After three consecutive episodes of Chuck and Sarah relationship hand holding, and BuyMore resetting, the show returned to the spy story with The Couch Lock. In a big way too. This episode did so many things right that it made me giddy with joy.
In model, ‘Show don’t tell,’ manner, this episode dramatized Chuck’s realization that his quest to find his mother is putting his immediate loved ones in mortal danger. Casey, Morgan, and Sarah were placed in harm’s way as a direct result of what Chuck set in motion. By using the supporting players to show this it is a win, win situation. Not only do we get to share with Chuck the experience of what he has caused to happen but Casey and Morgan get to grow as characters, interact with the leads more, and play off one another in both dramatic and humorous ways.
Why was this all possible? Because the episode had a solid story foundation to work from. The longevity of a series comes down to its characters. The strength of individual episodes come down to how strong the story engine is. With Chuck being a spy based show that equates to having solid missions. Those missions work even better when an emotional connection can be forged between it and the cast. The more characters with personal stakes in the mission the better. With Couch Lock the initial emotional hooks are with Casey and his former A-Team members. This one works even better because it ties in to the season arc for MamaB, Morgan’s relationship with Casey and his daughter Alex, and the aforementioned Chuck episode arc of weighing the cost of the end goal versus the means he is using to get there.
With all that to work with the episode becomes a gold mine of character beats, action set pieces, comedy, heart felt moments, and just plain old fun. Riffing off of the A-Team, Charade, Weekend At Bernie’s, and Entrapment to name a few there was very much to like about this one. This episode also makes the best use of Jeff and Lester since Dream Job and the American Hero where their unknowing participation in the spy storyline is seamless and as a result very funny. Another sign of a good episode is when the BuyMore supports the main storyline instead of detracting from it.
Episode Flashes: – so much to pick from this week! Too much. Add your own in the comments.
* The Casey A-Team: Packard, T.I., MacIntosh,
* Clinton and his mouthy wife
* Casey smelling Jeff & Lester
* ‘White Zin. Magic of the Gathering, If you have the manna.’ Jeff &Lester riffing
* Morgan with Alex while staying under Casey’s radar at the BuyMore
* great to see Chuck and Morgan talking openly at the BuyMore
* ‘You know. The A-Team.’ ‘I was the A-Team.’
* ‘Casey. We have to kill you.’
* Sarah’s look of pride at Chuck’s plan to draw out the A-Team
* Chuck’s discomfort with Beckman congratulating him on putting duty above emotion
* ‘Little alone time before I die. Pay some bills.’
* Morgan’s ‘mish’ callback quickly dismissed by Chuck
* Casey ‘Charade’ funeral scene done to Oingo Boingo’s – ‘Dead Man’s Party’
* Casey freaking out Morgan when he opens his eyes
* Casey being stuck with American Flag pin and lit cigar
* ‘Forgiveness. Big gun loving. Commie hating. Forgiveness.’ Morgan’s hilarious eulogy.
* A-Team stealing of Casey from church
* Casey’s tracker on cat. Chuck’s frantic, ‘Don’t shoot it,’ to tactical squad
* Casey ordering his feet to move
* Jeff and Lester knowing the exact dumpster Casey is in.
* Red Batphone at the BuyMore!
* ‘Strait laced ones.’ ‘Every one likes to get their freak on.’ ‘Sometimes I like to feel official too.’
* ‘You don’t say uh-oh!’
* Snarky Sarah – ‘You could have told me that before I crawled under those lasers.’ – should have been a hommage to Entrapment there though
* Casey couch locked with a StormTroopers helmet to boot
* Morgan getting Alex out of harm’s way.
* Alex, like her father, prefers to be direct.
* Sarah’s, ‘Getting bored,’ to Chuck.
* Morgan trying to break Casey’s couch lock by slapping him, ‘Like slapping a car!’
* Morgan breaking Casey’s couch lock by telling him about Alex – great Casey reaction shots and loved the use of Russian themed music during this sequence
* ‘Frost is our boss.’ Volkoff’s right hand clean up specialist.
* Casey and Morgan at the Iranian bunker door. Morgan with a battery hand-held fan.
* ‘That’s 3 to 1 Casey!’ ‘Just the way I like it.’
* Holy Goldfinger!
* ‘Let there be darkness!
* ‘Is that a little girl?’
* Name: Morgan. Expertise: None.
* Morgan waking up to Sarah
* ‘I died?’ ‘Yeah. Just for 3 secs.’
* ‘We wake up in some of the best dumpsters in the city.’
* Morgan party invitation to Casey made up like a top secret document.
* Casey covering for Morgan with Alex
* Alex to Morgan, ‘You are brave.’
* ‘Break her heart, I break your everything.’
* Chuck and Sarah fountain scene. Chuck deciding to give up search for MamaB as price is too high.
* MamaB calling Chuck.
With the exception of Big Mike, everyone puts in an appearance and none of it felt contrived. Especially nice was the family gathering at Morgan’s party. Adam Baldwin really demonstrated a lot of acting range with even more minimal body movement because of his Weekend At Bernie’s Couch Lockdown. The eye emotings he did, mostly with Morgan, were hilarious. But really the episode belonged to Morgan as he ‘died’ for three seconds and proved to Casey that he is indeed a good guy. Casey and Morgan scenes are gold and this episode gave us twenty-four carat ones. Morgan and Alex continued to show their chemistry from the previous episode was no fluke. Also very refreshing to see Alex being very open and direct in her talks with Morgan.
For an episode that had so many of Zac Levi’s real life friends such as Joel David Moore and Eric Roberts in it, it was unfortunate that Chuck and Sarah were somewhat subordinate in the episode. All to the good mind you because that is what the story called for. It has been awhile since the Chuck that I really liked so much as a character has had a chance to come out but he did this episode. He learned a lesson and was willing to give up the search for his mother. Great to see his priorities back in proper order.
Fortunately, for dramatic purposes, Chuck’s activities have caught Volkoff’s attention and, no doubt, prompted him to bring in his cleaner. MamaB.