Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chuck 3.08: "Chuck Versus the Fake Name"

“Yeah, I know where that is. Across the street from the cupcake place. Because I like cupcakes, that’s why. Who doesn’t like a good cupcake?”


I wouldn’t say “Chuck Versus the Fake Name” is one of my favorite episodes of the series, but it did have some great one-liners, both poignant and funny scenes, and some necessary progression in the story of what Chuck must truly sacrifice to become a spy. The episode was a real showcase for the dramatic chops of both Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski, both of whom gave beautiful performances as Chuck and Sarah struggled to adjust to the new status quo.

The spies in Chuck’s life aren’t the only people affected by how he has changed. Ellie is really upset that she’s not Chuck’s secret keeper anymore. Although she’s thrilled that Chuck has a new girlfriend, she misses the fact that Chuck used to confide everything to her. The situation gets a bit awkward when Ellie thinks she’s telling all this to Chuck from outside the bathroom door while he’s in the shower, but it turns out that Hannah is actually in the shower. Chuck arrives back at the apartment after picking up some breakfast donuts and offers to rectify the situation by making a nice pepperoni chicken dinner for everyone.

Shaw and Sarah appear to be sharing an intimate breakfast or lunch or some sort of meal at a cute little café, but it turns out to be a bit of a fake out. They’re actually on a mission. Casey is acting as a sniper from a nearby rooftop (armed with tranq darts, naturally), and Shaw and Sarah are on the lookout for a particular car. The car in question arrives, and the team captures their target. He’s a widely feared sharpshooter and martial arts expert named Rafe. Rafe has been hired to kill someone, but the team doesn’t know the target. This mission will involve Chuck assuming Rafe’s identity in order to get information. Casey, of course, thinks that he himself would be the better man for the job (and he’s only sort-of right), but seeing Chuck attempt to become an alias is pretty fun.

Chuck tries to ask very actor-y questions of Rafe, trying to really get in the head of the character he’s playing, but that doesn’t really work. Rafe refuses to answer, and even his own team thinks what he’s doing is lame. When he is actually on the job, though, Chuck does quite well. “Rafe” is supposed to meet up with some mobsters to find out his target, so Chuck heads to their meeting place with Casey as backup. Things get a little tense when one of the mobsters thinks he recognizes Casey as a soldier named “Alex Coburn.” What is most interesting about all this is that when Chuck hears the name Alex Coburn, he flashes. He can’t see Coburn’s face, but the information he has stored about Coburn isn’t pretty. It takes a CIA team to get Chuck and Casey out of the situation, but Chuck amazingly manages to stay in character. He fights off a few CIA agents for show, and the mobsters are pretty impressed once everything calms down.

Because Chuck was busy meeting with mobsters, Sarah and Shaw prepare the pepperoni chicken dinner, sneaking out just before everyone arrives at the house. Chuck feels especially guilty when Sarah tells him that she never really liked his pepperoni chicken before, but this particular dinner is excellent. He tries to confide in Awesome, but Awesome is sick and tired of lying to Ellie- he just can’t do it anymore. Chuck feels bad for Awesome and suggests Awesome just tell Ellie “I don’t know” whenever she pries about Chuck.

The Buymorians have noticed something’s up with Chuck lately, too. Big Mike says they need to sell their stock of Crock Pots, so as he, Jeff, and Lester prepare some Crock Pot cooking to entice customers, they talk about how lucky Chuck has been with the ladies. They’re all quite jealous. Interestingly, Jeff remarks that despite the other women that have been in Chuck’s life, including Hannah, his face only really lights up when he’s with Sarah. I was intrigued that Jeff of all characters was the one to make this observation.

As Chuck goes to another meeting with the mobsters (where they conveniently destroy his communicator watch), Sarah goes to Shaw’s hotel room. She’s upset about the person Chuck has become, especially how easy it has become for him to lie. Feeling especially emotional, she actually tells Shaw her real name- Sam. Chuck sees and hears all of this because, what do you know, Rafe’s target turns out to be Shaw, and Chuck has a gun pointed on the hotel room from a few blocks away. He’s devastated when he hears Sarah tell Shaw her real, name, because that’s something she’s never, ever told Chuck.

He almost blows his cover, but Chuck recovers well by saying that Shaw is sleeping with his girl. The mobsters think he should go over there and take care of business. Chuck does that, and pretends to beat up Shaw as Sarah looks on in horror (Shaw picked up on the fact that it was an act, but Sarah didn’t). It’s really pretty hilarious. Things are about to get messy, as the real Rafe finds the mobsters and shoots them, then heads to the hotel room that he can see through their gun’s sights (where Shaw, Sarah, and Chuck are, obviously). Thankfully, Casey is on top of things and finds the mobster’s gun, too. He shoots Rafe sniper-style just as Rafe is about to shoot Sarah.

At the end of the episode, character relationships are once again all sort-of turned on their head. Hannah had invited Chuck to dinner with her parents, but he shows up just to break up with her. Which is kind of a douche move, even if I do see where it’s coming from. I think part of it was that Sarah’s life being in jeopardy made him realize that he still loves her, and part of it was not wanting to have to lie to Hannah anymore about his double life. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sarah finally starts returning Shaw’s advances. She had been reluctant to get involved with yet another co-worker, but by the end of the episode, they’re most definitely making out in Castle. I think I can see where all this is leading, and I’m fairly confident, despite certain more-extreme factions of the Chuck fandom still “Chicken Little-ing” all over the place, it will end up with Chuck and Sarah in a good place.

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