Season 5, Episode 09, original air-date 6 January, 2012
Gertrude Verbanski is back! Casey chafes at having a well-connected and awesome lady-lover. Chuck's a moron. Sarah wins at everything even though everything is wrong.
Sorry for the graphic, everybody*. Frea got bored. Was she bored with this latest episode, or was the wonderful, wonderful Carrie Ann Moss and the even more delightful Gertrude Verbanski enough to make Frea's entire world feel like it was full of kittens, butterflies, and Dr Pepper?
Hint: that sentence probably answers its own question.
With that said, read on, good readers, read on!
Frea: So how should we start this?
mxpw: Umm...I don’t know, but I think we need to include that GIF of Sarah’s face.
mxpw: When she walks in on Casey and Verbanski.
mxpw: Oh, and since I’m the objective one here, I feel compelled to state a disclaimer.
Frea: Oh, fine.
Frea: Disclaim away.
mxpw: Disclaimer: Normally I try to be the objective one during our reviews, but I’m afraid Sarah in the bikini made it impossible for me to be objective about this episode, so all you readers should keep that in mind and take what I say with a grain of salt. Heh.
Frea: I don’t bother with objectivity.
mxpw: Yeah, but I have a reputation. A standard of excellence that everybody expects me to adhere to. A logical approach...I’m sorry, but damn, Sarah was hot in this episode.
Frea: As was Awesome.
Frea: My objectivity went the way of his biceps, which in case you missed my favorite line of season five and four and three, is “nuclear.”
mxpw: Yes, he makes quite the dapper looking spy.
Frea: Well, except for “Everything. Everything is wrong.”
mxpw: I thought him talking about having illegal workouts was pretty funny too, but I don’t think anything would top his nuclear biceps.
mxpw: Believe it or not, that was my favorite moment of the episode!
mxpw: Even more than Sarah emerging from the pool, which was my second favorite.
Frea: Yvonne Strahovski has come forward leaps and bounds as a comedy actress.
Frea: Seriously, her facial expressions in this episode cleared away every single problem I had with it. And since it’s an episode of Chuck and I’m the one talking about it, problems are to be expected.
mxpw: Yeah, I agree with you there. When they let Sarah start participating more in the comedy, the episodes became more enjoyable for me. Plus, it allowed me to see just how natural a comedic actress Yvonne is. She is actually really good at it, which is impressive, since she’s also the best dramatic actor. You don’t always find actors who can do both so well.
Frea: And look like that. Can we declare it? The woman is superhuman.
mxpw: I’ve long believed so.
mxpw: And you’re right, Sarah’s comedic moment really helped this episode, because let’s face it, Chuck (the character) was pretty dumb this week.
Frea: This week?
mxpw: Well, you know how I felt about him last week. He was good then. I know he’s like the most inconsistently written character on the show, but still.
mxpw: Which is really depressing, since he’s the main character, but it is what it is.
Frea: Yeah, he didn’t really do much for me last week, either.
mxpw: I know, but I thought he worked well last week. Here the writers brought back buffoonish Chuck. I guess it’s a slight upgrade from jerk Chuck in Curse or apathetic Chuck in Santa Suit.
Frea: Honestly, they’ve been methodically wrecking the character for me since the end of Season Two. I don’t know if it’s the way Zachary Levi is choosing to play him, or just the writing, but I’ve just slowly grown to dislike the character more and more every week. It’s like a snowball effect.
Frea: And yes, I think the past three episodes before this one finally broke the camel’s back for me, I know.
mxpw: I know and I didn’t mean to bring up his efficacy as a character over the course of the show. I just wanted to introduce my biggest problem with this episode and get it out of the way.
Frea: So now, Chuck Bartowski has joined my “Whenever he’s on screen, I’m thinking about my laundry” list.
mxpw: Look, Chuck was just dumb and buffoonish this week. His CARE idea I could tolerate, even though it was pretty dumb, but when he lost sight of Verbanski during the pool scene because he was too busy fiddling with his drink (I mean, seriously, writers, why would you do that? How am I supposed to take him remotely seriously when you do stuff like that?) I facepalmed. And then the middle part of the episode with Chuck being completely oblivious to Sarah being pregnant, it was like Klemmer and Diwhateverhisnameis had just given up on writing Chuck’s character. They turned him into a joke. Honestly, who does that to their main character?
mxpw: It wasn’t even funny.
Frea: The Chuck writers, that’s who. They’ve done that to their main character for awhile. And then they ask me to take him seriously in any other episode and I’m like, “This is lame.”
mxpw: Not to mention it was really just bad writing. This is the guy who figured out Sarah’s favorite flowers were gardenias (with her not giving him a single hint), yet he’s not only oblivious to the signs that she thinks she’s pregnant, but he acts all smug and superior about his great emotional connection to his wife, only for it to be shoved in his face that he has no idea what he’s talking about. That whole scene at the restaurant and then after was just embarrassing.
mxpw: I honestly do not understand the philosophy of the Chuck writer’s room. They completely mystify me.
mxpw: Oh, and there’s something seriously wrong when Jeff and Lester turn out to be better spies than Chuck.
Frea: It’s the Rule of Cool and the Law of Funny, Maximus. Why build lasting, worthwhile characters when there’s a funny joke to be had!
mxpw: Yeah, but emphasis on the funny. That joke wasn’t funny. And I’m not even sure they thought it was either. It honestly just felt like they wanted to mock Chuck to me.
Frea: Well, I think they did.
mxpw: It’s hard for me to tell.
Frea: It honestly felt like they were mocking Chuck. Like they as writers realized he’s kind of lame and gave up. It was like they said, “We know he’s lame, so we’ll just make a joke out of it instead!” Which, to me, is like you’re playing dodgeball and then you’re going to specifically aim for the cross-eyed kid with the club foot because that kid may be brilliant at other things, but dodgeball ain’t one of them.
mxpw: Hahaha, nice analogy.
mxpw: It did feel like they were picking on him.
Frea: I guess what I’m saying is that you made this bed, lay in it, and don’t try to garner sympathy from me by trying to be like, “Chuck, what a moron, right?” At least try.
Frea: But all of this was literally the only problem I had with the episode. So I get to be an optimist from here on out!
mxpw: Of course, I think the whole pregnancy plotline in the episode was pretty fundamentally flawed from the outset. We talked about this earlier, but they wanted to do this joke on Chuck, so in order to do that, they had to rein in Sarah’s reaction to being pregnant, but that felt very much like a cheat to me. Sarah should have been totally freaking out. She was way too calm about everything.
Frea: Oh, right, my other problem with the episode!
Frea: Never mind, I lied. Thanks for reminding me, Max.
mxpw: What I’m here for!
Frea: So this episode was, like last week, dishonest storytelling. By all rights, Sarah should have been freaking out, based on everything they’ve told us about the character. Instead, we don’t really get too much reaction from her about the fact that she might be pregnant because they don’t want to telegraph anything.
mxpw: Yeah. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was nice that Sarah was so calm, but that’s not really Sarah. This goes back to what we were saying about Sarah in the last Klemmer episode, which was Frosted Tips. Sarah was very much wish fulfillment in Kept Man. They couldn’t have her freak out because it would blow the joke, so instead they kept her low key. It just didn’t feel right to me. It felt like some kind of idealized reaction, and not true to the character.
mxpw: Until she started spiraling about who would look after the kids near the end of the episode, it felt like she was handling things better than I think she’s handled any other relationship milestone ever. Which seems really backwards to me.
Frea: Well, there’s something to be said for character growth, I guess?
mxpw: More like character spontaneous generation, but I suppose.
mxpw: But fortunately, everything else about Sarah rocked this episode.
Frea: Okay, can we get on to the happier stuff?
mxpw: Have I mentioned the bikini yet?
Frea: Because I liked this episode.
Frea: I really did. I laughed more in the first ten minutes than I have in the last three episodes combined.
mxpw: I thought it was funny too. I wasn’t as crazy about it as you were, but it had a lot of good comedic moments. I think Sarah’s “Everything is wrong” was maybe the funniest thing they’ve done all season.
mxpw: And really, I know we’ve talked a lot about Chuck and Sarah so far, but this episode was really about Casey.
Frea: I would agree with that. Plus, I just enjoy Sarah and Casey’s conversations any time they’re together (not a shipper, I just like the dynamic) so the scene by the pool between them was a hallmark for me.
Frea: I think the reason I liked this episode so much was because of Casey, yes. And not just Casey, but Gertrude Verbanski.
mxpw: Yes, Sarah chastising Casey and telling him to stop his whining was hilarious.
mxpw: Their relationship is just so twisted, but funny as hell.
mxpw: And it was really nice to see Casey go from chafing against being a “kept man” to being more open with his feelings and accepting of his relationship with Gertrude. There might be hope for him yet.
Frea: I know. I will ignore the fact that he dissed Downton Abbey in order to still enjoy him.
mxpw: That last scene was great! The Casey/Alex dynamic is one of the few things the show does consistently well anymore, and that scene was no exception.
Frea: I love the idea that Alex knows Casey hates these things and is secretly torturing her dad as a test to see if he’ll truly stay or not.
mxpw: The parallel drinking and the talking and I really liked that Casey didn’t leave with Gertrude because of Alex. That was really nice.
mxpw: Personally, I think it’s just further proof that she really is his daughter.
Frea: In addition to the fact that she actually looks like him.
mxpw: That’s true. They did a great job with casting Mekenna.
Frea: I was a little distracted by that during the scene. I was like, “Wow, they really cast Alex well. I could totally see the family resemblance.”
mxpw: I’m actually kind of disappointed we will probably never get to see Alex meet Gertrude. Man, I think that would be a lot of fun.
Frea: They would torture Casey together!
Frea: They would be, like, best friends instantly and Gertrude would have a totally hidden affection for tastefully-done and beautifully-written British dramas set in the early 1900s, and they would gang up on Casey and force him to watch silly girl movies with them!
mxpw: All the lady feelings he would have to endure.
mxpw: He might become an actual sensitive human being in touch with his emotional side by the time they’re through with him.
Frea: And then they would feel bad eventually and take him to the gun range as an apology.
mxpw: Haha, where they would all have a nice family outing.
Frea: Casey and Alex would have a father-daughter bonding moment over shooting antique pistols and then Casey and Gertrude would sneak off to a broom closet for a little while when Alex is busy on the phone with somebody or other.
mxpw: Poor Alex. Let’s hope she never accidentally walks in on them like Sarah did.
Frea: “Everything. Everything is wrong.”
mxpw: That will never get old.
mxpw: Should we talk about the spy plot?
Frea: Never ever. It is my new favorite.
mxpw: What is?
Frea: “Everything. Everything is wrong.”
Frea: But yeah, the spy plot.
mxpw: Ooooh, I thought you were responding to my spy plot question.
Frea: It was dumb but I didn’t care because Sarah made me laugh.
mxpw: True. When she came riding by in that huge Humvee and then ran that dude over and then let loose a Casey one-liner, I cracked up. She was awesome.
Frea: As far as the guns that won’t shoot at something because a safety is on....
mxpw: It was funny.
Frea: I think we may have a tie for “Dumbest spy device this season” with the fingertip lie-detector test!
mxpw: Even dumber than the Omen?
Frea: Now I’m conflicted.
Frea: Nothing’s dumber than the Omen.
me:...except Shaw. Shaw’s dumber than the Omen.
mxpw: Oh snap!
mxpw: I personally think the Omen was the dumbest spy thingie this season.
mxpw: Fortunately, there are still four episodes left, so maybe something else will have a chance to pull into the lead. :P
Frea: Here’s hoping!
me:...wait a second...
mxpw: Speaking of spies!
mxpw: Since this was a Klemmer episode, Jeffster were actually entertaining.
Frea: Yes, agreed. Klemmer’s biggest success for me is always and will always be Jeffster. Their “CIA” joke with the ESP is in my top funniest moments of the show
mxpw: I gotta tell you, sober Jeff is way too smart for this show.
mxpw: Though learning he was in a mental institution makes a lot of sense.
Frea: He really is. I’m also amazed that Morgan wasn’t packing Twilight Darts in that gun.
mxpw: I was more amazed that he could hit them from that distance.
Frea: Wouldn’t a dart to the forehead like that seriously brain-damage Lester?
mxpw: Actually, no, that annoyed me more than anything. Sarah and Chuck are sitting there, but Morgan’s the one who shoots them. I didn’t even know he could shoot.
mxpw: Um...depends on how big the needle is.
mxpw: Not like there is much to damage. Oh burn.
Frea: Oh, okay. Never mind, then.
Frea: Oh snap.
mxpw: Now would be a good time for you to talk about Lester, Frea.
Frea: I thought that was my job, to supply the burns.
mxpw: We can share.
Frea: Ah yes. Lester. The...alternate universe version of Jill!
Frea: Seriously, that creeped me out. I looked up and saw Lester and immediately thought, “Wow, that looks like Jill.” You’re welcome for the mental images and Wepdiggy, I’m very sorry.
mxpw: I kind of thought the same thing.
mxpw: Well, I thought he made a very convincing woman. And he likes high heels. I think that just made Lester like ten times creepier.
Frea: Nah, makes total sense to me. Lester and Jeff are always going to be the creepiest they can possibly be, thanks to the writers. I figured they’d go there.
mxpw: I don’t think Jeff is really that creepy anymore.
mxpw: Which actually might make him creepy.
mxpw: If that works.
Frea: Yeah, but one half-season vs. four seasons? Consensus: he’s creepy.
mxpw: Perhaps, but he sure did figure out Team B were spies fast. Not that that is exactly all that hard, but still. His conspiracy board was impressive.
Frea: Yeah, I kind of love that about this show.
Frea: They’re all huge nerds, way plugged into technology, but when they need to get down to business? It’s time for index cards and thumb tacks.
mxpw: Haha. I never thought about it that way, but you are completely right. Very nice!
mxpw: And that did lead into a plot I know you enjoyed.
Frea: Chuck did it with the TRON poster, Chuck and Morgan did it in Push Mix, and now Jeff joined the ranks.
mxpw: I drool about Sarah all the time (the bikini, GUH), so why don’t you take some more time to talk about Awesome.
Frea: Ah, Awesome the Spy. Can I just have a moment of silence for how wonderfully hot he was this episode?
mxpw: *moment of silence*
Frea: I believe our wonderful friend Catrogue put it as “Muy Caliente” during the episode and I definitely agree.
mxpw: What was your favorite part? Was it his formal wear? I loved how he asked if that would be okay.
Frea: The white tuxedo jacket. The sunglasses. The nuclear biceps.
Frea: The dashing walk.
mxpw: I liked him going off with Big Mike at the end as they discussed working out together. That would be such a hilarious dichotomy to see play out.
Frea: Yeah, Big Mike and Awesome together are always hilarious.
Frea: Has there been a single failed Buy More plot this season?
mxpw: Um, no, I don’t think so. They’ve all been pretty solid.
mxpw: This one was pretty good, though.
Frea: Wow. Did you ever think we’d say that the most consistent part of a season is that the Buy More has been pretty well-used every single time?
mxpw: No, never. After S3 and 4, I wanted to burn it to the ground.
Frea: WHAT IS THE WORLD COMING TO, MAXIMUS? UP IS DOWN. LEFT IS RIGHT. RIGHT IS ALSO RIGHT.
mxpw: I BELIEVE THIS IS ONE OF THE SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE.
Frea: SWEET. FATES MUST BE OVER SOON.
mxpw: I’M AFRAID FATES WILL NEVER BE OVER, FREA.
mxpw: IT WILL FOLLOW YOU FOR ETERNITY.
Frea: That said, I want to mention something I found hilarious and not in a good way for our brave characters: Gertrude using them as patsies. Because honestly? They deserve it after this season. Wow. I laughed so hard.
mxpw: Yeeeeeah...that should probably be a wake up call, but I doubt it will be. I mostly just facepalmed.
mxpw: Though I don’t think Sarah and Chuck care all that much at this point.
Frea: It’s nice that the writers are providing us with so many examples of “Maybe we shouldn’t be freelance spies after all.”
mxpw: Dare I say good writing for when they decide to leave?
mxpw: Or did they just fall into this one on accident?
Frea: True, I don’t think they care anymore. Though it’s wonderful that they’ve introduced a new term to me. Spiraling. Heh.
mxpw: I liked the term spiraling too. And I’m glad both Chuck and Sarah did it. It was getting annoying only seeing Chuck freak out about Sarah being pregnant.
mxpw: And let’s just say it now: the test was a false negative. Sarah is totally pregnant.
Frea: Yep, she’s in the family way.
Frea: Bun in the oven.
Frea: Knocked up.
Frea: Totes preggers.
mxpw: I did like the end with them talking about having kids and Sarah picking out baby names. That was cute. And a good thing too because she’s definitely eating for two.
mxpw: Can we please not use the word “preggers”? I hate that word.
Frea: Okay, I’ll stop using the word “preggers” now. Since I now know you hate the word “preggers.”
mxpw: FOOLISH MAXIMUS.
mxpw: Should have seen that coming.
Frea: Yeah, you walked right by the detour sign and the “EXIT HERE, FOOL” neon sign and right into that one.
mxpw: That was kind of a convoluted way of saying, “You idiot.” :P
Frea: Mr. T had that sign made specially for you.
mxpw: Fool me once...
Frea: And I will pity you.
Frea: Anyway. Can I make a request?
mxpw: I don’t know, can you?
Frea: I think Max Denby should write the episode in which Sarah is really, really pregnant. BECAUSE I WOULD LOVE TO SEE EVERY STUPID PREGNANCY CLICHE UNDER THE SUN IN ONE 42-MINUTE PERIOD.
mxpw: But this is Chuck, Frea, that will probably happen regardless of who is writing the episode. Heh.
Frea: Oh, I know, but none of them have quite the same flair for the cliche as Mr. Denby.
mxpw: You better watch out, or Crumby might attack you with a baguette.
Frea: I’m Swiss. I’ll fight back with cheese.
mxpw: She actually likes Denby, remember? Then again, she’s French, so her comedy tastes are questionable at best. ;-)
Frea: Or a Viking ship or green beer or something.
Have I left any of my nationalities uninsulted? I should call my mother and check.
mxpw: Don’t you have German in you somewhere?
Frea: Actually, nope.
mxpw: Then you’re probably good.
Frea: I just took German in high school so that I could swear in the one language my mother couldn’t speak.
Frea: Too bad she caught onto my plan and looked up all of the good swear words.
Frea: And I can’t call her now, I’ve got to review the rest of the episode. Are we done yet?
mxpw: I don’t know, is there anything left to cover?
Frea: Sarah’s awesome?
mxpw: I think I’ve mentioned the bikini enough, so I’m probably good.
Frea: I don’t know, the bikini was kind of amazing.
Frea: I think it deserves a few more mentions.
mxpw: Oh, well, if you insist...
Frea: Plus, while you’re rhapsodizing, I can go fetch a Dr Pepper and torture a minion or something.
mxpw: Okay. Knock yourself out. Or the minion. Whatever.
Frea: Graceless is now sobbing.
mxpw: So the bikini, was it not amazing, readers? Man, when Sarah got out of that pool... Wowza! I also quite appreciated all the super short dresses and the legs on display. This was a quality episode for SWP, is my basic point here.
mxpw: And okay, we should wrap things up now before I keep going.
Frea: Making you the automatic optimist.
mxpw: Pretty much.
mxpw: Any final thoughts?
Frea: Okay. Final thoughts: Man, Chuck is dumb, but even more than that, it was nice to enjoy an episode again. I know I sometimes like episodes not many people like (Chuck vs. the Muuurder comes to mind) because I’m so tired of the show trying to be epic or serious or whatever and failing, and I’d much rather have an hour of TV I can enjoy vs. an hour that leaves me feeling let down. This episode brought the funny. It brought characters that actually seemed to care about each other. Growth for Casey, somewhat unrealistic but still kind of cool growth for Sarah. No overuse of Morgan. Funny Jeffster. Good Alex scenes, and Gertrude Verbanski, who is my new favorite character. Probably because she’s new and fresh and everything else, I’m sorry to say, is really, really stale by this point. So yay, thanks for an enjoyable
episode of Chuck, Klemmer and DiWhatsYourFace!
mxpw: My final thoughts are similar, so I’ll say ditto. This show works for me a lot more when it tries to do comedy instead of drama. Because at least when it’s doing comedy, the stupid makes sense/isn’t overwhelming everything else. And this episode was funny, so that was awesome. I really enjoyed Sarah, she was hilarious, and so was Gertrude.
mxpw: Also, the bikini.
Frea: I’ll give it a 9.
Frea: 9 Castle Slides even.
mxpw: Nice! The Castle Slides return!
Frea: Ah, apathy, you really do make me rate things higher than I normally would.
mxpw: As for me, well, I was gonna give it a 3.5, but the pool scene alone was worth half a point, so this episode gets 4 Sarahs Emerging from the Pool out of 5.
mxpw: Like I said, Objectivity? What objectivity?
Frea: I never bothered to have any.
What'd you think? Sound off!
* If Lester can look like a woman, why CAN'T Sarah wear a mustache???