Chuck vs. the Fear of Death
Season 4, Episode 8, air-date November 15, 2010
Summary: In order to repair his status as an agent and his relationship with Sarah, Chuck agrees to go on a dangerous mission with an eccentric partner. Morgan and Casey must stop Jeff and Lester from knowing the true identity of Greta at the store.
So you know how sometimes Frea is the optimist and mxpw is the pessimist and they're at each other's throats because they don't agree on a single thing?
Er, you're not going to find that with this episode review.
mxpw: So...the episode...I have mixed feelings.
mxpw: I really don't like what they're doing to Chuck's character and I'm not really sure what they're doing with Sarah's, but it was still a fairly entertaining episode.
Frea: I can see it.
Frea: Optimist or pessimist?
mxpw: I hate this idea that they keep perpetuating that Chuck is worthless without the Intersect. It drives me crazy. And that Sarah seems to buy into it, at least a little, annoys me even more.
mxpw: Definitely pessimist.
Frea: *laughing* Okay, I'll be the optimist.
Frea: Because I kind of felt that Sarah's very valid points were being undermined by the writers.
mxpw: Eh...I have to agree, for the most part, but at the same time, ultimately, Rye is right: If Chuck is going to be a spy and do the job, he can't turn to Sarah every time he needs help. I just hate that they keep couching that in terms of using the Intersect. Seasons one and two proved that Chuck didn't need the Intersect to be a spy. I don't know why they've forgotten that.
Frea: Well, that was the weird thing. They didn't. They showed Chuck doing really well with the loupe and the gemology course.
mxpw: It's purely a S3 creation that Chuck is useless if he doesn't have the Intersect.
Frea: But they were pulling a bit of their Shaw mythology out of their asses again.
Frea: AKA – the belief that sending an agent in with no intel is a good way to go.
mxpw: Eh...I'd maybe agree if I thought for one second that this storyline is leading to a point where Chuck realizes that and solves problems without the Intersect. But I don't. I think he may learn to flash again, but we're past the point where Chuck's non-Intersect spy prowess is considered a good thing.
mxpw: I was rather shocked that Sarah told Chuck she didn't think he was a spy, but then again, this is the woman that agreed with Shaw in Beard that Chuck had no use if he couldn't flash. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised.
Frea: They really need to learn the difference between "spy" and "protect yourself."
mxpw: For reals.
Frea: That's their main issue, really. Because Chuck has proven time and again that he can do the spy work even if his methods are a bit unorthodox, and Sarah has time and again had faith in him in that. It's where he might get shot and killed that she really has issues, but the writers bungled that.
Frea: He's not an assassin, and without the Intersect, he's not a fighter, is what she needs to say.
mxpw: Yes, agreed 100%. Instead, they keep tying spying ability to whether or not he's a spy. I mean, it's total nonsense. Look at Morgan. The man has no fighting ability whatsoever and yet they let him go on missions. Hell, Casey even gave him a gun in FF! Granted it was a tranq gun, but still. Sarah gets so blinded by her need to protect Chuck that she coddles him.
Frea: Which is weird because she didn't really coddle him too much when he was her asset and she was his handler. I mean, look at all of the times he got into trouble because she didn't properly explain a situation or even have a learning curve that goes "Hm, maybe Chuck will listen to my orders even though he never has before." Though the coddling was over the top in this episode in a way that made sense to me -- something's wrong with her headstrong boyfriend, who's going to throw himself headlong into any situation that can help him heal it, and she has to sit back and let this guy beat the crap out of him.
Frea: Fates Sarah would have flattened Rye after the first smack, no joke.
mxpw: But the problem was, like you said, in the writing. She wasn't coddling him in the right way. Instead of telling him that he could still be a great spy even without the use of the Intersect, she was telling him that he couldn't be a spy period. She should have been constantly encouraging him to use his brain. That was the mistake she made here.
Frea: Definitely agreed. I'm inclined to let her off easy about it, though, since that outburst kind of stems from her philosophy: spy-work to her and Casey seems to be either surveillance or shooting, if the very grim reality we were allowed to see in the glimpses of writing for Sarah from Season Three have anything to say about it. In fact, more times than not, it seems to come down to assassination and thievery in her world and no, Chuck is not really that great at either of those. If anything, I'm hoping they don't sweep her opinion under the rug and instead, both Sarah and Chuck finally realize that, hey, there's more to spying than this inexplicable law-breaking and murdering the government delights in having us do! If they both come to this realization, awesome. If not, well, imagine me having problems with the Chuck writers. There's a real first!
mxpw: Haha, total shocker there.
mxpw: This just really felt like a retread from Season 3. Maybe that's why I wasn't crazy about the episode. And it was another example of the inconsistency with which the other characters view Chuck's spy abilities. It's like in S1-2, Sarah would tell Chuck he needs to realize that he's a hero, and this was before Intersect 2.0. But ever since S3, how Sarah (and others) view Chuck really seems to fluctuate depending on the plot of the episode. I don't think Sarah intended to hurt Chuck, but that's what her emotional outburst did. I did appreciate her barely holding it together at the end and the guilt trip she was feeling.
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mxpw: The spy plot just wasn't very strong and didn't make a lot of sense.
mxpw: And yet, oddly enough, I still kinda liked Rob Riggle's Rye.
Frea: I was very sad that the Belgian's name wasn't Jean-Claude Gestreaux.
Frea: I thought Rye was pretty fun, not anything particularly memorable to me or worthy of writing home about. One thing, one major thing: GON-dola. Not Gon-DOH-la. The Belgian said it right. Why can't you?
mxpw: I noticed that too and thought it was a little odd.
Frea: It drove me NUTS.
mxpw: I'm just hoping that after Sarah embraces her inner badass next episode (I seriously cannot wait for 4.09), that they put to bed finally all these relationship issues between Chuck and Sarah regarding their efficacy as a couple in the spy world. Seriously. It's time put a stake in it like Buffy, Chuck writers.
Frea: We put a stake in Buffy? I thought that was the UPN.
mxpw: In it like Buffy, Frea, in it, not into.
Frea: Whoops, my bad.
Frea: So I have to bring up something very important.
mxpw: No Castle slide?
Frea: And I'm amazed we didn't start with this.
Frea: Oh, no, much more important than the Castle Slide. Yes, you may gasp in shock now.
mxpw: *gasps in shock*
Frea: Summer Glau. Summer Freaking Glau.
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mxpw: Oh man... I was trying to contain myself for your benefit, but I have to be honest with you Frea, I think I was drooling for like 75% of this episode.
Frea: Between Yvonne Strahovski, Summer Glau, and Mekenna Melvin? I totally don't blame you. I mean, the only thing that would have made this episode better for you would have been Sarah Lancaster in a bikini, I know.
mxpw: Yeah, pretty much. Or Mini Anden popping in. First, some of the best SWP ever and then, holy crap, Summer looked spectacular in the Nerd Herd uniform. The SGLP was just...awe inspiring.
Frea: Let's face it, Summer Glau would eat a very sophisticated sandwich.
mxpw: But, hey, they did put Zac in boxers. I actually think that's the least amount of clothing he's ever worn on the show.
Frea: Yes. And that shot gave me a very good view of his shoulders.
mxpw: Oh I suppose it would be tied with Fat Lady.
mxpw: Ha! I actually thought to myself while watching that: "Frea must have really enjoyed this scene, Zac's shoulders are on fine display."
Frea: What? Everybody was thinking it, I figured I'd play to the crowd. Yes, I did rewind that scene, twice.
mxpw: This may shock you, but I rewound one scene too and it probably wasn't one you think.
Frea: Casey and Alex in the diner?
mxpw: Haha, no. I mean, that was a very good scene and I found Alex's utterly casual and blase attitude while talking to Casey about his itchy trigger finger and going on missions very amusing, that was not it.
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Frea: Easy access.
Frea: Also, I am now terrified of Summer Glau in a way that is giving me River Tam flashbacks, the way she brandished that knife.
mxpw: Oh man, is it wrong that I found that totally hot? Because I did.
mxpw: In fact, I found most of the stuff she did in this episode really hot, including just standing around.
Frea: You and the sighted community, Maximus. I was glad to see her back, and to see previews for The Cape, which I am so freaking excited about.
mxpw: I am a Summer Glau fanboy, so I will watch anything she's in, so I'm looking forward to it too.
mxpw: And I do think we should talk about SG and the Buy More at least a little. What did you think?
Frea: As amusing as Jeff and Lester could be (which one DOES GretaGlau think is the psychotic one?), remember how Morgan fired Lester? And it was awesome because Lester obeyed him for awhile, and then Casey treated Lester like an insurgent and Lester obeyed Morgan for awhile again? Remember how awesome it was when Lester obeyed Morgan? You feel like I'm going somewhere with this? Maybe?
mxpw: Haha, vaguely.
mxpw: I think I have an idea.
Frea: Yeah. It would be nice to remember that hey, Morgan is the manager. Dude says drop something, DROP IT. Of course, I just naturally dislike any story where Casey has to stand up for Jeffster. It breaks something inside my soul a little bit. This is all Summer Glau aside because she was hilarious (and yes, hot) while threatening Jeffster.
Frea: I guess I can't have it both ways, can I?
mxpw: Oh yes, I know what you mean. I thought this was the best use of a guest character in a Buy More plot in some time. I thought Summer was really great (and yes, super hot), and Jeffster were funny at times, but I just found myself kinda rolling my eyes through most of their plot. Even though I'm glad that they finally did a plot where somebody questions the fact that there are all these strangely competent people around the BM now. Ultimately, though, I would have just been happy if they had just filmed Summer walking around for the B plot.
Frea: She could even do the Cameron Baum headtilt once in awhile. I would be down with that.
mxpw: That would have been awesome. Or if she had gone, "Thank you for explaining."
Frea: So the spy plot. We should probably talk about it.
mxpw: It was kinda dumb. I mean, I kinda get what Rye was going for, trying to scare the Intersect into action, but it just seemed he went about it in a stupid way. I didn't understand why, for example, Beckman couldn't have sent Chuck and Rye off to Switzerland without Sarah and Casey, and then ordered Sarah and Casey to follow without telling Chuck. That way, they would have had backup on site if they needed it, and Chuck never even had to know.
Frea: Yeah, I kind of shouted the same thing at the TV. I mean, have they never watched Fringe? The brain is a miraculous place. You can trick somebody into believing almost anything, and I would happen to think you could probably set up a fake facility to drop Chuck off of a cliff or chase him with zombies or something, given how much money the government regularly drops on this team on the show.
mxpw: Yeah, really, it seemed really unnecessarily dangerous to put him in a situation where he could be genuinely killed. And I'm not sure what was going on in the actual spy spy plot. Did Beckman send Sarah away so she could test (looked more like torture to me) Chuck without her interference? How did the Belgian find out Chuck was the Intersect? Is that why Mama B suppressed it, because she knew somebody was looking for him? What was going on?
Frea: Ditto. I'm hoping that we get some of those answers in between Sarah kicking all sorts of tail next episode. Also, I liked the Belgian better when he was Adelai Niska. He was just much scarier.
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Frea: I enjoyed the episode, despite all of my whining about the writing of the -- if you're playing the season three drinking game, hurry and grab your glass -- "real spy" drama. I liked Sarah for 95% of the episode, I thought Chuck was being needlessly reckless and that Sarah had every right to be the annoyed, overprotective girlfriend. Heck, she was kind of reminding me of Fates Sarah for most of the episode (and yes, I know Maximus over here is wishing Fates Sarah would wear more outfits like any of the ones she sported in this episode). There wasn't too much Morgan. The scene with Alex and Casey was well done; Alex remains the most level-headed of the entire extended crew, which tells me that her mother must be a rock star of some type in parenting because you know that girl got half of John Casey's stubborn genes. Er, no Castle Slide, so I'll have to deduct points for that, and even worse, no Summer Glau on the Castle Slide, giggling like River Tam. But a good episode, excellent performances by everybody, a funny mentor that really served no purpose other than to remind me Shaw's methods of teaching and make me roll my eyes...yeah. Not bad, I say. What'd you think, Max?
mxpw: While I was annoyed with the spy antics in this episode and thought both Chuck and Sarah brought up good points, I was still taken aback by Sarah saying what she did, in the way that she did it. In a way, this is actually more of a fight than the fight in First Fight. Other than that moment, I liked Sarah throughout most of the episode and thought that this was one of Yvonne's best performances in a while. Her acting like a caged animal during most of the Castle scenes, especially at the end, were just superb. And I seriously loved her yelling at the General. My how far she's come. Also, those pants she was wearing? I have NO earthly idea why she was wearing them as they didn't seem very practical (seriously, they had to be painted on), but I am so happy she wore them. And of course, the massage scene. Now that's the SWP I've been missing.
mxpw: As for the rest of the episode, absolutely loved Summer Glau, thought the BM plot was funny at times, but mostly pointless. Really enjoyed the Casey and Alex scene. Thought Rye was funny but also dumb. Like the Belgian waffle joke, liked the chocolate joke, and am really confused about what the heck is going on. But oh man, 4.09 is going to be so epic! I can't wait. As one commenter rightly pointed out, it looks like Sarah is about to become an awesome combination of my three favorite fandom Sarahs: DA, AP, and Fates.
Frea: Let's hope she got her sanity from Fates, otherwise all the brunettes on the planet are doomed.
mxpw: Well, clearly she's not AP. Summer is way too hot a brunette to let within a 100 feet of Chuck.
Frea: Excellent point. Greta/Sarah knife fight? Who's writing the fic, people?
mxpw: Heeee, that would be such an awesome fic. If I didn't have enough on my plate already, I might do it.
Frea: 7 Castle Slides out of 10.
mxpw: 2.5 Half-Naked Sarahs Giving a Massage out of 5.
As a courtesy to other readers, we ask you not to post spoilers (apart from those in the preview for next week's episode), as others on the blog might not like to be spoiled! Thanks, guys! - Frea and mxpw