Chuck vs. the Wookie
Season 1, Episode 4, air-date 15 October 2007
A rival agent shows up; she needs assistance stealing a gem from a drug lord. Chuck's agents are reluctant to help due to past dealings.
And look, there's even a new mxpw vs. Frea graphic to, er, commemorate it. Yeah, that's our story and we're sticking to it. (Frea's note: Many, many, many, many apologies to Yvonne Strahovski).
Frea: So Maximus, I have phenomenal cosmic powers.
mxpw: Oh you do, most benevolent overlord? Like what?
Frea: I have taken a picture of Yvonne Strahovski and made people want to recoil. For which I am deeply, deeply, deeply sorry.
mxpw: That is true. You have done what I considered nigh impossible: you made me cringe when looking at a picture of Yvonne.
Frea: It was kind of an accident, I swear. And by the time I realized what had happened, I was too far down that path to come back from it.
mxpw: Yet, despite its horror, I can't help but stare at it and laugh maniacally.
Frea: ...me either.
mxpw: Carina just looks like a suave badass.
Frea: Well, she would have to. She represents me on that picture.
mxpw: All she needs is a cane and her look would be complete.
mxpw: Yes, you are the crazy, unpredictable one of this pairing. I've also heard rumors you like handcuffing men to their beds, so this fits.
Frea: To be fair, I've only done that in one chapter of Fates. Oh, speaking of handcuffing men to their beds...wait a second. You did that on purpose, didn't you?
mxpw: I may have nudged things along.
Frea: Now, that I have managed to incorporate into Fates. But seriously, that whole episode is one of my favorite episodes in all, so I'm glad we're covering Chuck vs. the Wookie right now. Because a) I got to watch it again, and b) ... I got to watch it again.
mxpw: I feel the same way, of course. This is one of my favorite Season One episodes. Maybe my favorite overall. But this should really come as no surprise to anybody that knows me.
Frea: The people over at ChuckThis might be covering S4 again, but I think we lucked out in our choices. So many good episodes in S1.
mxpw: Yeah, Season One was the season that made me a fan. I was so disappointed when the writers' strike shortened the season, and so grateful when it came back. There are a lot of gems in this first season, though Season Two remains my favorite season overall.
mxpw: Also, I'm still laughing at the picture.
mxpw: I'm probably going to be saying that a lot during this review.
Frea: Same goes. So, as for this particular gem...which is about stealing a gem! Yeah, before I went down that bunny trail, this particular gem: Sarah's goldfish, Chuck and Morgan playing video games, Sarah's boss at the Wienerlicious (Scooter!), diamond heists, the truth about Bryce and Sarah, Casey's apartment, and that fleeting persona that had no effect whatsoever on the fandom at all Carina! I dare you not to laugh hysterically at this episode.
Frea: Oh, and ninjas!
Frea: I can't believe I forgot the ninjas. Well, just one. A Swedish ninja. Still counts!
mxpw: Yeah, so, full disclosure: Everybody knows I'm a Carina fan, so I'm kind of required by fanboy law to love this episode. Mini Anden may not be the best actress in the world, but I ask you, is acting talent really necessary when you're a nearly six foot Swedish supermodel? The answer is clearly no! Okay, okay, I kid, I'm only partially that shallow. But really, Carina has had a huge impact on the fandom overall, and this episode showcases why. She's unpredictable, and she reminds me of the Joker from The Dark Knight, she exists to introduce a little anarchy into everybody's lives. Random hotel room assaults, improvised diamond heists, remote controlled jet skis, what could be better?
mxpw: That we get fantastic insight into Sarah's characterization, a glimpse into Sarah and Bryce's past, further cementing of the trust between Chuck and Sarah, seeing that Casey is not the straight-laced cold school killer (Remember, kids, smoking is hazardous to your health!), and multiple plates turned into improvisational missiles, is like the icing on the cake that is this episode.
Frea: "Read a paper....from the 60s."
mxpw: I think that is honestly one of my all-time favorite Casey quips.
mxpw: It was so random and yet well-placed that I can't help but laugh every time he says it.
|Casey mocks because he cares.|
Frea: Which begs the all-too-important question: would pre-Chuck Sarah have lured Casey out of his pants and handcuffed him to a bed?
Frea: Aaaaaand you're all welcome for that mental image.
mxpw: Huh, you know, I never even thought of that, but that is an excellent point. That would explain Casey's comment a little better, if he thought Sarah was acting like Carina. Though I actually think that makes Casey's comment make even less sense because Sarah is the opposite of Carina, which is the whole point of Carina's very existence.
mxpw: Wasn't defacing Yvonne bad enough for you? Must you heap mental images upon us as well?
Frea: I am so, so, SO sorry, Yvonne.
Frea: But yeah, that's my main takeaway from Wookie: Sarah and Carina. And not in a Sarina fashion, either.
mxpw: I do understand the distinction, I just think that Sarah has to be opposite Carina, even without Chuck's presence, for the mirroring to have thematic relevance. I don't know, maybe I'm just whistling Dixie.
mxpw: Oh, weeeeeell, since you brought up Sarina...
mxpw: Oh fine, for proprietary's sake, I'll make one Sarina reference and that'll be the end of it. Yvonne and Mini really do have some great chemistry in their scenes. Yeah, that's the extent I'll go, for your sake, Frea.
|Spy Mandate: You must be pretty work for the DEA/CIA. Yes, we went there.|
mxpw: One would think having an evil side and being impish would be a necessity whenever Carina is in a twelve mile radius.
Frea: Oh, I don't know if I've ever been in a twelve-mile radius of Carina.
mxpw: But yes, I agree, I love that scene between Chuck and Sarah in the Buy More. Chuck trying to get Sarah to agree to saying no, Sarah barely even paying attention, and then bam, her evil plan is hatched. Either it's revenge or she just wants to torture Carina, but I just love the whole double date idea.
Frea: I'm going to go with "torture Carina" because I don't know about you: I loved Josh Gomez in the pilot, but here, Morgan Grimes really bugged in all but two scenes. I seem to remember being more annoyed at the time of watching the episode and it wasn't so bad on rewatch, but how did we go from pilot perfection to the over the top creepiness that this episode portrayed? I know we were supposed to be cringing during the couple's game at the beginning (some excellent facial expressions from Mr. Levi there, by the way), but gaaaaaah. Although I will say that Josh Gomez got a very genuine belly laugh from me during the scene where they're all watching the movie together. In the background, you see the penguin shaking his head, and then you see Morgan repeat the motion a second later.
mxpw: Too true. Actually on my rewatch, I found Morgan very annoying, so I think it may have gotten worse for me. But since you brought up the couple's game, we should talk about this episode's main theme: which is trust.
Frea: Excellent point. I remember after this episode and the Pilot and Helicopter, like we were on a trust yo-yo. It was like Sarah had to go through a trial by fire to be trusted by Chuck every single week, and this episode was no exception.
Frea: Of course, this episode also proved that she needed the trial by fire because she would have happily gone on lying to him, I think, without Carina's chaos.
mxpw: Exactly, and that's what I want to talk about. I was struck by how kind of annoyed I was during the rewatch at the whole trust thing. It was like, I kept wondering why Chuck was supposed to trust Sarah so implicitly when she regularly lied to him. That line after Carina tricks them about whatever problems he has with her personally, he shouldn't let it affect them professionally...but, that's impossible because why should he trust her professionally when she lies all the time? Especially since their "personal" life is entirely professional anyway?
mxpw: There was no real reason to lie about Bryce. All she did was undermine her own position with Chuck. That's not Chuck's problem, it's hers.
mxpw: Also, still laughing at the picture.
Frea: I think this episode worked to establish the "don't ask, and I won't tell" policy between them. Especially Carina's words to Chuck (like Sarah, by the way, Carina also carries an S&W, though she prefers the Ladysmith...or knives) about how spies don't like you to know anything real about them because they might have to shoot you in the head two minutes later (oh, some psychologist just heard that and dreamed of a five book deal). They both had lessons to learn in this episode. Sarah's was, "Tell the truth" and Chuck's was, "She's a spy, it's in her nature to lie." Of course, these issues kept being revisited over and over and over again in S1 (trust yo-yo!) until Marlin, when Sarah herself was able to tell some version of the truth ("Save you later" and "Who do you have?" "Me.").
Frea: And honestly, I understood her lying about Bryce, what with the whole history between Chuck and Bryce being a thorny one and she didn't think there was any way she could get caught. At this point, she's convinced Chuck is just an asset. Carina was there to be the pivot point for the Chuck and Sarah stuff to really start. Hell, she outright announces it, and makes it make sense. Now there's a catalyst character for you.
Frea: However, just because I understand the lying doesn't mean I liked it.
Frea: Just for the record.
mxpw: I guess. I'm not saying I don't understand why she lied, I just really think it was a poor decision on her part. But really, I can forgive it, because it provides the necessary foundation for the scene at the end of the episode for what is probably not only my fave Chuck and Sarah moment of Season One, but one of my all-time favorite moments as well. The "My middle name is Lisa" scene was just fantastic. Granted, most of that was because of Yvonne's phenomenal acting (really, this scene is when I knew that there was something special about her), but it was such an emotionally powerful interaction between Chuck and Sarah. You can see that connection between them being cemented, the yearning Sarah has to tell Chuck something real about herself but not being able to do so, the earnestness with which Chuck wants to get to know this beautiful woman that has captivated him. Of course, this scene was completely ruined by Season Three, but I try my best not to dwell on it too much. I think it was this scene that made me a shipper, actually.
Frea: Oh man. I remember bouncing up and down with excitement after that scene ended, back when I first watched this episode. I was actually thinking about this earlier. On my way to pick up more Dr. Pepper (chez O'Scanlin had sadly run dry), a Phantom Planet song played on my Pandora station: Lisa (Does It Hurt You?). The song applies well, and every time I hear it, I think of that scene. Today, I was thinking about it and how Lisa means so much more to the fans than "Sam" because of the wistfulness, and like you said, the connection on both parties. Sam leaves a bad taste in the mouth, Lisa represents the yearning and the days when the Charah was so good it hurt.
mxpw: Yeah, Lisa really does represent the good days, before Charah got tainted and much of the luster was rubbed off the relationship. Lisa represented Sarah's attempt to become the kind of person she's always wanted to be, and that's one of the reasons why I loved that scene.
Frea: Amusing, since I think both episodes were written by the same person.
mxpw: They were.
mxpw: I remember back in Season Three and how everybody was cautiously optimistic about Fake Name because they figured the person who gave us Lisa would not ruin the reveal of Sarah's real name. Yeah...not so much.
Frea: Random story: for so long, I thought Ali Adler had written American Hero, which I find to be one of the worst hours of TV ever, so I didn't tune in for No Ordinary Family even though it's got Darla. I found out that the episode wasn't written by Ali Adler, and now I owe you an apology, Ali. So sorry about that. However, you did write Fake Name, so the apology may exist on a slide-rule/scale.
Frea: But that's a different story for a different day. Back to Wookie!
Frea: Yvonne Strahovski picked the name, didn't she?
mxpw: That is, I believe, true. She picked it some time ago, apparently. Long before Season Three, I mean.
Frea: So I want to talk a little bit about the plot.
mxpw: Sure thing.
Frea: It's one of the better plots, I think, for twists and turns, and it's even more fun when you look closer at it.
mxpw: I agree. It has one of the tighter spy plots of the early years, back when the show seemed to put some actual effort into making their spy stories resemble some semblance of logic.
Frea: So it starts out with the game where Sarah actually looks like she's enjoying herself with Chuck's friend and family, intercut with these awesome long-distance "I'm being watched" type shots. And then, of course, the iconic scene in which Sarah is in nothing but a bathrobe and feeding her goldfish. Can I just say, I love her hotel room? It's just so freaking pretty.
|Thanks to Sorde, nobody will ever be able to convince me the goldfish's name isn't Herman.|
mxpw: Can I say I just love her bathrobe?
Frea: Then we introduce the blast from Sarah's past, who has the mission of the week: steal a diamond. Blast from the past meets the team, Sarah and Carina are actually seen doing work planning the op, and then we get the first breaks in the chain, where we learn that Carina is uncontrollable and has kind of focused on Chuck, as he presents a puzzle to her.
mxpw: And we are then greeted to our first ever CMP scene! The first of two, no less.
mxpw: Also, according to Frea, Carina opens her champagne bottle wrong. To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention to that, so I'll have to take her word for it.
Frea: She does. The way she opens it would just cut a piece of the cork off. She's gotta take off part of the neck, too, but that's messy.
Frea: Between this and my last chapter of Fates, I'm coming across like a lush!
mxpw: Though that scene does bring up one of the plot holes of the show that has always bothered me, and that is apparently neither of Chuck's handlers seem to care about Chuck getting called on Nerd Herd service calls. It's something they've done multiple times throughout the show (probably most famously in First Date) and you'd think they'd have learned their lesson about it.
Frea: Yeah, that always struck me as amusing. I believe I have poked fun at the principle in several chapters of my story.
mxpw: I've used it myself in my stories as well.
Frea: Maybe Casey was on call that night and wanted to get Chuck back for wondering what happened in Prague. "See how he fares against, Carina, the little twerp."
mxpw: Haha. But anyway, back to the plot!
Frea: Yeah, so we get the moment between Chuck and Sarah where the Bryce things come to light (ouch), and then we go on this long, elaborate mission to do recon. Only Carina works it so that they actually steal the diamond, then double-crosses them on the beach. The fact that she had the remote-controlled jetski all ready to go tells you she planned for all of this, which...wow. Devious. I was so freaking impressed. Do not play chess with this woman.
mxpw: Too true, too true. She is a hell of a dangerous package.
mxpw: But I have a question for you, Frea.
Frea: Yes, Maximus?
mxpw: One thing I've always wondered about is, do you think her laugh after Chuck's Wookie comment was because she got the reference or because she was just humoring him? I've always wondered, and I don't know why that's stayed with me. I tend to land on the side she was just humoring him, because if there's anything Chuck has taught me, it's that most spies seem to be oddly culturally ignorant. But I still wonder.
mxpw: And yes, I realize that's totally random.
Frea: I think she laughed to mess with Sarah.
Frea: Because at that point, she was still trying to drive a wedge between them so that Chuck would work with her rather than Sarah. I gotta say, the woman's a chessmaster and we're all her pawns.
mxpw: But I wanted to get at least one mention of Principal Figgins into this review.
Frea: Iqbal Theba! I love that guy. No, seriously. The first episode of Glee, I shouted, "Senor Wookie!"
mxpw: Same here.
mxpw: Double Nerd!
Frea: Anyway, so Carina gets away and we get the excellent Sarah changing scene where she's simultaneously taking off her dress and scolding Chuck--what a way to either give him a complex or mixed signals, woman!--and then we go to Carina's hotel. Which is the part that doesn't make sense to me.
Frea: If she was planning to double-cross them all at the party, why didn't she just have everything ready to go?
mxpw: Give me a second, my brain is still recovering from Sarah's changing scene.
Frea: I really did try to slip that one by you. I'm sorry.
mxpw: Nice try, but you should know by now I have a sixth sense for SWP.
mxpw: Okay, so my thought is, maybe she wasn't planning to double-cross them. I mean, not entirely. She may be the kind of player who plans for every eventuality. She had the jet ski there in case an opportunity came up, but if it didn't, well, there was always the actual mission. That could be the explanation for why she wasn't ready to leave town right away.
mxpw: By our powers combined...
Frea: You have an mxpw vs. Frea review!
Frea: Sorry, it was too much to resist.
mxpw: So one of my fave parts is the Swedish-Polish exchange right before Sarah and Carina kickass. It was scenes like that that showed despite their antagonistic nature throughout the episode, they really were friends and knew each other pretty well. Plus, Yvonne speaking Polish is hot.
Frea: And they fought pretty well in tandem, too. That's a sign of true partnership in the Chuckverse: how well you fight side by side. I give you Honeymooners, Undercover Lover, and Chuck and Morgan's Kung Faux in Sizzling Shrimp.
mxpw: Ain't that the truth.
mxpw: So after they save the day, Chuck hilariously mails the diamond to the brass (Graham's reaction is priceless), the episode ends with Carina cluing Chuck into the fact that Sarah digs him and then the last scene. So yeah, this episode is just pretty awesome from start to finish. Do you have anything you'd like to add, Frea?
Frea: Just that this episode inspired so much of Fates, I think. I do have one technical beef, though.
Frea: There were two times in the first season where they went in and dubbed in a line by Zachary Levi or Yvonne Strahovski after the fact, and yeah, I know, my production background probably enables me to see this better than most, where I felt really kind of insulted as a viewer. Wookie was one of the two times. When Chuck, Sarah, and Carina are breaking into the vault, Chuck snidely makes a comment about Bryce and Sarah breaking into the bedroom and Sarah shushes him. I know why they did this: they wanted to amp up the tension between Chuck and Sarah on the beach when Chuck tosses Carina the diamond, but I really, really felt that the dubbed in lines were completely unnecessary. We would have understood it without Chuck being annoying and snide on a mission.
Frea: However, to play Devil's Advocate, this is the fourth episode of a new series, and maybe they were hoping to drive Chuck and Bryce's history home to anybody who might have been tuning in for the first time. Still, overall, I felt like it was insulting to Chuck's character and my intelligence.
mxpw: I cringe every time I hear that line as well.
Frea: The other time, for the record, is when Chuck and Sarah are arguing in Crown Vic.
mxpw: Now I actually noticed that one.
Frea: But that's all I had. Great episode, awesome cast, good script, wonderful acting. Can't really ask for more since the Castle Slide is still two years away at this point.
mxpw: Yeah, that's pretty much my thoughts on the episode.
mxpw: Oh, and also, Mini Anden in a bikini. Awesome.
Frea: I'll agree, for once: Awesome. Stay sexy, everybody.
mxpw: Aaaaaaand I'm still laughing at that picture.
Frea: Hahahahahaha. Sorry!!!!!!!!
mxpw: *shakes head* Frea, Frea, what will we do with you?
Frea: 8.7 Sarcastic, Devious Sarahs (“Who do you work for?” “Tiffany’s.”) out of 10
mxpw: 4.5 Sarahs Changing For Work in the Backseat out of 5
What are your thoughts? Are we too blinded by Swedish supermodel or are we right? For the record, the answer is both.
|Let this picture show that Maximus can no longer say I never did anything for him.|