'Chuck' - 'Chuck vs. Phase Three': Sarah vs. the world
A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I earn my lance boil...
"Anyone else want to be my boyfriend?" -Sarah
That was... awesome.
Not just the moment quoted above, but an entire hour of pure, concentrated Sarah Walker bad-assery as she became the legendary Giant Blonde She-Male of Thailand.
When Chuck learned kung fu, I worried that the need to show him kicking butt would relegate Sarah to the sidelines too often, when Yvonne Strahovski's physicality had led to some really fun and memorable fight scenes in seasons past. Between the introduction of Chuck Fu and the Shaw storyline, Sarah was definitely a less prominent, assertive force last season. This year, thankfully, has returned her to her old self. We got a vintage fight on the catwalk back in "Chuck vs. the Suitcase," and this episode was pretty much non-stop Sarah bringing the pain to anyone who stood between her and her man.
There was actually a practical real-world reason for this, in that Zachary Levi needed a lighter schedule during this episode to prep for directing next week's. But the creative team was clearly also itching for a little Sarah Unleashed, as was Strahovski, and the episode was loaded with great moments and fight scenes: Sarah standing up to Casey when he rightly points out how reckless she's getting, Sarah emerging from the water to scare the hell out of The Belgian's sentries (when the Giant Blonde She-Male comes for you, you run), the three-second bar fight and, of course, the entirety of her fight with the local champion. Great work by Strahovski, director Anton Cropper and the stunt team on that sequence (which reminded me of some hellacious games of Tekken I've played on obsolete gaming consoles).
Last week, I talked about my hope that this Intersect No More arc would address Chuck's value for his own innate Chuck-ness, and we got a good amount of that here. Sarah finally comes out and tells Chuck she loves him with or without the computer in his brain (though even factoring in her stunted emotions, I have a hard time imagining that this never came up before), and Beckman offers to keep Chuck around in some capacity. So that's good, and I hope we get to see Chuck be useful on a mission or two before the Intersect comes back online.
Mainly, though, "Chuck vs. Phase Three" was about showing what the rest of the team brings to the table, both in terms of their skills and their dedication to Chuck and each other, and it was a terrific change-of-pace episode. But even though I expect to see Chuck be more prominent in the rest of the season, I really hope the writers don't use this episode as an excuse to not have Sarah kicking ass and taking names again for a while.
Because again... awesome. And that's not even factoring in the usual heart-on-sleeve genius Strahovski brings to scenes like Sarah smelling Chuck's shirt, or two very different visions of Sarah trying to send the same "I love you" message to Chuck.
Some other thoughts:
• I had figured Orion's laptop would turn out to be some kind of portable Intersect - and kept worrying that Awesome or Lester or someone else (maybe Fernando?) would be in front of the screen when it finally got working - but it appears to be something else entirely. Hmm...
• So an earlier plan of Chuck's proposal plan involved a DeLorean? If only Morgan hadn't been foolish enough to unload the one he bought in season two.
• Because Chuck himself is something of a gadget, the show only occasionally bothers with other Q-style gizmos, but I liked the rug that rolled and unrolled itself around the Thai prisoner. (And speaking of him, I can only imagine the long hypno-therapy session in Casey's living room that was required to make him forget Sarah jabbing a needle of amonia into his neck.)
• Awesome's repeated plugs for the Sienna probably aren't any less graceful than those scenes where Jeff or Big Mike lists a Subway sub's ingredients. On the other hand, Subway helped save the show, and Toyota didn't, so these stick out more.
• Last week's episode seemed to be setting up Richard Chamberlain to have a lot more to do in this one, but The Belgian unfortunately mainly sat around and let his guy Mueller do all the work. Mueller, by the way, was played by Torsten Vorges, who even though he was one of the nihilists in "The Big Lebowski," was kind of ruined for me by the scene in "Funny People" where Adam Sandler points out his resemblance to Alexander Godunov in "Die Hard." Now every time I see him, I just picture John McClane trying to strangle him with a chain.
• Good to see Morgan go on a field trip again, and that Sarah has now also taken to calling him The Magnet. Was also amused by Casey warning Sarah that this fight club is home to some of the worst people on earth, followed by the waitress asking him if he wants his usual.
• Though Chuck compared his interlocking dreams to both "The Manchurian Candidate" and episodes of "Family Ties" and "The Hogan Family," what the climactic sequence most reminded me of was "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." I was, in fact, expecting Chuck to wake up having forgotten a few important things about his life, and while I'm relieved we're not getting a dumb amnesia plot to force a separation from Sarah, it does seem odd that there were no ill effects from Phase Three. At the very least, we could've used some kind of technobabble line about how the combination of Sarah's love and the dormant Intersect helped reboot his brain or some such.
• This week in "Chuck" music: "J'ai Claqué La Porte" by Chromeo (Chuck's opening dream), "Miss Friday" by Nico Stai (Sarah finds out about the proposal plan), "Creator" by Santigold (Sarah getting ready to take on the Thai fighter), "Woman" by Wolfmother (Sarah wins the big fight, and Sarah emerges from the water) and "Excuses" by The Morning Benders (final sequence).
What did everybody else think?