mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the Gobbler

Chuck vs. the Gobbler
Season 4, Episode 12, air-date January 25, 2011

Chuck becomes worried when Sarah goes to extreme measures to help his mother take down Alexei Volkoff. Ellie and Devon have trouble deciding the name of their new baby.

mxpw: So, Frea, I want to start this review off on the right foot and discuss the most important thing about this episode. That can only really mean one thing: Sarah in leather. I mentioned this in Chris's Instant Reaction post, but she looked so incredibly amazing in that outfit I literally lost track of the dialogue at times. This was, maybe, some of the best use of SWP ever.

Frea: Sarah was in leather? I didn't notice.

mxpw: Uh-huh... Hold on, I have something I want to post.

Frea: ...uh-oh.

mxpw: Just so all you people can see (and also because I thought it was funny as hell) here is what Frea said to me during the episode: "Holy hell. And Sarah in leather is so amazing I'm even think[ing] about going bi."

mxpw: So you see, I have proof! Never again can Frea give me a hard time about SWP.

Frea: Yeah, Sarah set up the pitch and then Kate Beckett came along and knocked it out of the park. I'm now questioning my sexuality, thanks to both of them. And hey, I'm comfortable with that.

mxpw: As am I.

Frea: I wonder if the SWFG are taking applications. I come equipped with my own fully-staffed crew of minions.

mxpw: But yes, you mention this to me later, that Sarah's all-black wardrobe was incredibly awesome, in an over-the-top, clich├ęd, ridiculous neon sign "Hey, look at me, I'm EVIL!" kind of way.

Frea: I, too, was wondering about the hair, alongside Chuck. Is it a wig (obviously, on Yvonne), or a rinse or something?

mxpw: I said this to Yokaputo last night, but I didn't even know Sarah owned that much black. And then I wondered if she took her TARDIS suitcase with her when she went rogue. I think she had at least three different outfits. Though now I'm wondering what Sarah used that leather catsuit for in the past. Was it like just lying around or have she and Chuck been playing a little Captain Shepherd/Miranda Lawson in the bedroom?

Frea: She takes her TARDIS suitcase everywhere if she doesn't have access to the Castle Slide. Volkoff, by the way, has a magic plane, but I'll get into that in a minute. See, between thoughts of, OMG Sarah in Leather!, I was like, "Man, that had to be uncomfortable with all those set lights."

mxpw: Can I say that I loved the bit where Volkoff asks her about the hair? I thought it was pretty funny (as was her reaction, all "Yeah, I am badass and evil now, so of course I dyed my hair, you idiot") and exactly the kind of thing Volkoff would focus on.

Frea: Do you think Volkoff watches Bob Ross?

Frea: I mean, can you imagine if Mary had taken Chuck with her when she went rogue? Volkoff and Chuck could have Bob Ross marathons and work on their painting skills and then Volkoff can teach Chuck how to shoot people in the head with no muss or fuss.

mxpw: He totally does watch Bob Ross.

mxpw: I have to say, I expected Volkoff to kill Yuri as soon as that scene started, but I still found it compelling and funny. "Phyllis, cleanup!" Great line.

mxpw: Plus, Sarah looked very hot in that black dress she wore.

Frea: Can I just say the scene where Sarah took out the three gunmen? AWESOME.

mxpw: Possibly the best bit of the episode. That was just HOT. And awesome, yes. I do love badass Sarah and that was amazing.

Frea: My favorite bit was in Castle.

mxpw: It was a fantastic way to start off the episode. Especially with Sarah's slo-mo entrance. Fantastic.

mxpw: What did you like in that Castle scene? Sarah's break in into Castle and her "Hello, boys?" Or the leather?

Frea: Actually, I just loved the whole scene when Chuck went after her. The "Hello, boys," was inspired, yes, and the leather...'nuff said, I know, I know. But it was nice to see a little passion there, and it was nice that there was more than just the hug she gave him at the beginning.

Frea: Yes, yes, I know, hopeless romantic.

mxpw: Oh man, YES. I said this to Crystal last night, but I actually threw my hands up in the air and yelled "Come on!" when Sarah just gave him that peck and then left. I was like, "Are you kidding me? They haven't seen each other in weeks, she could die at any moment, and that's all they do when saying goodbye?" Thank God he did go after her and there was that great kiss. But that scene in Castle was also the start of Chuck's spiral. You could tell he was put off by the distance Sarah was putting between them, and it's what probably started to crack his belief that Sarah wouldn't change or end up like his mother. But I was proud of him for going after her.

mxpw: Plus, well, Sarah in leather.

Frea: Sarah in leather indeed.

mxpw: Actually, I wanted to point out something, I thought the writing was better in this episode than it usually is, in at least one aspect. There's a lot of contrivances that happen later and I'm not happy about a lot of the decisions that the characters make, but I did appreciate that whoever wrote this setup Chuck having doubts and questioning Sarah from the very beginning of the episode. Yeah, the whole concept was rushed, but at least it didn't come out of nowhere at the end. The writer slowly built it up until it reached the natural climax at Sarah pushing Casey out of the window.

Frea: Yeah, it was a complete turnaround from last week, in which the writing was some of the most contrived writing-for-TV I'd ever seen, even for, like, Bones or something.

Frea: Two Bones burns in two weeks, Frea? What is this, a vendetta?

Frea: Yes. Yes it is.

mxpw: It had all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the face at times, but at least the writer developed things and didn't just pull Chuck's problems out of thin air. Now whether or not you think Chuck should question Sarah's loyalty or question her motivations or that you want to rail against Chuck for possibly doubting Sarah is one thing (I think this arc should have taken place over at least two or three eps, not one) but at least it was developed naturally within the episode.

Frea: Now, see, I'm of the opinion that we don't need this arc to take place over two or three episodes.

Frea: Because I'd rather just get it over with. Rip the band-aid off, deal with the inevitable, and move on.

Frea: And what would stretching it out over another episode do? Remind me just how much I don't like this Mary storyline.

mxpw: Well, I think it depends on if Chuck is going to actually doubt Sarah and question her. If so, then yes, it needs proper development so that he doesn't look rash and quick to jump to the wrong conclusions. But if he isn't going to doubt her, then yeah, one episode is enough.

mxpw: I understand that, Frea, and you know how much I dislike this double agent storyline, but I'd rather see them write it properly than do a rush job. I might not have liked it, but at least I could respect such a thing more.

Frea: Eh, I've lost a lot of respect everywhere, but I'm not going to dwell. By the way, Volkoff is magical.

mxpw: Like...unicorns?

Frea: Because from what I understand it, Morgan, Casey, and Chuck break Yuri-who-was-Yuri-for-La-Ciudad-but-is-not-the-same-Yuri-for-Volkoff out of prison, right? Casey and Morgan and the birthday cake is fantastic, but that's an aside. They break him out, Sarah puts him on a bakery truck and flies him back to, I'm presuming Moscow or at least Russia.

Frea: Chuck starts to get mopey, Morgan and Casey decide to cheer him up with Risk (by the way, never play Risk with me; I lose then shout, "Blitzkrieg!" and sweep my arm over the board).

Frea: Then, in Moscow, we've got Yuri getting shot in the head, the eyeball trick going on (Uh...dark), and then Sarah, Mary, and Volkoff (Lexi!) hop a plane for California again.

Frea: And Chuck, Morgan, and Casey are still playing Risk.

Frea: Apparently California at some point drifted off into the Pacific, sidled right up to Russia, and now they're neighbors.

mxpw: Yes, apparently. A game of Risk can last for hours, you know.

mxpw: I do want to say the prison scene was a lot of fun and it was probably the most amusing part of the episode. From Casey and Morgan (though I have no idea what Morgan was doing there) doing the impromptu birthday party and Chuck taking on Yuri, it was actually fun. Something I've felt this show has been missing for a while.

Frea: Agreed.

mxpw: But you know, that scene with the eyeball would have been a great moment, once the Hydra database was being displayed, for Sarah to simply pull out her gun and shoot Volkoff in the head.

Frea: Amen.

mxpw: Mission would have been over. But then we wouldn't get the angst, so no dice.

Frea: Heh, this is all going to turn out to where Mary was evil all along, and now she's manipulating Sarah and oh noes!

mxpw: At least then the Mary arc would make a lot more sense.

mxpw: Oh I meant to ask you, what did you think of the end of the episode?

Frea: A little tinge of angst for the sake of angst, but it was a human reaction, and thank God about that.

mxpw: A human reaction? What do you mean?

Frea: She thought she killed Casey, so she put her head down. At least, that’s how I’m choosing to see it.

mxpw: Oh, I didn't see that.

mxpw: Though that is one of the problems I have with this storyline.

mxpw: Like I don't see how Chuck could ever look at Sarah the same if she had actually killed Casey and I would think it very unrealistic if he did.

Frea: And I think Sarah is seeing that.

Frea: I think Mary killed her "dread test."

Frea: That's what I'm calling it because it means Volkoff and the CIA were just as evil as each other.

mxpw: See, I thought the point of the "Distance" line wasn't because of Casey, but because she didn't want to talk to Chuck. She stupidly listened to Mary, and thought she needed to put distance between her and Chuck.

mxpw: Haha, well, they are.

Frea: Why would she ever take advice from Mary?

Frea: Mary is just like Shaw.

Frea: With a better actor in place.

mxpw: Exactly. That's one of the reasons why I think Sarah was stupid in this episode.

Frea: Eh, there's also the idea that this is the mother of the man she loves, but it's not enough to make up for that deficit.

mxpw: And that’s just for personal reasons. Now, this is not my idea, the much smarter than me Course Jester mentioned this in a post on ChuckThis earlier today and it really stood out to me as an obvious “Duh” moment, but Sarah the professional and cold spy that Mary was advising her to be would have/should have told Chuck about the chip she slipped Casey so that he could know about it. The fact that she didn’t, that that would have been the logical course to take, just makes the end more ridiculous to me. Everybody should read his posts; they make a lot more sense than my ramblings. But yeah, I think that makes the end seem even more artificial.

Frea: Right now, it looks like she killed her friend. And yes, this is the first time since Cubic Z that I've seen any measure of teamwork between Sarah and Casey, so that was nice.

Frea: So do I find it annoying that she turned down Chuck's message? Yes. But I see it as understandable. If she keeps it up, will I have issues? Yeah. And is she going to keep it up? Yeah. But she hasn't yet, so I'm just not going to get annoyed at her for it yet.

mxpw: I just don't feel the same way. I often have had trouble drumming up sympathy for her since this arc started, especially since she volunteered for this mission and Chuck had no say in anything she’s done. I think she's stupid to be taking advice from Mary in the first place, and it's like you said last week, I don't respect what Sarah is doing because yeah, it does make me question her relationship with a little Chuck. You'd think after Phase 3, that wouldn't be possible, but I think after this episode, if Chuck didn't at least wonder a little about whether or not marrying Sarah was a good idea, I'd just really wonder what the point of the whole thing was.

Frea: We're getting back into S3 problems again.

Frea: I thought Sarah's storyline with Shaw was stupid and made the character make decisions I honestly thought the character never would have made (or would have made, actually, if they'd explained it or justified it more), and this whole Volkoff/Mary storyline is once again the plot jerking our characters to a place I don't really want to see them go. Timothy Dalton may be awesome, and I freaking love Linda Hamilton like nothing else, but man. This Volkoff storyline is dumb. And I can see why it's hard for people to like Sarah's actions with her being tainted by it, like she was tainted by the Stupidity of Shawism (TM).

mxpw: Want to know what bothered me most about Sarah in this episode? Most probably won’t agree, but I’m too critical, I suppose. Anyway, it wasn't the end, actually (even though that was really frustrating and facepalm-worthy), it was the scene between her and Chuck at the delivery truck. There, she told him that her mission could take a lot longer than he thought. She alluded to the fact that it had taken Mary years to get as far as she had, and it might take her as long. Yet despite that, she was still willing to go through with the mission. And you can tell that that's when Chuck broke. He had had faith in Sarah up till that point, but once she said that, you could see him slowly spiraling down.

Frea: Now, see, I loved that scene, but that's probably because Zac and Yvonne sold the hell out of it.

Frea: Also, Sarah in leather.

Frea: Because apparently we need the leather to know that Sarah is now a bad, bad girl.

Frea: And yes, I went there.

Frea: And bought a T-shirt.

Frea: I didn't bring you back anything, though.

mxpw: They did sell it, but it just read as kind of ridiculous to me. I think if Sarah was willing to go on a long term mission like that, leaving Chuck behind for who knows how long… It just kind of reads like she's destroying Chuck and his family to save it, and that is really one of the inherent problems I’ve had with her in this arc.

Frea: Why isn't Sarah relying on Chuck more, now that I'm thinking about it? I mean, they have a way to communicate. It's not like Mary all over again this time. Well, now it is. Because Sarah didn't reach out.

mxpw: Right. The end also goes back to what I'm saying about Sarah on this mission. The end of the episode basically fulfilled the prophecy of Sarah's cautionary comment to Chuck in the truck. Basically, she was saying, "Don't get your hopes up, this could take a while." And then the end was essentially confirming that, "I am your mother Chuck and I'm going down the same path she did."

Frea: Or she's a woman in a dangerous situation (and I'm not saying it's right or wrong that she put herself there, but that she is there) and if she has to deal with the boyfriend that makes her "compromised" while also dealing with a madman who shoots people in the head -- poor Phyllis, having to clean up the least bloody headshot on the planet -- then maybe she does need the distance, and doesn't realize she's turning into Mary. Hey, look at the fan wankery.

Frea: Currently, I'm just providing alternate theories.

Frea: But I'm probably wrong. I'm not good at alternate anything. Alternate endings? Awful. Alternate universes? Forget it.

mxpw: But that's not really interesting to me. One, I just don't really buy the distance thing. It reads to me of "I must destroy a part of myself to save myself, but in the process, I am diminished." Second, I don't want to see a storyline where Sarah is just like Mary. That makes Sarah less of a character, in my opinion. I want her to show how she is different, better, more in touch with what makes her a real person and not a robotic spy that can abandon her family for the sake of the job.

Frea: So would you be okay, next episode, if Sarah has to make a choice, Mary is advising her, and Sarah's just like, "You know what? Your way kind of sucks."

mxpw: And I really hope the resolution to this isn’t that Sarah spirals down and it's Chuck that saves her. Yeah, that might be romantic, but that just means Sarah is weak and is nothing but whatever Chuck makes her.

Frea: "I put my faith in Chuck."

mxpw: Yes! I would love for Sarah to basically tell Mary to shut up, she gives bad advice, and find her own way. Her own way of coping and dealing. Her own way of solving the mission.

Frea: That would be great if both Chuck and Sarah came to that realization that they do need to put their faith in Chuck. It would also be great that they would a) learn this lesson at all and b) once they've learned this lesson, they actually remember it the next week (*cough*PHASE THREE*cough*).

Frea: Singing George Michael now.

mxpw: Yeah, see, even Sarah saying that, that she's willing to put her faith in Chuck, would be a proactive choice by her and show she's willing to be different from Mary. Mary would never do that.

Frea: Right. It'd be awesome if the writers were self-aware enough to know that.

mxpw: Precisely. But this really brings us to what is my real problem with this arc: I don't care about Mary. I just don't.

mxpw: The 20 year mission is just BS. Nothing they said in Gobbler really justified it. It's just so ridiculous and still makes no sense and all I'm left with is that Mary was a woman that chose to abandon her family for the sake of the job. She chose it over them. And that makes her completely unlikable to me. And since this entire arc really hinges on her being worth saving, it just doesn't work.

Frea: Yeah, see, and I just stopped caring at all. So I don't mind this arc anymore because it doesn't matter to me whether they redeem Mary or not. She's irredeemable to me.

Frea: This is all, of course, Linda Hamilton aside. I cannot stress that enough.

mxpw: Yes, you are right about Linda Hamilton. She has been really good as Mary. Unfortunately, she's playing a character that I really couldn't care less about. And I think that's a large part of the reason why I'm so dissatisfied with Sarah's storyline. She has potentially killed Casey, potentially ruined her relationship with Chuck, potentially hurt herself, all for a woman I don't think is remotely worth it.

mxpw: Have you seen the movie the Hurt Locker?

If you do not want to be spoiled about the Hurt Locker, click here!

mxpw: Alright, so in the Hurt Locker, the main character is a soldier deployed to Iraq. There, he defuses bombs. That's his mission. He goes throughout Iraq and disables bombs. It's incredibly dangerous work, but he's an adrenaline junkie, so he loves it. But at the end of the movie, we see that he has a family back home in America. We see him go back home and he seems completely out of sorts, like he doesn't fit in there. He only fits in while doing his job, risking his life. He's addicted to it. And there is this really poignant scene where he's talking to his infant son and he basically tells his son that he loves his job more than him. And that really reminds me of Mary. I don't see conflict with her. I see somebody who loved the job more than her family and couldn't leave it. She was addicted to it, and I do think that's part of why she's stayed with Volkoff this long.

mxpw: I don't know if she likes the power or the adrenaline rush or what, but I've seen nothing from her that indicates she wants to leave.

Frea: I agree with you, and that makes me sad. Because this is supposed to be mxpw vs. Frea. And the versus just ain't happening.

mxpw: And I hate that they have implied even a little that Sarah could be like her.

Frea: I hold out hope that Sarah will realize she's nothing like Mary. Or that Ellie will point that out.

mxpw: Ellie would be a switch, but I still want Sarah to realize this on her own. I want to see her follow through on all that character development she supposedly had before this episode.

Frea: I would be perfectly fine if Ellie sat Sarah down and said, "Look, I love my mom, and I probably always will, she's my mom, but seriously, do not take her on as any sort of role model. Don't let this happen for the second generation."

Frea: "Chuck lived without his mom for twenty years. She's alive, she's made her choices, it's time for you to make yours."

Frea: And then Sarah can say, "Let Chuck be a spy."

mxpw: Which would be awesome. The problem is, the show doesn't seem to be aware that Mary is unlikable. They seem to think that Sarah's sacrifice is worth it. I have not been convinced of that yet.

Frea: And then I can forgive most of the lying!

Frea: The menfolk can dig up the dead bodies for one episode, and the womenfolk can do the emoting.

mxpw: That'd be an interesting twist.

Frea: Or if it turns out Mary's just been leading Sarah on from the start. "Not letting this little spy tart get her hands on my little boy." The source behind Mary's bad advice quickly becomes clear.

"She thinks she's good enough for MY son?"
mxpw: Hahaha. You know what? If Mary actually said that in Push Mix, I think I might just instantly start liking her.

Frea: You know, it would make sense.

mxpw: Yeah, it might explain why Mary never once commented on what the hell Sarah was even doing there. If I were Mary and I saw the woman my son loved following down the same path I took, I'd be pissed at her.

Frea: Hee, man, that would be an epic way to wrap up that storyline. Sarah finds out what Mary's been doing, gets pissed, and Mary's like, too bad, we've ruined you in Chuck's eyes, you're in over your head, you're not getting anywhere near my son

Frea: And Sarah's just like, "Screw this," shoots Volkoff in the head, and leaves.

mxpw: Exactly. That would be awesome.

Frea: You know, I will say this for it: I may hate the storyline and think it’s kind of silly, but it’s nice to see regular human emotions again. It was nice to see Chuck being proactive again, and even though Maximus over here hated the bakery truck good-bye, I loved it because I really kind of felt for both of them, and it’s nice to get involved with the characters again, and not see them as caricatures (*pointed look at Max Denby*).

Frea: Hey, speaking of Ellie -- Clara. What do you think?

mxpw: Um...I love how Ellie manipulated Devon and the Grunka stuff was pretty great, but I'm only kind of eh on Clara. I would have preferred something like Stephanie, but then that might mean acknowledging that Papa B was dead and that's clearly verboten this season (though 4.13 does give me some hope, thanks to the preview).

Frea: My best friend is going through the process of picking out baby names right now (I'm so excited, you guys! Honorary auntie!), so the baby name thing to me was a fun idea. I loved Ellie's interactions with the Buy Morons and how Ellie manipulated all of them with Grunka. Ikea jokes never get old.

mxpw: Agree. That was some of the best Ellie stuff in weeks. Since First Fight, easily.

Frea: I really hope that Sarah is present to at least pace the waiting room at the birth of her maybe-future-niece. Any bets on that being part of Sarah's final decision?

mxpw: Final decision for what? After Gobbler, I'm no longer confident an engagement will take place in 4.13. Depending on how they write Chuck, I'm thinking the relationship might be strained and the engagement put on hold until Chuck rectifies everything Sarah did with the future he sees with her.

Frea: Oh, I meant if she's going to keep going with this stupid Volkoff stuff

Frea: I never really worried about whether or not she'd say yes to a proposal.

Frea: I'll let Chuck do that.

mxpw: Oh, I don't think there's any question about her, I meant Chuck's the one who might be hesitant to ask her now.

mxpw: And I always assumed the birth of Clara would happen at the end of the episode, so the Volkoff stuff should be resolved by then.

mxpw: So I figure Sarah will either have made her choice before the birth of Clara, or have her choice made for her. Obviously, I hope for the former. Sarah needs to justify why I should root for her in this storyline.

Frea: Good news, Clara sounds horrible with both Lisa and Samantha as middle names. And now we'll have rhyming characters! Clara and Sarah. What whaaaaat.

mxpw: Haha

mxpw: Good point.

Frea: Now if Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer drops by, and Starbuck pops in, and Amara from Codex Alera joins...

Frea: I mean, what happens when we get the good Charah back, only now there's Clara to contend with, as well as Sarah? The chalice in the palace may have the brew that stays true, but—crap, I'm a week too late for a Danny Kaye joke.

mxpw: And thanks for that, the fewer reminders of Balcony the better, I say.

Frea: I do what I can to break your brain, Max. I do what I can.

mxpw: Though I am going to look forward to seeing Sarah interact with baby Clara.

Frea: So I have what may be an unpopular opinion.

mxpw: Those are always dangerous words.

mxpw: Especially these days.

Frea: Mekenna Melvin? Ah...yeah. I like her, but I don't know, she's never struck me as being on the same level as the rest of the actors on this show, Buy Morons aside.

mxpw: Hmm...I can kinda see what you mean, but I think that is mainly because we just haven't seen enough of her. She just hasn't been given much to do. Of course, I am still kinda freaked out by her relationship with Morgan, so that might have a lot to do with my own...eh-ness in regard to her character (damn, did she look good in that shirt, though). I will say Alex has a lot of potential if they just utilized her more.

Frea: It was the scene at the end, for me. I wasn't really buying her reaction at all.

Frea: And not because she's only been in a couple of episodes, just because of the actress. Which is horrible to say because she seems really nice, but I didn't like it. However, I will say this: Mary Bartowski looks freakishly like her daughter.

mxpw: Understandable. I kept waiting for her to turn around and ask Chuck how it happened. I would have loved to see Chuck explain that it was Sarah that had hurt Casey. I think that could have led to some interesting stuff from Alex.

mxpw: Might have given her room to emote some.

Frea: Yeah, but to do that would mean taking away some chance for Morgan to shine.

mxpw: Heh, yeah, and who wants that?

Frea: Who wants to bet it's Morgan that cracks whatever it is that solves the whole dilemma next episode?

mxpw: I've already seen some people say that they think Morgan will be the one that finds the chip and leads Chuck on the path to taking down Volkoff. I just kinda roll my eyes at that because it sounds exactly like what they would do.

Frea: *sigh* Unicorn.

mxpw: Unicorn.

mxpw: So to wrap up, for me, this episode epitomized a lot of the problems I've had with this season. But just so I won't be accused of only focusing on the negative, I want to say that I loved watching Sarah being a badass, even if she's making a lot of questionable decisions right now. I really enjoyed the prison sequence. I loved the Ellie/Devon subplot. I loved watching the boys play Risk (and Casey's explosion sound was brilliant). Yeah, people were hit heavily and often by the stupid stick this episode (Casey going to meet Sarah without a plan or backup, Chuck doing the same, Sarah at the end, etc.) but I didn't dislike the episode as much as Balcony. I object to the notion that I should wait and see what happens in Push Mix before condemning this episode. I think I shouldn't have to wait until the next episode before I can determine whether the one I'm currently watching is any good. So even though I know this episode was all set-up, it was still lacking. But...there was a lot I still liked. It's a very confusing and jumbled mess, much like this season so far.

Frea: As for me, on the one hand, there was Sarah in leather. On the other hand, Kate and Castle's kiss was AWESOME. I'm good.

mxpw: So how would you rate this episode, Frea?

Frea: I haven't the foggiest. Five? Six? It wasn't that great an episode, I just don't care anymore.

Frea: Um, let me find a random number generator.

mxpw: And while you're searching for that random number generator, I'll say this gets 3 Sarahs in leather out of 5.

Frea: My random number generator gave it a 9.


  1. Ayefah27.1.11

    I just realized that Ellie set off her Grunka plan by totally lying to Chuck. She played him like a violin and I kinda love it.

    Sarah's little action scene in the beginning was indeed aweseome. And her hair was indeed ridiculous, but what can you do.

    I only have one real question for you guys: What do you think the point of Mary is, vis a vis Chuck's character development? I mean, Stephen arrived for clear reasons: To expound on the Intersect, to go to Ellie's wedding, and to reveal that Chuck is a legacy spy rather than a totally accidental one.

    I just...don't get the point of Mary, thematically or instrumentally. So I was hoping someone could explain it to me.

  2. Anonymous27.1.11

    you guys are AWESOME and very entertaining. i love reading what you guys have to say.

  3. Anonymous27.1.11

    Oh and i had a question that i hope you guys can answer for me. Does Mary know that her husband is dead?

  4. I literally laughed out loud when I read the part about Chuck, Casey and Morgan still playing Risk in the time that Volkoff, Sarah and Mary (man, what a mouthful of names) flew from Russia to California. That particular issue flew right over my head. Hahaaaaa.

    Sarah in leather + badass background music (which shall now henceforth be known as "Sarah's Badass Theme") = Crystal love.

    That is all.

  5. Great review

    I'm glad I'm not crazy in thinking this arc would make Chuck question wanting to marry Sarah. Seeing what his father was like, he probably wouldn't want to end like him.

    And the distance thing with Sarah makes her look stupid. In first Fight she wonders why Chuck keeps trusting Mary then she takes advice and does the exact same thing as her.

    I couldn't put my finger on whats been off about this arc but you figured it out. Mary is unsympathetic and I could care less what happens to her.

  6. @Ayefah - You know what, that's a really good question. The answer that immediately popped into my head after reading your question was that Mary was supposed to illustrate to Chuck the dangers/pitfalls/risks involved with marrying a spy. Especially a spy like Sarah. Basically, she's supposed to be a window into his potential future. Kind of like a cautionary tale, I suppose? The problem with this idea, I think, is that it only works when it's obvious that's what they're going for and then they actually go for it. But so far in this arc, Chuck has yet to show any reluctance or analysis or any deep introspection on whether or not he does want to take that risk with Sarah. You would think if anything would make him do that, it's the events in Gobbler, but my guess is that most of all the potential issues about getting involved with a spy will be swept under a rug. So there won't actually be any cautionary tale at all.

    Basically, that's my long winded way of saying I have no idea and I don't think the TPTB have any idea either.

    @Anonymous - I don't believe we have any idea whether or not Mary knows that Stephen is dead. I'm not even sure Papa B has even been mentioned more than once or twice this season, and certainly not by Mary. It's really beyond strange that Mary has yet to talk to either of her children about him too, but like I said during the review, any mention of Stephen this season seems to be a taboo subject. I'm hoping Push Mix changes that.

    @JC - I'm willing to give Sarah a pass on the stupidity of her actions (and yes, I think she was being stupid) at the end of Gobbler if she immediately realizes what a mistake it is and does something to change things in the beginning of Push Mix. But if she continues to act that way during the episode, forget it.

    And yeah, I just don't like Mary. Honestly, yeah, Chuck has seemed worried about her, but Sarah seems to care more about saving Mary than Chuck does, and that's a little weird. I'm sure I'm supposed to think that Sarah views Mary as a kind of kindred spirit, but I just don't care. She's just too unsympathetic, as you said.

  7. Stephen27.1.11

    I have to say that unlike you I have loved Season 4 so far and I can undersatnd your ambivilence to Mary as she has not done Anything really we dont know her motivations She protects her children but she could still be bad, she has had no interactions with Chuck outside spy situations, had one with Ellie with Sarah listening (I think that is key to Sarahs actions in this episode as she hears it all and sees similarities with her and Chuck). The only reason that we can care about her at the moment is the thought that Chuck and Ellie want her in there lives (which I believe) and you want her to be there for them. That is Sarahs point she is doing this for the man she loves (and also to protect them all as Volkoff knows all about them).
    The angst that is set up during the episode quite nicely with Chuck at the beginning sayning that Sarah wont change and then climaxes at the end when she refuses his message. I have mixed feelings about that as I can understand that he is a diversion and she needs to focus on staying alive, she could be frightened that Casey is dead and she cant do anything about it, and the guilt that it was her, she has Mary talking about distance making it easier. At the same time I think that she should want to know about Casey as he is a friend, she should be professional and tell Chuck about the intel, She should want to check on him as he was hit quite hard. Chuck should know that Sarah has not really changed and that he should not fall into the trap from Final Exam and jump to conclusiuons. Lastly that this is surprising as Sarah has taken the route that is easier for her but hurts Chuck and that just seems wrong and OOC for Sarah but not for Agent Walker.
    Hopefully Sarah reallises that she is not Mary and that focusing on her feelings for Chuck can make the mission go quicker as shw wants to get back to him. Mary lost focus and here she is 20 years later! I hope that Chuck does not need Casey to tell him that it was his idea and trusts Sarah and we dont have a long realtionship crisis.

  8. I have to say for all the talk before this episode about it being ripped for DA, most of your discussion in the post had me thinking back to malamoo's Chuck vs the Second Chance. The whole idea of Mary's leaving because of her addiction to the spy life and how it became the inspiration for Sarah while at the same time destroying Chuck. If that's the case I've kinda seen it coming since Sarah brought marry over in handcuffs to talk to Ellie and told her the whole story in whichever episode that was. It was clear to me then that the Mary/Stephen story and the Sarah/Chuck story were sort of history repeating type thing.

  9. coffeegirl27.1.11

    and am i the only one who thought that sarah looked like a vampire in that get up? but still hot. and how cute was zac levi in that deblob(?) shirt? the writers should do chuck bartowski porn.
    anyways, as for mama b i am convincing myself that it took her 20 years bec she didnt have outside help. no contact from the cia. i guess her main objective was to survive first then bring down the organization second.

  10. Alana27.1.11

    hahahaha not that i'm hating on the bones hating.. but just wondering Frea if you were a fan turned hater/annoyed of Bones or simply never liked it? coz one thing i love alot about Chuck is that the writers weren't afraid to take the leap of relationship unlike other certain writers of Bones.

  11. @Mxpw

    That's a good point, Sarah does seem to care more about rescuing Mary than Chuck. I don't even know how Chuck feels about her at this point. Is he trying to help her because he wants to save her or out of some loyalty to complete his father's last wishes.

    I know they'd never do this but it'd be nice to see Chuck be cold towards Mary in the upcoming episodes. He understands what she did but he won't give her a free pass.

  12. Alana, I just hate David Boreanaz. And yes, I'm a hard-core Whedonite. It's a fun mix.

    And I don't think the writers know what they're doing with Mary either. I know Orion had a point, yeah, and that furthered the storyline, but I think Mary was a bluff--"How cool would it be to end our series on Chuck, in his father's secret lair, discovering that everything about his life was a li--wait, a second? We got renewed again.?

    ...damn it."

    And coffeegirl, you're not alone. I sent my best friend a picture of Sarah from the episode, and she immediately came back with, "She looks like an anorexic vampire."

    I love Malamoo to pieces, but if canon turns into Second Chance, I'ma gather some pitchforks and some torches. I'm sure I can find some angry villagers around here somewhere.

  13. I can certainly see why you'd feel that way Frea, but if it looks like a duck...

    I mean really if they were going to keep things interesting they were gonna have to put the relationship in peril. Again going back to Schwartz and companies past track record they'll never let the primary couple revel in domestic bliss for too long. Just look at the O.C. And Gossip Girl where it's break up and make up every fourth episode. This show has never had enough female recurring characters to go down that road so they're going to have to get creative, but not to creative, cause this isn't the writing team from the Wire.

  14. Ayefah27.1.11

    Hee hee. Frea, your imaginary peek into the minds of the writers at the end of last season sounds all too plausible. Mx, of course you're right - the potential parallels between Mary/Stephen and Sarah/Chuck occurred to me pretty much as soon as we found out Stephen was Orion. I mean, we all pretty much knew Chuck's mom had to be a spy, right?

    But I haven't gotten a good sense of how Sarah is like Mary. We've had episodes like "Suitcase" highlighting Sarah's commitment issues, and a couple of months-long periods where Sarah was going on missions while Chuck (at least ostensibly) stayed home, but this whole "abandon Chuck for a mission" thing just doesn't feel quite right for her character. The pieces are there, but they don't end up fitting. Maybe if Chuck and Sarah's relationship was older and past the honeymoon period the idea of Sarah getting restless would make more sense, but cripes, she's barely settled down in the first place.

    Maybe if we knew something about how Mary and Stephen got together or how they functioned as a couple the parallels would seem more convincing, but as it is...well, if that's the arc, it doesn't hold together. Even last season's arc made more mechanical sense, as hateful as it was.

  15. Anonymous27.1.11

    Maybe Sarah cares more about saving MamaB than Chuck because she wants to prove to Chuck that she isn't/won't become like his mother or something.

    The difference between cannon and Second Chance is that in Second Chance, I could see how Sarah would go through some sort of identity crisis after what happened in the story (not gonna spoil if for the few that haven't read it) and in Cannon there isn't a catalyst for her to go to that extreme- unless of course she doesn't get word she didn't kill Casey.

  16. Hah! I was mentioned in a CI article. Fame and fortune will surely head my way.

    Speaking of, do you need my address for the royalty checks?

  17. Seriously, thanks for the mention. I don't normally (read: ever) post at CT, and although Thinkling made some points I agreed with, her post tried to rationalize Sarah's rejection of Chuck's message, and I couldn't get on board with that. It just made no sense from any perspective other than "we need some angst for the original season finale so we're gonna have Sarah do something dumb again."

    Remember Sarah's S4 progression for a sec. 402 - Chuck is my home. He is what keeps me grounded, and I will always come back to him. 404 - I would marry Chuck if he asked me. 409 - I don't like who I am without Chuck, and I will beat up the entire country of Thailand in order to get him back. 411 - I want him to propose so much that I will take over his "sub-mission" to make damned sure that he does. Seems like a pretty straight line, yeah?

    Then we get 412. By rejecting that message, Sarah betrayed Chuck (isn't he supposed to be the reason she's doing this in the first place?), she betrayed the mission (who knows about the chip?), but also - and this is what aggravated me most - she betrayed her own S4 development into a person capable of having a functioning relationship. Right when she needs it the most, Sarah throws all of that character growth right out the window. (Hope it didn't land on Casey.) By responding to that message, she could have reassured - and in turn been reassured by - Chuck.


    I am not a rabid shipper. I don't want or expect everything to be peachy keen for Chuckles and Vampirella. I don't, however, want them to be unbelievably stupid, and that's what Sarah's rejection of Chuck's message was. He is supposed to be her source of strength, the thing she fights for and treasures above all else, yet she rejects his call on the misguided advice of a woman who has spent the last two decades failing miserably in the same mission Sarah has undertaken.

    I get that the writers want some relationship tension for 413. But I'd suggest that the angst is already present; the situation creates it without any help. Sarah is undercover fighting a madman, in constant danger, separated from Chuck for who knows how long. That's enough relationship drama. After four seasons, I'm ready to see Chuck and Sarah leaning on each other when things get hard, not pushing each other away.

    I'm tired of the stupid.

  18. Stephen31.1.11

    To Coursejester I see it from a completely different side that yes she was doing what Mary suggested but it as something that that would make it easier for her. This is one of the few times we have seen her doing somethng that could be described as selfish. Lets face it at the moment she does not know that Caseys alive so she probably fears the worse and knows that if the message is that Caseys dead she has to hold in any emotion in in front of Volkoff who is in a plane with her probably less than 15 feet away. She warned Chuck that she would have to go back to being her old self and you can tell that she is struggling with that due to her hesitation to punch Casey and her hand ringing in the plane.
    Sarah is not the emotionless spy whe was before and once you have experienced the feelings she has for Chuck it must be almost impossible to bury them but she needs to or she will end up dead.
    I would hope that she realises that is her desire to finish the mission and get back to Chuck will give her the best chance of completing the mission as it is probably Marys distance idea that meant she lost her way in her mission and as she had no help or support as the CIA thought she was rogue.

  19. Anonymous1.2.11

    I don't know if this has been said before, but I see Sarah's actions and mindset toward the mission to free Mary/bring down Volkov as very similar to her actions and mindset to freeing Chuck in Phase 3. Her actions and dedication, to me, are very consistent with her character development this season.

    Chuck is the one I see as devolving and showing character weakness. He has been totally obsessed with freeing his mom, seeing Volkov in every mission and talking about freeing Mary at every debriefing. His determination to get his mom back is what has prompted Sarah to take the mission and do whatever it takes to get Mary back.

    Sarah told Chuck her mission and he didn't ask her not to go. She told him in the truck it was going to take longer than she thought and he didn't say anything to stop her. In both of those instances Sarah was doing what she felt she needed to for Chuck, and in neither case did he tell her not to. He recognized it as the chance to get his mom back, and he allowed it to happen. When it came right down to it, given the choice between Sarah and his mom, he chose his mom.

    Sure, there's the argument that he sees Sarah as invincible in the field and that his mother has effectively been a prisoner of war for 20 years so who wouldn't risk those odds? Doesn't justify to me that Chuck is consciously risking Sarah for his mom. Sarah has proven she will do anything for Chuck, and he knows that.


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