Chuck vs. the Subtlety of a Rock to the Face
Season 5, Episode 6, Original Airdate 16 Dec 2011
Chuck's a moron. The rest of the cast is pretty cool. That's your summary.
Warning: there is no optimist this week. NO OPTIMIST AT ALL.
Frea: Okay. I'll be up front: I drank three glasses of wine before I watched this episode.
mxpw: I'm also looking at episode screencaps. So I may be slightly distracted.
mxpw: Heh, if I had known how bad the episode was going to be, I might have done the same.
Frea: I don't drink. 363 days of the year, I'm completely sober.
Frea: But we were
mxpw: Oh nice segue. I'm impressed.
mxpw: While I would never wish for somebody to lose their job in this economic climate, I have to say that I would strongly urge Fedak to reconsider giving this guy any writing assignments. Fortunately, I think we're safe from him for the rest of the season. I hope.
Frea: Fingers are crossed that that's the case.
Frea: Yeah, I might be bringing something called Frea In All Caps to the review. Just at random, though.
mxpw: I look forward to being surprised.
Frea: Okay, I feel like we need a disclaimer, Maximus.
Frea: Disclaimer the First: If you liked this episode, this review is not a knock against you. I'm not going to tell you go to go out and get some perspective with your coffee. We like what we like and that's not a crime. Hell, I liked parts of this episode (Hi, Alex. You're wonderful). We're not criticizing people for having different tastes than us here.
mxpw: Oh crap, we're not? *tosses out notes* Okay! We're not criticizing you. Right.
Frea: Disclaimer the Second: At no point will I get into one of those BLOODY STUPID Chuck vs. Sarah debates.
Frea: First of all, they're BLOODY STUPID. These are two people in a relationship. It's not a battle, it's not "This person sucks and this person is great." I refuse to compare the two as though they're combatants rather than romantic partners. NCIS fans do this all the time for Tony and Ziva. Castle fans do this for Beckett and Castle. And it is, say it with me, BLOODY STUPID.
Frea: Because those kinds of debates only lead to everybody airing all of the dirty laundry. "Well, yeah, but in Season Three, Sarah dated a piece of plywood and then we had--"
Frea: GET OVER IT ALREADY.
mxpw: I'm expecting a Frea Smash any second now.
Frea: They've forgiven, even if we think they forgave too easily at the time. We've moved on from that point. Let's focus on Friday’s episode.
Frea: ...in which Sarah forgave Chuck far too easily.
Frea: Okay. *hands Maximus the soapbox* Your turn.
mxpw: Um, haha, I'm kinda scared to say anything at this point.
mxpw: I guess, somewhat in the same vein of you, I want to say this: Two wrongs don't make a right. It may be cliché, but it's true. It's something I think some fans need to learn, but mostly, I think the writers need to learn it even more. It's like how--and don't kill me, MBO, I'm just trying to make a point!--Chuck and Hannah dated in S3 just so the writers could put Sarah and Shaw together. I think that's honestly one of the biggest reasons why they wrote Chuck like this in this episode, because they plan to have Sarah do something similar in Chuck vs. the Baby. But if that happens, it doesn't excuse Sarah's actions, just like it wouldn't excuse Chuck's here. Just because somebody screwed up doesn't give you a right to screw up too. So seriously, who cares if Sarah did something wrong before? Chuck was just straight up wrong in this episode and I look forward to breaking the issue down.
Frea: Okay, that's a more tempered look at it. I'll accept it.
Frea: I'm just tired of the mudslinging, honestly.
Frea: Yes, he was stupid for dating Hannah. Yes, she was stupid for dating Shaw. But most of the problems exist with the way the fans see the characters, not the way the characters see each other. Which would apply, I know, if there were any consistency written into them, which there isn't, and which is the main problem with this episode.
Frea: Remember the episode by the marvelous Kristin Newman? How I said that Sarah's issues were great, but unfortunately not all that affecting because it was inorganic. The "Bartowski Curse" is like the dark, ugly side of the same coin.
mxpw: Oh, I wasn't making any value judgments on their relationships, simply saying that these writers like to have a character screw up so that another character can do the same thing at some other point down the line. It's a favorite tactic of theirs.
Frea: Also the biggest example of WAY TOO FREAKING LITTLE WAY TOO FREAKING LATE in the history of everything.
mxpw: I disagree. Somewhat.
Frea: Haha, yay! A disagreement. *puts on the brass knuckles*
mxpw: I disagree in the sense that even if they had developed the Bartowski Curse, it wouldn't have stopped it from being the stupidest thing ever.
Frea: So you agree completely with what I was about to say is what you're saying.
mxpw: I guess. I was reading your mind.
Frea: Drat. *takes off the brass knuckles*
Frea: Because I was going to point out that the Bartowski Curse is real, but it would have been great if it had been covered in, oh, I don't know, Season Two. Like, right after Dream Job. Where Chuck is realizing things. Or, and I'm just spitballing here, ANYTIME IN SEASON FOUR EVER.
Frea: Oh! The Common Sense Ferret just pointed out that this might have been an excellent way to wrap up Gobbler and Push Mix!
mxpw: I want to comment on the Curse issue as well.
Frea: The Common Sense Ferret says you may go ahead.
mxpw: That is true, Common Sense Ferret. Here's a treat.
Frea: The Common Sense Ferret says thank you
mxpw: My problem with the Curse, beside the fact that a supposedly intelligent person like Chuck even believes in something so ludicrous (dude, you are married to SARAH WALKER, how the HELL can you possibly think you are cursed? MORON), is that in Chuck vs. the Subway waaaaay back in S3, we saw Chuck placed in a fairly similar situation where his father told him the best thing he needed to do was to run. And Chuck shut him down. He told Stephen that he was wrong, and that he was not going to make the same mistakes that his father made. Then S4 comes along and Chuck is determined not to make the same mistakes his mother made. He's already dealt with this issue. REPEATEDLY. Yet here, he's acting like not only the curse is real, but that maybe his parents had the right idea? DEAR GOD, CHUCK. I just wanted to smack him around a little.
Frea: Oh, look, it's mxpw In All Caps. Or just MPXW.
mxpw: I'm sorry, but that conversation in Orion's cabin just infuriated me. I just couldn't believe how whiny and ridiculous he was acting, especially after he had shown such growth on this very issue in the past.
Frea: I don't think I've ever wanted to smack him so much.
Frea: I get that he's worried and that he's freaking out.
Frea: But c'mon, dude. You've dealt with bad things before. Take a look at Buffy. She averted multiple apocalypses. By the end, she may have been an emotionless husk, but at least she learned something from the experience.
Frea: I'm retitling this episode. Chuck vs. the Subtlety of a Rock to the Face. Not a single hint of emotional nuance to be found in this episode. Which is why we're getting Frea In All Caps. Because this episode...why use nuance and good writing when you can instead have the characters act like morons?
mxpw: And I think that's what annoyed me most about this episode: No growth from Chuck. No sign that he'd learned anything from his past experience. I get it that Chuck was never trained to handle the spy life. That's a legitimate excuse...in Season 2. We're in Season 5 now, he's had at least five years of on-the-job experience, he's taken down Fulcrum, the Ring, Volkoff, and Voldemort, I mean Shaw, why he's freaking out over this issue is beyond me. He should have learned by now to handle things better. There is no excuse for his neurotic, panicky, idiotic behavior in this episode.
Frea: Don't insult Voldemort like that, Max.
Frea: But agreed: no excuse, whatsoever.
Frea: Bolting with the Omen? FREAKING STUPID.
mxpw: Beyond stupid.
Frea: I'm just facepalming because on the surface, this Chuck's plan was similar to the plan (SPOILERS) Chuck uses in Chapter 52 of Fates. On the surface.
Frea: Different circumstances and Fates Chuck didn't have something that could end the world in his possession, so he wins. But GAH.
mxpw: He had no plan. He made no attempt to create a fake. He made no attempt to sabotage the Omen. He made no attempt to leverage the Omen. He just basically walked right up to Rebecca R's character and placed the device in her hand. He didn't even try to keep where he had hidden the Omen a secret until he knew that Ellie and Devon were safe. I get that Ellie and Devon escaping on their own kind of screwed up his idiotic plan, but seriously, he folded like a stack of cards at the slightest pressure.
Frea: Yeah. Usually when the villain laughs in Chuck's face, I'm okay with it because Chuck will outsmart them in the end and comeuppance or whatnot. But this episode? This episode I wanted the conspiracy to win because them losing means they got outsmarted by Chuck, and then I'll have wasted a season on a really, really stupid conspiracy.
mxpw: And quite honestly, he's pretty much directly responsible for whatever damage using the Omen did to the world. They even stated in the episode that using the Omen could lead to the deaths of thousands of people. Chuck caused that.
Frea: How Not To Create a Sympathetic Character 101.
Frea: Actually, I take that back. Walter Bishop is responsible for hundreds of deaths on Fringe and I find him sympathetic.
Frea: BECAUSE HE'S NOT A FREAKING MORON.
mxpw: And for nothing. It'd be one thing if, by giving up the Omen, he had actually saved Ellie and Devon's lives, but he didn't even do that.
Frea: Nope. He went in with no plan, gave over something capable of sending the world into a post-apocalyptic dystopia over to the bad guys, got saved by the people he betrayed, nearly got his brother-in-law tortured, and then didn't really apologize.
mxpw: Geeze, Chuck, I realize you don't want to see Devon tortured, but you saw what RR's character had done to a fellow agent, you really think she was just going to let everybody go at the end? You could have held out at least a little longer than 10 seconds.
Frea: I hate, hate, hate, hate that I'm going to have to revert back to my S3 excuse of blaming the writers because I feel like they keep holding the football and I keep going to kick it anyway.
Frea: Even though I KNOW BETTER.
mxpw: Look, I realize Ellie was in danger and that Chuck, after all this time, still has like zero control when that happens. Honestly, it's annoying that he turns into a neurotic mess like he does, but at least I get it and can find it somewhat sympathetic. So if Sarah had not looked him directly in the eye and asked him to trust her and told him they'd deal with the problem together, I would have still thought what he did was stupid, but at least I could forgive it and understand it. But she did, and he left anyway. Either because he didn't trust Sarah, he didn't think she would be of any help, for some stupid reason he thought he was protecting her, or whatever stupidass thinking was going through his head, for whatever reason, it was a huge step back for his character.
Frea: It was. A gigantic step backward. I really hate that this is their M.O. (Sarah, too, as she would do the same in a heartbeat, which I find more depressing than the end of Philadelphia Story).
mxpw: And you know what really grinds my gears, is that some people were criticizing Sarah because she didn't jump to Chuck's side fast enough and that by the time she talked to him, it was too little too late and Chuck was perfectly fine for doing what he did because of it. Just...no.
Frea: I'm sorry, did we miss the part where HEY THERE'S A VIRUS CAPABLE OF DESTROYING THE INTERNET?
Frea: I freaking applaud Sarah for having a little perspective. Being married doesn't mean you automatically have to agree.
Frea: Marriage does not equal doormat.
mxpw: Well, when it comes to family, I'm not sure I can agree with that. Where I think the issue is that what they should have done is sat down and thoroughly explored the issue. Chuck should not have been so quick to automatically jump to giving up the Omen. He's a spy, he runs his own spy company, I realize that Ellie is his sister and I agree that they couldn't just not do anything, but it needed to be planned and thought out. Even if you think Chuck fully expected Sarah to come in guns blazing once she realized he'd taken off and so she'd save the day, that's still a truly horrible plan.
mxpw: As evidenced by the fact that Chuck didn't even stall RR's character long enough before Sarah got there.
Frea: Haha, I'm wondering about stories from your family now, Max. O'Scanlins tend to disagree just to be contrary. It keeps things interesting.
mxpw: Well, I would hope your family wouldn't disagree about whether or not they should save you from murderous kidnappers. :P
Frea: They might let them rough me up a little. I drank the last of the chocolate milk.
Frea: So stupid plan, Chuck was an idiot, it's the writer's fault. Let's move on.
mxpw: But you're right, time to move on!
Frea: Next up for the Idiot Card: Awesome and Ellie. Now, wait, before you jump on me and attack, I thought they were fantastically funny. But the Common Sense Ferret just admitted to me he was on a bender Friday night instead of in the limo, where he should have been, or even in Awesome's car beforehand, where he would have politely informed Ellie that even though Clara is still such a plot device that her family, who should observe that she has a personality and quirks by this point, still calls her Baby Clara, this means that Ellie is a young mother who would NEVER TURN OFF HER CELL PHONE EVEN IF SHE TRUSTED THE PEOPLE SHE LEFT HER BABY WITH. OH MY GOD, SHOW. OH MY GOD.
mxpw: I am with you on how dumb it was that Ellie turned her phone off. But it was even stupider that Ellie and Devon had their cell phones on them the WHOLE TIME in the limo and never thought to turn them back on or call anybody! Sweet merciful Jesus. These people are doctors, they're smarter than that. They could have called Chuck, or Sarah, or as I mentioned to Crumby the other day, the freaking regular police and tell them they'd been kidnapped. *facepalm*
mxpw: Don't even get me started on the huge continuity error of the agent locking the doors when they got in the limo, but the doors magically unlocking themselves later on so that Ellie and Devon could jump from the car.
Frea: Okay, I won't. It also made me facepalm. How hard would it have been to have a cell phone blocker in the limo?
Frea: I mean, Michael Westen can build one out of some twine and an old Blackberry.
Frea: I know that it's harder to create tension in the days of constant contact, I know, I know. But DO A LITTLE WORK NEXT TIME, WRITER.
mxpw: That just made me think of the stupid guards giving Ellie her phone back, clearly showing that they had called Chuck on it. Sigh.
Frea: Rebecca Romijn, you deserved so much better than this episode.
Frea: You really did. You were maybe one of my first girlcrushes. I adored every minute of Mystique's time on screen before she was Jennifer Lawrence, and I loved the dedication you took in spending hours in the makeup chair
mxpw: I really liked her as Mystique too.
mxpw: Damn did she look good in that wife beater, though.
Frea: And yes, she looked damn good in that wifebeater.
Frea: And she almost sold me on a torture device being named "The Toy."
mxpw: Haha. Not me.
Frea: That fact alone should win her an Emmy.
Frea: I said almost. The Toy is just a freaking stupid name.
mxpw: But that's okay. I never buy the torture on this show. The closest I've ever come is probably Sarah in P3 with the ammonia.
Frea: Oh, that's another thing that I hate about this show.
Frea: The fact that their torture works.
Frea: I usually just file it under the whole "It's a spy show and there's a computer in a guy's head or whatever" category, but I want it noted for the record that I hate that fact.
mxpw: Well, to be fair, it was mostly all psychological torture in this episode, which I think they say is often worse than the actual torture. I wouldn't know for sure, I don't work at Guantanamo.
Frea: And I only threaten to torture my minions. The morale beatings are mostly made up.
mxpw: Emphasis on the mostly. :P
mxpw: So I want to comment on a few more negative things and then I think we should talk about the good stuff in this episode. There was good stuff, right?
Frea: There was great stuff.
Frea: There was an Observer!
Frea: That means Olivia should be here soon!
mxpw: Negative first!
mxpw: And don't try to fry my brain with thoughts of Olivia and Sarah on my screen together. That's not cool.
Frea: Rebecca Romijn, Sarah, and Olivia Dunham walk into a bar...
mxpw: I just really want to talk about the end. Shoe mentioned in her... *falls to the ground in a daze*
Frea: That was easy. *steps over Max, grabs notes for the rest of DA and sits down to read happily*
mxpw: So much blonde hotness at once. Can't take it...need help!
Frea: Wait a second, THAT cannot be the Double Agent. Max, Gene isn't even in your story yet.
mxpw: *mumbles* Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day. Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day.
mxpw: Dude, Frea, shhh! Don't give away my big twist ending! God!
Frea: Oh, sorry.
mxpw: I mean, that's absurd. There is no Gene in DA. Pshaw!
Frea: ...GENE WAS NAMED BECAUSE THEY NEEDED SOMETHING THAT HAD HUMAN-LIKE GENES
mxpw: Frea in All Caps strikes again.
mxpw: MOVING ON.
mxpw: As I was saying, Shoe mentioned in her review that the end felt like there were scenes missing, and I agree. That end was seriously haphazard. How Beckman was not chewing out Chuck for giving up the Omen, I have no idea. How everything got kind of swept under the rug so quickly, I'm not sure. It was like they forgot all about the tensions of the previous 40 minutes and everything was okay again. I feel like that resolution needed some serious fleshing out.
Frea: Agreed. Thought Sarah should also be making Chuck sleep on the couch for a week or until he really understood what he did wrong. I've seen people point out that she left him chained to a post for an hour, but we didn't SEE that. As far as we knew, Casey unchained him right after that.
mxpw: And I really kind of resent that Chuck was made to look like a massive tool just so that the writers could have Shaw escape. Which was painfully obvious at the end of the episode. That all the stupidity was just a contrivance so that they could have the security on Shaw fail.
Frea: Wait, the show did something stupid where Shaw was concerned?
Frea: COLOR ME COMPLETELY SHOCKED.
Frea: Shaw draws the show down into a cesspool of suck and no characterization in order for him to exist.
mxpw: OH GEEZE, you mentioned one of my (many) pet peeves for this episode. Chuck's apology was terrible! It was probably the most insincere apology he's ever given. He was smug and trying to be cute and ugh, that Sarah forgave him after that just made me so sad for her.
mxpw: And I never once bought that he was truly sorry and had learned anything from his mistake.
Frea: There should be more groveling.
mxpw: Sarah gave in too easily.
Frea: Oh, and another thing that bothered me about this episode: they were all just calling each other, willy-nilly. As if they haven't been tracked through their cell phones before.
Frea: Do they not understand what going off the grid means?
Frea: And PANTS. PANTS bothered me so much. Mostly because this is the first time we're hearing about it. Though I'm sad Morgan's house burned down. My brother's apartment burned down a couple of years ago and I understand how much that affects. But wow, the PANTS were stupid.
mxpw: It bothered me that Sarah had no idea about it. How are these two people married, honestly? That's mostly rhetorical. I hope the whole PANTS thing will come back later on in the season, because if it was just a device to build up the Morgan and Alex relationship (while simultaneously poking holes in Chuck and Sarah's), I'm going to be so disappointed.
mxpw: Gosh, we keep trying to move to the positive, but the negatives keep coming. Haha.
Frea: There were so many.
Frea: SO MANY.
mxpw: All right. I AM RESOLUTE. Positives now.
mxpw: Sarah is the greatest thing to ever be great.
Frea: Sarah is the greatest thing ever to--damn, you beat me.
Frea: Her deadpan stare at Chuck tied up to the post? That was hot. And terrifying.
mxpw: This was quite a good Sarah episode. Her speech in Orion's cabin? Amazing! She was so certain and so confident and being such a good wife and partner. It was awesome. Her deciding that Chuck was right and promising him to do what was necessary to save Ellie and Devon? Such growth and certainty! And oh yes, her glaring at Chuck after she saved him? Oh boy! Yvonne does the sexiest glares.
Frea: Next positive: Ellie/Sarah Lancaster.
mxpw: Oh, and I can't forget her "Trained assassin" line and the facial expressions she did in that scene. Fantastic.
mxpw: Yes, also agreed.
mxpw: Ellie has come a long way since the end of S3.
Frea: She managed to Bartowski things up in a not-stupid way and she was amazing.
Frea: The part where she hit the uh, I'm not sure what that was she was holding but it looked like a steering wheel/weight, the part where she hit that on a pipe and the Observer turned around and spotted her?
Frea: I laughed so hard. That was wonderful.
Frea: Plus, I loved that Sarah reassured her. What can I say? I enjoy my Sallie interactions.
mxpw: So basically she didn't Britta being a Bartowski. I agree with that. I enjoyed her taking charge and being so on top of things and being calm under pressure.
mxpw: Though I have to say, after this episode, I am getting to a point where I kinda need a scene of Devon being a doctor, because he's really terrible under pressure.
mxpw: I am with you on the Sallie stuff too.
mxpw: Of course.
mxpw: Another positive: Alex. I wasn't sure I'd ever say that, but it's true. It's not that Alex is a bad character, it's just she's rarely given a chance to do much. This episode, she really had a chance to shine.
mxpw: She really is her father's daughter.
Frea: 100% agreed about Alex. Thought she was the funniest and most clever one of the bunch. She's clearly friends with the Common Sense Ferret.
Frea: Calling 911 and creating problems for the secret agents in her life was inspired.
Frea: Plus, I love that she is not shy about guns. Her father's daughter indeed.
mxpw: Absolutely. So was getting the drop on Morgan with the shotgun. Oh, and telling Morgan his plan to break into C&S's apartment was dumb.
mxpw: Even though I know that she and Morgan will eventually get back together (no idea why, but whatever), it was nice that it didn't happen in this episode. That way I can have a perfect episode of awesomeness.
Frea: For her, at least.
mxpw: Right. For her.
mxpw: Almost perfect for Sarah.
mxpw: And almost perfect for Ellie.
Frea: Yeah. Too bad Chuck's douchenozzlery dragged everything down.
Frea: Any other thoughts?
mxpw: Eh. I had enough issues with the rest of the episode to grade it pretty low even without Chuck being an incompetent boob.
Frea: Haha, you said boob.
mxpw: No Buy More this week, that was nice. Ellie and Devon were almost the main characters, also a nice change of pace. A bit annoyed at how casually the show has government employees kill each other, but meh. No SWP, but there was some nice EBWP to make up for that lack.
Frea: She looked...like a live-action version of Rapunzel from the end of Tangled. Big hazel eyes, earnest, determined expression....
mxpw: I never thought of that until you mentioned it, but I can see it.
Frea: Definitely earned the handle "Hot Mama."
Frea: Chuck vs. The Adventures of Hot Mama and Six-Pack..
mxpw: And Devon got his shirt off. Every time that happens, I think of Galaxy Quest.
Frea: ...damn, I forgot to look up the exact quote from that movie for this review! I was going to have it all prepared and everything!
mxpw: Sir Alexander Dane: I see you've managed to get your shirt off.
mxpw: So this was definitely, in my opinion, the worst episode of the season so far.
Frea: No arguments from me. Worst episode since S3 for me.
Frea: No, wait, I just remembered Balcony.
Frea: And Leftovers.
Frea: And Cliffhanger.
Frea: And Agent X.
Frea: Let me revise: No arguments from me.
mxpw: I think I disliked Cat Squad more than this one.
mxpw: Just because when Sarah acts unlikable, it bothers me more than Chuck doing so.
mxpw: Wait, no, Cat Squad at least had Sarah's ex-girlfriend, so I guess I can't put it ahead of Curse. Damn.
mxpw: And I am not really looking forward to the upcoming episodes either.
mxpw: But we promised not to talk about those much until they air, so I'll keep quiet.
mxpw: Anyway, those are my final thoughts. You?
Frea: This episode sucked pretty much sums it up. Liked Alex, love Rebecca Romijn no matter what, but damn did she and her Observer deserve so much better than this WTF Noise of Sheer Sucky Hackery.
mxpw: I'll give it 2 Trained Assassin Sarahs out of 5
Frea: I give it 3.1 Castle Slides out of 10.
Frea: Yeah, it isn't even cool enough for Pi.
mxpw: Oh burn
mxpw: And that's a wrap!
So...no optimist this week. Sorry about that. I know you sounded off in Shoe's awesome review, but let us know what you thought here, too. And please, don't attack other commenters. Everybody has the right to their own opinions.