Chuck Vs. the Cubic Z
Season 4, Episode 3, air-date October 4, 2010
Two former enemies set their sights on Chuck and Sarah when they escape from custody during a prisoner transfer. Morgan receives a surprise from Big Mike.
Another strong Sarah episode? What, did they read mxpw's mind over the break? Nope, Sarah's only in short shorts for less than five minutes. Frea and mxpw aren't here to slam you with poetry (and you should be grateful, as Frea only knows limericks about islands off the shore of Massachusetts), but they are here to provide their weekly review of Chuck, after the break!
|Photo Courtesy of Chucktv.net|
mxpw: I have my...air.
Frea: I just hit my dog in the face with a cracker.
Frea: She woke up, gave me a "What did you do that for?" look and then noticed the cracker.
mxpw: And forgot all about you hitting her in the face?
Frea: Yeah, her entire universe became OMG CRACKER NOM.
mxpw: She is now the Cookie Monster?
Frea: Yes. Assuming you dipped the cookie monster in ink.
mxpw: Which I do.
Frea: So, best part about this episode?
Frea: There is not one but like FIFTY CASTLE SLIDES!
mxpw: Hahaha. Do air shafts/ducts count as CASTLE SLIDES?
Frea: Seeing as I'm pretty sure it was exactly the same set, yes. Yes they do.
mxpw: I see. But there was really only one scene with a sliding motion.
mxpw: And that was when Chuck, with the gun, goes sliding after Panzer.
Frea: And Panzer sliding down after fisticuffs.
mxpw: Okay, I'll grant you that post-fisticuffs sliding.
mxpw: So two instances of CASTLE SLIDES.
Frea: Which means...
Frea: Better than "Suitcase."
mxpw: Hey, you have your metric and I have mine. This episode had minimal SWP, so it can't, by definition, be better than "Suitcase."
Frea: But other than the lowered amount of SWP, what did you think of the episode, Maximus?
mxpw: I think I'm going to do the compliment sandwich.
mxpw: The Chuck-Panzer fight scene in the cage was fantastic. Worlds better than the fight scene from First Class.
mxpw: However, the Buy More plot was tepid and pointless. I laughed much harder during Jeffster and company's minimal time in Suitcase than I did here. The only good part was Big Mike's return.
mxpw: That said, the Chuck and Sarah stuff was really, really good. Inappropriate use of the supply closet? Awesome. Actually communicating with each other? Even more awesome. The conversation at the end was really good.
mxpw: What did you think, Frea?
Frea: I enjoyed this episode so much that when my best friend mentioned she hadn't gotten to watch it (my best friend does not have cable, let alone a DVR), I immediately invited her over for a watching-party and watched it again. And then I watched Cougars. Because even though Nicole Richie is a little bit iffy as an actress, you can just see her delight in playing the uber, um, bitca that is Heather Ratner nee Chandler.
Frea: I didn't mind the Jeffster plot as much this week as I did last week because Morgan kept his nose out of Chuck and Sarah's business, and the return of Big Mike, plus the line "What monkey flung this?" really did save everything. It definitely could have been cut quite a bit, though. And seeing Big Mike take down the baddie of the week never gets old, so there's always that.
Frea: Definitely agree with you on Chuck and Sarah. The supply closet line actually made my jaw drop before I started cracking up. The communication was wonderful, Chuck and Sarah's working together and banter was amazing. And Chuck continually had me laughing and cheering. Especially his "Right! Because we're professionals and I'm not listening to you." And then he proceeds to stick his fingers in his ears. So much fun!
mxpw: I wanna talk about the Buy More before we move onto the Chuck/Sarah stuff, if that's okay with you?
Frea: Definitely! We all know I can never get enough of the Buy More...it's why it's such a prominent feature in Fates...wait a second...
mxpw: Haha. Well, that's actually somewhat related to what I want to say.
mxpw: First, too much Morgan again. Just cutting down on his freaking out alone would have shaved whole minutes off the BM plot this episode. I like Morgan 2.0 more than the S1-2 version, but they are still using him far too much.
mxpw: I mean, I don't care about whether or not Morgan is growing into responsibility.
Frea: "Grimes. Manager. Speak."
mxpw: Yeah, that was like the one line he had that I enjoyed.
mxpw: I did like the Chuck/Morgan scene at the beginning with Chuck telling Morgan to "Filter. Filter." That was hilarious and about damn time.
Frea: It was a little bit like the writers were listening to us! How many times have any of us wanted to say that to Morgan (and even sometimes to Chuck)?
mxpw: God, more times than I care to count.
mxpw: And like I said, other than Big Mike, the BM plot was just pointless. I didn't even like Jeffster much, and I usually do. Though their Jeffster editing techniques were rather funny.
Frea: Everybody knows how I feel about Jeffster by now (aka, they're in about seven episodes too early), but I didn't mind them too much. Why? Because they slammed us with poetry (Okay, I'll admit it, after Lester's inspired poem, I looked over at my friend, heretofore known as FBFF, and said, sarcastically, "I think I could watch thirty minutes of Lester poetalizing to Jeff's bad kung fu." and she replied, "Really? Cos I could barely stand thirty seconds." FBFF is kind of awesome)! And there was a tambourine! The only thing missing? Their get-up from Honeymooners when they rocked "Leaving on a Jet Plane." I wonder who will be the Yoko Ono to this amazing group.
mxpw: John Casey.
Frea: Oh, admittedly.
mxpw: Or Skip Johnson.
Frea: And I'll confess, the Buy More plot led to my all-time favorite shot of the episode. A low-angle shot of a green-shirt trussed up with caution tape being pushed by on a trolley, shaking his head in abject terror. I had to rewind that and watch five times, I was laughing so hard.
mxpw: Okay, yes, I'll grant you that the nerd riot was pretty funny in its complete over the topness and the way those nerds just utterly abused all the poor Buy More employees, especially, as you noted, that poor guy on the trolley. I guess, I don't know, I was apalled at Jeffster actually trying to do their jobs? I mean, what was up with that? That's not the Jeffster I know.
Frea: True. Now that you mention it, I would have to call shenanigans on that.
mxpw: Though Lester's whispered asides during Big Mike's big speech were great.
Frea: Oh, one thing I noticed when watching the episode: both this episode and Cougars had scenes where the Buy More had been practically obliterated by either nerds or party-goers, which I thought was a neat parallel. Even neater? They used the same music in the clean-up both episodes.
mxpw: I did not notice that about the two parallel plots. Very cool catch, Frea!
Frea: Okay, so two big returning faces in this episode. Granted, one's much bigger than the other. One, from a mutually-agreed-upon favorite episode of the series by both of us. The other from an episode that shall not be named (although it already has been in this chat). Let's start with the big guy. What'd you think of Panzer?
mxpw: I like him. He's really the only standout bad guy they've had since Vincent. He's big, he's actually intimidating, he's convincing as somebody who could be a real threat, and Steve Austin is perfectly suited for the role. I wouldn't mind seeing him come back. Oh, and his fight scene in the cage was great and I was pleased that he won the fight (much more believable that way) and his anger at getting revenge against "Carmichael" was endlessly amusing. And so was Chuck's funny little boasting he did to Heather throughout the episode about how he bested Panzer the first time.
mxpw: And what did you think about Panzer?
Frea: I really enjoyed him. It's always neat to see Chuck go up against somebody who is just brute strength and power, and it's interesting to see the progress Chuck has made since the first time he faced Panzer. I mean, if you look back in his actions in First Class (guh), there was a lot of terror that kind of stuck around, bringing on the silly plot device--er, I mean Laudinol. But here, not only does Casey toss Chuck a gun and he doesn't freak out, but he also doesn't hesitate to go after Panzer by himself. It makes me grateful we're past the days of "What if the Intersect doesn't work?" I guess all the supply closet lovin' is helping our boy's confidence in great new ways!
mxpw: And who could blame him for that?
Frea: Nobody in the sighted world, that's for sure.
mxpw: But speaking of inappropriately using supply closets, Heather Chandler?
Frea: Oh, Nicole Richie. Love her, hate her, she's Heather Chandler.
mxpw: So I liked her here about as much as I liked her in Cougars. I mean, let's face it, Nicole Ritchie is no great actress. But for what she's given, I thought she did well. She played the bitchy side of Heather even better than in Cougars. Her sniping back and forth with Sarah was really good, and I enjoyed her getting under Sarah's skin like she did. I was somewhat disappointed that we didn't really learn anything new about Sarah (it seems obvious that we probably never really will learn anything about her past at this point), and I'm not sure I really agree with the idea that Sarah was ever like Heather, but I did enjoy her and think she makes a good foil for Sarah.
|Photo courtesy of chucktv.net|
Frea: I liked her better than I liked her the first time I watched Cougars (probably because my own perception of Nicole Richie has changed since then) since when I first watched Cougars, I was kind of insulted that Sarah Walker, my kickass favorite spy Sarah Walker, was getting her butt handed to her by somebody smaller than me. It was like watching Buffy get beaten by Sunday. But having accepted that Sarah is sometimes like my old Shih Tzu who would beat Rottweilers and get beaten by Chihuahuas, I enjoy both Cougars and the fight scenes with characters like the supermodel last week and Heather Chandler this week a lot more.
Frea: It was also great seeing some of Sarah's mental demons get aired. Like you, Max, I don't exactly agree that Sarah was ever like Heather, but I can see why she would think that, given her unorthodox upbringing, history as a spy, and inability to feel like a "normal girl" at times. And while Richie isn't ever going to win any Emmys, I have to thank her for embracing the role so thoroughly. And thank everybody else that she's only there for one episode and not, like, an entire season. I could've done without her little "Chuck's a nice guy," speech at the end, though. Frankly, I would've enjoyed her more if she'd said something like, "And yeah, maybe I made that all up, guess you'll have to research and find out. See you in hell, suckers."
mxpw: Heh, that would have certainly been unexpected.
mxpw: But I actually thought her speech at the end was last final attempt at a mind-frak. She was basically telling Sarah that Chuck was an awesome guy, don't screw it up, which of course would make Sarah worry about screwing it up, which I think was partly Heather's intention.
Frea: Oh. Hm. I can't really reply to that without insulting Nichole Richie's acting, and I'm just so happy that she's not Brandon Routh that I'm not going to say anything. :)
mxpw: Of course, we saw in this episode how easy it was to get under Sarah's skin. I guess only somebody like Heather, who knew her back before she was Sarah Walker (Jenny-Sarah was a great repeated dig) could really work in the role they needed in this episode to explore Sarah's demons. Plus, it led to the great "Sorry. My foot slipped" and Sarah's hilarious lecture to Chuck outside the interrogation room that was really a lecture for herself.
Frea: And did you notice, Maximus? They used time machine!
mxpw: Yes. Clearly not only are they stealing from Fates, but they are peeking in on our chats too.
Frea: For the uninformed, mxpw over here has a theory that I used a time machine to steal Fates from him. Sort of.
mxpw: Yes. And I have proof too. Or I did until one day it magically disappeared.
mxpw: Almost as if somebody had traveled in time...
Frea: Well, they say everything I do is magical.
mxpw: Whoever "they" are, needs to lay off the sauce.
Frea: Oh, for sure. Let's talk about the ending, shall we?
mxpw: Okay, the end. Go!
Frea: I saw it coming about halfway through the episode and I still giggled uncontrollably.
Frea: But the toothbrushes and bathroom door test was d'aww worthy and inspired.
mxpw: I was genuinely surprised they left the ring issue until the end. I thought it'd happen more in the beginning. That being said, yes, the Chuck/Sarah stuff about the toothbrushes was very "D'aww" worthy. They are on a hot streak right now with quality Charah endings.
mxpw: I thought the faux proposal was kind of anti-climactic, though.
Frea: I'll confess -- I wanted Sarah to just give Chuck a look and demand, "Are you kidding?!"
mxpw: That's what I didn't understand, though. It's not like Chuck pulled it out of his pocket, he found it on the ground. She knows that. It's not like Chuck had any intention of actually asking her. Or maybe I'm just misinterpreting that scene all wrong.
Frea: Did she have her back to him when he picked it up? I thought she turned around and he was just kneeling there with the ring. And their reactions, "Wow." "WOW." were rather priceless. I'm so glad they're letting Yvonne and Zac both be funny in the same scene this year.
mxpw: I don't know. I guess I need to rewatch that scene, but I thought it was pretty clear that the ring being there was just a chance thing. Besides, it wouldn't make any sense for Chuck to ask her to marry him right after they just had that talk. Though I did think it was interesting that throughout the episode, Sarah seemed to take more issue with the idea of being a mother than she did getting married.
Frea: Oh, it earned a few rounds of the "Contrivance Song" from Frea and Graceless O'Scanlin, but the scene went down pretty much how I expected it to the first time I saw the promos for it. My fanfic writer's brain came up with five different scenarios (in one, Sarah startles herself by saying yes and then gets annoyed later on to discover that the ring is a 'half carat, pear-cut cubic zirconium'), but it'll be interesting to see where the writer takes it next week. I was nervous this week with a new writer, and sometimes the dialogue came off as a little too...self-aware for this show, but after this episode, Wootton can not only stay, he needs a raise.
mxpw: Heh, for a newbie, he did a good job. Could have done better with the Buy More stuff, but that was counterbalanced by all the good Sarah and Chuck/Sarah material.
Frea: So, overall opinion?
Frea: Definitely agree with you on the new guy and writing Chuck well. I could have used more Casey, myself, but I rank this episode pretty high up there. I probably liked it the best of the three we've been given so far. A great, confident Chuck, positive movement on the Chuck/Sarah front, Beckman's back to being a face on the screen (I'm a little disappointed about that, actually). My main issues with the episode were a little bit of Nicole Richie's acting and some of the camera-work/editing left me cold, but if that's all there is, then rejoice, rejoice! Can you believe we're three for three with great episodes? And next week promises to have Sarah Walker in bikinis again, so who knows, maybe we'll get Maximus here to be the optimist.
mxpw: Haha, I'll be the optimist if my brain is still functional.
mxpw: No guarantee about that though.
Frea: Good point. Next week, tune in to see Crystal and Frea duke it out because we'll be the only ones with rational thought left.
mxpw: I do wanna say one last thing, because I don't usually pay much heed to the music in Chuck like a lot of other people do. I mean, I enjoy it and I've discovered some great bands through the show (I will always forever be grateful to Chuck for introducing me to Frightened Rabbit, for instance), but I thought the use of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Beat the Devil's Tattoo" was excellent in this episode. Kudos for that, and especially for threading it throughout the episode. It was especially effective during the gun battle scene.
mxpw: Three Sarahs Sparring out of 5
Frea: 8 Castle Slides out of 10!