A review of tonight’s “Chuck” coming up just as soon as I drop some bombs on Edwardian convention…
“Haven’t you had enough kidnapping, torture and bloodshed?” -Sarah
We have established a definite pattern over these last few episodes, as first Chuck, then Sarah and now Casey have each achieved some measure of closure on their respective journeys. Chuck got to prove his spy bonafides once and for all, Sarah accepted that she never has to be a loner again, and here Casey opens himself up to the idea that he can get more out of life than just journeying to cold, scary places to get shot at – that he can be a spy who cares almost as much as his irritating boss.
“Chuck vs. the Kept Man” was much more overtly comic than our last two outings, and while there were certainly awww-worthy moments like Casey showing an interest in “Downton Abbey” for Alex’s sake, most of it was just a chance to enjoy the marvelous comic chemistry between Adam Baldwin and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Verbanski is one of the best recurring characters the show has ever introduced, someone who added a kick to this season’s bumpy early episodes and who has been one joy of many as the show has kicked into gear one last time. We know John Casey is drawn to strong women, but there’s strong and then there’s a woman who makes sure she’s in the power position at all times. And he even enjoys that some of the time – just listen to the incredibly disturbing sound of what may be the greatest Casey grunt of all time as Sarah stumbles across Verbanski getting rough with Casey (thankfully off-camera) – but the relentlessness of it became a bit much, even as it was funny to see. And I thought things played out well: Casey gets to rescue Verbanski, but not in a way that suddenly strips her of the authority and power she had before, and ultimately she’s the one who learns how to listen to the subtle signals Casey has been sending out. He doesn’t mind her being in charge, so long as the destination is more his speed, right?
And while Chuck and Sarah got some individual closure over the last two weeks, “Kept Man” put them together to deal with the next great hurdle of their relationship: can they successfully become a Spy Daddy and Mommy, and would they want to?
While it feels like the show sort of skipped a step – Sarah has been iffy on the idea of parenting in the past – we did get to see her bonding with her much younger “sister” last week, and in choosing not to go back to the CIA, she’s already decided she doesn’t want the life that she had when she was so against putting down roots before. And just thinking that you might be pregnant can, I’m sure, force you to confront the question in a way you never could when it was wholly abstract. And by timing it this way, so close to the end, Fedak and company (in this case, Craig DiGregorio and Phil Klemmer) get to have their cake and eat it, too: we can find out in one of the last episodes that Sarah is, in fact, pregnant, and our two crazy kids can get one more happy ending, but “Chuck” doesn’t actually have to deal with a pregnant Sarah and/or a Chuck and Sarah who are risking their lives while there’s a little one waiting for them at home.
So with our three leads taken care of (multiple times over, in a few cases), who’s next in the closure lineup? Morgan seems the obvious candidate, but the cliffhanger ending suggests we might be skipping straight ahead to some hardcore Jeffster action. I was glad that Smart Jeff was able to put the pieces together – the only way all this spy business would have really stayed hidden was if the Buy More employees were either rampant narcissists (Lester), brain-damaged (Jeff) or mute (Fernando and the other extras).
I do wonder, though, what the big deal is with them finding out at this stage. Castle isn’t a CIA substation anymore; it’s the headquarters of a private security firm that is sometimes considered a secret (Casey brings a client down there with a hood over his head) and sometimes not (Jeff Fahey wanders into the Buy More with a Carmichael Industries business card), but doesn’t especially need to be. It’s mainly a secret, it seems, because that’s just how the show has always done things, and I’ll be curious to see how big of a deal they treat this in next week’s episode, and whether Jeff and Lester somehow finagle second careers for themselves.
Some other thoughts:
* Interesting that the show didn’t even question whether Casey would go back to the CIA when Chuck and Sarah decided to stay civilians, especially since Carmichael Industries is in such sorry shape that their best client in months was Casey’s girlfriend essentially buying a very expensive bootie call. (And a nice cashmere deep V.)
* This was a very good comic episode for Yvonne Strahovski, whether Sarah was being disgusted by Casey and Verbanski’s lovemaking, being even more disgusted by Chuck’s description of the rare steak, or finally complaining about the many, many skimpy outfits she’s had to wear for missions. (As well as the belly dancer costume which she acknowledges “was private.”) Of course, she delivers that rant while wearing yet another skimpy bikini, and you’ll note that we never actually see Casey wearing the banana hammock.
* Speaking of revealing outfits, Lester finally embraces the femininity everyone has talked about for years by dragging it up for his attempt to tail Captain Awesome, and even gets the slo-mo, wind machine-enchanced entrance shot that ever beautiful woman has ever received entering the Buy More. Nice.
* The safety feature on that hi-tech Aegis gun turned into a handy plot device, and a chance for Chuck to once again show how he can get the job done without killing anybody, but the way he used it pointed out a pretty major design flaw, no? I’m thinking those designers need to come up with a “in case your enemy steals one of your guns” loophole.
* They only make Chuck insufferable on occasion so that it’s funny when they do it, as opposed to a certain equally neurotic, romantic guy on a show about meeting a mother. I liked that they wrapped this particular obsession around a Jerry Maguire-ish mission statement that even had a similar name to Jerry’s infamous “The Things We Think And Do Not Say.”
* Note that Sarah’s list of prospective baby names includes Levi.
* This week in “Chuck” music: “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now” by Lupe Fiasco feat. MDMA (Sarah wears a bikini, while Casey doesn’t want to wear a Speedo) and “Jackpot” by The Albertans (Chuck and Sarah talk about their future, while Casey wants to introduce Alex to his girlfriend).
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com