|In Short:||Casey gets some backstory.|
|BIG MIKE:||I like you, and I know you’re physically strong, but what I need to know is are you mentally strong? Strong enough to bend like the reed, and not snap… like the Kit Kat?|
God, I hate it when we start at the end.
I hate a prologue that is really an epilogue, or even a Third
Act-logue; I hate spending the next however many minutes waiting
for what I already know is going to happen to happen. It’s why I
don’t watch previews, it’s why I prefer to avoid the “Next week,
on…” teasers, and it’s why I stopped watching Caprica.
All this has been before, and will be again.
In this case, the end at which we start is Chuck in a darkened railway yard, chasing after some relatively inoffensive looking guy. And then he maybe shoots him dead!
Cut to things Buy More-ian. Lester and Jeff are waging a Nerf war, and Casey takes exception. Casey -- who was recently, you will recall, fired from his real job as the NSA’s pre-eminent kick-ass ass-kicker -- is now a little too proud of having been made Acting Assistant Manager while Morgan’s away at a management seminar. (Morgan’s away? Noooo!) He gets a little rough, Chuck is concerned, Jeff and Lester are vocally litigious, and Big Mike is aghast. (“You can’t be conkin’ heads in the Buy More. It’s the Buy More!”)
Elsewhere, Chuck frets some more about Sarah and Shaw’s relationship (and Casey, clearly feeling bitter and in an abrupt about face from last week, implies he should let it go: “Unlike you, I know when something’s over.”) Chuck has also, it appears, has been deemed ready to go into the field as a real spy; if he passes this one test, he’ll be sent to Italy. There’s talk of a millionaire cover, a playboy lifestyle. But there is no talk of Sarah joining him; in fact, with Chuck’s graduation, she’ll join Shaw in Washington. And if Chuck fails this final exam of the title? He’ll “go back to his old life.”
Um. Huh? He’ll go back to his old life? But… isn’t he still the all-important Intersect, regardless of where he places on the Bell curve? Do you mean his old life as the Intersect, where you and Casey spend the majority of each episode saving said life? ‘Cause otherwise, that makes no sense at fricken all.
Also making no sense is the CIA’s apparent “this message will self-destruct” policy. Sarah brings Chuck his orders via a small video player on which General Beckman looms large, and then it blows up. In this financial climate, not to mention this era of climate change, the CIA can’t try to not blow up perfectly good portable movie devices? I hope they at least have some form of recycling plan.
But the blatant waste of resources and the forthcoming mission seem to be the least of Chuck’s worries. All he’s concerned about is that, should he pass, he and Sarah will have a permanent parting of the ways. So, there’s a lot of nostalgia, and some inappropriate on-mission picnicking, drinking, flirtation, discussion of feelings, the future, and an almost-kiss (Chuck is so not ready to be a real spy), and then he gets accidentally naked but passes the test! (Wait a second. Let's dwell on the nakedness a bit... dwelling... still dwelling... Okay. All set.) He thinks it’s all over, thinks he can go on a lovely romantic dinner with a (stunningly attired – really, Yvonne Strahovski is breathtaking) Sarah at, of all places, a train station.
But, nope. Now he has to kill someone! Exactly why Chuck is so shocked by this need for a “Red Test” is a mystery; has he never watched a Bond film? For that matter, has he not been paying attention in the last two and a half seasons? Spies have licenses to kill for a reason; so they can kill! What, did he think they’d let him get by with a slingshot? Casey kills people all the time! Jeez, Chuck. Get a clue.
Speaking of Casey… our excommunicated ex-Colonel is in a bad, bad way, having been drawn into the web of Buy More politics. Casey in a double-breasted gray suit, side-by-side with Big Mike, is an image that will haunt me, waking and sleeping, for a long, long time. Casey even apologizes to Jeff and Lester!
Uh. In Subway.
Now, okay, I get the realities of network cost offsets. I get that sometimes cross-promotion is necessary (look at how Bones showcased Avatar, or the way The Biggest Loser contestants are always spontaneously touting the benefits of Jennie O turkey), but it is a little heavy-handed in this one. Casey breaks disgusting bread with Jeff (I’m surprised he didn’t find a way to somehow protest at the low, low prices of Subway’s Fresh Fit combo deals whilst doing it), and back at the Buy More, Chuck tells him the big news. He’s a spy! He’s going out with Sarah! At the railway station!
Ah, but the Casey we all know and love is not, it transpires, gone. He provides Chuck with the ruthless murderer backup he needs, takes care of that pesky little life-taking part of his much-wanted spy caper, and now Chuck has cheated on his big test, whilst Casey has made himself a lawless assassin.
So, what’s up with that? How come it’s okay for everyone around him to shoot people willy nilly, and Chuck’s all thanks, fine, whatever, but it’s somehow so very wrong for him to do it himself? Talk about your double standards! And don’t even get me started on Sarah. “Are you still in love with him?” Shaw asks her, when she is devastated by Chuck’s apparent ability to do what needed to be done. “No. Not anymore,” she denies, and when Sarah gives us a pained flashback to her own Red Test – are we foreshadowing here? Yes, I think we are! – we realize that she thinks Chuck is somehow less than he was because he was able to kill a man in the service of his country.
What a hypocritical bitch!
So, go to Washington, Chuck! Go and get your spy credentials, or whatever, go to Rome, live the good life. Forget about Sarah. Stop calling her. Who needs her? And hey, if we’re lucky, maybe your next Red Test will have you taking out Shaw. Wouldn’t that be fun?
|Chuck’s Flash Tally||2. No info, just fight, fight, fight.|
|Sarah makes out with someone||She came so close with Chuck.|
|Casey shoots someone||Check. (Even without his license to kill.)|
|Ellie worries about her relationship with Chuck||No Ellie.|
|Awesome says “Awesome.”||No Awesome.|
|Less of the Buy More?||Casey taking refuge in the Buy More is one of the saddest things I've ever seen.|
|Very Special Guest Stars:||Just Brendan “Could I Be Any More Bland?” Routh. Go away already, would ya?|
-- Rachel Hyland