Written by Kristin Newman
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeil
Everyone brings their own set of expectations to the things they indulge in during their leisure time. Even within a shared experience such as a TV show those expectations can vary widely. Even one as telegraphed as Chuck. So when I sit back, watch an episode that operates heavily in the areas which are not in my preferred pleasure zones and still come away with a big, sloppy grin on my ugly mug, it can only mean one thing; an exceptional episode.
Rookie Chuck writer, Kristen Newman of, ‘That 70’s Show,’ and ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ background experience serves up a goldmine episode of character nugget rich moments. She displays a flair for the comedic with layered dialogue that leads, more often than not, from a character moment to another or even a scene transition in a skilled and seamless matter.
One of my favorite beats is when Chuck is talking relationships, Sarah is talking mission, Chuck flashes on one of Sarah’s intel pictures of the Costa Gravas nuclear weapons panel, Chuck switches to talking mission and nuclear, and Sarah switches to relationship talk using the nuclear comment as her jumping off point before Chuck brings them both back in synch and talking about the mission.
Funny. Clever. Witty. Seamless. An awesome bit of writing.
Kristen gives each of the regular cast and the main guest stars great lines and beats to play. Armand Assante returns with zest and vigor and Tia Texada as his embittered spouse matches him beat for beat. Casey and Morgan continue to explore their relationship now becoming even more complicated and filled with even more comedic potential with the return Casey’s long lost daughter, Alex. Mekanna Melvin makes a fetching return as Alex, made all the more so awesome that there is definite on screen chemistry between her and Josh Gomez’s Morgan Grimes.
Morgan was back on track character wise after being somewhat sublimated in the last episode to facilitate the return of Big Mike. He channeled the audience’s exasperation with Chuck and Sarah’s communication issues, indirectly led to the closing scene with Sarah telling a ‘sleeping’ Chuck what her answer would be to the big question via the seemingly ill advised selfhelp relationship book , kivitzed with Casey, was wise and emboldened enough by Alex to follow Big Mike’s advice, and went for the jam in his soul.
All this, and while we are all eager to see Casey and Morgan interaction, the little bearded one is not just entering into in-law situations with not just one powerful father figure, but two! Morgan navigating stormy patriarchal seas of not only Casey but Big Mike as well. Plus being in a romance. Plus managing a BuyMore. Plus being a spy! And we thought Chuck was doing a big juggling act back in the Season One and Two days. Talk about a busy guy!
The Chuck and Sarah dynamics were a lot of fun this week too. Especially as we got to see them played off of Ellie and Devon, the Communication All-Stars. From the awkward faux proposal opening to the still awkward surveillance van scene to the bikini decision and various types of communication scene to their shared fight scene right on to the final bedroom scene; each them of them, like real partners, had individual and shared moments to shine as they worked on being better communicators.
Episode Flashes: – an embarrasment of riches in this episode, more than I can list
- The real Morgan is back this week! Yippee!
- Morgan channeling audience on Chuck & Sarah being crap communicators while being the masters of precious looks
- Morgan nailing the heart of the awkward faux engagement – how would Chuck have reacted if Sarah had said yes
- Devon talking to baby and sharing his fab workout jams
- wheelchair Casey in Castle for ‘fresh air’
- Beckman back to monitor status – Boo!
- Beckman’s – ‘Anyone who was not shot recently.’
- Generalissmo’s hilarious Costa Gravas travelogue video
- Smooth product placement via Devon and Goya
- Bikinis &’Yes. That. Both….all of them.’ & ‘There are many ways to communicate.’
- Morgan trying to take care of Casey.
- ‘Dad.’ ‘Daughter.’ ‘Morgan, how’d the pot roast turn out?’
- Roman Holiday movie
- ‘Grimes, give her a five minute head start.’
- Chuck’s cuddling needs versus Sarah’s needs for thirty minutes of silence.
- Awesome’s awesome smile at seeing his statue
- Generalissimo’s wife, Hortencia
- Generalissimo’s senses immediately picking up on the fragrance of a ripe fruit aka Ellie’s pregnancy
- ‘Way to go, marble me!’
- ‘Follow the stink of commie.’
- Tall and brunette versus charming and handsome. Sarah and Chuck characters captured in dialogue.
- Red door. ‘Get me out of here!’
- Alex & Morgan movie marathons
- Big Mike on Casey, ‘That’s not a daddy you want to be giving you a spanking.’
- Chuck shaking his head no but saying yes to Sarah’s question about the 101 Questions book
- Costa Gravas = Chuck and Sarah = nuclear
- General Beckman’s – ‘Costa Gravas is nuclear!’
- Casey nailing the full scope of those involved with the Coup
- a red polka dotted, laser sighted Casey proclaiming, ‘Cute. Too bad you didn’t bring enough.’
- ‘The stench of tyranny.’
- Big Mike talking the goods to Morgan about love via Bolognia singing like the happiest bird in the sky to knowing about being with the right one because you feel the sweet, smooth jams rise up from your soul
- ‘What rebel leader goes to a marriage counsellor?’
- Alex and Morgan!
- Sarah talking to Chuck in his ‘sleep.’ Best of all it is left open to our interpretation. Was Chuck awake or asleep? Either scenario works for me. And works well.
Quibbles? Sure, but most of them are based on the way the season is being handled.
For this episode, the first half was stronger than the second. The resolution was cribbed far too much from 3.02 – Chuck Vs The Three Words where Chuck talked down Carina’s supposed boyfriend in a similar manner. It was great to see Chuck tell Ellie about his quest to find their mother but a continuing disappointment that he is hiding his spy life from Ellie. At least Chuck is dropping hints to Ellie. It irks me though to see the show continually under use Sarah Lancaster as Ellie. The actress and the character deserve better. I do not see the purpose or plus side to keeping both of them on a short leash. They unleashed Morgan and look what happened. Why not do the same for Ellie?
Three episodes in a row where the Chuck and Sarah relationship shaped the mission. With the exceptions of the Cubic Z and the Anniversary there has been a paucity of tension and drama to the episodes. When an episode is a good as the Coup D’etat I can forego that requirement.
Really enjoyed this episode and hope for those of you who are into the show for primarily for the relationship are happy with the season to this point. Let me know in the comments section where you want to see the emphasis placed on the future direction of the show. Do you want the focus to continue to be on the relationship? Or would you like to see the spy mythology and MamaB storyline start to rev up?
I barely mentioned how awesome Casey and Awesome were this episode too. Another sign of a great episode.