M: Chuck continues to tread the fine line between being the fun, goofy show that we love, and the emo turn-Chuck-into-a-jaded-emotionless-spy show that we tolerate in the hopes that it will turn back into the former. Tonight they threatened to turn Chuck into a robot with a pill that suppresses all emotion. But that’s not where it starts, or what (or even who) it was really all about.
C: We begin in flashback to a military camp, where a young man who looks and sounds nothing like John Casey and answers to the name Alex Coburn is recruited by Special Agent John Doggett, otherwise known as the T-1000, for a shady-sounding black ops force after he doesn’t make the cut for the more straightforward elite force.
M: Ummm, Casey failed to make special ops? That had to be a ruse, right?
C: Maybe it was Doggett’s way to get him into black ops? Anyway, from there they do a match-cut from Coburn’s face to Casey’s in a pitiful attempt to convince us that the young actor could in fact have been Casey twenty years ago.
M: Yeah, we know what Adam Baldwin looked like in 1989… he looked an awful lot like he does now. Boo!
E: I thought the young kid, in addition to looking very little like Casey, was also a really bad actor. Major casting fail.
C: In “adult” Casey’s apartment, with the blinds open, he has a hush-hush meeting with Doggett (okay, his name in this episode is Keller) which Morgan spies on. Keller asks him to steal something from the CIA and then they shake hands at the front door that opens on the courtyard around which all our main characters live. Casey? Not so good at this black ops business actually.
M: That was ridiculously out of character. When Morgan can catch you out in your spy business, you’re not doing it right.
C: Speaking of Morgan, one of the funniest scenes of the night was when Awesome and Morgan pace around each other in a tight circle, each trying to figure out how much the other knows about Chuck.
E: How fantastic was that little dance? Morgan knowing breathes such life into this show. What a great idea.
M: Morgan spying on Casey? Nice. Morgan knowing Chuck’s a spy? Great. Chuck busting him because he knew Morgan hated the original Planet of the Apes because their upper lips never moved? Priceless.
C: It was indeed. But, though I’m loving Morgan knowing, it’s making it call the worse that Ellie doesn’t. Could someone just tell her already? I’m sick at the thought of her making these tough choices and going through such an emotional wringer because of Chuck’s career, without even knowing what it’s all for. Surely, surely the chance of her “letting something slip” is far less than the chance of her messing everything up by not knowing?
E: Agreed. They already have to protect her, so it’s not like keeping her ignorant is shielding her from the unsavory elements of Chuck’s job.
C: The best line of tonight went to a bit actor (E: Ha! is that a short joke? C: No. I am sensitive to the feelings of all), the man in charge of increasing security in the secret CIA holding cells that Our Heroes are asked to security-test a la Sneakers. The man tells Chuck he’s their biggest fan and reads all their mission files: “Remember when you reverse-engineered that antidote and kissed Colonel Casey only to realize later that it was all for naught? That must have been exciting and scary at the same time.”
M: Oh, the CIA security enhancement weenie guy was great.
E: I like that guy a lot – and it was very Chuck to use him to get through the building. Also, I just love the idea of Chuck having fans within the Agency. Isn’t it neat, to think of analysts reading up on his missions and getting all starry eyed? Finding the stories of the show exciting, as we do? The derring-do, the spit swapping, all of it.
C: Speaking of swapping spit – or whatever – with Colonel Casey, this episode reveals two whammies right in a row: Casey had a fiancee, the “love of his life,” before Shady Black Ops faked his death! And Casey’s fiancee was pregnant, so he now has a 20-year-old daughter named Alex! I suppose the question is, would he still have chosen love of country over love if he’d known he was abandoning a child?
E: I was particularly annoyed with the bit where Chuck tries to get him to go see the fiance, and he says “I chose love of country over love twenty years ago.” Blah blah blah. If he truly had, he wouldn’t have let The Ring blackmail him with the threat of killing the ex-fiance, now would he? He’d have found some other way of protecting her, or he’d have let her die. In a very real sense, he’s already chosen love over love of country; he might as well reap the benefits of it!
C: That’s a good point. He put her safety before his job in this episode. Though I don’t think that’s the same as choosing to be with her. I really can’t see him abandoning a child knowingly, either. I mean, now she’s grown up it’s different, but still – Casey’s the type of guy who I would imagine sees fatherhood as one of life’s most sacred responsibilities.
M: Is it just me, or does Casey seem too straight laced to have knocked someone up out of wedlock in 1989, even if it was his fiancee? It was much more frowned upon then, and he’s sooooo by the rules…
E: So by the rules that he what, wouldn’t sleep with someone before he married them? I don’t think he’s that straight-laced. He is a character on television, after all. I am with C in thinking that he would never had abandoned his fiance had he known she was pregnant, however, as the entire audience knew she would be when she said she had something important to tell him in the flashback.
M: Supposedly he didn’t hear that because Keller/Doggett/T-1000 cut off the call, though. And yes, I really do think that young Casey (Coburn) wouldn’t have slept with someone out of wedlock. That’s the kind of character he is portrayed to be. Just my opinion of him, apparently.
E: Well, that would mean by extension that he’d be a virgin now. I think to a certain element of the viewing public, that would undercut his tough guy persona.
C: Obviously he’s not a virgin – there was Ilsa, and wasn’t it implied he’d slept with Carina as well? But I agree that as a fresh-faced kid of 20 he might have had different ideas about the right and proper way to treat a girl he loved. However, that’s not the direction the writers went.
Moving off Casey for a minute: thankfully not too much love drama for our central couple tonight, and there was one interchange I actually liked. Sarah asks Chuck not to change too much of himself in becoming a spy: “Don’t give up on the things that make you great.” Of course, this sweet moment is really foreshadowing for more of this dreaded Chuck-is-losing-his-moral-center business.
I was struck by the fact that, while they don’t usually do too much killing on this show (mostly hand-to-hand fighting rather than guns), Sarah was full-on shooting guys left and right in the scene where they storm the Ring hideout. When Casey got the upper hand over Keller I thought, “of course they shot all the henchmen but since he’s an actual speaking character, they’ll just imprison him.” But no, Casey breaks his neck!
M: I actually liked that they had Chuck parallel Casey in his own action scene after he had taken the emotions-free drug, lifting the guy by his throat — but then diverge because he saw Sarah and she brought him back to reality.
C: Sarah keeps Chuck from becoming a killer, but she herself murdered five people that day. It’s an odd double-standard. Not that I’m not intensely relieved that someone stopped him!
E: I thought the end started to get a little too angsty, with Sarah’s face all sad in the cab window. Or should I say Sam? Are we supposed to start calling her Sam now? I can’t really think of her as Sam. (And, why did I think her real name was Lisa? Was that just a childhood alias?)
C: Lisa is her middle name. Chuck asks her to tell him her middle name in a first-season episode, and she says it, but only when he can’t hear. Samantha Lisa? Not a great cadence to that.
E: Oh, yack.
C: Anyway, I’m calling her Sarah until the show stops calling her that.
Next week, Chuck is asked to kill a man. Frankly, I don’t want to watch.
E: Me neither. Which, you know, could be a problem.
M: Agreed, but that’s a decision for next week. What we need to remember until then is that even the T-1000 is no match for John Casey.