Season/Stand Alone Schism – Episode 4.13: Chuck Vs The Push Mix

Written by Lauren LeFranc & Rafe Judkins

Directed by Peter Lauer

Set up in the second episode of the season, Chuck Vs The Suitcase, the show finally caught up to the audience and gave them the Chuck and Sarah engagement. Waiting for eleven episodes was a test in patience, and story pacing, especially after the multiple aborted attempts in Chuck Vs The Balcony. Fortunately when the proposal came it was shot from a distance. No further words were needed because they had all been said before. Much like the pull away shot on the Mexican Beach at the end of The Shawshank Redemption, when Red finally tracks down Andy Dufresne, some things can be conveyed as eloquently by visuals alone. Sarah’s embrace made it quite clear what her answer was.

Viewed as a stand alone episode, Chuck Vs The Push Mix was lot of fun. Chuck finally was released from his season long shackles and made a stand. Using his long dormant wits Chuck manuevered Volkoff to the Orion cabin. Here Chuck fittingly used his father’s, aka Orion, tech in conjunction with his brains to bring Volkoff down. No Intersect needed, thank you very much. Showrunner Josh Schwartz trumpeted that the last ten minutes of this episode were the best ten minutes ever done in the series. For my money I will take the showdown sequence in the Orion cabin between Chuck and Volkoff as being more entertaining. But even that sequence would not constitute the best ten minutes of Chuck ever.

Chuck and Morgan had a lot of great scenes from the arming themselves at the Castle with office supplies so they could map out their strategy, to the torture bathroom from hell scenes where the first go around they grabbed the wrong guy, to the scuba suit scenes where Morgan flopped around in his flippers and learned to his chagrin that he should have worn clothes underneath, and to the Morgan laser room scene – even if it was recycled from before and went on a bit too long.

Timothy Dalton as Volkoff continued to delight. His need to talk to MamaB after feeling down about fatally dealing with an unsatisfactory employee and his having an ice cream cone aboard the Contessa was great stuff. Volkoff’s mania and scenery chewing, threat menacing ability shone brightly in the Orion cabin. His ego swagger was great to see quashed when it dawned on him that Chuck had outsmarted him. Chuck duping Volkoff into giving up the password to his Hydra data base was a sweet moment indeed.

MamaB and Sarah had their moments but this was really Chuck’s episode. It was great to see Alex again even though she did not have much to do. Casey gave Awesome some sage words on advice on about being there for Ellie as Clara’s birth became imminent. It was a hoot to see Awesome fall apart when his meticulously planned going into baby hospital run failed out of the gate because the Push Mix CD was missing.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

  • ‘That is a Casey grunt!’
  • Data Flash! Yay!
  • CGI Robot Spy. I’m having a Johnny Quest flashback!
  • Volkoff iPhone pic! LOL
  • The Contessa is ……
  • Chuck makes a stand. Finally!
  • Office supplies = Chuck plan time.
  • Orion is alive? !?!?!?
  • Chuck makes Ellie’s Push Mix
  • Ellie’s placenta made into vitamin pills? Eww! How are we going to unhear that?
  • CIA Hotline 800-555-0149 – for use in Push Mix Loss Emergencies only
  • Chuck and Morgan snatching the wrong guy
  • …… a ship! Bought on Craigslist Dubai. A floating fortress of fun complete with ice cream parlour
  • Morgan with flippers = Yoga Seal – new branch of the Marines perhaps?
  • Sarah’s coat fits Morgan fine despite his worry about his broad shoulders
  • Devon’s Awesome Baby Run Plan falls about without Push Mix. Plan B = CIA Hotline!
  • ‘Death is a solution to all problems.’ Volkoff quotes his favorite poet and humanitarian.
  • ‘No one touches my Frost!’
  • Chuck(Orion) / Volkoff showdown in the Orion cabin
  • Chuck outsmarts Volkoff
  • Clara Woodcombe is born!
  • Chuck proposes
  • Sarah accepts
  • Power Sweeper brushes away all the season arc dangling and unresolved story lines.
Chuck Plays On Volkoff’s Pride

Turning to the seasonal arc, Chuck Vs the Push Mix, addressed none of the carry forward items. This blunts the payoffs of the season arc. MamaB and Volkoff’s motivations are never clear so there was never any sense of real danger during this arc. Part of the problem also there is no clear story device of tension pushing the main characters. In the first two seasons there was always the threat of Chuck being bunkered. The third season had the tension of Chuck literally losing himself to become a spy. This season the main driving force is Chuck finding a moment to propose to Sarah. Enjoyable for the characters but hardly the story line to place all the marbles on for driving tension.

Given the track record of the past three seasons, and as painful as it is for a big fan of serialized storytelling as myself to suggest, the show would do better to switch its focus to stand alone episodes. Or very short story arcs of two to three episodes. The power sweeper in the last shot gave me an unexpected chuckle. Look! There goes all the unresolved season story threads! The inability to hold and satisfactorily answer story threads of longer arcs this season, and previous ones, offer ample evidence that a switch in story telling gears should be tried.

Chuck Vs the Push Mix offers a lot of entertainment as a stand alone episode. Many great moments as we have come to expect from this fantastic cast spiced up by the superlative work of Timothy Dalton and Linda Hamilton.

It bears repeating. The episode ended with the perfect proposal scene.

Tangled and Dangled. – Episode 4.12: Chuck Vs The Gobbler

Written by Craig DiGregorio
Directed by Milan Cheylon

In media res‘ beginnings to an episode used to be all the vogue back in the day as they say. Check out spy show Alias for textbook examples. Nothing niftier than opening an episode with an intense action sequence that stops with a decisive moment only to fade to black. A cliffhanger to start things off! What a great way to lure a viewer in! Cool, right?

Not really. The problem with such a story telling device is that it starts an episode with something that is all furious motion with no context. In media res story starts are a gimmick that should make a viewer wary because they either start or end with a disclaimer that a whole bunch of story needs to happen before the context and payoff for the opening scene is realized. In Chuck Vs The Gobbler the fight between Sarah and Casey ends with a fade to black and a title card telling us we are jumping back to two days earlier.(Which over the course of the episode raises eyebrows about the amount of shuttling back and forth from Russia, Sarah is able to do in a two day period.)

When in media res is used it is a lock that after the time jump a lot of setup is about to be dumped on the viewer. If written and paced well we are shown as much as possible the events that lead up to that sneek peek scene. More often than not in media res is used because there is too much setup to show and the viewer has to wade through a lot of exposition before the show gains any traction. So it is no surprise when all the scenes up to Sarah’s arrival at Volkoff’s headquarters just before the title cards are about bringing the viewer up to speed.

So instead of being shown anything about Sarah building up on her cover as a rogue CIA agent we are told by Morgan and Casey. We are also told about Chuck’s mental state and the fears he has about how Sarah being a double agent is placing her in danger. Quite a leap in the lead couple’s mental and emotional mind sets since the end of the previous episode where Chuck and Sarah were in total proposal mode. So the info dump start of the Gobbler makes it cumbersome for the viewer to make the jump and connect emotionally with the current situation. As much as I enjoyed the previous episode, Chuck Vs The Balcony, it may have been advisable to use the back half of that episode to set up the Sarah Double Agent story for the Gobbler. This would have kept the viewers in synch with the story being told in the Gobbler.

The other burden the Gobbler carries is that the reasons why Mama B has been on a twenty year mission desparately need to be addressed – not to mention all the other dangling story line threads such as the PSP and laptop – in a plausible way. Does the Gobbler do that? Mileages will vary but not by a long shot in my book. With one episode left in the Volkoff/Mama B arc, the Mauser Mop – which first appeared in Season Two to brush aside Chuck’s issues about Sarah gunning down an unarmed opponent – looms large to make an unwelcome reappearance to once again sweep under the rug all the unresolved tangled storylines of Season Four. Gobbler offers up some possibilities of some answers only. The Hydra database could be the start but there are many more questions to be answered. Will Chuck Vs The Push Mix be up to that task? We will find out next Monday.

Top Dogs

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

  • Morgan work shopping his tough guy voice
  • Evil Sarah!
  • Volkoff into poetry, painting – puppy dog!, and the art of massage
  • Sarah applies for a job with Volkoff. Volkoff telling Sarah she is so much fun!
  • Volkoff telling MamaB he likes to control and manipulate people while looking at Sarah
  • Volkoff’s, Me Too! toast to Sarah’s, ‘I love a good suicide mission.’
  • Alex in Morgan’s previously unopened collector’s Back to the Future t-shirt
  • Ellie wanting to call their baby Grunka!
  • Casey grilling Morgan about Alex
  • Hello boys!
  • Morgan loves sour dough bread
  • Yuri the Gobbler is Hydra!
  • A disappointed Volkoff is not someone to trifle with
  • Morgan’s ‘text message peeking while looking like I’m not peeking’ look
  • Volkoff manipulating Sarah, Casey, and Chuck
  • ‘Let’s make it exciting. Have some fun with it!’
  • Where did Casey go to get tested to determine how far he could safely fall?
  • Clara Woodcombe!

Season arc story telling issues aside there is still much to like here. The welcome return of Timothy Dalton as Valkoff is much like Heath Ledger’s turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Dalton clearly is having so much fun and is so much fun to watch. His candid revelation that he enjoys controlling and manipulating people is the cause for Chuck’s concerns at the end of the episode. This maybe being misread by some viewers because of the show repeatedly having characters doubt one another and failing to return messages. Such is not the case here. Chuck is not doubting Sarah. He is deathly concerned for her.

The whole cast gets a turn in this episode including the most welcome return of Casey’s daughter, and Morgan’s new love, Alex. Her appearance in a previously pristine Back to the Future T-shirt from Morgan nerdily captures how far their relationship has come. Too bad Alex was not around more so that her appearance at Casey’s bedside at the hospital would have carried more emotional heft. Mama B’s intentions are clearer, but still not satisfactorily solidified. Still she has some great moments with Volkoff plus some touching ones with Sarah. Yvonne Strahovski, as usual, does stellar work here harkening back to those pre-couple days where she was restrained to expressing herself solely through facial and body language cues. Morgan and Casey have some great moments together and the Ellie/Devon baby naming conflict – Grunka! – was an exercise in skillful manipulation of Devon by Ellie.

Chuck sadly is still stuck in react mode this episode. Josh Schwartz has trumpeted that the final ten minutes of Chuck Vs The Push Mix are the best the show has ever done. A ‘Take Charge Chuck’ in those final ten minutes would be a most welcome sight to see indeed.

Is It Love? Definitely! – Episode 4.11: Chuck Vs The Balcony

Written by Max Denby
Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

Chuck is back! And not just the show but the character too.

Let me clarify that. Chuck the show is back after a 7 week holiday hiatus. Chuck the character is starting to show some light again from under the bushel this season arc has put him under. It is a welcome start and the bushel should be removed completely by the time the 4.13 showdown confrontation with Volkoff rolls around.

Between Chuck reverting to a child state every time his mother showed up to being hamstrung by the loss of the Intersect to struggling to balance his spy life with his personal life; Chuck has been in react mode for the vast majority of this season. He has been a fire fighting pawn. Chuck has been given little to no opportunity to display those qualities that won Sarah and audiences alike over. This has been a fantastic season for Sarah Walker growth, Morgan Grimes growth, and even some small scraps of Casey growth. But for Chuck it has been a tough haul. And the big reason for me why Season 4 has been an underwhelming experience from the big picture view.

It is a debilitating problem for a show when your titular character is not being used to his best or fullest capabilities. The old writing dilemma of telling a story honestly is a constant battle between plot and character. With good writing the plot unfolds based on the character’s established traits. Weaker writing bends the character to fulfil story requirements. Good writing takes time. In television time is a precious commodity. The writing for Chuck the character has taken the plot driver road. For me it is quite obvious that Chuck has been subjugated to serve the story points so far this season.

With the end game in sight the need for the heroic Chuck has re-surfaced. Before the break, Chuck had reacquired the Intersect as a prelude to making the climatic charge that will happen in 4.12 and 4.13. We saw Chuck in the Balcony able to properly prioritize mission versus personal priorities for the first time in a long while. Praise the stars! While he desperately wants to make the perfect proposal to Sarah, Chuck does not let that, or Morgan, sway him from a proper course. A more than welcome return to form by someone who admits that he is not a great multi-tasker.

It was also a welcome sight to see Chuck taking charge from time to time in the spy world. For the first time in a while Zac Levi looked like he was having fun playing Chuck! Proposing to someone as special as a Sarah Walker is a daunting task indeed, so any skittishness Chuck relayed in the personal moments is understandable. He knows he is no James Bond, or Bryce Larkin, or Cole Barker, or a Daniel Shaw. Okay, okay. Chuck definitely trumps a Daniel Shaw any day! Actually Chuck trumps them all. Just ask Sarah Walker.

Chuck learns via Casey that there are no perfect moments. All you need is your girl and the intestinal fortitude to ask THE QUESTION.

And that is all the matters.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

  • Former Chuck show runner Scott Rosenbaum gets a nod in the opening action scene
  • Chuck aborting proposal in restaurant after Sarah tells him about her parent’s proposal horror story under similar circumstances – ‘Not enough balloons. No carb thing?’
  • Sarah oblivious to proposal abort
  • Casey’s, ‘Some moron was clogging up Ventura Blvd with a horse and carriage.’
  • Casey’s mumbling about being a Colonel and being devoted to man-servant on the mission
  • Sarah’s protective instincts kick as she tells Beckman about taking down Volkoff
  • Chuck stating he is not a good multi-tasker
  • Morgan running submission to help Chuck propose to Sarah in the French Looouvre Valley aka The Garden of France
  • Morgan’s Fixer – Big Mike
  • Lester comes from ‘Old Country’ aka Canada. A HinJew from Saskatchewan. A nod to the Canadian comedy series, ‘Little Mosque on the Prairie?’
  • Morgan telling Chuck, ‘Watch Sarah. She will show you the spot.’
  • Morgan makes sure Chuck mints in both pockets. Q eat your heart out!
  • ‘Casey is your man-servant. Let him man serve you.’ ‘Oh Jon, Jon!
  • Villain Pierre licks hypo and gives Chuck writer Lauren Lefranc a shout out identifying that the chip is in a bottle of ’86 Chateau Lefranc.
  • Nod to Danny Kaye’s Court Jester- ‘ A peppery pino with a stable on the label and a stork on the cork.
  • Sarah plays flirty drunk to disarm some baddies.
  • Two Buck Chuck
  • Chuck flashes and fights with wine glass in hand.
  • Casey still spot on in the spy world intuiting Beckman has switched the chip.
  • Lester is a lucky little Canadian.
  • Castle engineers should be complimented on making the spy facility acoustically accessible for eavesdropping – Sarah finds out about the proposal sub-mission.
  • Sarah surprises Morgan – ‘I am someone deadly.’
  • ‘I’m a spy. I hate surprises.’
  • Sarah takes over proposal mission and Morgan Grimes becomes double agent!
  • Sarah wanting the proposal to happen for Chuck…. and for her.
  • Sarah’s, and Chuck’s intuition about something with the exchange mission being off, prove to be true.
  • Full Moon Proposal sub mission.
  • Morgan working the dual headsets! Woot!
  • Morgan covers all sub-mission contingencies. He equips Chuck with Tide-To-Go tubes.
  • Casey steps in to help Full Moon Proposal sub-mission.
  • Nervous Sarah. ‘I don’t get butterflies.’
  • Morgan calming Sarah by giving his blessing to marry Chuck. Sweet moment.
  • Casey catches dropped ring. Sarah retrieves ring and preserves Chuck’s illusion of being in control of the proposal. Now that’s true teamwork!
  • Chuck telling Sarah that being with her anywhere is the most beautiful place in the world.
  • Casey’s, ‘She’s good.’ to Sarah’s, ‘I didn’t fall in love with James Bond. I fell in love with you.’
  • Casey mentions Alex’s mom and his girl Kathleen! Huzzah!
  • Casey’s advice to Chuck, ‘Forget the balcony. All you need is the girl.’
  • Sarah’s tearful promise to bring MamaB back to Chuck.

“Chuck vs. the Balcony” started out with a seemingly generic mission that adroitly morphed into the launch pad for the next two episodes that will deal with taking down Volkoff. Seizing on an opportunity inspired by Sarah’s request that some initiative be formed to take down Volkoff and rescue MamaB, General Beckman quickly manufactured that opportunity. So quickly that Sarah never had the chance to explain it to Chuck. Using the followup buy to cast Sarah in the role of double agent, Beckman has given Sarah the means of getting into Volkoff’s organization. Sarah’s innately strong protective drive was also used effectively as the catalyst for her request to Beckman during the opening restaurant scene when Chuck lamented his lack of attention to Sarah because of the Volkoff situation.

During the same scene Chuck’s proposal plans were humorously scuttled as an oblivious Sarah recounted the horror of her parent’s proposal. This episode made excellent use of the main cast with Morgan’s behind the scenes proposal submission activities providing some very funny counterpoints to the main missions. Sarah’s discovery and commandeering of the proposal, making Morgan a double agent in the process was well played being touching and funny at the same time. By the time Casey swooped in to help, the show was using the main cast members to their best abilities. It was great to see Chuck’s friends working in unison to maintain the illusion that he was in control of the situation. Right down to Sarah scooping up the dropped engagement ring and putting it back in Chuck’s pocket.

The villains were forgettable this week but with the focus on the relationships between the main cast members this is an understandable non-issue. The BuyMore plot was more palatable to me this time because of the Canadian basis but the Jeffster Whitesnake performance of, ‘Is This Love?’ fell flat. Non-Canadians were doubtless not nearly so enthralled. I cannot help but wonder each time how the episode would have played out if there had been some Ellie/Devon and/or Alex subplot to support the main storyline instead.

A wonderfully, entertaining return episode for Chuck with some snappy one liners, many in jokes, and the inevitable clash between professional and personal lives for Chuck and Sarah. Chuck works best as a show when the missions are plausible and any implausibilities are kept to the humorous aspects of the relationships between the characters. “Chuck vs. the Balcony” was such an episode.

Dalton Does It Better – Episode 4.10: Chuck Vs The Leftovers

Written by Henry Alonso Meyers
Directed by Zachary Levi
“Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you’re the best “
The Spy Who Loved Me
Carly Simon

Dalton. Timothy Dalton. Guest star extraordinaire.

In Chuck Vs Phase 3, Yvonne Strahovski elevated a solid episode storyline with her outstanding performance, turning it into the signature episode for the series.

Timothy Dalton gives a guest start performance that also soars to great heights. But he is not so fortunate on the storyline side. His performance takes place in an episode that disappointingly concurs with the episode title.

This is one of the funniest episodes of the season and, if you maintain a 50,000 foot view, the individual scenes do offer good laughs. The best bit by far was Chuck and Morgan taking defense lessons via a Strip Kick Aerobics class. Even better that there was payoff to that bit when Chuck used one of the class moves to take down a baddie later on. However, diving down to levels where more detail is revealed the mechanical nature of the plot and the recycling of bits from previous Chuck holiday episodes, including more Die Hard references, detract from the fun. Mileage on the laughs will vary from individual to individual but for myself this episode, when Dalton was not onscreen, felt forced.

By far the best element of this episode was Timothy Dalton. He dominated the screen every second he was on the screen. The now revealed volatile and erratic nature of the Volkoff allows Dalton to run roughshod over everyone. One second dashing. The next, incensed. Another beat; sensitive and caring. The next; commanding and violent. The fact that his Achilles Heel is MamaB is a rather cliche but Dalton exploits to its fullest. So much so, that when he is onscreen he obliterates everyone else. All they can do is stand back and hope Volkoff does not lash out at them. Volkoff is a certifiable loon and Dalton can be seen having a ball with the character because of it. His performance gave me that same vibe when I first saw Anthony Hopkins portray Hannibal Lecter in Silence Of The Lambs.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

* Ah a villain listening to classical music. Cliche but it always works
* Chuck Unplugged
* Strip Kick! ‘I saw an infomercial.’
* ‘Casey can never know about this.’
* ‘Come with me if you want to live.’ MamaB to the rescue
* Big Mike is so slick shilling Subway subs. Who can resist?
* ‘Who has two thumbs and is taken?’
* Morgan enjoying a foot massage a la Die Hard and the carpet trick.
* ‘Shave my back.’
* Volkoff’s Die Hard Assault Team
* Nerd Machine sticker on Volkoff’s computer expert’s laptop
* CIA Internal Defence System – not so special
* Fatman & Indian – the not so dynamic duo
* ‘Hand Frost the damn phone!’
* ‘I got lucky. I got assigned to you.’
* Casey gives Morgan a gun. Again.
* ‘Is that a threat?’
* Exploding Soccer Ball Of Doom
* ‘That’s how you threaten somebody.’
* Sarah and Chuck holding hands before going into battle
* ‘Charles is my son.’ Really? Really. Really? ….Really!
* ‘Kids love me!’
* Chuck and Sarah’s silent planning during charades
* Volkoff doing charades
* Devon needs to be Awesome. Again.
* ‘Cold. But surprisingly soothing.’
* ‘I don’t have to really do that. I just love the sound.’
* ‘You see. That is a real threat.’ MamaB protects her family.
* Morgan unable to reach taped gun
* Chuck knows Kung-Fu. Again.

With the totality of the spy arc pretty well revealed now, and we were told way back in Chuck Vs the Coup D’Etat that MamaB was a kept woman, Season 4 seems destined to be another season with another underwhelming spy storyline. At least in the first thirteen episodes. The saving element is, obviously, Timothy Dalton’s virtuoso, mesmerizing portrayal of Volkoff. To use the series’s best villain solely in the service of a kept woman storyline seems all the more the pity.

I fully disclose that my expectations of the Chuck being deIntersected arc not being realized undermine my enjoyment of this episode. But even from the perspective of judging what the show delivered, the resolution to said arc is undramatic, leaves many dangling – and somewhat contradictory plot threads, and offered no character growth for Chuck. He is literally handed the remedy via Devon. No struggle to reacquire it. No chances to show his mettle without it. No strengthening of family bonds. If anything Chuck was diminished during this arc. Chuck Vs The Couch Lock is my one of favourite episodes so far this season. It also one of the few episodes where Chuck felt like Chuck this season. Henry Alonso Meyers did not fare as well with this outing.

MamaB’s assertion that PapaB never wanted Chuck to be subjected to the Intersect Suppressing PSP does not ring true nor does her motivation. How leaving Chuck defenceless makes any character sense is impossible to ascertain given the paucity of details. There may be very valid reasons for what transpired but without any context, the reasons behind the creation of the PSP and the laptop, appear to serve only one purpose: as very mechanical story devices to facilitate the loss and retrieval of the Intersect. This is borne out by how the episode glosses over Chuck’s reacquisition of the Intersect. Will these questions be answered at a later date? Given some of the unresolved dangling story threads ie Devon giving Chuck the laptop which is expressly against Ellie’s wishes; the answer is not likely.

Even worse the deIntersect arc ends with Ellie still in the dark about Chuck spying and having the Intersect. With the PapaB heirlooms in the form of the car and the laptop, MamaB on the scene, Ellie’s impending motherhood, and the off season announcement that this is a season about family; this was the PERFECT time to bring Ellie into the know. Even more disappointment abounds; Chuck, Devon, and Ellie are back to lying and keeping secrets from one another. It is a writer’s maxim that writers should not give the fans what they want, they should give fans something better. I am hard pressed to envision a scenario that exceeds the possible payoff that was waiting to be realized in this episode.

All that aside, watch this episode to see Timothy Dalton’s performance. What a coup for the show in being able to cast him! His tenure on the show is a precious treat rarely seen on television.

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.