Monday, April 12, 2010

Chuck 3.13: "Chuck Versus the Other Guy"

“This is team leader. Cancel air support. Cancel tactical. And the tank. The tank. Cancel the tank.”


I most definitely thoroughly enjoyed “Chuck Versus the Other Guy.” It mixed comedy, suspense, and heart into one emotional roller coaster of an episode. Some of the fandom is still cranky even though the end of the episode was basically exactly what they wanted, but at this point, I’m determined to ignore those who are simply being cranky for cranky’s sake. It’s not worth my increasingly limited time. The mix of tones that this episode achieved really made it old-school, vintage Chuck at its best, and I can’t wait to see what the bonus episodes that start in a few weeks have in store.

The episode pretty much picks up where the last one left off. Sarah and Shaw have arrived at the warehouse that Shaw claims is the location of the Ring Director (yay Mark Sheppard!). Thus begins the first of a string of situations where we believe that Shaw is about to kill Sarah. It reminds me of that first season episode when Bryce was almost killed about 3 or 4 times and it never stuck. That episode would be why I was a little wary of Matt Bomer when I decided to try watching “White Collar.” Anyway, Shaw tells Sarah to go in first, and he’ll provide backup. The scene Sarah finds is quite eerie. Flatscreen monitors play the same video Shaw saw in the last episode of Evelyn’s life and death at Sarah’s hand. Sarah is horribly, horribly upset to learn that she is the one who killed Shaw’s wife.

Chuck, meanwhile is most definitely freaking out. General Beckman doesn’t want him to get involved, but he can’t not try to help Sarah. He decides that his best option is to turn to Casey, but he has to find Casey first. In order to get Morgan to give up Casey’s location, Chuck tells Morgan that he’s now officially a spy. Casey doesn’t want to get directly involved since he’s still a civilian, but he does give Chuck a helpful phone number. Chuck uses the number to call for back-up in the form of a very important phone number. Chuck uses this number to get himself some back-up for Operation: Save Sarah.

As you’d probably expect, Chuck’s plan doesn’t go like he thought it would. He arrives at the warehouse to see Sarah and Shaw hugging. It appears that Shaw doesn’t hold what Sarah did against her and that he’s directing his anger towards whoever gave the CIA false information that his wife was a Ring agent. Chuck’s pretty embarrassed that he called in basically a full military assault needlessly, and it’s a little awkward. General Beckman’s especially unhappy once she gets the bill. The General wants to disband the team completely, but Shaw convinces her that they still need to find out who set up Sarah’s red test and take down the Ring..

Because Chuck told him he was now a spy, Morgan quits the Buy More in a pretty hilarious, yet also kind of touching, scene with Big Mike. Morgan has incredibly bad timing, though, because Chuck gets a very upsetting message from General Beckman. She has agreed with Shaw, but only to a point. Sarah and Shaw will be going ot DC to head up anti-Ring operations as originally planned, but Chuck’s grounded in Burbank (aka not going to Rome) until General Beckman figures out what to do about his very expensive stunt and tendency to not follow orders where Sarah is concerned.

Chuck does not take this news well at all. Morgan comes home to find him with a bottle of Scotch in one hand and a Guitar Hero guitar in the other. This is one of the things I love about “Chuck”- the characters are unapologetically nerdy. Morgan takes Chuck’s “drinking and gaming” as a cry for help. Chuck doesn’t accept Morgan’s help, though. Thanks to a convenient Intersect flash, Chuck is suddenly able to tie Morgan up with cords from all of his various electronic devices.

This is the scene Sarah later walks into. And it’s a testament to her character that she doesn’t run away screaming. Chuck apologizes for his condition. He’s sobered up just enough to realize he’s a mess. He wants to know one thing from Sarah, though. Does she love him? She pauses a second before the answer shippers around the world have wanted to hear for the past three years. Yes. Chuck definitely wasn’t expecting that, and he’s ecstatic. I think this was an important scene to establish Sarah’s feelings for Chuck absolutely before all the craziness that goes down at the end of the episode. It makes her proclamation seem more legitimate if it’s not on the heels of some grand gesture.

The reason Sarah came to Chuck and Morgan’s apartment in the first place is because Shaw has found the Ring headquarters, and the infiltration is a three man op. They need Chuck’s help. Chuck is still understandably wary of Shaw, especially since the plan is for Shaw to lower Sarah and Chuck down into an elevator shaft. Sarah keeps trying to convince Chuck that Shaw really means it when he says he can work with them. He’s a professional. Random thought: I wonder if Sarah is so vehemently defending Shaw because she wants to deny the extent of the damage caused by her actions in the red test.

It’s a trap. Ring agents converge on Shaw, and he has to fight them off as Chuck and Sarah become worried about what the heck is going on. As soon as he subdues the Ring operatives, he lets Sarah and Chuck know what happened, and they go inside the elevator, where the Director is waiting. Mark Sheppard does his typical smug villain thing well, of course. Sarah and Chuck want him to give them the “cipher,” which is the building block to the Ring building a new Intersect. More and more people find their way into the elevator. Just as things are getting ridiculous and a little dangerous, Shaw shoots his way into the elevator and diffuses the situation.

Back at Castle, Shaw shows the team video of him kicking ass in the elevator and recovering the cipher. General Beckman says the cipher’s design has been traced to France, and she sends Sarah and Shaw on the trail. Chuck is cool with this until Morgan gives him a reason to be worried again. Chuck shows Morgan the video of Shaw’s elevator fight, and Morgan, having seen many, many Hong Kong action flicks, immediately spots the action as fake. Chuck realizes that Shaw isn’t the professional he’s been portraying himself as. He doesn’t know how to save Sarah. Morgan has an idea though. In Morgan’s (and Yoda’s) words “There is another.” One John Casey, who after some convincing, agrees to help them out.

On the plane to France, Chuck still doesn’t really have a plan. And because he’s emotional, he’s not flashing on any helpful skills. Casey has some wonderful advice. Before he was a spy, Chuck was smart. Meanwhile in France, Sarah is putting the pieces together herself. She realizes that Shaw took her back to the scene of her red test. Before she can protest, someone shoots her with a dart from behind. It’s the Director, and she’s shot her with a temporary paralytic. The Director and Shaw drag Sarah to a nearby café table, where the Director tells her that Shaw is his newest Ring agent. The Director leaves, and we can hear in the background that Casey’s team is taking care of him. Shaw is about to take Sarah to a bridge overlooking the Seine when a nearby waiter is revealed to actually be Chuck. Shaw bests Chuck in the ensuing fight because, once again, Chuck had a gun but couldn’t pull the trigger. Chuck looks on helplessly while Shaw drags Sarah towards the bridge.

Shaw is about to push Sarah over the bridge when Chuck finally catches up to them. Shaw warns Chuck that he shouldn’t have followed them, and Shaw goes to pull his gun. Before Shaw can fire, though, Chuck shoots Shaw right in the chest. Shaw is thrown towards the bridge railing, and as he falls, he tries to take Sarah with him. Chuck grabs on to Sarah, though, and Shaw eventually loses his grip and falls to his death in the Seine.

All of our favorite characters seem to end the episode in a pretty good place. With the Ring Director as leverage, Casey gets reinstatement in the NSA and a new crown vic. Sarah wakes up in a Parisian hotel room (with a view of le tour Eiffel, naturally) to find Chuck has been watching over her. Chuck tells her Shaw is dead, and instead of being upset that Chuck is now a killer, she’s overjoyed that he saved her. General Beckman wants them to return to Burbank immediately, but Sarah closes her laptop and she and Chuck enjoy the hotel room. Morgan gets his job at the Buy More back, and he also, thanks to Casey, gets to join Team Bartowski. Their cover is going to continue to be the Buy More, so everything seems set in place for more adventures.

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