mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the Couch Lock

Chuck vs. the Couch Lock
Season 4, Episode 5, Air-Date 10.18.10

When Casey's former team returns looking for him, Chuck must decide what he's willing to sacrifice in order to find his mom. Elsewhere, Morgan works up the nerve to reveal a potentially dangerous secret to Casey.

After Frea was lazy the critics mutually agreeing that a week off was best, our favorite critical and snarky duo has returned with their thoughts on season four's fifth episode, Chuck vs. the Bride Couch Lock.  One of them has declared it a favorite.  The other probably would have agreed, except it needs more SWP.  Which is which?  If you don't know already, you probably don't read the blog much... but you can continue reading after the break.

Frea: And the moral of the story is, if you go to Luigi's down on Broadway, do NOT try the Sushi. Also Thai Food Thursday is a myth--oh, episode review? I liked it. I think this is hands down my favorite episode of the season. I disliked last episode badly enough that it killed a little bit of the Chuck love, but "Couch Lock" definitely brought back a feeling of both nostalgia for great characters and it finally, finally couched the (see what I did there?) relationship drama that had been interesting until they just took it one episode too far. What'd you think, Max?

mxpw: Well, unlike you and apparently everybody else at CI, I didn't dislike "Coup D'Etat" but I definitely thought that "Couch Lock" was a marked improvement over the previous episode. I wouldn't call it the best episode of the season for me (that honor still belongs to "Suitcase") but it's definitely the second best. I too appreciated the lack of relationship drama. This episode perfectly highlighted that Chuck and Sarah can be a couple and awesome together without all the unnecessary angst of the last three episodes. And it was great to get to a more balanced character/plot approach than the last two episodes.

mxpw: There were still some issues I had with the episode, but all in all, a great effort.

Frea: Oh, the episode was definitely not without its issues, I completely agree. For one thing, I'm going to just announce it right out:

Frea: No Castle Slide.

mxpw: Oh if we're going there, let me also complain about the lack of SWP. And the first four episodes had done so well in that regard too. Definitely a disappointment.

Frea: But, I will take in lieu of a Castle Slide, a cat. With a tracker. Surrounded by a 100-man tac team, locked and loaded. Because I'm of the opinion that that cat, adorable as he was, could take down every single one of those CIA special forces members that seem to mysteriously live in L.A. Let's take a look at the power of cats through history: I don't think we need to mention Cleopatra, do we? And SPOILER ALERT, but the cat has a lot to do with the plot Anne McCaffrey's brilliant "No One Noticed the Cat." And I think we all know the power of Garfield, don't we? Miranda Lawson knows what I'm talking about.

mxpw: *laughing* Garfield makes love to Miranda with manliness all night long.

Frea: YES, Spencer Hemmingway FTW. Anyway, back to "Couch Lock."

mxpw: You are right on about the cat though. Obviously the best part of that scene was Chuck having to order the tac team to stand down and not shoot the cat. It makes me wonder what the cat was doing to warrant such a response. Making threatening gestures? Was it lugging around something of Jeff's and threatening them with it? I want to know.

mxpw: And it's Shakespeare-Hemingway, Frea.

Frea: Of course, of course. My bad, naturally. To anybody who was curious enough to Google any of what we were just talking about, I would like to apologize on behalf of Castle Inanity. Sort of.

Frea: So I went into this episode, not having seen a single preview for it because I didn't watch live last week (yes, I know, I'm a bad fan) so all I knew was that it was a Casey episode. I've had mixed feelings about Casey episodes. I love Undercover Lover (the shot of Casey getting out of the pool? FANTASTIC), but Sensei left me cold. So to see an episode where Casey not only stayed in character, but didn't give in to the lady feelings all around him was so great. I loved the sense of menace he can portray even when he literally cannot move a muscle. Serious, serious props to Adam Baldwin for this episode.

mxpw: Yes, this was maybe Adam Baldwin's best episode of the series. Crystal made a good point to me earlier tonight, that while Yvonne gets a lot of well deserved praise for her facial expressions, this was really the episode for Baldwin's facial expressions. His eye acting was fantastic, the barely contained rage that was always simmering under the surface while he was paralyzed was a great bit of nonverbal acting, and of course Casey could order his feet to move. As I believe Chris pointed out, he was very much The Bride in this episode.

mxpw: And I really appreciated Chuck's concern for Casey during the mission planning and during the funeral. That was great to see. Though he should have known better. Faking his own death to capture bad guys is something somebody like Casey lives for.

mxpw: Especially bad guys that betrayed him.

Frea: It really is. We had allusions to the Bride, but I also saw it pointed out on Chuck This that we've also got some major referencing of one of my personal favorite Audrey Hepburn movies, Charade going on. I didn't catch it myself, but the funeral was pretty much spot on from that movie. Sarah Walker as Audrey Hepburn? Charles Carmichael as Cary Grant?

Frea: Um, sold.

mxpw: Agreed. I can easily buy that arrangement. And really, that funeral scene was just really quite wonderful. From "Dead Man's Party" playing in the background, to Morgan's ridiculous eulogy (there were quite a few quotable lines in that eulogy, I was impressed), and then the nice bit where the bad guys stole Casey, it was maybe the best sequence in the episode.

Frea: Heh. Chuck asking Morgan to deliver the eulogy and then unveiling his master plan had me turning to my best friend during the episode and saying, "You know, it WOULD be a good plan...if it weren't for the one fatal flaw." "It's Morgan?" "Yep."

Frea: What's that? No faith in the little bearded man? Nope, none.

mxpw: I have to say, I was actually rather surprised that Morgan didn't really blow it. I mean, the eulogy was a rambling, albeit funny, mess but at least he didn't screw up the plan.

mxpw: But since we are on the subject of Morgan, we might as well talk about him now. You can start.

Frea: Is it weird that even though this is the episode where he logged the most screen time, I didn't feel he was overused at all like I have been feeling for every single episode this season? Well, maybe just a touch, but that's better than his role in any of the four episodes leading up to this one.

mxpw: I don't think it's weird because I pretty much agree. Though I did tell Crystal that I hoped his use in this episode means he will be taking a step back in the next few. That said, I thought this was the best use of Morgan this season. Morgan was brave, not just because of his suicide plan at the end, but because of his sticking up to Casey (seriously, it's like every date with Alex is an event where he takes his own life into his hands) and making Casey see that he's not such a bad choice for his daughter. Granted, I still don't remotely buy Morgan and Alex together, but they are sweet together and it was nice to see some forward progress there.

mxpw: But best Morgan moment of the episode? Putting the Stormtrooper helmet on Casey. That made me laugh. Oh, and I thought Joshua Gomez's acting during the scene where he tells Casey about him and Alex was especially good. I could practically feel the panic radiating off of him.

Frea: I think I mostly enjoyed Morgan because he was finally beginning to understand boundaries again. When he came downstairs and asked to help out, and Chuck sent him back upstairs to help keep Casey's cover, I thought for sure Morgan was going to screw things up in some way that would make me facepalm right then. But no, we saw a mature side of Morgan that I really liked.

Frea: Hey, speaking of judicious use of characters in an episode, I thought the amount of Jeff and Lester and the use of both in this episode was amazing. The last time I thought that was maybe Ring Part I....or any episode where Jeff and Lester never showed up, honestly. But they were funny and they didn't overpower, and Jeff had me falling off the couch laughing with his line about waking up in some of the best dumpsters in L.A. Glad to see he's getting a lot of mileage out of that "My Name is Jeff, I'm Lost" card.

mxpw: I know! I loved Jeff and Lester in this episode too. You already mentioned the dumpster line, but I especially loved that Casey could just mention a random street corner and Jeff automatically knew what dumpster he was talking about. Add to that the great "Weekend at Bernie's" ref in the car plus Lester's creepy, but funny, "We have keys", and it was a great use of them tonight.

mxpw: Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the bad guys.

Frea: Oh, whew, I'm not alone in that.

mxpw: I thought they were wasted.

mxpw: Not enough Eric Roberts (he was the only one approaching a personality). I know Joel David Moore is Zac's best friend, but he could have easily not been there. And a huge waste of Bautista. I mean, they get a guy whose claim to fame is fighting and they don't even have him fight anybody? Lame.

mxpw: Mostly, they were just...there.

Frea: I completely agree. I kind of felt like...Bautista should have been fighting Sensei Ping, just from the way he looked, but that's a review from the wrong show. I will admit that even though I had higher hopes for the bad guys than was shown, I did enjoy that one dressed similarly to Dr. Horrible and they had pizza delivered to their super secret lair where they've taken the dead body of their ex-comrade. They were an excellent plot contrivance, really.

mxpw: Yeah, they really were. Of course, so was Chuck insisting that Sarah not call in backup. I rolled my eyes because as soon as he said that, I knew exactly how Chuck and Sarah were going to get kidnapped unnecessarily. At least we got a pretty decent Chuck and Sarah scene out of it. I was disappointed they didn't go for the obvious "Entrapment" reference though.

Frea: I had problems with their scene in the alley, honestly. I felt like Zac and Yvonne were reading the wrong lines of the script. At one point I turned to my friend and said, "Um, hasn't she been a spy like five times longer than he has?" And then I too made a crack about "Entrapment."

Frea: Am I allowed to be vain?

mxpw: When have you ever passed up the opportunity to be vain?

Frea: Ouch, Maximus, ouch.

mxpw: And yes, you were right about them reading the wrong lines. That's why I rolled my eyes.

mxpw: Heh. You know I kid.

Frea: Aww, thank you, Max.

Frea: It's insanely vain to say it, but I was kind of getting Fates Sarah vibes, weren't you?

mxpw: During the fountain scene, definitely. I was watching that scene and I immediately thought, "Hey, wait a minute, when did Fates Sarah become canon?"

Frea: I caught them during the laser scene.

Frea: It's not really the case, as Fates Sarah is based on canon Sarah not the other way around (obviously), but it goes back to my relief that they're giving Sarah more to work with in canon now. She got to calm Chuck down, apparently have a regular conversation with Ellie, and even converse with Morgan regularly. Canon Sarah often comes out of these situations looking awkward so that they can play up the humor in that, but I'm glad they dropped that for this episode.

mxpw: Yes, but sadly, it is probably only temporary. It's kind of frustrating that they can do episodes like this where Chuck and Sarah are great together, obviously proving that they don't need to resort to angst. Yet time and time again they go to that well in the name of Chuck and Sarah relationship development. This was a good episode for both Chuck and Sarah's characterization, not to mention the more obvious Casey and Morgan parts.

mxpw: Oh, and appropos of nothing, but Baby Awesome is a girl! This doesn't surprise me. Wanna make a bet about the name?

Frea: Awesomette?

mxpw: Heh. I think it would be funny if Chuck just refers to the baby as that.

Frea: I was not in the least bit surprised that the Awesomeling is a girl. If they had been searching for Chuck and Ellie's father, it would be a boy. Ouch, Frea, burn.

mxpw: Just had to get that in there, huh?

mxpw: Though I think you are right. Subtlety is not exactly this writing group's forte.

Frea: But I do enjoy the way Ellie was written, so there's always that. Talk about nostalgia. We went back to the days of level-headed, balanced Ellie, but we didn't see one whiff of the nagging that people hate. Excellent work by both Sarah Lancaster and the writer.

mxpw: And she talked to Sarah! Like, OMGWTFBBQ. That was so surreal. The first time all season where we saw them actually conversing. Last episode doesn't count, that was one question that had to do with the spy life.

Frea: OMGWTFBBQ? Are you channeling Crystal?

mxpw: Yes. I did that entirely for her benefit.

mxpw: That was my Crystal homage.

Frea: And you did it well. Definitely a solid episode. Some plot points and issues, but a long way better than anything we saw in Season Three and my favorite episode of the season. Next week, we get both Freddie Krueger and maybe a sub-in for me if I can convince Crystal or Wepdiggy to take my place, since I'll be traveling across the country. Final thoughts, Max?

mxpw: Good episode. Funny and with some great moments for both Morgan and Casey. Morgan saved the day! Casey's heart grew three sizes. Chuck wasn't pushy. Sarah looked really hot in the dress at the end. The plot was kind of threadbare (which is sad, as this was the strongest spy plot since "Anniversary") and the bad guys were wasted, but yet it still really worked. Solid effort all around.


mxpw - Four out of Five Sarahs in a Bikini

Frea - Eight of ten Castle Slides...with manliness. 


  1. Ayefah19.10.10

    *frantically refreshes ff.net to get ch. 41*

    Oh, the review? Uh...I agree. This episode was pretty much exactly what you want a non-"Special Event" Chuck episode to be - funny and pop-culture mutilating with just enough drama to give it weight.

    I totally noticed Sarah and Ellie talking, too. Heh. I can only give it half a Bechdel credit, though, since we didn't hear a word of the conversation. Please, oh please, show, let your female characters talk to each other outside the context of a mission briefing. I beg of you.

    But this isn't an episode to complain about! It had a cat in peril and Good!Morgan and Casey being terrifying with only the power of his eyes and Chuck wearing black and cuffed to a pipe...which some people might theoretically like watching. *cough* No awkward Greta cameos, no interminable and awkward relationship angst. Ah, that was nice.

  2. Anonymous19.10.10

    Awesome review guys

    "Granted, I still don't remotely buy Morgan and Alex together"

    To be fair, it's no less believable than Chuck and Sarah season 1

  3. I would disagree, Anonymous. I can buy Sarah being into Season One Chuck since, although he has societal values working against him--"too good for his job," lives with his sister, not living up to his potential--because you could see hints of Sarah's emotional damage that they might be so-called equals, even if the producers themselves have pointed out that Yvonne is the show's saving grace because she's beautiful enough to make Zac look like a nerd.

    It's not the same case with Alex. Part of it has been that we haven't spent a lot of time around her, but you can glean information from her: she's adjusting fairly well to having a father around that she thought was dead for all of her life, which strikes me as somebody who's probably pretty level, she stands up for herself, she's got a hell of a right hook, she's young, pretty, educated. Morgan's a great guy, but as mxpw put it once, he's a manchild with boundary issues and several years older than Alex. I guess I just don't see the draw, personally.

    Ayefah, glad to know I'm not the only one who was staring at Chuck's biceps in that scene. Now to wait for canon Sarah to make a single "I miss the curls comment" so that Fates Sarah can convince Chuck to grow out his hair a little bit...

  4. And wow, it took me a second to realize this, but my Harry Potter fanfiction roots came back to bite me in the butt during this interview. Spenser Hemmingway writes HP fic, Shakespeare-Hemingway writes Garfield...with manliness. *facepalm* Carry on, please.

  5. Anonymous19.10.10

    We'll have to agree to disagree, but I think Chuck's problems in season 1 were way bigger than Morgan's are now. I mean, he lived in a bunker for 5 years, he still not over his last girlfriend, he's agrophobic. . .

    Whoops, wrong first season. I tend to mix those two up

  6. Sparky19.10.10

    We passed the "unbelievable" exit when Morgan got to go on a double date with Carina. And while Chuck crashed,Morgan slept with her.

    Alex? Not so unbelievable anymore :)

    Chuck got dealt a bad hand with lots things: Stanford,girlfriend dept and family.

    He probably would never get Sarah-or Bryce would still be the one to partner with her :)-. But he would be with Jill without any unluckiness. Chuck wouldn't be a spy but an engineer. Chuck would have his parents with him.

    But instead,he got Sarah and a computer in his head. These are his -few- lucky streaks.

    Since Frea compares Chuck's job with bunker, I'm not going to declare who's got it better.-Fates or Canon Chuck?-

    Unbelievable? Probably :)

  7. alladinsgenie4u19.10.10

    This is completely off topic, but it's official news. Chuck has gotten a back order of 11 episodes.

    @Frea and mxpw - Loved the review as always. It's the banter that makes it so interesting. Can we expect Chapter 41 today - please.

  8. Sparky19.10.10

    Josh Schwartz confirmed it on twitter. Let's hope there aren't more budget cuts to come. Season 4 = 24 episodes.

  9. Taking from my own tweet last night: "Looks like muted talk over transition music is the only kind of conversation we'll ever get between Sarah and Ellie. "

    'Tis true. And that makes me sad.

    And HEY. Using ridiculous capslock Internet speak is NOT channeling me! I used OMGWTFBBQ once, and only because I was beyond spazzing. For good reason, too. :P

    Back 11! Hell yes!! We must celebrate.

  10. hope-everlasting19.10.10

    Apparently, I'm the only one surprised it's a girl. My brother and I had the theory that it would be a boy named after their (Ellie and Chuck's) dad. Baby Stephen, who everyone would call AJ (awesome junior).

  11. Ayefah19.10.10

    Crystal, I'm also in the over-excited capslocking club. Because my very first thought upon seeing the back order news was WOW THAT'S A BIG BACK ORDER ZOMGYAY! :P

    And I stopped expecting TV couplings to be realistic years ago. Morgan and Alex just live in that zone of improbability that I've learned to ignore for the sake of my own sanity.

  12. Personally I think Zach should grow his old hair back, and start working out. He doesn't have a lick of tone on his body of < 30yrs. For an actor that's been in the business as long as he has....it's kind of pathetic. He could make himself look outstanding if he'd just do P90X during the off season for 90-180 days instead of play video games ALL THE FREAKEN TIME. That's what he always comments on during interviews. Sorry Zach, but I'm one fan that isn't impressed about your gaming addiction.


  13. I just realized today, while thinking about this episode and our review last night, how disappointed I am in myself for not once making an Agent Lynch joke. The A-Team references were flying fast and furious throughout the episode and yet I never took the opportunity. I am ashamed. It was like a softball too.

    I have to appreciate that all the bad guys had computers for their names, though. That was extra nerdy even for this show.

    There was just a lot to really like about this episode. It's episodes like this that make an extra 11 seem completely justifiable.

  14. Anonymous19.10.10

    BCF: Was that sarcasm? If it wasn't, I don't think we're looking at the same Zach. Dude's in shape.

  15. Umm turn to Ep 4.01 around 11:00 during the Morgan sexting on Hulu.com ..... I'm sorry but that is not toned by any meaning in this day in ages standards. Zach could do much better by spending 5-10 hours a week in the Gym, during the off season.

  16. BCF - Zac was strong enough to rather effortlessly toss Yvonne around at the end of "Suitcase" and she's gotta be a solid 125 pounds (at least) of muscle. I mean, yeah, he could probably stand to put on another 10-15 pounds of muscle, but I don't think it's really all that necessary.

    Zac's a pretty attractive guy. Besides, it seems obvious to me why he isn't overly muscled. It's a character thing. It's not as easy to classify Chuck as the cute, slightly nebbish, computer nerd who is the unlikely hero if he's got arms as big as Casey. I think he's pretty toned as he is. Dude's hot.

    Or as Frea told me, "He's toned, he's just not a Power Ranger."

  17. Ayefah19.10.10

    I'm sorry but that is not toned by any meaning in this day in ages standards.

    By which I'm guessing you mean he should have the kind of terrifyingly defined six-pack that lots of actors his age have. *shrug* Well, to each their own. Chuck the character isn't a strongman - that's Casey's job. And he's not supposed to be...I dunno, Sawyer in Lost or some other perpetually shirtless character, either. (Boris Kodjoe in Undercovers! That's a good example.) Levi is "civilian" fit rather than Hollywood fit, and I have no problem with that. :P Most people who work out don't make it a special goal to get down to 2% body fat so each individual muscle will stand out. That's aesthetics, not fitness.

    And now I feel like a creep for even talking about this. Hey, how about that episode? Did anyone else find it a bit odd that Morgan and the bad guys could be electrocuted through their no-doubt rubber-soled boots?

  18. And now I feel like a creep for even talking about this. Hey, how about that episode? Did anyone else find it a bit odd that Morgan and the bad guys could be electrocuted through their no-doubt rubber-soled boots?

    I'd justify it by claiming the water was spilling over the top, or soaking into the boots. It appeared to be at least 3-4 inches....plenty of depth to soak most shoes.

    Hoorah Morgan, that was the second "take one for the team" I can remember.

    Here kitty kitty.

  19. Ayefah19.10.10

    Morgan was also willing to go up against a Ring team armed with nothing but an electric carving knife in "Beard", and he was the one who ambushed the Fulcrum agent in "Santa Claus", too. He's always had this kind of berserk bravery when cornered. Remember when he dumped the grape soda on Michael Strahan's head? Hee.

    I think his inner obliviousness is helpful there - Morgan's tunnel vision is absolutely spectacular, and somehow I get the impression that he can make himself momentarily forget everything except whatever his goal is. Which has lead to him doing some pretty stupid things over the years, but also to...well, this week.

  20. Anonymous19.10.10

    Anybody else like that Sarah Walker-esque knife throw Casey did at the beginning?

  21. Ayefah - "Which has lead to him doing some pretty stupid things over the years, but also to...well, this week."

    The Demorgan ring any bells? Haha.

  22. coffeegirl20.10.10

    maybe ellie and awesome will name their baby 'morgana'
    thanks for the new fates chap

  23. Anonymous20.10.10

    Question. Not trying to be stupid but what is SWP?

    -JS Fan

    BTW, Loved the episode!!!!

  24. JS - A question near and dear to my heart! I'm not sure if I'm the first person to use the term, but even if I'm not, I'm claiming it anyway. Frea is not the only person who can be vain.

    SWP stands for Sarah Walker Porn. I think the name is pretty self-explanatory, but it basically applies to any scene where Sarah is, uh, less than clothed. See "Suitcase" and "Coup D'Edat" for awesome visual examples.

    A slightly lesser known and not as frequently used term (though no less fantastic in its own right) is SWLP. That, of course, stands for Sarah Walker Leg Porn, which I came up with to help properly describe the rather blatant exploitation of Yvonne Strahovski's spectacular gams during "Anniversary."

    I hope that this was as educational as it was enlightening.

  25. Ayefah20.10.10

    I feel enlightened already.


  26. Anonymous20.10.10

    MXPW, you are my hero! I have already passed on this knowledge to some other Chuck fans in my office! You are their hero also. Now if only we could get an update to DA......you would be divine!!!

    JS Fan

  27. Ayefah - It's a good thing I use my extensive knowledge for good instead of evil, no?

    JS Fan - Not a problem, my friend. I am but a humble guide on the path to Enlightenment.

    Unfortunately, I can't promise an update to DA, but I should be posting a writing column in the next few days, and I am hard at work on my Hallowhedon story, so there is that.


Please remember to be courteous to all other Castle Inanity commenters.