Chris, we decided that since we always rehash the episodes over chat anyway, we'll just post that here. Each week, somebody will take the optimist side and the other the pessimist. I got to be the optimist first (you'll see why) and mxpw and I had a fun time playing point-counterpoint. Or as it sometimes went, point-I agree with you but counterpoint! First up: Chuck Vs. the Anniversary, aka Short Skirt, Long Jacket (Sarah wears one, Chuck wears the other; together they're a Cake song!).
Frea: So I really liked Anniversary. It's no First Date, but I thought the show has finally come into its own after wriggling about for all of Season Three. this episode returned us to the roots of Chuck: it was enjoyable, it was nerdy, an interesting amount of drama, and the characters seemed to be themselves. Hilarious interactions, good conflict, resolution that, yes, is kind of face-palmy on Chuck's part (I'm willing to forgive it because they got it out of the way quickly). And best of all? CASTLE HAS A SLIDE.
mxpw: I too liked Anniversary quite a bit. After the craptacular Season 3, Anniversary was a breath of freezing cold Russian air. I was entertained by the jokes (Casey's one liners, the sexting) and mesmerized by Sarah's legs. But as much as I enjoyed this episode, it was not without its problems.
Frea: What problems? CASTLE SLIDE!
mxpw: The bulk of the first half was a bit of a disjointed mess. The timeline was fuzzy (we get no real clue when the episode begins, or ends for that matter), the pacing was off at times, especially as we transitioned from Chuck's global search to Chuck's employment search, the entire Repo Man subplot was pointless and a waste of time. I mean, I liked Harry Dean Stanton and what they did with his part was amusing, but it was almost completely superflous and not in a good way.
Frea: I didn't mind the disjointed mess as much. I don't need to know exactly when an episode is taking place (though it's nice) as long as things are happening, and the excellent montage of the plane flights going every which way more than makes up for any time discontinuities for me (let's face it: the Chuck continuity fairy? Kind of a hardcore alcoholic). I liked the Harry Dean Stanton stuff because I thought the use of a menu to give a major clue that swings the entire plotline of a
mxpw: Olivia Munn was wasted in her part. She was obviously only there for her slow-mo entrance and nothing else.
Frea: You're wrong, Maximus. Olivia Munn's entire point, besides the slow-mo entrance (Yvonne is charging them more for those now or what?), is to send Morgan down the CASTLE SLIDE! Yes, all roads DO lead to the Castle Slide, thank you very much.
mxpw: Yvonne isn't doing the slow-mo anymore because they've got her doing leg porn now. She's been upgraded and I, for one, am happy with her promotion. Though I still think the skirt was inappropriately short. I know, I know, hard to believe coming from me, but it's true. You can ask crystal. I objected to it while watching the episode.
Frea: I was a bit more surprised by her heels. I mean, it makes it easier to keep the shot level between Zac and Yvonne when they've got her in those monsters, but I don't blame her one bit for kicking them off during the interrogation tie-up with Casey. Speaking of whom: awwww, Sugar Bear! You brought my one-liners back. I heart you.
mxpw: Kinda hard to type text messages out with heels on. By the way, Sarah has very dexterous toes. Also, had one of the best reaction shots in the series ever, during the sexting back and forth with Morgan. It was almost as good as when Chuck kicked Lester in S3.
Frea: What-what, a shout-out to my favorite Sarah shot of S3?
mxpw: Yeah, I thought you'd appreciate that.
mxpw: The whole lying thing also seemed really pointless. Chuck goes through this whole spiel about keeping things from everybody, then Sarah finds out and it's so anticlimactic. In a way, this was good, because the last thing the show needs is stupid angst between Chuck and Sarah. But at the same time, if nothing was going to happen because of the lying, why did it need to occur to begin with? And it's really annoying how Chuck still doesn't seem to understand how relationships work. I never thought Sarah would be the more emotionally mature one in the relationship, but Anniversary proved me wrong.
mxpw: I loved the sexting subplot, because it gave us Sarah on the airplane, which was my favorite scene of the whole episode. I loved how she was awkward and shy to start with the picture taking, but got progressively more into it. That was hilarious. Unfortunately, the sexting went a little too far in Russia. Morgan can just be too creepy sometimes. Not only does the man not respect boundaries but you don't sext another man's girl.
mxpw: Cybersex, of course. Until Morgan figures out Chuck's IM password.
Frea: Oh, well, there's always phone sex. Hopefully Sarah knows the difference between Chuck's voice and Morgan's by this point.
mxpw: Which begs the question, do you think Chuck ever does his Batman voice when he and Sarah are "together?" We know Sarah likes to get freaky.
Frea: That goes hand in hand with the age-old question: does the Intersect 2.0 come with seduction techniques? Sarah must be one very happy lady if that's the case. What's that, sir? Xerox machines? On it! What'd you think about the final Ellie scene? It was nice to hear confirmation from Chuck that he will tell Ellie in the future, but I'm worried it might be too little too late...yet again.
mxpw: Eh...the Ellie scene I was kind of meh on the first time I watched it, but after watching it again, I'm even less enthused about it as I was before. There's a decided air about this show when it comes to how it treats its female characters. I mean, the show takes this attitude with most of the characters, but it always seems to be worse with the female ones. And that's this underlying sense of unwilling to share information because they are worried about scaring or hurting the women. People make decisions for other people because they think they're doing it for their own good when really they're just being patronizing and condescending.
mxpw: The fact that Ellie happens to be pregnant at this point with Chuck lying to her again only drives home that point.
Frea: Well, Chuck's got a very long learning curve when it comes to her. After all, Ellie having knowledge last season would have saved Orion's life, most likely, but nobody on the show seemed to realize that then or now. It would be my hope that this might come up at one point, maybe brought up by Ellie herself. Like I always say, I'm okay with characters screwing up, as long as their actions have consequences and/or they are called on their errors, either by themselves or by others. This is one of those "wait and see" situations, but I hope waiting and seeing turns out that Chuck is wrong for keeping this secret from Ellie. And by extension, Awesome, too. Since Awesome is not awesome at one thing: lying. Of course, I reserve the right to facepalm in the future if the Ellie plotline just ends up a repeat of S3 Ellie's plotline.
mxpw: Well, we know from the promo at the end of the episode that Chuck tells Ellie that he is searching for their mother, but the promo made no mention of whether or not he tells her he's searching for their mother while working for the CIA again.
Frea: Ah, speculation, that devious jerk. We know how well I speculate, looking at my early author's notes from Fates, so I'm just going to say, that's what I hope, and I'll just keep watching to see what the show delivers.
mxpw: Yeah, that's probably a smart decision. Wanna know what else was a smart decision?
mxpw: Bringing the parachutes.
Frea: Never gone parachuting in a dress before. I'll have to ask Sarah for tips on how to keep the skirt from riding up. (Man, isn't everybody sad the scene cut off before that happened? Sorry, guys)
mxpw: Though considering we got plenty of upskirt shots throughout the rest of the episode, I guess they compensated. By the way, those shots were totally pervy. I mean, I loved the leg porn (I'm not sure I've made that clear enough), but really.
Frea: Not only did we get Chuck in two nice suits, but we also got a shirtless Chuck. I wasn't paying a bit of attention to Sarah's legs, sorry.
mxpw: How could you not pay attention? They were like the focus of the camera for half the episode.
Frea: Shirtless. Chuck.
mxpw: One minute of shirtless Chuck vs like five minutes of leg porn. Yeah...
mxpw: By the way, Zac needs a tan.
Frea: He looked perfectly fine to me.
mxpw: I thought he looked less tan compared to Final Exam.
mxpw: Did you re-watch that scene over and over again?
mxpw: It's okay to admit, I've seen the plane scene at least five times by now.
Speaking of which, probably my favorite joke/counter-joke bit happened in that scene.
mxpw: Sarah's asking of Casey (!?) if he'd ever been in a long distance relationship, which was hilarious in itself (Sarah can be kinda clueless sometimes). But then Casey's line, even though it was sad, cracked me up. "No. I either leave or they die." Great Casey moment there.
Frea: Well, the girl doesn't have many friends, it seems. There doesn't seem to be anything in particular between Ellie and Sarah, and she's so separated from the world. Who's she going to ask? The Evil Flight Attendant? Marko? The atrociously bad Going the Distance? It's either Casey or Google, and Google's not exactly a spy, is it?
mxpw: Carina! Duh.
Frea: Oh, right. Carina. Because Carina's somebody who CLEARLY believes in relationships.
mxpw: What, and Casey is any better? Of the two meaningful relationships we've seen him have, one he chose the job over and let her think he was dead for over 20 years and the other is a French spy (I think) that faked her death and who he's not seen again since she went back undercover.
Frea: And yet, he has never dated a block of wood.
mxpw: Well, obviously Sarah is the worst out of the three.
mxpw: Anyway, this episode had some good Casey moments. Some good team moments, though they almost felt unearned at times. I liked the shot of them outside the building in Russia. That was pretty cool.
Frea: Yeah, Casey really did shine in this episode. Also, I have to point out the menu again. And the elusive Russian Howard Hughes type for a bad guy. Those sound like solid plot points to me.
mxpw: All in all, it was a good episode. A strong way to start the fourth season. And perhaps best of all, this episode actually established the season long arc in a strong way, unlike the previous season. And Linda Hamilton looks to be a great addition to the cast and the show. Mama B actually seems to have presence and I'm interested in learning her story. I was never interested in the Ring in S3. Let's hope the ass kicking continues and I can't wait to see how Sarah reacts to her. This season should be fun.
Frea: Agreed. And because it can't be said enough...CASTLE SLIDE!
mxpw - 3.5 Nerd Herd Sarahs out of 5
Frea - 7 Castle Slides out of 10