Chuck 1.04: Chuck versus the Wookiee

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Broadcast Date: 15 October 2007
Director: Allan Kroeker
Writer: Allison Adler
Cast: Adam Baldwin, Joshua Gomez, Sarah Lancaster, Zachary Levi, and Yvonne Strahovski


© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

Carina: “I love taking what Sarah wants.”

Meet Carina. She’s like a force of nature: beautiful, impulsive, and, in family-friendly terms, a big fat doo-doo head. For all intents and purposes, the woman is also Sarah’s only friend in the spy world, which goes a long way to explain the Wienerlicious bombshell’s deep fondness for Chuck and his clan. If the way Carina relates to others serves as any indication, espionage makes for a solitary existence. The Bartowskis, on the other hand, are all about warmth and attachment.

Sarah’s issues and many more are brought up when she and the gang help Carina steal a blood diamond from the Wookiee, a hairy drug lord with possible terrorist ties. You see, in the Chuckiverse, every spy deals with loneliness in different way: Casey focuses on duty and patriotism; Sarah apparently falls for every guy she works with (I expect her to start macking with either Casey or Morgan next season); and Carina, well, she loves stirring up trouble, and our heroes’ fragile dynamic at this point is like an all-you-can-eat buffet of dysfunction.

I suppose Chuck makes himself an easy target. Upset over Sarah having dated Bryce, he behaves like a petulant adolescent throughout most of the episode, endangering the mission and his teammates’ lives to indulge his passive-aggressive hissy fits. I spent half of “Chuck versus the Wookiee” wanting to throttle the guy, the other half hoping his giving Carina the diamond was part of some elaborate con. Alas, no. Our hero, it seems, has “the emotional maturity of a blue berry scone” (Billie and Josie were right: the expression’s remarkably satisfying to plug).

As much as I love the series, Chuck does tend to rely on what Roger Ebert calls the “idiot plot”. That’s when two characters have a conflict they could resolve just by talking to each other but, because they’re judgemental idiots, it ends up taking forever. In this case, Sarah’s the idiot for not saying the truth about Bryce, and Chuck’s both judgemental and an idiot for failing to realise women have their own experiences, regrets, past lovers they were more eager to bone than you, etc. You’re in your mid to late twenties, man. Grow up already.

Morgan versus the Needy

Over in the B-plot, Morgan convinces Mr Judgemental to fix him up with Carina, who delights in leading on the poor sap and manipulating him for her own devilish ends. I don’t fully understand how this was meant to get under Sarah’s skin, but it sure worked on Chuck for reasons unexplained. Part of me feels bad for Morgan, who’s such a sweet guy, but part of me thinks someone’s got to kick the needy out of him or else he’ll never find love. To quote Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), “you can’t respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn’t work.”

So the episode didn’t show our boys at their best. It did, however, flesh out Sarah’s personality. I love all the human touches, like her owning a fish and the way she projected her frustrations onto her cover job: “I can’t believe I have to work my stupid hot dog shift! If I call sick again, I’ll get canned!” The pizza olive thing was a highlight, of course, as was the final scene, in which she resists giving Chuck any personal information, no matter how trivial. Yvonne Strahovski did a great job conveying her character’s hurt and loneliness.

Chuck versus My Unisex Theory of the Bad Friend

Sarah isn’t the only female character I liked in “Chuck versus the Wookiee”. For all her mean-spirited antics, I thought Carina was tremendous fun as that petty, competitive friend every woman seems to have. The writers nailed that whole dynamic of one woman coming on to you just because of your rapport with the other. Now, I realise that might have come off a tad sexist, so I want to point out men can be scummy with their friends too. In fact, I contend all guy cliques include this one doo-doo head everyone else keeps around just to have a common acquaintance on whom to keep bagging. Look at your own friends. Can’t find him (or her)? Then chances are you’re it. Just kidding.

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures

© Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures


Bits and Pieces

  • This episode was definitely large with the funny, starting with the notion that Casey loses all sense of duty and reason every time Carina takes off her clothes.
  • Chuck lifting his arm to show the diamond and then retracting it when Carina decides to bluff made me laugh as well.
  • Sarah’s middle name is Lisa. Okay, that’s not funny.
  • You know, General Beckman was practically fuming over this, but Chuck mailing the blood diamond to headquarters was actually pretty clever when you stop and think about it. It’s also hilarious.

Quotes

This is my first Casey-free quotes section for Chuck. I guess that’s because he only gets a handful of scenes this week and the main one has him tied to a bed with a piece of cloth in his mouth. And four-leaf-clover underwear:

Chuck: “Are we talking about Señor Wookiee over there?”

Chuck: “So I count six SVB-54 explosion-protected security cameras with infrared surveillance.”
Sarah: “Did you have a flash?”
Chuck: “Did… No, they sell them at the spy shop at the Buy More plaza.”
This level of cattiness is so out of character for Chuck I thought for a second they might have spy stores in California.

Chuck: “How am I supposed to know Karina has a remote-controlled jet ski? It’s not usually an option in real life!”

Morgan: “It’s, like, your first fight. That’s kind of a big deal.”
Didn’t they make a big deal of Chuck and Sarah having their first fight just two episodes ago?

Morgan: “You want to talk about it over coffee? One for each of us.”

Carina: “If we’re still alive afterwards, how about we go back to my room?”
Chuck: “I’m kind of stuck back on the ‘still alive’ part.”

Chuck: “It’s the only thing I know about you that’s true: you don’t like olives.”

I really liked most of the stuff involving the supporting characters, but the main thread is a bit cringe-inducing at times.

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Category: Chuck, Verdict: 2.0 | Tags:

          
Editor in Chief / Movie Critic: When he started this site, Dimitri never thought he'd be writing blurbs about himself in the third person. In his other life, he works as a writer, translator, and editor for various publications in print and online. His motto is, "Have pen, will travel."