mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the Business Trip

Chuck vs. the Business Trip
Season 5, Episode 04, Original air-date November 18, 2011

Chuck and Sarah must stop an assassin after the Intersect at a Buy More convention. Jeff shows a new side to himself.

Max here, posting the review this time, and you know what that means. That's right, drooling over Sarah in the Nerd Herd uniform. And there's no Frea to stop me. Mwuaha.

Sarah in the NH uniform, best thing ever or best thing of all time? Discuss.

Okay, to be serious for a second before we get back to the truly important things, this episode was written by Kristin Newman. Frea's crush on Newman is well known, but after Business Trip, is Frea still in love with the future Mrs. O'Scanlin? You'll have to read the review to find out.

More after the jump!

Frea: You might not want to click the pic Michael just tweeted.

Frea: If you want to focus at all for mxpw vs. Frea.

mxpw: Huh?

mxpw: What?

mxpw: Did you say something?

Frea: YES. This gives me my first opportunity to write mxpw vs. Frea all in lyrical verse!

mxpw: Like you need an excuse for that.

Frea: There once was a woman named Sarah
Who came from an era
of spies and lies and conning people for money
and whose father is actually kind of funny
But that's not the point, you see
Because now we
Get to see her flounder for a personali-TY.

mxpw: As I am the supposed straightman of this duo, I will not be composing my responses in rhyme. I already did that, I can't do it all the time.

Frea: Hey, what rhymes with "Nantucket?"

mxpw: Chuck it.

mxpw: Duck it.

mxpw: Tuck it.


mxpw: Stuck it.

mxpw: Fuc...wait a minute...

Frea: Next question: need a rhyme for glockenspiel.

Frea: Also mojitos.

mxpw: Doritos

Frea: Oh, excellent. *writes that down* Okay, I think I have my Ode to this Episode of Chuck ready to go. Wanna hear?

mxpw: Carnitos

mxpw: Let's hear your lyrical stylings.

Frea: Newman, you're my hero.
Your writing never makes me want to rate it zero.
Seriously, you're awesome.

mxpw: *applause* Bravo! Bravo!

Frea: Thank you. So....we're done, then? I can go back to playing with my collection of How to Train Your Dragon dragons?

mxpw: What do you think?

Frea: I think Astrid and her Nadder need to save Hiccup and Toothless from certain peril~

mxpw: For a second there, I thought you had gone into a Fringe tangent.

mxpw: But you also thought wrong.

mxpw: We've got an episode to discuss!

Frea: Oh, right! So I'm not really sure about the bromance. I mean, it's cute, Lincoln/Peter always is, but why is Peter trying to push Lincoln towards Olivia?

mxpw: I know, I thought that was really weird too.

mxpw: I know he's trying to be cool and really trying to act like this Olivia isn't his Olivia, but...hey, wait a second!

mxpw: I know what you're doing!

Frea: Constructing a tiny rope ladder out of straws and toothpicks to rescue Hiccup and Toothless?

mxpw: You'd think from the way she is avoiding the subject that Frea hated this episode, but I do believe she loved it. ISN'T THAT RIGHT, FREA? *he says pointedly*

Frea: Okay, on the serious, I'm sure it surprises absolutely nobody that I adored Chuck vs. the Business Trip. How could I not? It had a giant evil bunny in it. If that's not vindication for my very existence, I don't know what it is.

mxpw: I have to say that I am a biased viewer as well, for Sarah was in the Nerd Herd uniform and that was like my one wish for S5. So I was pretty much predetermined to look on this episode favorably.

mxpw: Not that it doesn't deserve the praise, for it was a pretty damn good episode.

Frea: I think Newman is the strongest single writer they have on staff.

Frea: Unless you count LeJudkins as a person, in which case they can be neck and neck.

mxpw: And I often do forget that they are, in fact, two people.

mxpw: But yes, I do agree that Newman is the best individual writer on staff. And she is probably the most female-oriented of the writers as well.

Frea: They're the doublemint twins of Chuck. Double the awesome, double the fun.

Frea: I've heard some comparisons to Adler...I place her far above Adler, who is also a damned fine writer.

mxpw: Seeing as how I've never been as big a fan of Adler as a lot of other Chuck fans, that's an easy comparison for me to agree too.

Frea: All right, so we're both optimists this week! Let's start listing things we like. I love doing that. It makes me feel like I'm not dead and twisted inside like a female Ebenezer Scrooge.

mxpw: However, I do have to say, I have seen some complaining around the web about this episode, and I do want to talk about it some.

Frea: Aw, but let's be benevolent first!

mxpw: But I suppose we can get into that later on.

Frea: I understand the complains and have my own take on them, too.

Frea: Okay, Max, you start.

mxpw: Be benevolent? Easy. Sarah in the Nerd Herd uniform. DUH.

mxpw: Am I supposed to have more than that?

Frea: Wet Sarah in a Nerd Herd uniform?

mxpw: Good point! There was that, plus Sarah in those shorts in the scene when she beats up Todd Packer.

Frea: I noticed that! I was like, man, Max is going to love that.

mxpw: You're a girl, can you tell me how those flimsy, tiny little shorts could possibly hold up that big freaking gun she has?

Frea: They forbid me from wearing flimsy, tiny shorts in spring of 1999, Maximus. I couldn't tell you. Maybe she had some really, really tiny spanx on under there? Those things will hold anything up.

mxpw: Hahaha

mxpw: And this conversation isn't strange at all. But yes, I did love that outfit. Yvonne/Sarah does have legs for miles.

Frea: One of my favorite things about the episode is obviously Catherine Dent, she who played Mabel of Mabel's Diner in The Majestic, a movie I love to bits.

mxpw: I was amused that Sarah's NH skirt was actually longer than the skirts she wears with her business suits.

mxpw: And that's the last time I will mention Sarah's legs in this review, I promise. Probably.

Frea: I've started a timer.

Frea: Let's see...other awesome things. I loved the secondary characters in general, honestly. The scene where they're all sitting on the edge of the pool was fantastic and funny.

mxpw: I really like Catherine Dent too. She was on the The Shield, which was a great show.

mxpw: And she did a wonderful job here, with the role she had.

Frea: She did! Todd Packer was also hilarious. As was the guy from Champain-Urbana.

Frea: Which I wondered if that was a shout-out to Ryan McPartlin, as he was an Illini.

mxpw: I agree with you that the secondary characters at the Buy More retreat were actually pretty well developed for what brief roles they had.

mxpw: They were funny and quirky and I enjoyed seeing a different group of Buy Morons. Ones who actually seemed to take pride in their work, even if they were a bit crazy. Plus, and this was one of the reasons why I liked this episode, seeing Chuck and Sarah interact with them made them actually seem like real, normal people.

Frea: It did!!

mxpw: The retreat itself was a bit silly. I mean, who has a business retreat in Riverside? Haha. But I really liked Chuck and Sarah interacting with normal people, with no connection at all to the spy life. And most importantly of all, they got to have fun! And act like a young married couple.

mxpw: Though I do have to say that it was a bit strange when they were all sitting by the pool that Chuck and Sarah were so far apart. Or that Chuck was going to leave without once acknowledging Sarah.

Frea: That was strange. But not the weirdest part about the retreat for me...which was the lie-detector test. I'm sorry, Newman. I adore you, but seriously: W. T. F???

mxpw: Hahaha

mxpw: Yeeeeah, I have to agree.

mxpw: If a trained spy could fake it, then, uh, what was the point of using it?

Frea: I know a lot of lie detecting tests on TV gloss over the details (like the fact that they're more often inconclusive than not, and there are control questions), but those ones didn't even make SENSE.

Frea: What are you testing? What are your parameters? You can't seriously expect me to buy that the thing reads minds because as far as I could tell, that was the only thing it could possibly be measuring!

mxpw: Oh, well, I do believe that the sensors apparently measured heart rate or something? Which does change when you are telling a lie (that's like what lie detectors typically measure, I think).

mxpw: That's why they needed physical contact.

Frea: Lie detectors measure a number of things: temperature, heart rate, your rectum. But it was a hot day, which automatically disqualifies temperature. Heart rate could be attributed to SO MANY things...

mxpw: Like being in close proximity to a smoking hot blonde in a skimpy uniform? Heh.

Frea: Your heart rate WOULD be galloping....

Frea: But that's probably just a sign that you're not dead.

mxpw: Honestly, that part didn't bother me. What bothered me was that it was pointless, as Casey more or less pointed out near the end of the episode.

Frea: Yeah, true. It just pushed my "I'll go with it" meter a little too far. I spent more of that scene laughing at the absurdity of it than actually paying attention. Which is sad because that was a great scene.

Frea: I'm amazed nobody fainted when Sarah touched them.

mxpw: Heee.

mxpw: I can neither confirm or deny that I would if I had been there.

Frea: That's okay, Max. We know you'd gibber. There's no shame in that.

mxpw: That scene did lead to one of the contentious issues of this episode, though.

Frea: We didn't get a look at Sarah's bra color and so neither quistie nor I won our bet?

mxpw: Haha

mxpw: I didn't look.

mxpw: No, that's not what I was talking about. I was talking about Sarah meeting a new friend.

Frea: Yes! Mabel!

mxpw: Haha

mxpw: I can understand why some people had a problem with Sarah wanting so desperately to make a friend, and then having that taken from her.

Frea: Mabel, I am sad that you turned to a life of killin'. I do wonder if your first victim was Bob because of his surliness, or Ernie the Mayor. That guy always struck me as wrong. Also, you look fabulous for somebody in her 90s.

mxpw: I am ignoring you.

Frea: I know. And I'll get serious now, because I've given that matter some serious thought.

Frea: Am I allowed to get a little vain?

Frea: I can do the vanity version or the non-vanity version, either way.

mxpw: Yeah, go ahead. I've given the issue some thought as well and have a lot to say.

Frea: Okay, I'll do the vanity version. I know most of the people reading this review read What Fates Impose and more importantly, the Sarah companion pieces, To Resist Both Wind and Tide and Fortune Favors Fools.

Frea: Sarah wanting normality is a topic that is represented throughout all of my stories, just because I've never viewed her spy life as that fulfilling in the long run. It's thrilling and she loves it, don't get me wrong. And I love seeing her be kick-ass and a great spy like nothing else, but Sarah's always felt kind of two-dimensional at times that all she wants to do is fly around and be a spy. So to see her having thoughts about more than that, wondering about her life, trying to figure out where the pieces fit and how to define herself in this episode was just phenomenal. It was wonderful and amazing and it made me want to fall to Newman's feet, sobbing with happiness.

Frea: (It is possible that I am being slightly melodramatic here, true.)

Frea: BUT.

Frea: The main issue for me is that this is supposed to be a team thing. You're not supposed to be able to tell which writer wrote which episode: the mark of a great writer's room is the inability to distinguish between writers on one episode to the next. I realize that this is an ideal standard that is very rarely reached (Fringe, to me, does so because I couldn't even tell you one of the writers' names).

Frea: So for Sarah to suddenly start going through this process, while it's wonderful, unfortunately loses a lot of its power because it hasn't been built on by every writer (lookin' at you, Klemmer and Fedak). So I can understand why people would have issues with this storyline here.

Frea: I, meanwhile, have adopted, "I'll take every awesome thing I can get out of Season Five, and I will LOVE it" attitude.

mxpw: I liked that Sarah was starting to think about what is normal and what kind of life she wants to have. I think that her having those thoughts and questioning whether or not being a spy is all she wants out of life shows actual, real character growth for her. And that's not something we see with Sarah a lot. I mean, her biological clock is ticking. And I don't mean she's running out of time to have kids, I mean that in the literal sense. I realize Sarah is still relatively young, but she's going to reach a point where she should realize that she literally can't be a spy forever. She's going to get old. And if she doesn't want to be miserable for the rest of her life, she needs to find other things fulfilling. She needs to make friends and discover hobbies and maybe even think about what other life goals she might have. So in that sense, I loved seeing Sarah go through this search for a friend because it showed real progress for me. Though, you're right, in that it's not exactly been an organic thing.

Frea: I've seen it around that people have thought she's giving up her identity by going through these changes. And that's true. But how often do we as human beings change? You adapt or you die. You're a different person with different people. I act differently around my old chemistry teacher than I do around my best friend who once held my hair back as I puked up the lemon drops shots and ill-advised martini that one time in Chicago. So I don't think Sarah's giving up her identity at all, but adapting to what her life is now. It's fantastic. I wish it were more organic and I hope this episode starts the trend of things mattering from week to week.

mxpw: But there were a couple of other issues related to this that I wanted to mention too, not just what we've already talked about.

mxpw: Yes, agreed.

mxpw: One of the issues I saw was how upset people were that Sarah didn't actually get to keep Jane as a friend, that she was the bad guy. That they felt like it just further showed that Sarah sucks at interpersonal relationships (which, admittedly, she kinda does) and that she doesn't have anything that's hers separate from Chuck. And I can see their point. It was really sad that Jane wasn't genuine, that Sarah didn't get to have a friend of her own. But I didn't interpret her speech at the end that she didn't need to not have friends because she had Chuck's family and friends, I saw it as her accepting that she actually had friends at all, and that maybe she CAN be the person who has friends. That's how I interpreted her asking Chuck if it was okay if she had drinks with Jane. She wasn't asking for permission, she was looking for reassurance that she wasn't so broken that somebody would actually want to be her friend.

mxpw: Though, yes, it was sad that Jane turned out to be evil.

Frea: I am also sad about Mabel.

Frea: Because I have wanted Sarah to have a friend so badly that's not one of the nerd herders or spy people.

mxpw: I also have seen some people have a real problem with Chuck automatically assuming that Jane was the Viper just because she wanted to be Sarah's friends.

Frea: I did, but I liked that he backed off.

mxpw: I was kind of taken aback by it at first too, but then I remembered Season 1 and 2, where Casey and Sarah automatically assumed that anybody who took an interest in Chuck was a potential bad guy and not to be trusted. Upon further reflection, I saw it as maybe residual trust issues after what happened with Morgan? Though that's probably a total fanwank.

Frea: For me, that one falls under the "Characters screw up, but if they atone for their actions (which I felt Chuck did), I'm fine with it" clause.

mxpw: I just thought it was Chuck thinking like a spy first and foremost. And you're right in that he did make up for it later.

Frea: Man, I felt so bad for her when Jane turned out to be evil. But they can't afford Catherine Dent for the whole series, so I will have to trust that Gertrude and Sarah will be friends. Ooh. If they're sticking to this whole "Things that happened last week matter!" trend, then maybe this is leading to a Sarah/Gertrude friendship!

mxpw: I do have to say, Sarah totally playing Jane and then kicking her ass was simply wonderful. That's the awesome Sarah Walker I know and love.

mxpw: And that scene in the car with the bomb was one of my favorite parts of the episode. It was great interaction between Chuck and Sarah. I love how Sarah completely trusted Chuck to save her and that they worked so well together. Sarah's acting was great and, um, I'm going to break my promise here.

Frea: Let's talk about her legs.

mxpw: That scene deserves a comment.

mxpw: It was hysterical. First, damn, she has long legs. Second, damn, she's flexible. Third, I wonder if that was odd for Yvonne and Zac to film considering where his eyeline was. Haha.

Frea: "Yvonne, can you put your foot a little higher on the dashboard, please? Levi, lean in a little closer." I hope they were cracking jokes about it the whole time.

mxpw: I bet they probably were cracking jokes.

mxpw: By this point in the show, they are probably pretty familiar with seeing each other in compromising clothes/positions. Or at least Zac is. Heh.

Frea: Okay, now that you've broken your promise, can I do something I've never done before?

mxpw: Talked about how much you love Jeff?

Frea: ...oh, I need to do that, too.

Frea: Hm, we'll tackle that first.

mxpw: Haha

Frea: What is UP with the Buy More this season? It's been freaking relevant in every single episode so far.

mxpw: I know, it's really strange. I actually think this had one of my favorite Buy More jokes ever.

Frea: Sarah storming by Lester because she wanted her day to be normal?

mxpw: When Sarah was walking out to her car and saw Lester with the van and the hose and just shrugging her shoulders as she passed because she wanted things to be normal.

mxpw: Haha, yes.

Frea: Vik and Yvonne's scenes together will never fail to crack me up, apparently.

Frea: Surprised that Jeff got Lester arrested at the end, but loving Algernon!Jeff.

mxpw: I cracked up at Jeff's choice of reading material. Or that he was drinking tea during break! That was a great sight gag with Jeff drinking tea and being all refined and then there is Big Mike sitting next to him eating from a giant bowl of cheese balls.

Frea: Two cheeseballs jokes in an episode!

mxpw: With this new Jeff storyline, I could actually see him becoming management material one day. Haha.

Frea: Cheeseballs: the ultimate schlubby food. Which is sad because my grandfather always had a container of them ready to go whenever we visited.

mxpw: They are comfort food.

Frea: Definitely.

Frea: Okay, ready, Maximus? I'm going to do something I've never done before.

mxpw: Talk favorably about Morgan?

Frea: Oh, hell no. That guy was annoying as all get out this episode. It remains unchanged for him.

Frea: I am going to apologize...to the show.

mxpw: Ooooh

Frea: But what I am going to apologize for is all of my complaints last week about Casey being too lenient on Morgan. Because I assumed, and I feel I have fair grounds here and past history on my side, that they would handwave all this stuff with Alex and Morgan hurting Alex this week. But they didn't. And it led to some of the most hysterical stuff in the episode. For 90% of this episode, I adored Casey.

mxpw: This was the most I've liked Casey in quite a while too. I loved, loved, loved that he didn't let what Morgan did go. He was the only one who had a genuine reaction, I think. And he picked the perfect way to torture Morgan too, by ruining all of his favorite movies. Telling Morgan that Vader was Luke's father was one of the single greatest things he's ever done.

mxpw: But you know what I loved more?

Frea: And Morgan was a douchebag for using Casey's phone to contact Alex. Seriously, I wanted to kick him in the nads. And then I wanted to kick Chuck in the nads for encouraging that. WHAT THE F***, CHUCK?

Frea: That crossed a SERIOUS line for me, in case you can't tell.

mxpw: Yeah, I can tell.

mxpw: I can see what you mean, but that didn't bother me as much as it did you. Chuck just took his loyalty a little too far.

Frea: And I am so, so, so, SO glad Alex didn't take his lying, douchebag ass back.

mxpw: But yes, that's what I loved! That Alex didn't take Morgan back. That was wonderful. Was that the first time lying has ever had consequences on this show?

Frea: If she's so upset that she changed her freaking number, a girl shouldn't have to worry that text messages from her dad are going to be her ex-boyfriend.

Frea: I think so, actually. Making Alex my official hero!

mxpw: I think it might very well be. That was the most amazing part of this episode.

mxpw: Okay, so like you know how the phone thing bothered you? I have my own pet peeve.

Frea: Yeah?

mxpw: I did not like Sarah basically sending Casey on a secret mission behind Chuck's back like she did at the end.

Frea: Yeah, I didn't like that one either. I also didn't like the secret mission at all.

Frea: It really showed us Casey's sociopath side. Which, I know, I know, has existed the whole time. But I like to pretend it's not there, you know? Like the writers do for most of the scenes.

mxpw: I realize the initial plan wasn't for Casey to kill everybody. Apparently he was just going to conduct surveillance. But I don't understand why that wasn't something she and Casey could have discussed with Chuck. There was no reason at all to do that without telling him. That whole scene just read like, "Aww, Chuck is so cute in his naivete." If they didn't think things were over with, then they should have told Chuck. Yeah, that's a brilliant plan, let's not tell the members of the team that a highly skilled assassin might still be after them. *eyeroll*

Frea: Sounds about par for the course for the same people that thought simply changing Morgan's profile picture on Facebook would fool a well-trained assassin with more kills than Jane Smith.

mxpw: Haha, I know. I think that was the big plot hole of the episode. Every episode has one, and that was Business Trip's.

Frea: Yeah. We named this hole Steve. What? It's a pretty name.

Frea: Casey offing five or six people at once was just dark.

Frea: I realize they were all bad dudes and that technically, Carmichael Industries is an illegal company anyway, but geez. Dark. Dark dark dark.

mxpw: Yeah, it really was. I realize it was largely self-defense, but still. I gotta give it to the man for his skills. Though I did think it was a bit absurd that Casey wasted a super assassin, the super assassin's sidekick and like four redshirts without getting a scratch. Perhaps Jane's reputation was a bit undeserved.

Frea: Don't speak that way about Mabel. She's wonderful.

Frea: One final thing I personally want to bring up, and that is: Awesome, I love you.

mxpw: I was curious what you thought about that, because I know some people have complained about the gender politics of the woman wanting to stop working so she can stay at home.

Frea: I watched the episode with Ma O'Scanlin, who hasn't seen anything since mid-Season 4, so I got to explain lots of things at various points in the episode (did you know Chelsea O'Scanlin was born in Riverside? This makes this episode 10 times more awesome). But the gender politics is exactly what I want to talk about here.

Frea: There's a lot of criticism that's directed towards women that want to stay home and raise their kids. Which is TOTAL BULLSHIT.

Frea: Feminism should not be founded on these principles, people. Feminism should be founded on the principles that women should have the choice. Ellie WANTED to stay home with Baby Clara but could have felt that societal norms and misrepresented feminism forced her out of the house. Awesome was amazing for recognizing that this might have been at play and being the one to step up and say, "I want to go back to work."

Frea: My best friend, who is one of the most amazing people in my life and the smartest person I know, one of her goals has always been that she wanted to stay home with her children and raise a family. And there is NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

Frea: So at the end, when Awesome realized that Ellie wanted to be at home with Clara but didn't outright say so because she knew Awesome wanted to be, and when Awesome stepped aside for Ellie to stay home, my mom and I were both like, "Wow. Awesome, you are awesome."

Frea: Sorry. This might be one of my hot-button issues.

mxpw: First of all, I want to say that I agree with you. I don't think stay-at-home moms are bad women or bad feminists or whatever you want to say. I think it's a pretty hard job to be at home and raise kids, especially if you have more than one. However, and I am purely guessing here, I think what probably drove some of this criticism is that the show does have questionable issues with female representation and I think some people were probably looking at that and then seeing Ellie, this smart woman who is a doctor and has always said she loved being a doctor, leaving her job, as an issue. I'm not saying I agree with that interpretation.

mxpw: In fact, kind of the opposite as I think Ellie choosing to stay at home for a while is a fairly in character motivation for somebody who has been so maternal all her life. Though, to counter my own argument, heh, there was that episode in S4 where Ellie went stir crazy during her maternity leave. So I don't know. It's not an either/or situation, I don't think.

Frea: I think I'm more inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt here, since it's Newman. If it were Fedak, it wouldn't have been handled as deftly or with such aplomb, and I'd be going after himself myself for his mistreatment of Ellie. And looking at the episode where Ellie was going stir-crazy, I don't think that's a fair measurement. It's always an adjustment, and I can imagine going from kickass doctor to only having infantile company all day would be culture shock for anybody.

mxpw: True, and to counter my counter point, Devon kind of went through the same thing in Frosted Tips, but adjusted to where he was actually enjoying being a stay at home dad.

Frea: Because he's awesome.

Frea: Which was why my mom and I were both "aww"ing over him in this episode. That was an incredibly sweet move on his part.

mxpw: True, true. That whole scene at the end with the whole family was actually pretty good. It was nice just seeing them all laughing and having a good time. Even Casey got in on the action. And wow, Sarah giving an emotional speech was surprising but great to see. Whether or not you agree with what she was saying, that was a big thing for a woman who doesn't like talking about her feelings.

Frea: Yes. Also, I had to explain that Casey only telling Morgan there were only three Indiana Jones movies was him being nice. Ma O'Scanlin: "Wait, aren't there four?" Frea: "That's the point." Ma: "What?" Frea: "Crystal Skull or whatever was supposed to be terrible. Casey was being nice." Ma: "Wait, I liked that movie..."

mxpw: Ha!

mxpw: I thought that was a nice gesture on Casey's part too. I thought it was nice how Casey was willing to let Morgan move back in once he no longer had a shot with Alex. Heh.

Frea: Gets him out of Ski/Walker Ranch, which was one of our gripes last week!

mxpw: Thank God for that. Or else we might never have gotten that awesome near-sexytimes!

Frea: SO TRUE.

Frea: That was AWESOME. And hilarious, how fast Sarah popped up.

mxpw: Though why did Sarah have to check her phone?! Come on, Sarah, you are in the private sector now! You can have time to make glorious sexytimes with your husband before responding to Beckman now.

Frea: Beckman's line about them running out of money: COMEDY GOLD.

mxpw: I agree. I laughed so much at that line. And I loved Chuck's sheepish "Missile Command is part of our process." Great line and even better callback!

Frea: Why do we get so many callbacks from the writer that wasn't even on staff when most of these original events happened?

mxpw: Because Newman is awesome?

mxpw: Boy do I wish we could have gotten just one episode written by Newman and LeJudkins. Could you imagine the AWESOMENESS?

Frea: And now, a haiku:

Kristin Newman-san,
Please write all the episodes,
'Cept LeJudkins's.

mxpw: Amen.

mxpw: Final thought: Sarah's face was hilarious when Todd Packer talked to her about being a Furry. I love when Sarah does that.

Frea: Sarah Walker: If she doesn't understand it or she hates it, she will punch it.

Frea: Ratings?

mxpw: This was the best episode of the season so far, I think, so I'll give it 4.5 Sarahs in a Wet Nerd Herd Uniform out of 5.

Frea: 9 Kristin Newmans out of 10.


  1. Anonymous21.11.11

    It seems the episodes just keep getting better and better and the seasons goes on.
    Being an action junkie I loved Caseys shootout, havn't seen much action like that in a while!

  2. It was a great episode and there were nods to previous episodes, some larger than others.
    The Buy More being evacuated, Big Mike's cry of "Pineapple!" taking us back to 'Nemesis' and Chuck having to diffuse a bomb in a car without any Intersect 2.0 powers reminded me a little of 'Sandworm'.

    I agree, though, that the whole lie detector thing was a little straining on the whole suspension of disbelief thing.

  3. Okay, I've seen this a few places on the web about this episode. This is not directed at you, Alistair, just at the world in general. Sorry, I just have to say something:

    To diffuse means to spread something.

    You don't diffuse a bomb. You defuse it. Just like you defuse a situation.

    Thank you, carry on.

    The Grammar Police

  4. Anonymous21.11.11

    I really liked the Casey shootout in this one because it dealt with one of the necessary disbelief suspending constants in the show. The fact that when the bad guys and the good guys point their guns at eachother theres going to be five minutes of dialogue. I think the show itself pokes fun at that alot and its needed so we can get all the chuck babble we crave. But when the bad guy/girl starts talking and Casey just opens up I felt like that seemed about right for Casey. It didn't strike me as too dark because (and tell me if I was reading into this something that wasn't there) when Casey shows up for dinner I thought he seemed disturbed and trying to mask it which is emotional growth I expected from his ColdSchool s1 character to now. Still doing what he needs to protect the team but not shunted?

    - Mobi

  5. I so agree about Morgan texting Alex w/ Casey's phone. That was so out of line. I would expect that from Morgan, the man that knows no boundaries, but Chuck encouraging him? And Sarah watching and doing nothing? It pissed me off. That was so wrong, and poor Casey, none of them had his back on this one.

    Also, YES about Ellie and Awesome. I thought it was actually in character for Ellie. She's always been very maternal, and her own mom abandoned her. If she wants to spend more time at home with Clara, good for her. When she'll go stir-crazy, she can always consult for Carmichael Industries. If that means Morgan needs to get hurt, I'm sure nobody will mind. And that was so sweet of Awesome. Super-dad and super-husband.

  6. Also, can you really drive with such shoes?! :)

  7. Anonymous21.11.11

    @Crumby: Yeah, You can- my favourite aunt routinely drives in extra-long(4/5 inches AFAIK) heels, over long distances, and in 15+ years of driving, she never caused a single accident.

    Offtopic: Frea, when will You resume writing Fates?

  8. So much to agree with here, so I'm going to just nod and say yes, this was probably the best of the episodes so far this season!


    The one comment I'd like to make is about Casey's secret mission. I didn't like everything about it, most notably that for screen time reasons all of the Viper's henchmen had to be in one spot so Casey could take them all out in a few seconds. I did think it was very necessary to remind everyone about the very real consequences of being in the spy business and there's no better way to make that point than to show a threat to the Bartowski extended family. This isn't a bakery or a dry cleaning establishment they're running, after all. It's a private intelligence agency.

    Why is this important?

    In case you didn't notice, there was a little hint dropped between Chuck and Sarah about thoughts beyond their current situation. A foreshadow-y scene where they considered what the future might hold for them. Remember it? It wasn't there by accident. This scene was a herald of change coming to the characters and their situation this season.

    In order to make their eventual decision to leave the spy business ring true for the audience, it's necessary to show how the ever-present threat of harm that accompanies being in this business isn't compatible with what they want for their lives going forward. You just can't be in the game and not be at risk.

    To begin showing that, you have the secret mission. Sarah wasn't wrong, she and Casey both understood that to leave Viper alive meant leaving a Sword of Damocles hanging over their friends and family. It's a hard truth, but it's not rocket science.

    So Sarah asked Casey to take care of it because as she's become more the person she wants to be (see Phase III for evidence of this dichotomy) she relies more on him to deal with things that force her to revert to who she was. And one day, when she accepts that she can't even stomach letting Casey do these things, she'll see that she has to make a change, and I think she'll let Chuck know.

    Wait, what? What's all this about leaving the spy business? Yeah, I said it. I predict that Carmichael Industries will be doing something a bit different by the end of the finale.

  9. As a dad who took lesser jobs to allow his wife's career to flourish, I completely agree Frea.
    I am so sick and tired of people getting denigrated because their child or children come first.
    My wife had the better position, so that's how we went.Although I know she wanted to be their every day. It has worked out well, but once my daughter was born. She became the most important thing.

    I liked the way Sarah sent Casey out. Its easier just to send him out. Chuck may run the business, but Sarah has been running the spy side for a few episodes now.

    While I thought Casey shooting all those guys from that distance was laughable, I don't think that makes him a psychopath. He is completely desensitized to killing, I think he still has a concience. Hence him gulping down the whine to dull the pain.

  10. Nervert22.11.11

    Yeah, I laughed as well, thinking about the filming of the scene with Chuck defusing the bomb. I'm kinda hoping there will be some material for the blooper reel from that.

    Oh, and who says you can't diffuse a bomb? Don't they say the solution to pollution is dilution? Why not a bomb too? :D

    Finally, Frea, I'm glad you defended Ellie wanting to go back to staying with Clara. You're right, feminism should be defending choice. Of five friends of mine who are moms four have wanted to stay home with their kids, at least within the first year. Three of those have PhDs in molecular biology and the fourth was a long term tech. They're certainly not being pressured by anyone to stay home and I don't think they should be made to feel bad for their choice just because they're not living up to someone's ideology. Thanks for making the point Frea.

  11. Anonymous22.11.11

    My problem is that Ellie didn't actually get to make a choice. One man (Lester) decided that she was unhappy just from looking at her. And then he decided why she was unhappy and mansplained that to Devon so he’d stop being such a gender violator and go back to work as nature intended. Which Devon did. Without talking to Ellie. It’s portrayed as self-sacrificial, but it’s freaking condescension.

    It’s Ellie’s life. She deserves honesty from her partner and the right to equal involvement in decision-making about how they’re going to live their lives.

    The show treated her like a child who needs even the most tangentially related men around her to decide how she feels and what her life should be. Without bothering to ask her.

    WTF, show.

    W T F

    It’s okay if Ellie wants to stay home with her baby. It’s not okay for Devon to lie to her “for her own good.” It’s not okay for him to make decisions about how they’re going to raise their daughter behind Ellie’s back with freaking Lester (even a new and improved version).

  12. Wow. I really, really don't think we were watching the same show, myswrr. One nit real quick before I launch into how I saw it: it was Jeff that pointed out Ellie was unhappy, not Lester. Fresh air has made him intuitive.

    My rant in this review about feminism not meaning burning your bra, but choosing whether or not you want to burn your bra deals directly with the comment you just made. In fact, comments like that are WHY I made that rant. I think there are a lot of factors at play here, and I applaud Newman for being able to write them with any sort of nuance whatsoever, as subtlety is not something you'd regularly expect from the Chuck writer's room.

    Ellie went through four years of undergrad, three years of medical school, and years of residency to get where she is. She's a kickass doctor, as has been shown several times throughout the series. She's also a modern woman, which means that there's this misguided pressure on her, as there is on everybody, to perform, to lead the way so that women of the future can have more opportunity, blah, blah, blah. She's probably had to deal with years of people pointing this out to her, and "gender violation" and "societal norms," as you call them, I think, are what forced her to think, I should be sticking to that kickbutt career and going back to work when all I really want to do is be at home with my kid.

    THEN, you add Devon. And Ellie pointed out that Devon is great at the stay-at-home parenting thing, and after that first little glitch, seems to love it. I kind of got the feeling, in the scene where she's describing how great Devon is, that he's getting into motherhood groups that even she can't get into, that she doesn't want to take that away from him, so she would have kept going to work. So first, *she* was making the sacrifice and lying to Devon "for his own good," if you want to look at it the way you are. Combine this misguided sense that staying home with your kids is anti-feminist that prevails throughout society and the fact that Devon loves it, and I could see Ellie not speaking up, honestly.

    And that's why I don't think it was condescending for Devon to step aside and give Ellie an excuse to do what she wanted to do. I still maintain that it was sweet. Your mileage obviously varies.

    But seriously, it's Jeff. Not Lester. They don't even look alike.

  13. And I'm sorry I spelled your name wrong, mswyrr!

  14. Ayefah22.11.11

    The thing that niggles for me about Ellie's choice isn't anything within the world of the show - of course feminist women can choose to stay at home with their kids, and if anything it's cool that the "women's work" of childcare was depicted as more alluring for both sexes than even a prestige career like being a doctor.

    The thing is, I have a distressing tendency to evaluate plot points as writers' choices, rather than just choices the characters are making. Because it's the writers pulling the puppet strings, and it's the writers of Chuck who have repeatedly shown they're mentally buried in traditional gender roles and can't comprehend long-term happiness existing in any form except a nuclear sitcom family with a house in the suburbs. Every time the relationships on the show have even a hint of deviation from the "norm" it gets ruthlessly stamped out. And in the context of that pattern? Ellie staying home is a rather disheartening choice on the writers' part.

    TBH, I barely thought about it, though, until I saw it was such a big deal in the comments here. :) The sexism on Chuck is so pervasive I usually let most of it roll off my back. I didn't even mention the ridiculous impracticality of the shoes Sarah wore at the end!


  15. Ayefah - Eh, considering on this show that something different from the "norm" usually involves lying, stealing, cheating, killing, and generally being very not nice people, I don't know if course correcting to normal is all that bad a thing.

  16. I know the show is far, far, farfarfarfar from anything approaching realistic when it comes to the working of the government, but I'm sorry, those last 10 minutes were just way past "suspension of disbelief" for me. He shows up at the door and *arrests* Casey? For killing an assassin. That he hired, and admitted to having hired, on tape, mere hours earlier. An assassin he hired to kill an American citizen. On US soil. Without any sort of due process. We're going to ignore the fact that in the real world, A) the CIA doesn't have arrest powers as such, and B) that he's not allowed to order anything on US soil whatsoever without an act of Congress signed, sealed, and delivered to the appropriate Cabinet Secretary by the President, since apparently in-universe, he's not restricted in those ways. An arrest? What's *that* trial going to be like? What happens if the gang sends their copy of the tape to the Chuckverse's version of Sy Hersh? Suppose Decker can carry out a prosecution while he's being indicted for conspiracy to commit murder? Can we see *any* hint that Decker is the 11-dimensional chess master we're constantly told he is that doesn't depend on the people he's against being largely ineffectual at determining what's going on until the last minute?

    Do they even realize that every episode they ratchet down a little bit more on that disbelief spring? I suppose I shouldn't complain, because at least it's entertaining again, but man, at least follow your own rules.

  17. Ayefah22.11.11

    I think that in the show's world, being an agent gives you a license to kill, so ordering a hit was within Decker's powers. Casey, however, is in the private sector now, so when he kills someone it's murder. It obviously has nothing to do with legal realities, but this show never does.

  18. That raises its own problems, but y'know, I think I'm going to stop pulling on the thread before the whole thing falls apart for me.

  19. Though I will say one thing for the execution; the way they set up Lester's arrest as a foil for Casey's was awfully slick. Impressive bit of fridge brilliance. At least, that's how I'm seeing it.

  20. Anonymous22.11.11

    The thing about Lester and Jeff is that they're an unmitigated ball of epic fail in my head. The guys who did the Herman Cain interview casting couch, intimidating and harassing women. And the show thought it was hilarious and ~adorable~. I should have Googled to make sure which was named what, but part of me just despises them both so much... ugh.

    They're really unforgivably disgusting human beings. And having one of them miraculously transformed into a man that knows what's best for a woman--or is it *all* women? The rules of Jeff's intuition are unclear to me--without talking to her to ask her opinion on the subject, is gross to me.

    The fact that Devon apparently went along with that--I'm holding out some hope that they had an honest conversation off screen--makes it really, *really* gross.

    Ellie isn't a delicate flower who is so oppressed by feminism (lol) that she needs big strong men to know her mind without consulting her and then make decisions for her. She's a strong-minded woman who, from the time she was still a child, has survived terrible burdens while retaining her sense of joy in life and achieving great things, among them getting through medical school *and* managing to raise a good, kind person in Chuck.

    My ideal head canon is that Devon came to her and they had an honest talk. After which Devon offered to take the heat for their change of living arrangements and say it was him who wanted it to happen, not her.

    That kind of consideration for her feelings is lovely and sweet and totally IC for Devon, imo. If he's lying to her on the word of some jerkoff at the Buy More, though... :-|

    @mxpw But that kind of makes it worse. Because there's a dichotomy set up between the "norm," which is the pure good people should seek to mold themselves to, and all aberrations, which are sort of lumped together in the category of bad/wrong. The idea that people can have good on their own terms without molding themselves to the norm is an important one that they completely trample. As is the point that norms can be harmful.

    There is a pressure (economic and social) to work while mothering. But there's also a continuing sense that working mothers aren't truly good mothers; that all mothers should want to spend all their time with their children. Because no decision women make is ever okay (i.e. the no makeup? Icky!/"Too much" makeup? Whore! double-bind or the frigid/slut double-bind). Ellie is a good, maternal person. So of course she wants to spend all her time with her baby! But because she's the only mother on screen, the default message that natural, good moms want to be with their kids all the time comes across. They could have easily given more nuance to her situation, but her story isn't valued the way male characters' stories are. And, as part of that, female relationships with each other aren't valued the way male friendships are held up as sacred.

    They could have easily shaved 60 seconds off the interminable throwing stars scene and/or the lie detector scene to show Ellie at work talking to a nurse who's a mom. Or show Devon and Ellie talking honestly! Something. But instead we get Ellie from the outside, judged by men, having important decisions made about her life by men who don't bother asking her opinion.

    I love this show. I try very, very hard to ignore the sexism. But sometimes Jeff and Lester sexually harass women. And sometimes Ellie is treated in gross ways. And I just can't ignore it then. (shrug) YMMV.

    --due to the show's narrative choice to privilege male/male friendships and male characters over women and women's friendships--

  21. Anonymous22.11.11

    *Ack! Please forgive the random dangling sentence at the end there. ((facepalm))

  22. Ayefah22.11.11

    Ooh, Castle just ripped off a storyline from Life. Okay, considering the miniscule size of Life's audience, probably not, but still. The whole "serial killer targeting people who just had something happy happen to them" thing is straight out of that show's S2 premiere. Ah, good times.

  23. Anonymous23.11.11

    Okay. I continue to be bothered by the idea that comments like mine are why rants about the importance of women having free choice are needed. Bothered and confused. So... clarifying a bit more, even though it's probably not necessary.

    Working class white women and women of color have always worked. There's never been a period of history when they didn't work. Usually they did it alongside their kids, who they had to watch lose fingers in the factory machines as the kids literally working hour upon hour until they passed out at their mothers' feet. Every day, six and sometimes seven days a week.

    So being a working mother itself is not a feminist act. It depends on the conditions of the work and whether it's chosen by the mother. It reads as feminist only when people look at the concerns of upper class white women--who were sequestered within their homes without being given a choice--and act as if their situation defines women's experience.

    So I really, truly am not saying that Ellie wanting to spend all her time with Clara is anti-feminist. Whatever the case, whether it's a woman forced to work in a factory just to survive, or a woman forced to be an "angel in the house" by men around her, the difference between a woman being in a position of having power over her own life or not is all about whether she's being treated honestly by the people around her and thereby allowed to make her own decisions like an adult.

    If my POV is really a good example of why rants in defense of women's right to choose how to raise their children ... I just don't understand that. I don't think it's a fair characterization of anything I said.

  24. Anonymous23.11.11

    I realized I'd cited certain historical situations without explaining what I meant, which could be confusing. The factory situation I described was typical in cities during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, when First Wave feminism was still going on, fighting for laws against child labor in addition to suffrage for women (in fact, one of the arguments for suffrage was that women voters might actually care about the kids working every day until they collapsed from exhaustion and do something about it with their vote). Most people today take their opinion of working motherhood from Second Wave feminism, which was a reaction to the '50s, when American post-war economic affluence meant that an unprecedented number of white families could be supported by one income rather than two. But even during that period, there continued to be poor white women who didn't have access to the breadwinner/homemaker Father Knows Best version of the American Dream. And people of color didn't benefit from American affluence the way whites did, so women of color went on working and mothering in large numbers because of simple economic necessity. While white women were being encouraged to have children and dedicate their lives to raising them, women of color were enduring forced sterilization at the hands of medical doctors.

    No feminist who knows what they're talking about and has even the slightest grasp of the intersections of class and race with gender is going to argue that working while mothering is an inherently more feminist act. That's not what I've ever argued. That's not what anyone I know would argue. If someone says that they're a feminist and shames a stay-at-home mom, they're revealing their deep, painful ignorance of history, feminism, and the experiences of poor women/women of color. They need to read Audre Lorde, they need to pick up a history book, they get their act together.

    There are no stay-at-home moms that need defending from oppression by me or anyone I know. From a country with a Family and Medical Leave Act that only gives them 12 (unpaid!) weeks off? Definitely! From a society where it's often true that two parents working full time can't adequately support a family, let alone one? Most certainly! But not from me. And not from feminism. It hurt to see the canard that feminism is oppressive toward women dragged out for this review. And it hurt to have it directed at me, as if I need to hear rants in defense of Ellie and other moms who want to stay with their kids.

  25. @Ayefah the writers strike hurt quite a few of my favorite shows. Life Chuck and Life on Mars were all great shows.
    Every time I see someone bite into an Apple I always smile ans something zenish pops in my head.

  26. @MSWYRR thanks for the clarification. I certainly learned something. IMO the problem was some of the reaction to the episode. Some got really angry about Ellie's actions.
    I know I'm glad you commented, because it really adds to the conversation.

  27. To me, it is clear that Devon and Ellie talked about her returning home to care for Clara. He was informing everyone else of their decision. Had Ellie not known, she would have said, "What? Devon, what are you talking about?" Her response was, "It was too soon and I missed her too much." There clearly was a conversation.

    As pointed out, Ellie is not a wilting flower. If, in a private conversation, Devon brought up idea of him returning to work and her taking care of the baby and she wanted to continue to work, she would have said so and Devon would have stayed home. In no way was the decision, in my opinion, made for her.

    Devon knows his wife well. He knows that she will do anything for the ones she loves, including sacrificing what she might want for the happiness of others. Devon didn't say that he wanted to go back to work to take away her choice, but to give her the freedom to stay home without feeling like she's taking his time away with Clara.

    When you love someone, its easy to put your own stuff aside so they can be happy and fulfilled. It has nothing to do gender roles or oppression or condescension. It has to do with your relationship with that other person.

  28. awelle23.11.11

    I am also quite certain, that Devon did talk to Ellie. And he is a bad liar, which Ellie knows. So even, if he did tell her, he wanted to go back to work and had just been putting up a front when he seemed to very much enjoy staying home with Clara, she might easily have seen through that. And I can believe she might have wanted to believe him, as this gave her what she apparently wanted.

    However, I also agree, that this change in Ellie was very poorly portrayed by mostly just having Jeff state it. Ellie has been shown to go stir crazy at home with Clara and unlike Devon, she wasn´t shown adjusting to it and feeling completely fulfilled by it. And she wasn´t shown to talk about that with anyone.

    And I so very much agree about the heightened importance that´s being put on any bromances and the very little time that is spent on female friendships. Although, I guess this might be partly tied to the show being called Chuck, which means his relationships with anyone are portrayed more deeply. This doesn´t really work for the focus that is given to Morgan/Casey, Jeff/Lester or even Morgan/Devon. I would love to see more of Sarah/Ellie and maybe even have Alex interact with Sarah or Ellie.

    Lastly the show has often used Ellie and Devon as an example for Sarah and Chuck. So I wouldn´t be too surprised, if Sarah ends up as a stay-at-home mom, while Morgan and Chuck the wonder nerds go and save the world together. And while that doesn´t necessarily have to be a bad choice for Sarah, I am glad it will probably happen at the end of the show and I won´t have to see it play out.


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