She-Ra! Er… She-Male! – Episode 4.09: Chuck Vs Phase 3

Written by Kristin Newman

Directed by Anton Cropper

That’s the power of love!

Many TV series have precious rare moments of alchemy when storyline, series history, character development, writing, acting, directing, music, etc and probably catering too for all that is possible; come together in a rare, magical confluence of energies to create an episode that transcends their normal output. Such episodes become the show’s insignia. Lost fans often refer to, ‘The Constant,’ as such an episode.

Now Chuck has its signature episode; Chuck Vs Phase Three.

And like, ‘The Constant,’ it deals with love and faith and hope and the lengths and strengths that the couples involved will go to and the power they draw from their partnership. In Chuck Vs Phase 3, we see the power of the Chuck and Sarah relationship persevere through its greatest challenge. As is characteristic for the two of them; Chuck fights his battle on a mental landscape while Sarah cuts a swath of chaos on those who are in any way a physical barrier to her finding Chuck.

A defenseless Chuck, Intersect Impotent, kidnapped in the previous episode and whisked away to an undisclosed location takes on a, “Eternal Sunshine Of the Spotless Mind,” battle for his mind. Chuck tries to protect his sanity and his memories as The Belgian, played in a delicious evil Dr. Kildare manner by Richard Chamberlain, and his assistant probe Chuck’s psyche trying to find the mental lever that will turn the trick and cause Chuck to flash.

At the same time, Team Bartowski is scouring the globe in a vain and desperate attempt to find Chuck. And we get to see a Sarah Walker that we have been waiting to see since the series started. Vulnerable, strong, frustrated, worried, fearful, angry; out of control. A little crazed. Or in the understatement of the episode as Beckman put it, ‘On the edge.’ As Casey so insight-fully notes we are seeing glimpses of the Sarah Walker that existed before she met Chuck.

This is a tour de force, brauva performance by Yvonne Strahovski. She must have be so pumped when the script for this episode was handed to her. An actor’s dream script. Never has she had to carry so much of an episode as she does in this one. Not just emotionally but physically as well. Have to imagine Yvonne was drained on both planes by the time this episode finished filming. She excelled at both.

On a visceral level seeing Sarah go on a rampage is a thrilling sight to see. From breaking the rules to torturing a source to butting heads with Casey to cutting a swathe through Thailand – generating a fearsome reputation as the ‘She-Male’ in the process – to besting the best in a pit fight, and to storming The Belgian’s hideout; this was a Sarah as an unstoppable force of nature. (Was I the only one who thought Sarah’s hair style in the beginning made her look like a rampaging Indian Warrior with a headdress on?)

It is the emotional beats that Yvonne carried off that make the lasting impression. She got to play the entire emotional spectrum. Often both sides of the same emotion. Sometimes Sarah was instilling fear. Other times she was experiencing it. The moment in the bedroom where Sarah approaches Chuck’s shirt and hesitates slightly before touching it spoke volumes.

Never has Sarah been so vulnerable. Never has Sarah been so strong. Never has Sarah been so open.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

  • The entire episode! Pick any moment and its golden.

Writer Kristen Newman suffers no sophomore slump here after her first episode, Chuck Vs The Coup D’Etat. She continues to display her grasp of the characters and comedic beats. The dialogue crackles in this one and this is a very quotable episode. All the characters get moments to shine. Casey gets to growl, stand up to Sarah, kibitz with Morgan, and have amusingly interesting glimpses into his character too. The waitress recognition moment at the pit fight was a wonderful comedic touch.

Morgan continues to be the all knowing sage, The Magnet, gets to display his leaping before looking bravery stepping in between Sarah and Casey, and continues to be relationship adviser to Chuck and Sarah. By the end of this episode Morgan has made sure that Chuck and Sarah are on the same page relationship-wise. Morgan is truly a, ‘Connector.’

Kudos for the stunt team and to the editing team as well. The scene where dream and real Sarah bring Chuck back from the precipice of losing himself was beautifully cut together.

Next week, Frost and Volkoff return. For Thanksgiving leftovers no less. How will this all play out and how will Ellie and the Roark laptop play out? Next episode, ‘Chuck Vs The Leftovers,’ should provide some answers.

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