As KSiteTV enters 2012, we are bringing on some new contributors with articles and recaps based around the world of television. The first new writer we’d like to welcome now is Derek B. Gayle, who gives us a recap of last night’s episode of Chuck, which was titled “Chuck vs. the Baby.”
Hopefully Derek will be around to take us through to the Chuck finale which is coming very soon!
Here’s what he had to say…
Chuck 5.08 “Chuck Versus the Baby”
I have to admit, given last week’s closure of the this season’s story arc, followed by a seemingly shoe-horned in cliffhanger, I was very weary of this episode. Sarah had a baby? Was this how we’re going to introduce a child into Chuck and Sarah’s life while skipping a pregnancy? Thankfully, the show threw a curveball, and we instead got some insight into Sarah’s pre-Chuck life. Not to mention a couple of sweet action sequences.
The present day plotline is fairly simple: Sarah is desperately trying to track down a man named Kieran Ryker (White Collar’s Tim DeKay), but without filling in Chuck and the team on any other details beyond “It’s important and I’m going to kill him.” The interesting parts of the episode are the flashbacks of Sarah’s last mission before becoming Chuck’s handler. Here, we learn Ryker was Sarah’s former handler, but had nefarious plans to kidnap a baby, who happens to be the heir to a big fortune, and escape the CIA with that fortune. Though he assumed Sarah (being a loner with no family outside of her then-imprisoned father) would go along with it, Sarah knew the baby’s life with Ryker wouldn’t be particularly pleasurable, and from then on has fought against him to ensure the baby’s protection. As it turns out, the “protection” is leaving the baby with Sarah’s mother (Cheryl Ladd of Charlie’s Angels) who, thanks to Sarah’s untraceable conman lifestyle while with her father, no one in the CIA knows the existence of. The downside, of course, is that from then on Sarah has to completely sever ties to keep them both safe from Ryker and the CIA.
Coming off of the convoluted (and underwhelming) Mary Bartowski storyline last season, a simple-yet-emotional story surrounding Sarah’s mother was a breath of fresh air. The explanation for her missing mom was straightforward, and surprisingly, she’s probably the only “normal” parent we’ve seen on the show. It was an interesting choice to have her introduced mostly in flashback, making her reunion with present day Sarah more powerful.
Chuck doesn’t get me teary-eyed too often (it does much better comedy) but wow did this episode do it for me. Sarah’s speech to her mom—letting the baby, Molly, live the normal life Sarah never got to have—was touching. Sarah has never been much of a complainer, but finally seeing that she really has sacrificed her life to be with her father and then the CIA was a very well-deserved punch-in-the-gut. And even then, she never explicitly says she wishes she could have gotten that life; only hopes Molly can have it instead. Yvonne Strahovski sold that scene. Anyone who claims Strahovski is just a pretty face should check out this episode—from rage, to joy, to tears, she’s stellar.
This is a brilliant reflection of where Sarah is now, too; she’s never had a normal life, and she’s okay with that. But now might be the chance to finally settle down and have that life with Chuck. I’d been worried about the “spy life vs. normal life” discussions earlier in the season, but this episode managed to justify the argument. I’m excited to see which side they choose (which I expect we’ll find out definitively in the finale.)
I was absolutely wowed by the action sequence in the teaser. It was reminiscent of the “action movie” Sarah we got back in the Pilot. The fight choreography, mixed with the slowed frame rate and mild strobe effect gave the scene a badass feel I don’t think we’ve seen often enough on the show. The music was also well-done in that scene; sometimes Tim Jones’ synthesizers get a little repetitive, but this time the darker sounding beat suited Sarah’s slaughter nicely. And of course, Sarah firing off machine guns with a baby carrier was also awesome (though, at least when Gwen did something similar in Torchwood she put earmuffs on the baby—poor Molly must have serious hearing problems!)
We were very low on the comedy this week, but there were a few laughs from the Castle game night. Ellie and Devon’s spy roleplay (continuing off “Chuck Versus the Curse”) was hilarious, and it’s still fun watching them play the spy-half of the show for laughs after years in the dark. Morgan’s heavy-handed advances towards Alex during The Game of Life were also funny—you don’t win a girl back by talking about having lots of babies, dude! It was also nice to see Ellie and Devon taking initiative to help Morgan and Alex repair their relationship. While I expected their post-breakup story to be treading old water, it’s been surprisingly sweet seeing Morgan having to prove himself again and again. It’s obvious they’ll be back together for the finale, but the build-up is adorable. And is it just me, or do Joshua Gomez and Mekenna Melvin have much better chemistry now than they did when they were actually dating last season?
The final scene with the full family was sweet. Chuck has always done great family moments, and this was nothing different. Sarah meeting her “sister” was another moment that got me teary-eyed. The little actress playing Molly was adorable! Five-year-old actors can often be…annoying, but she actually had some spunk. (Sidenote: we never got Sarah’s mom’s name, nor did we get Sarah’s real full name. Very sneaky, show.)
For a show with so many plot contrivances we usually just have to blissfully ignore, this episode was surprisingly solid thanks to its simplicity. The only two gripes I have: How did Shaw know about the baby, since Sarah supposedly never told a soul? And when did she give her mom the coordinates to her current home, which she never lived in until last year? Because that would imply she’s been in contact with her mother recently, which sort of deflates some of the emotion of the episode. Frankly, though, these are very, very minor gripes in an otherwise perfect episode.
The past two episodes have easily been the best of the season, so hopefully the final run will be up to quality. The only question now is…what’s going to be the final story arc?
Derek B. Gayle is a Virginia native and has a BS in English from Randolph-Macon College. He’s an avid Power Rangers fanatic, and favorite current TV shows include Community, Supernatural and Chuck. You can reach him on Twitter @Durkinator27 or visit his blog at thebeardedawesome.wordpress.com.
Derek B. Gayle
Derek B. Gayle is a Virginia native with a BS in English, Journalism and Film from Randolph-Macon College. In addition to being an avid Power Rangers and genre TV fanatic, he also currently co-produces, writes and performs in local theatre, and critically reviews old kids’ cartoons. You can check out his portfolio here.