Sarah: “Once you know all the cons, you can never be a sucker.”
Meet Sarah’s old man, Jack Burton. Actually, we were introduced to him two seasons ago, but his characterisation strikes me as significantly different here. Note that I’m using the word “different”, not “inconsistent”. In “Chuck versus the DeLorean”, Sarah came to terms with the fact Jack’s a poor father no matter how much she loves him. As such, we only saw that side of his personality. This episode is all about Sarah acknowledging that her dad, like any man or tiramisu, has got layers, so the con artist gets to show his softer qualities.
“Chuck versus the Wedding Planner” reminds me of the more offbeat episodes in the last few seasons of The X-Files. Certain either the series would come to an end or the main actors would leave, the writers would tell whatever yarn struck their fancy, conspiracy plots and tonal consistency be damned. This often resulted in mannered character studies that brought any sense of narrative thrust to a grinding halt, and the expression “jump the shark” would get thrown around. However, these intimate stories remain among my favourite in the series.
Admittedly, it’s a bit odd that Vivian went full-on Lex Luthor just last week, and no one’s talking about it. Why aren’t our heroes storming Volkoff Industries? The woman ain’t hiding in an underground lair or anything. On the other hand, the tonal shift emphasises the notion that espionage represents a career for Chuck, not a lifestyle. As always, his focus remains on his family. Besides, he and Sarah are about to get married, so they’ve got plenty on their plate, most notably the fact a fake wedding planner, the alleged Daphne Perralta, stole their money.
The driving plot this week harks back to Chuck of old. After faking a flash to find Perralta, our favourite Nerd Herder (along with his girlfriend, best buddies, and future father-in-law) must foil a real criminal plot without CIA resources. The “Intersect who cried terrorist” bit doesn’t scream mature behaviour, but, once the mission kicks in, our heroes are like a well-oiled machine: no catty conversations, avoidable goof-ups, or cheesy misunderstandings. Also, Chuck gets to behave like a loving and supportive grown-up again, asking Sarah to include her dad in the wedding without pushing the matter.
However, Agent Walker is the real star of the episode, and I must say I find everything about the woman adorable this week, from her hurt swindler’s pride to her over-the-top wedding planner persona with those crazy sexy glasses. I dig too her description of Chuck’s Intersect face: “It kind of looks like you saw something really bright and tasted something really sour at the same time.” I was shouting at the tube, “Don’t describe it! Do it! Do it!” and then she did it, and it was awesome.
The story serves up some touching flashbacks as well, though the tired “Daddy must leave because he knows he’s not good enough” trope rubs me the wrong way. From Lost to Supernatural, every show’s using it these days, reinforcing the popular myth that fatherhood doesn’t matter unless it’s perfect. In fairness, “Chuck versus the Wedding Planner” does explore Sarah’s feelings of abandonment, and there’s something more bitter than sweet (in a good way) about Jack’s letter at the end: “I hope now you can have all the adventures you ever wanted with a man far better than me.”
Casey versus the Ninja Ex
On the subject of quotes that look bright and taste sour at the same time, I’m intrigued by Casey’s quiet hurt when Kathleen tells him, “Look at you. You’re a soldier. You’re a hero. You have everything that you’ve ever wanted.” With his secret out and Alex’s mom back in his life, this may prove a turning point for the colonel. I’m curious though how a civilian like Kathleen can stalk a trained spy from the Buy More all the way to that fake wedding without getting spotted. What, did Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe train her?
Bits and Pieces
- Sarah’s grandmother strikes me as a horrible person, refusing to let a father say goodbye to his child. She may not approve of Jack, but doesn’t she care that little Sarah loves him and could use the closure?
- I love Alex and Morgan’s sheepish double “Yay!” in front of Casey. They’re super cute.
- The baby too.
- The music when Daphne’s face appears on every screen is a blatant knock-off of Hans Zimmer’s The Dark Knight (2008) score.
We get fewer one-liners this week because the writers let the humour flow from the characters and situation. It actually comes as a relief of sorts:
Chuck: “How was I supposed to know who Artur Novokov is?”
Sarah: “Uh, because you work at the CIA?”
Devon: “Go ahead. Try to run. I will be faster because I have superior form.”
I always figured fatherhood would only heighten Awesome’s awesomeness. The writers have turned him into a bit of a dork instead, and I sometimes find myself missing the old Devon.
Chuck: “Do our wedding colors remind you of socialism?”
Sarah: “In a good way?”
Chuck: “Is there a good way?”
What’s with all the xenophobia coming out of Chuck’s mouth lately?
Morgan: “Listen, there’s no reason for the gun, sir. I mean, Mr Father of the Bride.”
Chuck: “Morgan, where is he taking you?”
Morgan: “Oh, what a lovely parking garage!”
Morgan is quickly becoming my favourite character.
Devon: “Then I started to learn Claire’s signals.”
Devon: “Yeah, like, when she wants her pacifier, she puts her hands to her face.”
Jack: “Like a tell at poker, right?”
I was thinking the same thing.
Chuck: “She came so highly recommended! By the Internet!”
You know what else comes highly recommended? This here website. Go spread the word!
Very strong episode. Some fans may argue, “filler”. I say, “welcome change of pace”.