mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the Seduction Impossible

Chuck vs. the Seduction Impossible
Season 4, Episode 14, original air-date: February 7, 2011

Chuck, Sarah, and Casey must travel to Morocco to rescue suave former agent Roan Montgomery. Morgan meet's Alex's mother, and Mary Bartowski acclimates herself to civilian life and spends time with her new granddaughter.

Just a warning: one of us loved the episode and the other one of us is biased. How could he not be? There was belly-dancing. No, let me reiterate: there was SARAH WALKER belly-dancing. It could have been 42 minutes of nothing but Chuck reading the phone book, but as long as Sarah was belly-dancing by in that outfit at any point in the proceedings, it would be the best episode EVAR.

The cherry on top of this all? Hit the link for more.


Oh.  And this.
Frea: So, Maximus, fun fact: in the 80s, I was dirty blond. I was also four. But I was dirty blond until my hair got darker. What about you?

mxpw: The 80s was a very turbulent decade for me. I was just getting over the angst and tribulations of the Second Grade. Lacey didn't want to play with me on the playground and I had to share my slide time with others. Also, my hair was brown.

Frea: Second grade? You're so old...

mxpw: That's right, and don't you forget it.

mxpw: Also, get off my lawn!

Frea: Of course, one of our contributors here on CI wasn't even alive during the 80s. If you now feel really old, please raise your hand.

mxpw: *raises hand*

Frea: Crud, now I have to do the rest of the review with one hand in the air.

mxpw: You could always say to put your hand down.

Frea: For people to really understand how hard this is, I request everybody to read at half their normal speed.

Frea: Thanks in advance.

Frea: Now, Maximus, what'd you think of this episode? I liked it, personally.

mxpw: My flippant answer is: I thought the episode was great! I laughed throughout, the Chuck and Sarah stuff was fantastic, Casey was pretty hilarious and awesome, and the story was fun.

mxpw: Now for my real answer: Belly dancing!!!

Frea: There was belly dancing?

mxpw: Well, if my three re-watches were any indication, I would have to say that yes, there was belly dancing.

Frea: Guess there was belly dancing, then!

mxpw: But I suppose I can concede there was actually more to this episode than just that.

Frea: This episode was a landmark Season Four episode for me.

Frea: When I was finished watching it, I realized that this was the first time I actually wanted to rewatch an episode.

Frea: The only episode I've really felt that way about (besides Phase Three) was...crud, what was that episode after Honeymooners? With the tiger?

mxpw: That would be Role Models, Frea.

So that just happened.
Frea: Thank you. Sorry, I got a new Mercedes Lackey book on my Kindle tonight, and my brain is still half in the 500 Kingdoms. Elena/Alexander FTW. Anyway, this episode, though it did have its problems, was the first time where I was like, "Aw, that was just so much fun!"

mxpw: And you know what? I completely agree. The episode was stupid and ridiculous at times (Beckman firing a RPG, anyone?) but man, it was just fun! Honestly, this was the first time I can remember laughing more than once or twice in a Chuck episode since...Suitcase probably. There was just so much to love.

mxpw: I think this conclusively proves that Roan Montgomery makes everything better.

mxpw: Though, sadly, no cartwheels.

Frea: Oh, come on!

Frea: There's NOTHING stupid about Beckman firing an RPG.

Frea: Beckman is the secret Chuck Norris of the Chuckverse. Casey? Please. Dude got trapped in a wall. Beckman? She was a DIRTY BLOND. A dirty blond, Maximus!

Frea: Though you're right about the cartwheels.

mxpw: I have to admit that I laughed at not only the dirty blonde bit, but Chuck's reaction. He had basically my reaction to that whole thing. Not that Roan and Beckman were apparently there when the Wall fell or that they were a couple or anything like that, but that Beckman was once a dirty blonde. So many disturbing images.

mxpw: And dude, if that had been a real RPG, Beckman probably would have gone flying. Heh.

Frea: I reject your reality and replace it with my own, Max.

mxpw: Fiiiiine, my reality is full of belly dancing Sarahs anyway, so I doubt you want to live there.

Frea: As awesome as that scene was, I do not want to live there. That just got as uncomfortable for me as it was friggin' hilarious. Best part was Chuck copping to it.

Frea: Though, Sarah looked seriously amazing through this whole episode.

Frea: Crystal has been raving about the blue dress and I definitely have to agree with that. I like that Chuck was dressed up like a Marrakech monkey in his vest and shirt and trousers.

In the pivotal second act song, prisoner Chuck sings about his feelings
while the others who share the scene are unaware there's even a song
going on.
mxpw: I just loved every single one of Chuck's reactions in [the belly-dancing scene]. From the gradually widening eyes, the drawn out "Yeeeeeeah" with his strained voice, his copping to their evil plans, and then his unheard pleading with Sarah not to actually change (though that turtleneck? Hot). I think that was the funniest scene in the episode for me. Also, well, the hottest.

mxpw: And yes, Sarah did look amazing throughout the episode. You and I have both long agreed that blue/purple are Yvonne's best colors. I think that dress showed why.

Frea: Also, funny bit: he asked her to stay in red. And what color was the turtleneck?

mxpw: Heh, it was red. I thought that was a pretty nice touch!

Frea: Last week, it was ice cream.

Frea: This week, a turtleneck. Awesome job, props and costume.

mxpw: Sarah Walker...why are you so amazing?

mxpw: *blinks* Did I say that out loud?

Frea: Yes, but it's normal. Moving on. What else did you like about this episode? Shots of the Wall falling from '89 made me go, aloud, "Ha, ha, whaaaaat? Awesome!" And then there was Roan, looking all cold war spy. I rewound the stock footage looking for my old German professor (who was from East Germany, as it was then, and was beaten up by the police a couple of times for writing anti-communist manifestos. She's about Beckman's size).

mxpw: Seeing scenes of the Wall falling made me think of Stripes, not gonna lie.

Frea: Me, too!

mxpw: But yeah, I actually want to take a step back and try to approach this somewhat linearly.

Frea: What? I don't understand. Linearly? Organized?!

mxpw: I want to look at the two main plots of the episode, the Roan/spy plot and the Chuck/Sarah stuff. Which one do you wanna tackle first?

Frea: Roan was there first in this episode, let's go there.

mxpw: Okay, fine by me. Chris tweeted this earlier, but I was really shocked that they actually put some genuine economic sense into the plot. That was a huge change. Granted, they never really explain how Fatima got her hands on the ability to make super-notes or anything like that (I don't think) but it was still an interesting plot for this show.

Frea: I know, even before the explained the ramifications, I was like, "Wow, an actually nefarious villainess?"

mxpw: That was very much appreciated. Also, she was very attractive, though I'm pretty sure a Moroccan accent sounds nothing like that.

Frea: She had an accent?

Frea: Other than the fact that there was some economic sense, I barely remember anything about her, except that their combat boots had high heels, which made me laugh.

mxpw: I thought that was pretty funny too, actually.

Frea: Oh, and that I didn't know that was how you pronounced "Fatima."

mxpw: How did you think it was pronounced?

Frea: Fa-tee-ma.

Frea: But this is the problem, I read more books than I watch movies/TV (amazingly enough), so there are a lot of words I don't know how to pronounce because I've only seen them in print. I remember Fatima was a character in a book I'd read awhile back, but I never knew how to pronounce her name. Kind of like Hermione, until Viktor Krum couldn't pronounce it either.

Frea: Anywhere, where were we before this fun little side-trip? You know, I really like Roan Montgomery. I like that his plan was just to go up and announce himself and what he planned to do, and that his plan was working.

Frea: He is Roan Montgomery. He is just that cool.

mxpw: Exactly. I loved that about his plan too. Only Roan could get away with something like that. I loved him in the Buy More (his locker and all his usual accoutrements in it was awesome), especially with his polyester line. That was very funny. And then I really liked him at the end and I liked that he gave Chuck and Sarah good advice this time. Honestly, this show needs Roan. If he were around more, I bet the Chuck/Sarah angst would be cut down by at least 65%.

Frea: Yeah, Roan's advice really did save Chuck and Sarah's entire storyline. Even though his line about two women and a very large man was in the preview, I laughed this time around, as I did laugh at Chuck's, "So that would be two very large men," pointing at himself and Casey.

mxpw: Yup. Plus, well, Roan making out with Beckman. And Beckman getting hilariously unraveled. Though I'm pretty sure their relationship is a retcon, I'm willing to let it slide if it means we get great stuff like this episode. So this was like the most Beckman I think we've ever had.

Frea: I'll take any retcon that means Beckman with an RPG.

mxpw: Haha. Don't get me wrong, I laughed, I just thought it was completely absurd. Almost too absurd, really, but the episode was a lot of fun so I was really to give it a pass.

Frea: I'd rather the show stick to the more absurd moments like that, honestly, as it means that I don't have to think too hard about things that don't make sense (was Casey holding up that arm/rock for the entire time it took Chuck, Sarah, and Beckman to get to Morocco from Burbank?).

mxpw: Yeah, I'm pretty sure he was. You're right, of course. Or have to wonder what Casey did for food, water, or facilities since he was in that wall for what had to be days. This wasn't Inside Man. Though I do have to admit it was kinda worth it just for Casey's frustrated, "I'm in a wall!" to Morgan.

Frea: "Of course you are."

mxpw: And I have to admit that made me laugh.

Frea: Excellent callback to Coup D'Etat.

Frea: Casey's "seduction" of the guard and their reactions to it was probably my favorite part, actually.

Frea: Guess Roan was just being nice in Seduction that Casey only failed his class twice because he had a hot partner at the time.

mxpw: Ha! Yeah, can't forget that. I thought it was hilarious too. Especially everybody's reactions. And I love how even Chuck, Chuck!, could see the failure coming a mile away. And then Casey just reverted to what he does best.

Somebody order a drive-thru?
Frea: "Did you--did you just call me a ball and chain?!"

mxpw: Heeee. I laughed out loud at that and then her facial expression as she said it. Then Chuck's reaction was very funny too. It reminded me a lot to Suitcase where Sarah got on his case about the shower. That was perfect.

mxpw: But speaking of Chuck and Sarah, we should go into their plot now.

mxpw: Thoughts?

Frea: I laughed hysterically through the opening scene.

mxpw: Oh haha, yeah. Sarah's lost, panicked look was awesome.

Frea: Chris made the point in his tweets that "What happened to Chuck that just wanted to be normal?" but I didn't really care. Casey, Chuck, and Sarah just staring at the crazy people in their lives as more and more insanity unfolded? I was literally rolling on the floor laughing.

Frea: ...which unfortunately made the alien space puppet that I call a dog think I was playing a game.

mxpw: I gotta disagree with Chris here. I didn't really see it as Chuck not wanting to be normal, but him just wanting to get away from the crazy people.

Frea: This episode suffered through some problems like pacing and it felt oddly segmented, but I enjoyed Chuck and Sarah's through-line plot for the most part. The scene with Morgan grated because those scenes with Morgan always do, though it set up the really funny scene where Sarah kept offering Chuck things he actually wanted, and he kept saying no.

Frea: And let's face it, you're kind of the worst spies in the world, Sarah.

mxpw: I did like that little bit of self-awareness, though, even if they are the worst spies in the world. And it's almost physically impossible to fight off a sneeze when you really have to, so I didn't really get upset with Chuck. I did think it was quite funny how Chuck couldn't say no to Sarah. He tried but always backtracked, and then the one time he did, it was hilariously awkward.

Frea: "No...woman.”

mxpw: That made me crack up, especially after Sarah's reaction.

mxpw: Yvonne really does make some of the most amazing facial expressions.

Frea: My mom, during that part: "Oh NO he didn't."

Frea: Meanwhile, I'm just laughing.

mxpw: We should probably talk about the whole wedding issue. My viewpoint is that I loved that Sarah stood up for herself and I loved her line "But what about what I want?" Yet at the same time, I was kinda like, does Chuck not wanting to elope really surprise you, Sarah? So glad they talked it over and Sarah even admitted (she admitted!!!) she should have just talked to Chuck about what was bothering her.

mxpw: It was so refreshing to see them actually communicate with each other and their mutual seduction attempts of each other were a highlight of the episode.

mxpw: I'm also glad they brought up the lack of family for Sarah issue, because that really would make for an awkward wedding.

Frea: I completely get her hesitance to talk about it, as Chuck tends to more steamroll or be dogged until he wears Sarah down about these things, so it was nice to hear actual verbalization on both their parts. Also, way to subvert the typical roles--usually the wedding is considered the woman's domain, and it figures that Chuck would be pushing it. Though really, he needs to talk to his family about backing off, if this were at all a real-ish situation with normal human reactions.

Frea:  In this case, it would be perfectly okay to go to his mother -- who was a fun subject this episode -- Ellie, and Awesome, who will be the main culprits, and be like, "Don't push Sarah about this stuff, okay? She's not like us, it makes her uncomfortable." That would be his job.

mxpw: Agreed about that, completely. We may even see him do that, though I doubt it, because as we always say, I don't think the writers see it as an issue.

Frea: Yeah, I get that. It was nice to hear her voice real issues, like we've both said. "Who's going to walk me down the aisle?" was particularly heart-breaking for me, as it shows she's given real thought to this.

mxpw: I do have to say that as much as I really loved the end with them in bed together, just being coupley, I was still a little disappointed. Sarah made a promise at the end of Phase Three that there was so much she wanted to tell Chuck, yet apparently she hasn't really done anything yet. At least not about her family. But that was a minor thing and it looks like they are going to correct that.

Frea: And now that they've actually acted like adults and a real couple, I feel a lot better about there being a wedding story line.

Frea: I know I’ve talked about being a curmudgeon and wanting the wedding storyline to be over already, but Seduction Impossible laid to rest most of my fears that I had about all of this.

mxpw: I agree with you so far. I'm still hesitant, as past history with this show has told me not to get too excited, but I am really liking the wedding storyline so far. I love seeing Sarah's insecurities about the wedding and them talking about it maturely and dealing with the issues instead of letting them fester. And hey, if it means we get to see more of Sarah's family, I'm so there.

mxpw: Bring back Jack Burton!

Make it so, writers! :) Please?

Frea: And all of it was from a Fedak episode, too!

Frea: As his episodes are more plot-driven than character-driven, this was refreshing! Of course, the writing team of Kristin Newman and Chris Fedak was just freaking powerful, if they can get past the weird pacing. Fewman, for the win!

mxpw: *snicker* Fewman. I think I will be mean and just accredit all the good parts of this episode to Newman. Haha. Just so there is a little actual versus in this mxpw vs. Frea.

Frea: Oh, fine. Cause adversity, why don't you?

Frea: Did you notice the pacing?

Frea: Or was that just a me thing? Because it felt at the half-hour as though the episode really wasn't sure where it was going next.

mxpw: No, the pacing was off. The first half was really fast. I mean, they got the mission, went to Morocco, broke into the palace, and rescue Roan all by like the second commercial break. Then the middle kind of lulled. I think the Rockman backstory slowed things down, and then it kicked into high gear again near the end.


mxpw: That's what I'm calling it.

Frea: I fully approve of them putting classic Chuck characters into Buy More gear, by the way, for the record. Next week, Mini Anden in the Nerd Herd outfit or bust!

mxpw: Amen.

mxpw: I'm just inordinately excited for Mini to be back on the show.

Frea: Okay, one last thing to really talk about, while Maxy's processing the awesomeness of Sarah and Carina in matching NH skirts. Mary Bartowski!

mxpw: Oh man...excuse me, brain melting. Be back in about five minutes or so.

Frea: And to think you weren't sure anything could top the belly dancing. Anyway, I kind of enjoyed Mary's storyline in this episode, but I kept wondering if Ellie was going to freak out about Mary being around so much (subverted nicely, excellent job, Fewman), and Awesome had a really funny, "Uh, we'll cut that out" moment, but does this mean Mary's joining Team B?

mxpw: I have no idea what it meant. Honestly, I found the Mary part of the episodes really kind of jarring. Like, I get I'm supposed to like Mary and that's why they had her all maternal in this episode, but at the same time, I just can't get past the fact that I don't think she ever loved her own kids well enough, so seeing her being so attentive and such a natural with Clara was really strange for me.

Frea: I liked that she was a little jarring and a little too intense, as people telling babies highly inappropriate bedtime stories will never not be funny to me. There's a reason people don't ask me to babysit much, I think. Any other thoughts you had?

mxpw: Belly dancing, belly dancing, Carina returns!, belly dancing, um, I guess not anymore.

mxpw: Oh, I wonder if we can start a drinking game for Sarah's appearing and disappearing engagement ring.

Frea: I'm glad they kind of saved Casey's storyline by having him be all, "Good, Kathleen" at the end.

mxpw: Agree with you there.

Frea: If he had climbed into the car genuinely disappointed, I would have been seriously annoyed at him. He gets no sympathy from me for faking his death, so I glad they went that route instead.

mxpw: Yup

Frea: Though what happens when Alex gets married?

mxpw: He wears a disguise, of course!

Frea: PLEASE let it be the Eurotrash disguise from Ex!!!

mxpw: Hahaha.

Frea: I don't really have many other reactions myself. Chuck looked great in his mission gear and in that suit, Baby Clara was adorable, the beginning was hilarious, I enjoyed the episode quite a bit, Morgan aside, and I need an icon of Beckman with an RPG, like, yesterday.

mxpw: I'm eagerly anticipating the avatars crystal.elements will be making of this episode, you have no idea.

mxpw: But yeah, I pretty much really liked this episode as well. And have I mentioned yet that Carina is back next week? Because I feel like that can't be reiterated enough.

Frea: Yeah, first time I've been like, "Is it next week already?!?" Good show, show. Good show.


Frea: 9 Castle Slides out of 10

mxpw: 5 Belly Dancing Sarahs out of 5 (hey. Sarah belly-dancing. Let me repeat: SARAH. BELLY-DANCING.)

What are your thoughts? We request politely that you don't post spoilers on this thread. If you feel you MUST post spoilers, please leave a bolded, all caps note at the beginning of your post and let people know when it is safe to read again. Not everybody wants to know what's going to happen!

Previews, for the record, are not considered spoilers, so feel free to talk about Carina coming back, as long as it isn't knowledge you've picked up outside of the great preview we were given at the end of Seduction Impossible.


  1. Was it me or did they really push the innuendo during the belly dancing scene? Not that I mind but it shocked me.

  2. Ayefah8.2.11

    Hey Frea, d'you know who wrote Role Models? Do ya? Do ya? Huh?


    Will write more later. I have to get ready for this mysterious "work that actually pays me in money" thing. But I'm so happy you guys enjoyed the episode! It was kinda sloppy, I admit, but it felt like old-school Chuck somehow.

  3. Question for Frea and MXPW.

    What constitutes good pacing on a 42 minute tv show? Is it about the amount that goes by, for example the first 10 minutes equal one day, the second 10 minutes equals one day ect. Or is good pacing evenly spreading out the events?

    Holy Crap was Yvonne hot in this episode! And next week we get Carina back!


  4. Anonymous8.2.11

    about the red turtleneck.. when i saw it i thought it's a circling back (or a bit of a shoutout) to VS the Breakup, "..or salmon, or whatever that is."

  5. Yeah, yeah, Ayefah, yeah, yeah. However, for every Role Models, there's a Mask. :-p

    JC, I wasn't paying attention to the belly-dancing scene...but not in the same way mxpw wasn't paying attention; I was actually kind of groaning too loud to hear the dialogue much. I'll have to consider that on rewatch.

    sk85, mxpw and I are working on two posts about pacing: one for fanfic, one for screenwriting/tv series. Expect the first to land this week sometime.

  6. sk85: my take on pacing for a 42 minute show is that around minute 35-36 you hit the climax. In a mystery show, the final culprit has been revealed, and the takedown is about to/has happened. Then you get a little character epilogue with the main leads, and roll credits.

    There's a diagram of standard/effective plot structure. Rising action, climax, brief falling action. It looks kind of like an inverted check-mark.

    Chuck has been structured this season in such a way that there is an initial mission (rising action) that at first seems to have gone well, or at least well enough, culminating at about where it would if Chuck was a half hour show (climax).

    But then instead of falling action and a conclusion, there's a twist! And the second half-hour springboards off of some overlooked detail. (second rising action), leading to a true climax and wrapping up right at the 36-minute mark.

    If drawn, it looks like a lightning bolt.

    It's a different feel than a lot of shows, and it's still a pacing issue as mxpw and Frea dub it, but it seems like an intentional move for the show, and I've come to expect it of this season of Chuck.

  7. Ayefah8.2.11

    Frea, the Klemmer good/bad ratio isn't nearly that bad. And "Mask", sadly, wasn't even close to being the nadir of the show for me. Offhand, I know I hate "Broken Heart", "Tooth", and "Balcony" far more purely on a qualitative basis and "Fake Name" more based on plot. But there's no arguing about fannish preferences, I know. Hopefully Klemmer will bring enough awesome to win you over again. :)

    Ninja_vanish, my instinctive impression is that you're right about the standard(ish) Chuck plot structure. For me a big problem is that the first "rising" arc - the initial, easily-completed mission - is often slow and seems pointless. "Balcony" is probably the worst recent culprit in that respect. I don't care if the writers go up-and-down with their plots; I just care about quality of execution.

    And I can't say I think the "lightning bolt", or the idea of a "success" followed by a twist is that unique to Chuck. Is it that different from an episode of House and the weekly false cure that leads to a seizure or the patient crapping blood or whatever? I guess I'd have to watch more closely and take notes to be sure, but it doesn't strike me as that different from other shows.

    But "Seduction Impossible" somehow...worked in a way that no other episode this season has, even ones I highly enjoyed like "Phase Three" and "Couch Lock". I don't know why it felt like an older Chuck episode, but somehow it did - like it was something that they forgot to air in S1 or early S2.

  8. I may be the only one that felt this way but for my money this was the best episode of the season. You can kvetch about pacing but IMO given all the other good stuff that happened in this episode expecting perfection from this show is just pointless.

    The mutual seduction scene was just awesome as was pretty much every scene Sarah was in. More importantly though you could just feel the entire cast and crew letting out a big sigh of relief at having been freed of the convoluted plot line for the season. As a result the whole episode just felt so much more self aware, like everybody cast and crew were say 'yes this is mindless slapstick but this is what we are' and you know what? I'm completely ok with that from this show. One of the things thats bugged me ever since Chuck choose to try and actually be a spy was the way the entire show felt like it had to aim for the tone of a low budget Roger Moore-era Bond film, tongue and cheek but with some serious moments. I really think the kind of comedic tone this show should be aiming for is (the Peter Seller's) Pink Panther films. Treat Chuck and Sarah like real people but EVERYTHING else, from the plot lines to the jokes to the action scenes, the writers should ask themselves how would Blake Edwards write/direct/shoot this scene?

    Oh yea and I may be showing my particular nerd-niche but mxpw the RPG Beckman fired is less likely to knock her down, than it is to kill her flat out. You don't fire rockets from in doors, a whole host of bad and deadly things can often happen.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Oh yea I forgot to mention in my previous comment that I think the whole Ellie say Mary should go back to being a spy was the writers not so subtle way of putting Mary out to the happy pasture full of recurring characters to be periodically revisited for overly convoluted plot arcs. My bet is once the weddings done with, she kisses the baby good by and waltz's off into the sunset.

  11. Sorry about that.

    I did find it a little sad that Chuck was at the same level of discomfort than Sarah and Casey about the baby situation. Where's Uncle Chuck? I feel like his only "normal" Chuck moment about his niece was in Anniversary when he hugged Ellie and asked her if he hurt the baby...

    I had the same reaction about Rockman or Droan (copyright Ernie at Chuck This): RETCON! It was fun, but still. Especially when Casey and Sarah started telling Chuck all about it...

    I also found it weird to have Chuck being overly happy at Casey when he actually used a real gun. I know the guy just saved his life but they shouldn't point out so much that Chuck uses tranq guns and then do that.

    I liked the Ellie/Mary interactions, but isn't Ellie's reaction a little unfair? Her mom that has been off for 20 years gets to go off on mission again, but Chuck that has never accepted to leave his family doesn't. I hope they'll get over that really soon.

    Having said that, the episode was really fun, the Chuck/Sarah interactions were great and the Casey/Alex/Morgan storyline too. Team B was back on mission (without Morgan), and Beckman and Roan were a blast.

    About the role reversal thing, I found it funny that they even had Chuck kind of pointing it out with his "Mister Sarah Walker" comment.

  12. Anonymous8.2.11

    No matter what kind of episode it is, I always enjoy reading both your comments. It was a fun episode with quite a few laugh out loud moments. Especially loved the "No...woman” line. According to one of the tweets that I read, Zac improved that line. Looking forward to the next episode!


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