Season 5, Episode 03, Original Air-date November 11, 2011
Chuck has some fears about Morgan having the intersect and it going to his head. Elsewhere Sarah helps Casey navigate his relationship with Gertrude Verbanski. And in the meantime Devon is spending his paternity leave with baby Clara at home but quickly finds it unexciting and that leads him to the Buy More where he makes a startling revelation about Jeff and Lester.
So far, Max and I have managed to stay chipper in the face of a show that constantly puts our least favorite character, a character that has inspired Castle Inanity's very first safe-word, in the spotlight. We've enjoyed two episodes in a row where it seemed like Chuck has found his spine (it wasn't in Sarah's purse) and Sarah has been pretty cool (on top of the fact that she's Sarah Frakking Walker) and even Casey has been hilarious (your CASEY unit now has a mate: Gertrude!).
But when the episode turns Morgan into such a douchebag that he even frosts his tips, can Max and I keep our streak up, or is this going to be a special pessimist vs. pessimist edition of mxpw vs. Frea?
Check the break to find out.
mxpw: *rubs hands together* Yes, mxpw vs. Frea.
mxpw: Dibs on pessimist!
Frea: ...DANG IT.
Frea: I wanted to be the pessimist!!
mxpw: Too bad. I called dibs first. Neener neener.
Frea: Fine. Dibs on Sarah!
mxpw: You can't do that!
Frea: You've never called dibs, dude. I called dibs first. Neener Neener.
mxpw: Fine! Be that way!
mxpw: Wanna trade?
Frea: Nope. I've got Sarah, I'm walking on sunshine, optimism whitens my smile and brightens the twinkle in my eyes.
mxpw: Alright. Then I call dibs on Chuck and his shoulders. :P
Frea: Take him. He was kind of lame this week.
mxpw: You're lame.
Frea: I know.
mxpw: I don't think we're going to review anything today.
Frea: I want candy corn.
mxpw: We're just going to argue back and forth and exchange playground taunts, like "Your mother was a hamster!"
Frea: And YOUR father smelt of elderberries, but you don't see me bringing that up in polite conversation, do you?
mxpw: Who said we were having polite conversation?
Frea: So this episode seemed to be pretty well-liked by a lot of people. And I'm one of those people. I enjoyed this episode. I thought parts of it were great and I laughed harder than I have for awhile, but I think it suffered from a lot of the same things last week suffered from, oddly enough.
Frea: Which is the snowball effect, also known as the KISS method: Keep it Subtle, Stupid!
FREA: Yes, readers, I know it's supposed to be "simple." But this is Chuck. Simple is implied. Subtle, however, is not.
mxpw: Oh snap.
Frea: I've stopped pulling the "Chuck burn" during Fringe podcasts. But the vitriol has to come out somewhere.
mxpw: I agree with you, I think. I don't know if I liked this episode more than last week. It's really hard to say. I thought this episode was funnier and Sarah was incredibly awesome (perhaps too awesome?), but yes, this episode suffered from the same faults as last week's did. Suffered from the same faults this arc in general has had.
Frea: Main fault: Morgan.
mxpw: Well, isn't that always the thing?
Frea: Look, I know he's supposed to be annoying because he downloaded the Douchersect (tm me), but there's an inherent flaw in their reasoning here. Their reasoning, by the way, is, "Well, the fans don't like it. Fine, we'll give them extra reasons not to like it and then they have to cheer for Morgan." Yeahhh, see the problem is, even when your character is supposed to be unlikable: he's unlikable. And when you don't have a lot more than Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi's chemistry going for you, you need to not keep elements like that.
Frea: You need to be firing on all pistons, and I think the piston named Morgan Grimes has been flooded by engine grease.
Frea: Aka, there's too much of him, and has been since "Anniversary." I put up with the EMS for the first couple of episodes because I kind of figured this one was coming, but it finally got to me.
mxpw: Well, I think the issue is that Morgan is a polarizing figure. I think the casual fans tend to like him more than the hardcore fans do. And so basing an entire arc to start off the season around such a polarizing figure, is going to cause some angst in the fanbase.
Frea: Do we even have casual fans anymore? I mean, the ratings...
mxpw: I think your point that it doesn't matter if Morgan is supposed to be annoying or not, he's still ultimately annoying, is a good one. And for a character that already rubs a lot of people the wrong way, that can be too much.
mxpw: To be honest, I actually found Morgan more annoying last week than this week. He was just so over the top and unsubtle this week that I just kind of rolled my eyes and went with it.
Frea: Which was how I dealt with it last week as opposed to this week.
mxpw: I mean, seriously, frosted tips? REALLY, show? I know they were going for douchebag, but do even douchebags still do that?
Frea: Just the douchebaggiest ones of them all, Max. Just the douchebaggiest ones of them all.
Frea: Barney had frosted tips on Raising Hope this week. He pulled it off better than Morgan.
mxpw: I guess.
Frea: Okay, so that's Morgan out of the way, right? We can ignore him for the rest of the review?
mxpw: Morgan did have some funny lines this week, I thought. The scene in the parking garage with Beckman made me chuckle (as did her response), calling Fernando "Cabbage patch", and the lines about his assistant amused me.
mxpw: Sadly, we cannot, there's still a lot more to say about Morgan.
Frea: Dang it. Fine.
Frea: Bring it on.
mxpw: We should just get this out of the way: The resolution to the Morgansect was awful.
mxpw: Absolutely lame.
Frea: Oh, my GOD, yes. Completely.
Frea: It was like being told Vesuvius was going to erupt.
Frea: And then getting a little patter of ash and maybe one fiery spurt of lava for, like, a split-second. I mean, I'm sure the people of Pompeii wouldn't have minded, but geeeeeez.
FREA: I came for the carnage.
mxpw: Far be it from me to bring up S3, but this arc with Morgan suffered from the same thing almost all the arcs of the show have suffered from since that season. No commitment. No follow through.
Frea: It's hard to buy into anything they're telling us as it won't matter past the end of the arc.
mxpw: It's like 13 episodes of lame misery for 30 seconds of payoff in Other Guy. Or an entire season of Chuck hiding being a spy from Ellie in S4 paid off with a 30 second conversation with no drama or impact. And now we get three episodes where everything is solved with one lame conversation.
Frea: And everything shouldn't have been solved.
mxpw: I know Chuck has some kind of weird superpower where he can talk douchebags and bad guys into submission, but come on!
Frea: I mean, yes, Morgan having the Intersect should be clouding his mind if it was tampered with, but he should struggle a lot more than he's going to. One little memory from the seventh grade is not going to make everything okay. Junior high is just not that powerful.
mxpw: I think that was my main problem with the resolution, actually. If all it took to get through to Morgan was one conversation where they reminisced about their past, then I find it really hard to believe that the Intersect is the main reason why Morgan acted like such a douche. I mean, how messed up could it have made him if it was that easy? That means it was really just Morgan being an ass with a little push from the Intersect and not the other way around. Which means everybody forgiving him was completely ridiculous.
Frea: Yes, but that's the nature of this show. They forgive far too easily.
mxpw: It was basically the equivalent of "I'm sorry I was such a jerk, the Devil made me do it!" I mean, I’ll give the show a few points for actually having a resolution, but lame.
Frea: Yeah. I'm glad Casey kicked him out. Seriously. Even though a) it means Morgan is back to staying with Chuck and Sarah and b) it's implausible in the first place. There's no way you can get me to believe that Casey didn't turn Morgan into a grease stain on the concrete after the "DUMP'D" stunt he pulled with Alex.
mxpw: For serious. Perhaps the most unrealistic part of the episode, there. Haha.
Frea: Also, Alex, honey. You are a beautiful young woman with a good education and your entire life ahead of you. YOU CAN DO SO MUCH BETTER. So much better than a manchild who will be forever embroiled in the spy world so that he'll constantly lie to you and demean you.
mxpw: Yeah, I agree. I mean, Alex is hot. She'll recover. Though I do have to say that was a really nice scene between her and Casey. We don't often get to see Casey play the comforter, and while he was awkward, I could tell he was really trying. Good stuff from Adam Baldwin.
Frea:: Very true. But she can do better. But then, we've thought that from the start, that's nothing new.
Frea: Speaking of Casey, let's talk about Gertrude!
mxpw: Some really funny stuff!
Frea: I'll start: she loses points for not firing Morgan right away, but I still can't help but like her. She's hilarious.
mxpw: I agree. She's also the first woman on the show that I could believe could keep up with John Casey. They are a match made in very disturbing heaven.
mxpw: I loved that their first date was at a shooting range. I liked the incredible awkwardness of their meeting at the beginning of the episode (and for the record, no street in Los Angeles looks like that street did).
Frea: Yes. Yes, they are. She can fight Sarah Walker in constricting skirts, get one-up on Casey (she disarmed him in Minsk in 1995, did you know that?), she keeps a picture of Reagan in her office and the kind of cigars Casey likes.
Frea: Like a soundstage?
Frea: Or rather, set piece?
mxpw: It was very East Coastish.
Frea: I'm still holding out for that awkward double-date, Maximus.
mxpw: So fake looking.
Frea: Also, Sarah? When she was trying to help Casey land Gertrude? I don't think I've ever laughed that hard at this show.
Frea: I had to stop the recording, I was laughing too hard to hear her.
mxpw: I loved her facial expressions. I thought Yvonne was absolutely fabulous in that scene.
Frea: She was so earnest! She wants Casey to be happy!
Frea: "That's a weird move."
mxpw: And I thought Sarah giving Casey dating advice was hysterical.
mxpw: Yes, I really liked that. She really wanted Casey to have success. And her bemusement during the whole thing was perfect.
Frea: It was like the blind, deaf, and mute leading the blind.
mxpw: My how Sarah has grown! I knew after the beginning that it was going to be a pretty good episode.
mxpw: Since we're on the topic of Sarah...
mxpw: We should talk about her, no? She was kind of the main actor in this episode (and by actor, I mean, the character that drove the action).
Frea: She was the emcee, yeah
mxpw: Okay, I guess I'll start then. Heh.
mxpw: First, great beginning, as we said. I approve of her pajamas, as well. However, and I know this may be an unpopular opinion, but I just had a hard time buying Sarah as the one who continued to have faith in Morgan and believe that he was not at fault. It just...I mean, I know Sarah has grown somewhat over the years, but that was just hard for me to swallow.
Frea: Oh, you weren't alone there. I liked that Sarah was the one leading the charge in believing that Morgan was all-good and all-faithful or whatever, but man, did that come across to me like wish-fulfillment.
Frea: I guess it could be hand-waved off as some part of her heard Morgan's speech in Cliffhanger and believes him to be the genuine
FREA: They also could have bonded through dancing.
FREA: A good dance solves a lot of problems on this show. Take, for instance, Gertrude and Casey.
Frea: Sarah and Chuck's brief set-back in First Fight was really cemented when they fought in tandem, which is like dancing.
mxpw: I suppose it's possible, but to me seems unlikely. I mean, in the past, Sarah has always reacted fairly irrationally when confronted with what she sees as a personal betrayal, so for her to not even waver in her belief was hard to swallow. Plus, the disbelief and like chastising she did to Chuck and Casey whenever they said they wanted to deal with Morgan was even worse for me, somehow. I mean, did she forget how she reacted just a few months ago when Zondra was in town? Maybe if there had been a line about her learning from her own mistakes, but... Yeah, it was like wish-fulfillment.
Frea: Ah, Klemmer. You never disappoint!
Frea: It was kind of like he heard complaints about A-Team and then was like, "Well, I'll do the exact opposite, then! See how you like it now, suckers!"
mxpw: I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not like I hated how Sarah reacted. I just don't see it as growth, because there's not really been all that much buildup for her to act that way. It just felt like writing her character to suit the plot.
Frea: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back that trolley up!
Frea: How dare you suggest they've changed Sarah to suit the plot!
mxpw: And I've given Klemmer a lot of crap over the years for how he writes Sarah, so I'll be fair and say that despite the whole Morgan stuff, I thought this was the best he's written her since S2. Her stuff with Casey was great, and he actually did a pretty great job with the Chuck and Sarah stuff. Sarah was supportive, understanding, and awesome. Oh, and that kiss on the helipad was awesome.
Frea: I'll agree with you. Begrudgingly because I'm annoyed Sarah and Gertrude were kind of relegated to damsels in distress when Sarah didn't jump over the fire to help out her team.
mxpw: I know a lot of people will disagree with us, but I just don't buy Sarah acting that way. All previous history points to the contrary, actually.
Frea: Yeah, agreed.
Frea: Let's see...
Frea: HISTORIC MOMENT, GUYS!
mxpw: Yeah, I know, I was a little disappointed that Sarah didn't help, but they wanted the bromance to have its moment and to have that kiss (which was great).
Frea: Ellie and Sarah had a conversation.
Frea: And it wasn't about how in love Sarah and Chuck are!!!!
mxpw: Yes, but I still maintain it fails the Bechdel test.
Frea: OMG. Do you know how many times this has happened on the show? Once before now. We are in our FIFTH season.
mxpw: Yeah, but, you're talking about a pool of like six instances. Haha.
mxpw: I'm just saying.
Frea: It kind of fails the Bechdel test by strident rules.
Frea: However, to me, it passes because they talked about the Intersect and kind of indicated they have lives and a history.
Frea: And it led to a phone call between Sarah and Beckman. I adore Sarah and Beckman having a conversation.
mxpw: Yeah, that was a nice moment.
mxpw: Can we talk about Becky for a second here?
Frea: Yes. Also, for future reference, the name being used in Fates 51 was a complete coincidence.
mxpw: Has the show just completely given up on her being Director of the NSA? I mean, they do realize that the CIA and NSA are not the same thing, right?
Frea: When shot from low, her legs are really long.
Frea: Wait, wait, wait.
Frea: You mean, the show is going to add any sort of realism to this premise, the one where a civilian worked for the government in indentured servitude for two years whilst guarded by an NSA Operative (a job that doesn't exist) and a CIA Officer (who has never been called an officer) WHILE ON AMERICAN SOIL?
Frea: I bet you think the government doesn't run a wiretap on your phone, too. And that Burt and Ernie really were platonic.
mxpw: I mean, I realize they probably don't have the money to hire somebody to play a CIA representative and hand out missions that have to do with the CIA, but why don't they have Becky hire CI to do missions for the NSA? Why are they having her hire them to do stuff for the CIA?
Frea: Dude. Carmichael Industries and Castle Inanity have the same initials?!
mxpw: Do you guys see what I have to put up with?
Frea: Does that make me Chuck Bartowski? And you Sarah Walker? And Chris John Casey? And...Shoe, BDaddy, one of you has to be Morgan Grimes. I'm sorry.
mxpw: They can flip a coin for it.
mxpw: Loser (winner) can be the new and improved Jeff.
Frea: OMG. The new and improved Jeff!!!
Frea: I love that all it took for him to clean up and start eating quinoa salads was for him to stop sleeping in his van!
Frea: But on the other hand, can you imagine Scott Krinsky's reaction? "Man, I have to comb my hair today? Lame. That was my favorite job perk."
mxpw: I thought it was totally unrealistic he only needed to detox for a day. Haha.
mxpw: I figured Jeff was like Mr. Burns.
mxpw: Mr. Burns was so riddled full of diseases and physiological problems that they created a special balance in him that made him mostly impervious to death. I figured Jeff was the same way, but with drugs.
Frea: Yes, that sounds about right.
mxpw: I think that's about all I have to say. The episode was pretty awesome and funny and entertaining.
Frea: Ditto. Free Bryce Larkin!
mxpw: Oh! Wait! I did want to talk about the stuff at Verbanski Corp. I thought it was pretty funny that Verbanski runs this huge private security company and three people can break into it with practically no trouble at all. Sometimes you just gotta love the lack of production values on this show.
mxpw: And Chuck fighting Morgan was surprising. I didn’t know he had that in him. That felt a little like story convenience to me, but it was interesting to see.
Frea: I am completely, 100% down with the idea of Chuck being at least able to defend himself now. I’m taking this as a total shout-out that Sarah Walker is finally whipping her man into shape.
mxpw: Hear hear.
Frea: Also, one little thing. FLASH DRIVE. Or THUMB DRIVE. MEMORY STICK. TINY LITTLE EHD. ORION (okay, maybe that one’s what I named my own thumb drive). But “Zip Drive?” Really, show? Really?
mxpw: I would give it 4 Sarahs in pajamas out of 5.
Frea: I’ll undercut you and go 7.5 Castle Slides…out of 11.