Canine Consternation Ep. 4.15 – Chuck Vs The C.A.T. Squad

Written by Nicholas Wootton

Directed by Paul Marks
Some folks like chocolate,
I’ll take vanilla.
I say baseball over football.
And to me,
Man’s best friend doesn’t bark or fetch a ball.
See, personally, I like C.A.T.S.

With that coda sprung from Morgan’s ever overactive pop cultured imagination an explanation was provided why I consider this one of the weaker entries this season.

I am a dog person.

On paper the idea of an episode where Sarah is re-united with former team mates with the added bonus of one of them being Carina scans like a recipe for a fantastic episode. Especially with the history between Carina and Morgan, who is now in a full blown relationship with Alex. Much like last year’s Role Models, the execution was not up to the concept.

The episode gets off to a good start with a fun Charlie’s Angels montage of the C.A.T. Squad punctuated by a cat claws swipe at the end. This is followed out by a Girl’s Night Out that starts with the C.A.T.s literally dropping in and swooping Sarah away. The next day’s scenes with a hungover Sarah and Carina in bed with Morgan are also fun. This makes for an enjoyable first half of the episode but once again an underwhelming and totally predictable spy story filled with a succession of contrivances have the episode limping to the finish line.

Neither Chuck or Sarah fare well in this episode. Both are victims of being manipulated to service the plot because the thrust of the episode is predicated upon one of them acting unilaterally for the the both of them. Again. Good intentions aside, Chuck and Sarah have already seen the consequences of making decisions on their own without discussing them first.

What makes this device more problematic is that it used to create false drama sacrificing character likability in the process. Sarah publicly berating Chuck in front of a group of peers was not pleasant the first time in Fear of Death and is no more so this time. Especially since there is no follow through. If such a confrontation leads to relationship growth between the two of them so that they agree to discuss such decisions beforehand and take their issues behind closed doors then the relationship fights serve a purpose. If the fights are used to create melodrama because there is no followup then it diminishes the characters. Sarah’s outbursts hurt her character as does continuing acceptance of verbal abuse and making apologies hurts Chuck’s.

Chuck and Sarah having arguments can be quite entertaining. If they are used properly. Doing it for fun and relationship growth is fine. Using it to generate false drama is not enjoyable.

Turning to the spy story, any time the climax of a spy story is going to take place in the Castle and BuyMore the chances of contrivances appearing to resolve said spy conflict climb noticeably. From the moment Chuck touches the skylight and falls through and on, the amount of hand waving needed to accept all the contrivances made me feel like I was miming a hummingbird. My litmus test for contrivance threshold is if Casey falls prey to it too. With Casey literally taking a powder in the Castle that threshold was exceeded.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

  • Morgan’s Charlie’s Angels/C.A.T. Squad montage
  • Engagement Invitation listing Chuck first
  • Morgan has Carina’s contact info
  • C.A.T.’s drop in for a Girl’s Night Out
  • hung over Sarah
  • Morgan’s double take of a naked Carina
  • Sarah’s ‘Old Hen’ friends
  • Bye, bye Porsche!
  • The Gentle Hand
  • Casey not buying Morgan’s assertion that Carina is hitting on him
  • Casey telling Chuck he has put his past with Kathleen behind him
  • Where does Sarah hide those knives?
  • Amy as muscle
  • Chuck using broken CDs as Ninja stars. Cool and clever!
  • Machine guns under pink tafetta
  • Ellie is the Maid of Honor!
  • Sarah and Ellie scenes! So long overdue.
The C.A.T.s Together Again

Morgan and Carina had some fun scenes together but that storyline fizzled out at the lipstick on the collar gambit. That storyline did set up a nice beat where Alex waved off Carina’s intended apology because Morgan had verbally expressed his love to her.

The actresses cast for Zondra and Amy were well chosen. Zondra and Sarah had some good confrontational scenes which were somewhat undermined by a rather pedestrian fight scene. Probably a casualty of time pressures.

Without a doubt the highlight of the episode was the long, long overdue scenes between Sarah and Ellie. Both are played by great actresses and for the show not to have taken far greater opportunities of the two of them together is perplexing. Things are looking up though as their conversations have set up a storyline where the two of should be spending some time together in future episodes. Also heartening in this episode was the scene between Casey and Chuck in the van. This was a seed planting scene that hopefully will get some payoff for the Casey, Alex and Kathleen dynamic down the road. Great to see the show doing this as it does not happen very often.

Will subsequent episodes continue to have Chuck and Sarah making decisions for each other without talking to one another first? Hopefully with this episode that plot contrivance has been declawed.

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