Chuck: Chuck versus the Suburbs

“I’m sure someone, somewhere, is having a worse Valentine’s Day.”

In Dante’s Inferno, Virgil describes life in one of the less painful circles of Hell: “Without hope, we live in desire.” Turns out this is true of cover-couples in the suburbs, as well—Chuck once again got his hopes dashed as Sarah put their job before their passion.

It’s pretty amazing that they can keep us caring about the Chuck/Sarah pairing. Basically, the story hasn’t changed in a while: Chuck likes Sarah, and she knows it. Sarah likes Chuck, and he has no idea. They’re a cover-couple, so they can’t be a real couple. But they get many of the perks of coupledom, including, perforce, a horrible Valentine’s date.

Relationships like this (minus all the spy stuff) are fairly common. Usually they’re brief and passionate friendships dependent on sexual tension, an overabundance of commonalities, and a perceived lack of symmetry in leagues. After a while, they fizzle out and become just regular friendships, or nothing at all. Painful and weird as those relationships can be, at least when we’re in them, or out of them, we’re masters of our own destiny. Chuck, however, doesn’t have that choice: as he told Ellie, Sarah’s not going anywhere. So all he has are the moments where he can hope it is real, and the after-moments of desire.

It certainly felt real when Chuck held Sarah to protect her from the Fulcrum over-download. Wow. I don’t know if we want to dissect the possible sexual symbolism, but the pulsing red lights and backbeat music sure meant something. An interesting counterpoint to the lovin’ that Big Mike had with Morgan’s mom.

All that mushy Valentine’s stuff, of course, was just the icing on a pretty good spy-story cake. The real plot of this episode was the Evil Suburb, reminiscent of such stellar episodes as X-Files 6.15 (Arcadia), Alias 4.5 (Welcome to Liberty Village), and Angel 5.17 (Underneath). Andy Richter and Jenny McCarthy, plus Brian Thompson, the Judge from Buffy, were guest-stars in Evil-ville (Eville?), which is located—you guessed it—in the Valley.

The suburban send-ups were a bit predictable (The Talking Heads? That’s the best they could do?) but still funny. Funniest of all was Sarah’s belted khaki skirt and tucked-in polo shirt. No, funniest of all was the use of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” whenever Jenny McCarthy was putting the moves on Chuck. Hmmm... it might be a tie.

More info got downloaded into Chuck’s brain, which must be near capacity by now. I wonder if all of this Fulcrum information will play a role in a larger arc?

Two lines of dialogue worth highlighting:

• “You’d better be careful, Sarah. One day you might turn into a real girl.” I am going to choose to live in a universe in which this insulting, demeaning, and sexist silliness did not occur. Ahh, it is better here. I knew it would be.

• “No excuses, General. We pooched it.” Adam Baldwin, you rock my world.

This was a good episode—maybe even a great episode—except for the strange feeling of disjointedness that came from the BuyMore interludes. The comedic supporting actors are hilarious, but the characters and premise aren’t quite interesting enough to warrant an entire story line.

Three out of four Pooches.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)

4 comments:

sloth15 said...

" insulting, demeaning, and sexist silliness"

Huh? I just thought Chuck was saying that maybe one day Sarah would show actual feelings. We, as viewers, see the moments when Sarah lets her guard down, but Chuck never sees that. To Chuck she is just stone cold spy girl.

*24 pseudo spoiler ahead*

It reminds me of the teaser for next weeks 24, where a girl who thought she was morally superior has now tortured and threatened, and she slaps Jack Bauer across the face and screams "Do you even feel that?"

I knew that I had seen this plot somewhere before, I think the one I was thinking of was the Alias plot, although I've seen all the ones you mentioned, so maybe I'm thinking of an amalgam.

Good stuff.

Josie K said...

Hi Sloth15.

You raise a good point. For me, Chuck's "real girl" comment paired with her cooking was a bit too much...but your interpretation makes me feel better (so I think I have to agree).

Tom L said...

Another awesome episode! Oh my, so many great scenes.

I liked the Buy More stuff, specially the funny reveal at the end. When Big Mike's date told him her son worked at the Buy More, all I could think was "Who is it? Who is it?". Of course it had to be poor Morgan.

The Charmichaels at the Suburbs was a great plot idea. The way Chuck smiled when Sarah said she was just making him breakfast put a big smile on my face. Zachary Levi is always great on those scenes.

But the highlight of the episode has got to be the moment when Chuck told Sarah "close your eyes" and held her in order to, well, save her life. Casey was terrific on that scene too. My only complaint is that, when the flashes were over, Chuck and Sarah stared at each other so intensily and that was it. And damn it, I so wanted them to kiss!

ChrisB said...

I am going to choose to live in a universe in which this insulting, demeaning, and sexist silliness did not occur. Ahh, it is better here. I knew it would be.

I knew I could count on you, Josie, to make it all better. Not only was the line a horror, Sarah's reaction to it was worse.

All the BuyMore stuff is beginning to wear a bit thin. Yes, I like the characters, but not enough to spend so much time with them each episode. I want more scenes like Chuck holding Sarah. Sigh...