mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the Muuurder

Chuck vs. the Muuuurder
Season 4, Episode 19, air-date March 21, 2011

Chuck's leadership skills are tested when someone is found murdered in Castle. Ellie picks up a hobby that worries Awesome, and Morgan is stuck in the middle when the Buy Morons take on the neighboring Large Mart.

In this episode review, Frea discusses her girlcrush on Kristin Newman, she accuses Wepdiggy of murder, and I just try to keep up with her. Good news, everyone! This was an episode both Frea and I largely enjoyed. Want to see why?

Click the link and you'll find out.

Frea: So how do you want to do this?

mxpw: Uh...I don't know. Just start how we usually do?

mxpw: Maybe we open with a game of Clue.

Frea: Okay, Tim Curry. I'm going to say Wepdiggy in the Fringe Lab with a Lightsaber.

Frea: It's possible my games of Clue are not like others' games of Clue.

Frea: Seeing as the characters in my game of Clue are sometimes real (a la Sir Wep), and sometimes made up (Zaphod Beeblebrox!).

mxpw: Are we sure that Wepdiggy isn't a figment of your imagination as well?

Frea: I don't think my imagination could create such a complex and amazingly awesome individual, Maximus.

Frea: I'm not very creative.

mxpw: That's true. What Fates Impose is a startling display of hackery. What happens if Chuck doesn't get kicked out of Stanford? Please.

Frea: You're right. I'm a total hack. Just like the other writers writing the exact. same. story. Oh, wait, I hear there's one that went and made Sarah EEEEEVIL. Talk about hacks.

Frea: Speaking of words like EEEEEVIL, did you hear there's been a MUUUURDER?

mxpw: I did hear there had been a MUUUURDER, but I think in the case of Lewis, it was probably justifiable homicide.

Frea: Lewis? The guy who wrote Narnia?

Frea: I know you don't like Edmund very much, Maximus, but is that really reason to go after a beloved children's author?

Frea: Aside to the Audience: Poor Maximus. This is going to be one of those days where he can't get Frea to focus at all.

mxpw: Actually, Susan was the one who always got on my nerves a bit. Edmund was alright after The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

mxpw: But it's funny how similar the Wardrobe is to Sarah's TARDIS suitcase.

Frea: Both lead to magical, magical places. Sarah's underwear aside, I know I may be in the minority, but I freaking loved this episode.

mxpw: Sarah's underwear should never be relegated to an aside. But for the sake of this review, we can focus on the episode.

mxpw: I did not “freaking love” this episode, but I did enjoy it for the most part. It was funny. Probably funnier than last week's, at least at times.

Frea: I can't remember: did I like last week's? What WAS last week's?

mxpw: Chuck was worried about being replaced by Intersected Gretas.

Frea: Oh! A-Team. Right. Yeah. Okay, this episode was ten times funnier than last week's.

Frea: Possibly twenty times. I enjoyed the spy plot last week, but I enjoyed this week's tone so much more. The show does better, I think, when it forgoes the serious, because I don't think their strengths lie in the serious. So let's just go all out and pay homage to every great murder mystery ever, including an awesome shot of a person being stabbed with a knife, a blood-slip pratfall, and the very important scenes where everybody points fingers at everybody else. Did I mention I'm a Christie fan?

mxpw: This did have a pretty strong Agatha Christie vibe. Very Ten Little Indians. I wasn't crazy about the murder mystery as much as you were, Frea. I thought the interplay between the characters was more enjoyable than the actual mystery, which wasn't that compelling, I didn't think. And I was kind of disappointed Damian was the bad guy, as I thought he was funny. His plan was fairly elaborate, and I have to respect a man who uses a boombox that old to disguise a bomb. I kept expecting Chuck to raise it above his head in front of Sarah and play some Peter Gabriel.

Frea: Chris and I have decided that Damien's full name is Damien Arabopolis. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Frea: I'm just glad it wasn't the chick.

mxpw: You mean AU Sarah? Yeah, I agree.

Frea: Whose name I never picked up, actually. I'm trying to figure out who the actress reminds me of. It's not the woman from The Wonder Years, but it's somebody...an older sister of a main character of some show or other that I watch. And yes, this has been driving me nuts since I saw the episode. Anyway, back on subject: I called it being Damien when he didn't get blown up fully. But first, let's talk about the AU Team B. :)
Frea: I think we need to talk about how Brody looked like the unholy mating of Chuck and Bryce.

mxpw: It wouldn't surprise me. Bryce was clearly in love with Chuck.

mxpw: But I did like that they named him Brody, which I thought was a pretty clear nod to Adam Brody. I remember before Chuck first started and how everybody compared Chuck to Adam Brody's character on The O.C..

Frea: So Bryce stole some of Chuck's DNA before he didn't get him kicked out of Stanford, grew a test tube baby, and accelerated the growth of this baby, named after their favorite actor from The OC? I could see it happening.

mxpw: On this show, it's entirely plausible.

mxpw: I did think it was funny how Chuck was fawning over Brody, but it also kind of made me roll my eyes a bit. Chuck actually kind of bugged until about 20 minutes into the episode. I had flashes of First Class there for a while because he was acting cocky and ridiculous like he did in that episode. But thankfully, he mellowed out about a third of the way through the episode.

Frea: I liked him pretty well all throughout it. The one that bugged in the beginning was...wait for it...Morgan. The gloating to Robin Givens just made me want to have Sarah grab his ear and drag him away for being completely unprofessional.

Frea: The rest of the episode, I liked Morgan. I really enjoyed the training montage and the bit where AU Sarah basically put them all in their places, hilariously.

mxpw: That was annoying, but thankfully, Morgan got sent upstairs and wasn't involved in the main part of the Castle story.

mxpw: Oh, do you mean when she asked what the questions had to do with anything?

Frea: Yeah, and when she talked about manipulating her partner into doing what she wants.

mxpw: I thought that AU Sarah provided some interesting contrasts with Sarah. That scene in particular was one, and also the scene where she breaks down and confesses that her boyfriend dumped her.

Frea: "How did you get the Intersect to commit?" "Well, funny story. Actually, parts of it really aren't funny..."

Frea: Heh, isn't it funny that the AU Morgan is the one we're glad was killed off? That's Lewis, right?

mxpw: I guess we were supposed to see AU Sarah as a cautionary tale. Kind of what might have happened to Sarah if she hadn't met Chuck.

mxpw: And yeah, I'd say it's fair to name Lewis as the AU Morgan.

mxpw: Probably why I wanted him to be the killer.

Frea: I can see it. Morgan does everything else, after all. Oh, burn. Moving on. I liked the teamwork aspect of it, and I was literally falling off of my chair with laughter when Chuck was defending Casey and Sarah. "Casey never killed anyone." *beat* "That didn't deserve it."

mxpw: That was one of my favorite scenes too, because I thought it was funny. But mainly, I liked it because of Sarah's reaction to what Josie was insinuating about her and Chuck. It was such a contrast to last week's episode. Last week, when the Gretas threatened Chuck and mocked their relationship, she did nothing. Here, she gets upset and moves to stand up for herself. The difference between Newman and Klemmer, right there.

Frea: And that's why I have a new girlcrush on Newman.

mxpw: I like her too.

Frea: Well, it's not exactly new. Phase Three really did win me over, even if I had to be the pessimist on that episode because Sarah was in tiny shorts, dumping water over her head.

mxpw: And I guess I have to be the pessimist for this episode because Sarah's NOT in tiny shorts, dumping water over her head.

Frea: This episode went down two points for you just now, didn't it?

mxpw: Quite possibly.

mxpw: I have a very rigid grading system.

Frea: Uh-huh. I have another what-may-be-unpopular opinion.

Frea: I really enjoyed the Buy More/Large Mart plot.

mxpw: Wow.

mxpw: Not just potentially unpopular, but practically unheard of. For us, I mean.

Frea: I know!

Frea: We're branching out, Maximus.

mxpw: I think that may be the first time you've uttered those words this season, Frea.

Frea: It's the first time they're true since Season Two, Maximus.

mxpw: I was kinda iffy on the BM plot. I thought Big Mike was great. Nobody can sell sandwiches like Mark Christopher Lawrence. The man knows what he's doing. And I actually enjoyed a lot of the Jeffster stuff and the Large Mart having a peace summit in Morgan's office. Oh, and Skip Johnson has a beard! Totally shocking. But at the same time, it got a little tedious by the end for me.

Frea: I think if it had gone on even a minute longer, it would have been tedious for me, too. But I enjoyed, as you said, the peace summit (a whole heck of a lot), I laughed so freaking hard over the fact that the pig's name was Kevin Bacon, Jeff and Lester's interrogation in Morgan's office was just funny as all get out, and I liked the pay-off with Kevin Bacon wandering around Castle's impressive duct system. But are we sure he didn't end up in Thailand?

mxpw: I have to say I quite enjoyed the pig stuff too, even if it was totally absurd. That Casey grunted after Kevin Bacon grunts at him was the highlight. And as bad as the CGI was, it was nice to see a pig fly. I guess I enjoyed a lot of individual aspects of the Buy More Plot, but for some reason the storyline was off for me. Still, Kevin Bacon got the last word.

Frea: Yes. Funny story: I have Boston Terriers, two of them. They're...well, they're pig-shaped, with fat bodies and short legs, and my fat one (her name is Nikki) is about the size of Kevin Bacon. So watching Kevin Bacon fly was probably the funniest thing I've seen on TV in a long, long time.

mxpw: The alien space puppet could probably get some decent air if she was properly motivated.

Frea: Yes. Properly motivated=Frea wants to write Fates (she stands on my desk when she wants attention), Frea wants to sleep (she gets her revenge then), or ANYBODY within 50 miles has food.

mxpw: Am I the only one who thought when they couldn't find Kevin Bacon that Jeff had just eaten him?

Frea: I don't know. I haven't felt anything in years.

mxpw: That was a very Jeff line.

Frea: There's a joke somewhere here about six degrees of Kevin Bacon becoming 350 degrees... But I can't find it, so let's move on! Ellie!

mxpw: There have been some who say that the Ellie plot was actually the A plot this episode. I don't know if I agree, though it did have the most forward momentum of the three episode plots.

mxpw: What do you think of where they are taking her this season?

Frea: Yeah, I don't think I'd call it the A plot at all.

Frea: It's nice. It's nice to see that Ellie is actually getting some development, that there's SOME kind of reaction to the stuff happening with her parents. Chuck seems to have forgotten all about all of it, all the time. Orion who? But Ellie's doing this because she wants to feel close to her dad, after she got her mom back. And I loved that. I liked how her conclusions seemed natural rather than "the plot demanded I think this way, so I'm going to think this way." I really wish somebody would tell her what the frak is going on because that makes Chuck really unlikable, and I love Awesome's hair.

mxpw: Eh, I have to disagree with at least one aspect of what you just said. I don't think it makes Chuck unlikable. Or, I should say, I can’t call Chuck unlikable without calling Ellie unlikable too. Mainly because Ellie is being just as unreasonable and lying as much as he is. Despite essentially giving her blessing to Mary about still being a spy, she's still insisting on doing all she can to keep Chuck out of the life. I think it makes her hypocritical. And I don't know, I feel like Chuck still wanting her to stay out of the spy life despite how it makes her feel closer to her dad, is the same thing as what she's doing. They are both acting like idiots and it's really straining my suspension of disbelief on the show.

mxpw: I did appreciate the fact that they are becoming their opposite parent. Who would have thought when we learned about Orion that it would be Ellie that became like him and not Chuck?

Frea: I kind of saw it coming the minute Ellie talked about a neurology fellowship, actually, but I'm weird like that. If they're not going to use Chuck's computer expertise at all anymore, might as well be Ellie as Orion Jr.

Frea: Okay, that was unfair. I apologize. Chuck did hack the automatic door in Castle this episode.

mxpw: Which was kinda dumb, but I went with it because it was a nice contrast to Bentley's version of leadership. Speaking of, we should discuss Bentley now.

Frea: You mean, Robin Givens?

mxpw: Yes, Frea, Robin Givens. Robin Givens Bentley.

Frea: Because to me, Bentley is David Alan Grier in Jumanji.

mxpw: That was a totally random reference.

mxpw: Ten points.

mxpw: Okay, so what did you think of the alleged resolution to Robin Givens this episode?

Frea: I thought that was a really quick turnaround and she was ushered out of the way for Vivian Volkoff to come back as the baddie. On the one hand, I enjoyed the fact that Chuck's chuckness won yet another person over, but on the other hand, wow, that's a really strange definition of good leadership and like I said, quick about-face. Can't people just not like Chuck?

mxpw: What is a strange definition of good leadership?

mxpw: Well, it's like Robin Givens said, Chuck is a people pleaser. He hates when people don't like him and he becomes an annoying puppy when he's trying to win people over. It's one of his biggest character flaws, I think.

Frea: I don't know, I've just always thought of a good leader as somebody who leads by example, and who is a good follower when he or she needs to be. But that's just me. Your mileage, as the phrase goes, may vary.

mxpw: I think that is a pretty decent definition of leadership, and I think Chuck has always kinda been that way. It's one of the reasons why this episode didn't thrill me like it did you. I've always felt like Chuck was a leader and so all this emphasis on him needing to lead and then acting like a bit of a buffoon in the beginning was played out for me.

Frea: Well, I see him as a natural leader. But if you point that out to him, he gets too big for his britches. It's pretty par for the course with him, actually.

Frea: And he did better once Morgan was out of there whispering doubts in his ear.

Frea: For once, Sarah was being more supportive than Morgan, and that was nice.

mxpw: Yeah, that's true.

mxpw: Heh, that was one of the few things I really, truly liked about this episode: the return of supportive Sarah. So often lately she has not been very supportive of Chuck professionally and so it was nice to see a return to the Sarah who would calm Chuck down and help him concentrate, the return of a Sarah that seemed to actually understand how Chuck works and knows how to be there for him. Plus, she did a lot of laughing off to the side. She was back to more of a S2 Sarah dynamic, and it was refreshing.

Frea: Where can I propose to Newman for that alone?

mxpw: I hope you invite me to the wedding. Yvonne might be there.

mxpw: But yeah, Newman had some good stuff in this episode. I really like how she writes Sarah. I would like to petition that she writes Sarah forever from now on.

Frea: Invite you to the wedding? I'll need an army of minions there to keep whatever "fight to the aisle" these writers have planned from happening to me.

mxpw: Heh, oh boy, I don't want to think about that.

mxpw: So final thoughts on the episode?

Frea: I know a lot of people have called it boring, but I find it preferable to stuff like A-Team and Masquerade. Kevin Bacon was fantastic, I liked that Big Mike's captivity was over when his shift ended, Sarah's secret smiles were back and YAY for that, the AU Team was hilarious, we got a Brian Vaughn nod (Chuck vs. the Predator, anyone?), a Pilot nod (Journey!), there are stakes, I'm curious about Agent X Files and sure it's going to be foxy and fun, and again, I really do heart Kristin Newman.

mxpw: I pretty much want to say ditto to all of that. I didn't find it boring and I appreciated all of the team dynamics at play. The end scene with Team B was especially great. I loved the little display of intimacy between Chuck and Sarah (him massaging her feet) and him praising Casey and Sarah for their contributions to the team. It helped to mitigate a lot of his cockiness earlier in the episode. I liked Kevin Bacon and the Large Mart stuff and I did appreciate that they tied Damian's plot into Vivian. I'm speculating that Agent X Files has got to be Chuck, so it looks like Ellie may finally figure out what her brother has been up to. Thank God for that.

Frea: One can only hope.


Frea: I give it an 8.7 Castle Slides out of 10.

mxpw: And I give it 3.5 Secretly Smiling Sarahs out of 5.


  1. Awesome review you guys! Loved it. Kevin Bacon for the win is correct.

  2. Crumby24.3.11

    Well you two basically nailed it for me. I liked the episode a lot. Chuck's cockiness annoyed me in the first part of the episode (I think the reference to First Class was spot on mxpw) but it got better after that. Team B was great. Awesome thinking about Ellie's happiness was great (not telling her about Chuck was foolish though.) The Buy More story had a S1/S2 vibe that I liked, and Jeff & Lester were weird but not creepy. Overall the episode made me laugh A LOT, which was great because I didn't like much of A-Team.

    About Chuck and Ellie being unlikable for keeping those secrets from each other. I did fine it really selfish from Ellie in Coup d'État to ask Chuck to stay out of something he obviously loved. However, at least she's not trying to use Sarah for her lies. Since Leftovers I've hated how Chuck was putting everything on Awesome and didn't deal with Ellie himself. Awesome should know better but still, it irks me. I liked that Bentley told Chuck that Ellie was smart and that he shouldn't keep her from this. Hopefully they'll both realize that it's both their legacy.

  3. Ayefah24.3.11

    Chuck labors under the delusion that he needs to be someone other than himself in order to be cool/worthy/a leader/a/spy - that he needs to be Bryce or Cole or Shaw or someone else who's all cocky and confident. He's being divested of that view, but only gradually, and with half-steps back like "Fear of Death".

  4. nnegandhi24.3.11

    Wow. I thought, being the first show this season that got a thumbs down from me, that I'd be reading a thorough trashing of the episode. But since you you two didn't like Balcony (which I loved) I guess I should be expecting the unexpected. For me, it seemed that we were going backwards in time and seeing a season 1/early season 2 version of Chuck. Leading his own team would be a big deal only if Other Guy, Couch Lock, Push Mix, etc., were forgotten. The Kevin Bacon stuff was eh and the Bentley resolution was straight from an after-school special (do they still have those?). And I kinda miss Awesome just being Awesome - what happened to the guy Sarah thought would be a great spy? But hey, this review made me look forward to the obligatory rewatch so thanks for that.

  5. Hah, if I had a lightsaber in the Fringe lab, it would probably be curtains for Mr. "The Fate of Two Universes Rests on My Shoulders" so Olivia could marry her true soulmate, our-side Lincoln. Or Astrid. :)

  6. Anonymous24.3.11

    I'm glad that you guys finally liked an episode.
    I do have to say that Chuck keeping Ellie in the dark is very different than Ellie keeping Chuck in the dark. Ellie is a civilian with a child. Trying to keep her out of danger makes sense. Ellie knows Chuck was a spy and has a fiancé that is still working for the government. If it was anyone but Ellie I would think she was keeping them away from the laptop so that they wouldn't interfere with her research. Also, maybe it was just me, but Ellie's fawning over her Dad's research at points started to sound downright creepy, like Frankenstein creepy.
    Personally, while I can see the recruits as an AU B-team, I think the argument that they were actually different fractions of Chuck himself is also accurate. The fact that they all fit Chuck’s profile, and shared different aspects of his personality seems to suggest this. The one that least fit that was Josie (the girl) since Chuck doesn’t really admit to himself when he is manipulating people, and the one emotional response we’ve never seen from him is crying. But then, I suppose each Chuck’s family and friends could be seen as a part of him anyway. Morgan is who Chuck was (and continues evolving to be always a couple of years behind), Sarah is who Chuck would have been without Ellie and/or with the CIA (Abandoned (it seems) by her mother before age 10, forced to be abandoned by her father in High School, betrayed (seemingly) by one of her best friends her early twenties). And I got nothing for Casey, but that might be because I don’t really understand the character. Maybe he’s who Chuck would have been if he allowed himself to put duty over family and turned into a burn out later in life.
    Anyway. I didn’t particularly like Chuck being cocky, but then I think Chuck’s desire to please others is a good quality rather than a flaw andI always sort of cringe when he’s cocky.
    On a final note, maybe Brody was created from Bryce and Chuck’s DNA the way Conner Kent was created from Lex and Clark’s. Great, now I want to yell at Chuck to look out for Cadmus.

  7. Generally I feel differently than the two of you, but you guys managed to hit pretty much everything right on the head. I just wish there was more time for Brody.

    PS - Frea, if you need someone to marry you and Newman, I'm definitely up for the job. We can all take a nice bus ride to (insert location here) and have ourselves a shotgun wedding, complete with Chevy Chase and men dropping in through the skylight!

  8. Anonymous, I disagree completely. Yes, on the surface, the situations of keeping each other in the dark may seem different (Ellie being a civilian with a kid/Chuck being an agent), but there's one fact that I really want the writers to learn, and wish they had back in S3:

    Chuck and Ellie are adults.

    They are masters of their own fate, they are grown-ups, they each have a chance to run their own lives and I agree that it's unfair for Ellie to ask to leave the spy world, and for Chuck to keep lying to Ellie and put Awesome in a bad spot. It's been giving me an angry eyetwitch ever since that plotline first popped up in Ring II. And Coup D'Etat only made the eyetwitch worse.

    I guess, on the surface, I could see all of the team members being aspects of Chuck, but I don't know. I don't...really find the writers of the show ever going for the subtle joke when they can go for the overt one (aspects of each team member). But, I mean, Chuck WAS breaking down his reasons for choosing each candidate in the beginning, so I suppose I could give the writers a little more credit than I usually do. :)

    Neil, I think that's where our biggest differences lie. You get annoyed when Chuck goes backwards in time. I'd RATHER he go backwards in time. I've hated pretty much every bit of character growth he's had since Ring I, as more often than not, it's led to him being spineless and/or a douche. The writers did a really big reset button on everybody's characterizations and settings at the beginning of S3, and I'm normally all about commit, commit, commit, but when somebody ignores that reset button and brings back classic, likable Chuck/Sarah/Casey, I cheer harder because they're back to the people I love. That's why my favorite episodes have been stuff like Seduction Impossible and Bank of Evil. And Chuck was better in First Date, Dream Job, Delorean, and Cougars than in most of those episodes you mentioned. :)

    Lemz, thanks for the offer. But I fear Chevy Chase.

  9. Completely putting aside the issues of Chuck and Ellie and whether they're right or wrong to be trying to keep each other in the dark:

    I think it was a good point that Awesome clearly didn't do what Chuck wanted him to do in the end. I mean, aside from him knowing how to change a hard drive (I understand he's a doctor and awesome, but he's generally left stuff like that to Chuck and the Nerd Herders) which was a bit eh, that he'd been taking his orders, clearly not being entirely happy about them but doing them still... and now he's gone and done the opposite.

    Handed Chuck a drive, and then returned to his place where Ellie is still hard at work.

    Supporting Ellie FTW!

  10. Yeah, was a meh episode for me (and i loved Balcony as well). I didn't find it all that funny, the murder mystery was hardly exciting and i felt Sarah (and Casey) were put on the sidelines...if for you perfect Sarah is the one with barely any lines, just few reaction shots...and spending time doing nothing but pat Chuck on the head...than i would not watch your show if you wrote her like that. I prefered dynamic and funny Sarah last episode, than the passive version from that one.

  11. Crumby25.3.11

    It was nice to see Awesome support Ellie but I really don't see how he can think that would end well to lie to both Bartowskis...

    I guess I really have less sympathy for Chuck regarding those lies because he chose to 1/ make that stupid promise to Ellie and 2/ broke that promise and lie. The reason for lying don't seem to be there either now that their mom is back, Volkoff is gone and Clara's born. He's just afraid to tell his big sister what he does for a living. Where is his cockiness now? He should take her to coffee and tell her the story of how Super Chuck disarmed a nuclear bomb with fruit juice.

    Considering Ellie's demand was unfair in the first place, he shouldn't have humor her that long. And everybody is complicit. In the scene with everybody around the baby in Seduction Impossible, the only other person that doesn't know Chuck is spying again and isn't lying to Ellie about it is Clara. I wouldn't even be surprised if Clara learned it before Ellie at this point and lie to her mother to protect Uncle Chuck. That's just sad to think everybody in your life is lying to you.

    It's not like she was going to ask to be on the team if he told her, she's not Morgan. She just won't be happy about it for a day or two. And lying about it doesn't make his spy life less of a threat for her...

    In Ellie's situation, she thinks Chuck's out of the spy game and happy, and doesn't know like Devon how sensitive her father's work is. And once again, if Chuck hadn't lie first, she would probably had told him about it anyway.

  12. Tatu, I've spent 350k words writing how I think Sarah should act, so that's an entirely different kettle of fish, but I don't think I really made my original point clear. You can have an entire episode focused on Sarah, but if she's like how Klemmer or Denby writes her, what's the point? I liked this Sarah because she stood up for herself and for Chuck, because she was the quietly empathetic Sarah I fell in love with in S1 and S2. I'm about to say something that's going to make Maximus gasp, but: I don't need every episode to be all about Sarah. Seriously. I'm okay with her not having a major plot every. single. episode. Even further, I would hardly call her involvement in this episode "being sidelined." I thought she actually had a pretty decent arc, honestly. If her having this little screentime persisted for more than one episode, I'd say something about it, but I don't know, the show IS called Chuck, not Sarah. Others can have the spotlight once in awhile, as long as they're not named Morgan.

  13. Anonymous25.3.11

    Reading about your feelings on Chuck's growth in Season 3 suddenly makes a lot of your comments this season make a lot more sense, although I suppose I should have realized that before.
    I wouldn't say Sarah was "quietly empathetic" in season 1 and 2. She treated Chuck like an asset. An asset she cared a great deal about, but an asset nonetheless, and as Beckman put it, you tell an asset what they need to hear, and at that point in Chuck’s life that was encouragement. That’s not to say Sarah didn’t care or even love chuck, or that all or even most of her actions were manipulative, but she was putting the good of the Agency and the greater good above both her own needs and, many time, Chuck. Over season 3 both character went through a lot of growth, one part of which is that Sarah 1) started putting her own desires and needs above that of the country or the greater good at least some of the time 2) shifted from handler Sarah to friend Sarah to Girlfriend Sarah. Girlfriend Sarah is very protective of Chuck. Her needs are, primarily, to keep him safe, whatever the ramifications of that are for the greater good or his ego. Handler Sarah was willing to encouragement him to do something, even if it wasn't exactly safe, if it would be good for the Agency or the greater good, such as in Seduction when she talked Chuck into looking for Roan, or when she told Casey she could "control" Chuck in Third Dimension.

  14. Crumby25.3.11

    Except that when she was manipulating Chuck, she wasn't just thinking of the greater good or the Agency. She was keeping Chuck safe from the government as well.

    The threat of the bunker was always there and they could also reassigned her if she didn't do her job, which meant she couldn't protect him anymore. An uncooperative asset didn't help anything.

  15. Anonymous25.3.11

    Which doesn't negate what I was trying to make my main point (apparently unsuccessfully): Sarah's more encouraging behavior during season 1 and 2 were born out of a need to tell him what he needed to hear, in order to cooperate, whether that was for his good or for others . Now, she doesn’t need to do that, and she’s telling him what she's really thinking or feeling, stripped of the padding she once used to steer him.

  16. Ayefah25.3.11

    Buckley, changing a hard drive is actually pretty easy - open up the chassis of your laptop and it'll be right there on the outside, ready to be replaced. Same goes for memory. And Awesome didn't actually change the drive anyway, so I guess this is all moot. :P

  17. I don't know if that's necessarily the case, Anonymous. Sure, she treated Chuck like an asset -- he was her asset. But by the time Colonel rolled around, I really don't think it was merely asset/handler/Sarah telling Chuck what he needed to hear going on. I mean, she risked her job to look up his dad in Broken Heart and nearly the same in Marlin. So I do view S1/S2 Sarah as quietly empathetic, just for moments like the beginning of Dream Job, and the end of Tom Sawyer. I mean, she had times where she fell down the rabbit hole of plot contrivance (beginning of Suburbs/all of Beefcake), but nobody has a perfect record, not on this show. And I don't think any of that was because she needed him to be a good asset; I think she genuinely cared for Chuck, and for his feelings. And if the end of Delorean has anything to say about the matter, that's a two-way street.

    I guess I'm weird, but I was one of the people who instantly believed Sarah in Other Guy when she said she fell for Chuck right away. Her empathy in spite of everything has always made her a fascinating character to me, so this is me saying, yes, I do think she was quietly empathetic, and yes, I miss that aspect in episodes like Cat Squad and Leftovers where you really get the feeling she doesn't value Chuck's abilities at all, or in A-Team where she doesn't stand up for him. Until S3, she went above and beyond the call of duty for Chuck time and again, often without him really realizing it, and then S3 went and turned her into this passive, unsympathetic woman. Growth? Maybe in the back half of the season. The rest of it just really felt like horrible regression. So the return of the empathy and support in this episode is a return to an aspect of Sarah that I liked, without the handler/asset strings attached. Now it's just partners keeping each other level and good on the writers/director/actors for bringing that back, I say.

  18. Anonymous25.3.11

    I guess I felt like Season 1 and 2 Sarah felt she needed to give Chuck the extra push and even occationally go behind his back. As the season progress she didn't need to sugar coat things for him and she didn't feel like she had to stand up for him or just stand there and tell him how great a guy he is. Once he started on the path to become an agent, she could tell him things the way they were, even if that wasn't pleasant. Because that's what youd do with an equal, rather than an asset she had to treat with kid gloves.
    I guess I felt like Season 1 and 2 Sarah felt she needed to give Chuck the extra push and even occasionally go behind his back. As the season progress she didn't need to sugar coat things for him and she didn't feel like she had to stand up for him or just stand there and tell him how great a guy he is. Once he started on the path to become an agent, she could tell him things the way they were, even if that wasn't pleasant. Because that's what you do with an equal, rather than an asset she had to treat with kid gloves.
    That's not saying she wasn't in love with him (although I'd hope neither of them were so shallow as to fall completely in love with each other on the first date) its saying she showed the side of herself to him that she felt like he needed to see. Now he gets to see her worts and all, and she no longer walks on eggs shells.

  19. Anonymous25.3.11

    And I apparently don't know how to post. Oops.

  20. Ayefah25.3.11

    Standing up for someone you care about isn't coddling them; it's support. And yeah, there have been a few times this season when Chuck could have used it.

  21. Honestly, for the last two seasons, I think Sarah has actually treated Chuck LESS like an equal than she did in Seasons 1 and 2. At least then, there was a good reason why she might have treated him less equally, and there was always her quiet support and encouragement to make up for it. And there was always a sense that Sarah had a great deal of respect for Chuck.

    Now, especially this season, there have been multiple times where I've questioned if she even respects Chuck professionally, let alone sees him as an equal. I never really felt that way in the first two seasons, even when it was obvious he was being handled, because like I said, she made up for it in other ways. Too often now, there is very little making up for how she treats him when they are working.

    So yeah, this episode it was nice to see that supportive and encouraging aspect of Sarah come back. It was really nice to see her standing up for him. I miss that Sarah.

  22. Hmm lots of things I agree with and things I don't. I liked the episode. I have to write a review on it and I still haven't figured out why except for it made me laugh. Good enough for me, esp as this IS Season 4.

    As for Sarah and Frea's mention of Cat Squad. I worship Sarah so much and defend her against anybody, but I was appalled at her treatment of Chuck in that ep. She was so rude and mean, to put it bluntly. That is not the Sarah I know and love. And poor Chuck, stumbling over himself to apologize. Terrible.

    Sometimes I feel like, what's the point of really analyzing the characterization at this point? The writers are all over the place in how they portray them, and there's a thin string of cohesion from one ep to the next. It's frustrating.

    Perhaps bringing the funny is an okay reason to like the rest of this seaon. If they can give me more eps like that in this last what 5 eps?, I will tut-tut the character missteps and forgive each ep more.

  23. I'd have no problem with Sarah treating Chuck harsh, if he actually called her out on it or if caused any repercussions. I know people hate cocky Chuck but him being a complete pushover is even worse.

    And at this point in the show, we all know characterization and growth goes out the window for the plot. It used to bother me but I doubt anything will change moving forward.

  24. @Kris - Yeah, CAT Squad really was not a very good episode for Sarah's characterization. I think you have the right idea for really enjoying the show in its post-Season 2 era: simply sit back and try to enjoy the funny and not worry about the characterization.

    I manage to accomplish that most of the time, but every once in a while something will happen that really just...bugs me. But I am getting better and I have actually enjoyed most of S4 for the most part.

    If they can be funny, I will forgive a lot and I thought these last two episodes were fairly funny. That's all you can really ask for.

    @JC - There is a difference between being cocky and standing up for oneself, which is something Chuck rarely ever does anymore, especially with Sarah. I don't mind him standing up for himself, it's how he acted in episodes like First Class that annoy the crap out of me. There is nothing worse than unjustifiable and undeserved cockiness.

  25. @Max Well look at it this way, dude. Unless Sarah starts hooking up with Morgan, Chuck will still remain less infuriating than S6 and 7 of Buffy. :)

  26. Anonymous26.3.11

    No, if this was season 7 of Buffy, Bryce would come back to life, fall in love with a completely awesome girl only to have her fall into a coma and then instead of mourning run back to Burbank, kiss Sarah and listen to an idiotic speech about cookie dough.

  27. @Mwpw

    I wasn't saying Chuck standing up for himself makes him cocky. I'm still waiting for the writers to give him a permanent spine. Its him being a complete pushover about everything that irritates me to no end. Give me cocky Chuck over that any day of the week.

  28. I'm sorry, what's this Season 6 and 7 of Buffy you speak of? I have no idea what you're talking about.

  29. coffeegirl3.4.11

    i know i'm super duper late in watching this ep but i'm just so glad that morgan wasnt that involved in the spy story.

    i really don't like morgan grimes.


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