmatches the combined talents of Karolina Kurchova, Lou Ferrigno, and a barely present Bronson Pinchot. The BuyMore storyline has Morgan pointing out to Beckman that the government run BuyMore is too efficient. Such a well run retail outlet can only lead to having its cover blown. Morgan’s solution? Bring back the original BuyMore crew. The B storyline was tighter, more believable and arguably a more entertaining one than the ‘Smart Bullet,’ one for the ‘A’ storyline.

Throw in a Chuck that all but wolf whistled at an Intel photo of an enemy agent in a bikini, an overzealous Daddy Devon that marred a long awaited family scene, a Casey reset that has him reluctant to contact Alex, and the character manipulations to service the ‘A’ storyline show up in stark relief. The saving grace between the two storylines was, again, Morgan. A Morgan who notes Sarah’s reluctance to use the closet and at the same time susses out the weakness at the too efficient BuyMore all the while doling out sound relationship advice to Casey. Keep this up and the show should be renamed, ‘Morgan.’

The return of the original BuyMore gang is living proof for two conflicting adages; absence makes the heart grow fonder and some things work better in small doses.

Episode Flashes:
* bullet shot around corner. Cool. Impossible but cool
* Morgan noting Sarah still has not unpacked
* Isiah Mustafah as the next Greta. Funny and cool at the same time
* Milan scenes use same stairway from Chuck Vs The Tango
* ‘Have you been watching Project Runway?’
* Chuck and Sarah nod to upside down SpiderMan kissing scene
* Morgan aping Casey at the BuyMore
* Morgan telling Beckman about the BuyMore flaw – ‘Two minutes. Walk with me.’
* Greta demonstrating his shooting skills with a price gun
* Jeff & Lester living on the lam aka out in the wild a full seven minutes, in traffic, from Burbank; hiding from the, ‘Popo.’
* ‘These are not the boys you are looking for.’
* Jeff’s, ‘I think my water just broke,’ when hit with the first tranq dart.
* Casey emptying the tranq gun clip in disgust into Jeff
* Tranq Gloves!
* Chuck closing door on Sarah with an ILY before taking on the bad guys
* Sarah’s fight through dressing room and out into catwalk
* ‘You’re my home Chuck. You always have been.’
* Ellie looking through photo album.
* Closing shot of Sarah’s reaction look to thoughts of marriage and family Sometimes a closet is just a closet.

Like Chuck Vs The Anniversary the episode wobbles until the second half. When Chuck and Sarah are separated and Chuck tells Sarah he loves her before closing the door to face the bad guys it finally felt like the characters I knew and love had emerged. The scenes following that were all strong from Chuck’s fight against the baddies to Sarah’s catwalk fight to Sarah’s finally, truly moving in to Ellie taking out an old family album to Sarah’s panicked look at Chuck’s statement about possible marriage and family down the road for them.

Much like Role Models, Sarah’s forward progress is all internal. There is no moment in this episode where one can see any growth on Sarah’s part that led to her character evolution. All it seemed to take was Sarah seeing a well stocked closet of another spy. If it were that simple Chuck should have arranged for Sarah to visit such a closet before Sarah moved in.

Stand alone episodes work well if the mission involves or affects the characters in a personal way. Beyond a little closet window shopping there was no such personal involvement. Neither was there any progress made in the search for MamaB. In many ways this episode is the antithesis of the best episodes of Season 3.

In Season 3 a good episode would often end on a dark note. In Suitcase a dubious spy mission storyline is protected by having a strong, upbeat ending. Take your pick. My preference is the former.

If you are looking for an episode that has lots of Chuck and Sarah interplay then Chuck Vs The Suitcase will definitely fill the bill. It is great to see the return of the kick ass Sarah Walker. Too bad the storyline and the opponent do not allow for that return to feel more triumphant and noteworthy.

One final thing to ponder, if Morgan’s statements are so stupid, why is everyone always so shook up by them?

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