If you missed last week’s season premiere, “Chuck vs. the Anniversary,” check out my recap here.
This week’s episode of Chuck begins in Milan. A gorgeous woman is being chased through the streets when she ducks into a doorway. She retrieves a gun from her pure, steps out, and fires. The bullet glows blue as it perfectly finds its target: the pursuer’s head. The woman steps over her handiwork and escapes. In Ellie and Devon’s apartment, Devon rattles through a list of decisions that need to be made before the baby comes…in six months. Will they teach their child Spanish, French, or go outside the box and choose Japanese? Ellie changes the subject, congratulating Chuck, and Morgan too, on their first day of work back at the Buy More. Devon starts rambling again, ending with wondering if Chuck and Sarah will be having a child soon. Morgan scoffs, noting that Sarah would have to actually unpack her bags in her and Chuck’s apartment before they even think of having children. Later, in their bedroom, Chuck does mention to Sarah that they have been living together for nine months and she still hasn’t unpacked. She explains that she is a spy and she never knows when she has to leave for a mission, but he swears it’s OK. “You’re here, and that’s all that matters,” he says. “It’s not weird at all.”
“It’s weird, right?” Chuck asks Morgan at the Buy More the next morning. Morgan informs Chuck that he may have found Sarah’s Achilles Heel; every woman has one, and now that they are in a real relationship, the Achilles Heel will show itself. Before Chuck can fully absorb this, General Beckman pages him over the loudspeaker. When Chuck goes into the office, Morgan is left with the new Greta, played by Isaiah Mustafa. Morgan tries to impress Greta with his status as a spy, but Greta dismisses him with, “You are a very tiny man, aren’t you?”
General Beckman briefs Chuck, Sarah and Casey on the death of one of their agents — the man shot by the woman in Milan, Sophia Stepanova. Sophia brokers all of Volkoff’s weapons deals, and is in possession of Smart Bullets that use GPS technology to always hit their intended target (not that a real spy would need them, according to Casey). During the briefing, Casey receives a call from his daughter, Alex, but dismisses the call to voicemail. Beckman tells Chuck and Sarah that they will be traveling to Milan for Fashion Week to retrieve the Smart Bullets from Sophia. Casey will not be attending thanks to the “Yves St. Laurent Incident.” Sarah tells the General that she’s ready to go, when Casey leans over to Chuck and whispers that that’s what he likes so much about Sarah: “no one loves a mission more than Walker.” After Sarah leaves, Chuck can see that Casey is upset about not being included in the mission. He tells Casey that even though he’s sure Casey would rather be someplace exotic, it must be nice to know that Burbank is home. Casey’s response is noncommittal, leading Chuck to ask about Alex, but Casey quickly shuts down the line of questioning by telling Chuck that spies don’t put down roots. Alex has her mother and friends and whole life, and he’s not sure he is part of it. Casey then changes the subject by asking Chuck about he and Sarah’s Achilles Heel, which Morgan had told him about. He tells Chuck that he really shouldn’t worry: women usually have tons of baggage — he should be happy Sarah’s is only a suitcase.
Chuck and Sarah arrive in Milan and attend a party. They immediately spot Sophia, so Chuck offers to go over and grab her purse which they figure is hiding the bullets. He slinks over and just as he moves for the purse, Sophia turns leaving Chuck with a handful of Sophia ass. Chuck tries to talk his way out, saying that he actually has a girlfriend, but as he gestures toward where Sarah is standing, a man (played by Bronson Pinchot for mere seconds) gets in the way. Sophia leaves, and Chuck returns to Sarah, swearing he did not intend to grab Sophia’s butt. Sarah notices that Sophia has left her purse for the bartender, who takes it and walks off. When Sarah and Chuck catch up to him, Sarah pulls her gun. The frightened bartender hands over the purse, but all Chuck finds inside is a ticking time bomb. Chcuk pulls it out of the purse and hears a click; he has activated a pressure sensor, and if he lets go, it will detonate.
As the time counts down, and Sarah tries to defuse the bomb, Chuck begins rambling about how even though Sarah doesn’t want to unpack her things, he still loves her and always will. Sarah is able to defuse the bomb with a second to spare, but instead of being relieved, she wonders why Chuck said that he loves her “still,” even though he had sworn he didn’t have a problem with her suitcase situation. Outside the Milan party, Chuck tells Sarah how proud he is that she’s such a great “day saver,” but when he gets no response, he asks if she is mad at him. She’s not mad, but rather disappointed that Chuck’s possible last words to her were about unpacking her things. She reiterates that she needs to be ready to go at a moment’s notice for whatever mission may arise, but more importantly, the two of them should be focused solely on the mission at hand.
Back in Burbank, Devon moves through the Buy More while super-efficient employees bring him the items he is purchasing immediately. He notices the store’s efficiency and correctly surmises that the store is actually full of spies. When he questions Casey and Morgan about this, Casey confirms that the store is a government front, but that Chuck is out of the spy game — the front is for him and Sarah. When Devon leaves, Morgan asks to see General Beckman. He tells her that he is worried that the new Buy More is too much of a smooth operation. The store is too perfect, and therefore, lacks credibility as a cover. For illustrative purposes, he pours out a no-brand Yoo-Hoo, and before he can even finish the pour, a mop is there to clean up the spill. As he and the General walk the store floor, he tries knocking merchandise over, but rather athletic spies flip and handspring about to catch the falling objects. General Beckman has chosen the agents working the store for their observance and efficiency, but she perhaps sees Morgan’s point. “Well, what do you propose?” she asks. Not to worry, Morgan has a plan.
Chuck and Sarah hang upside down Sophia’s suite. After Sarah rights herself, Chuck asks for a “Spiderman kiss,” but is rebuffed with a smile. The couple break into Sophia’s room and enter her closet. The large walk-in is filled to the gills with clothes and shoes, leaving Chuck to mumble a long, “Hmmmmmm.” When pressed for the reason behind his utterance by Sarah, Chuck mentions that it’s not all spies that don’t unpack, because clearly, Sophia has filled her closet. Sensing Sarah’s rising anger over the observation, Chuck assures her he was just thinking out loud. They find a safe they believe holds the Smart Bullets, and begin trying to crack the combination. In the main room, Sophia enters the suite with her bodyguard (played by The Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno). Sophia enters the closet, undresses, and heads through the closet into the bathroom for a shower. As the shower door steams up, Chuck asks Sarah if she can see anything. “Are you serious?!?” Sarah inquires of her ogling boyfriend. “No, no! If we can’t see her, she can’t see us,” Chuck explains. Sarah instructs Chuck to continue with the safe, while she goes out to deal with Sophia’s muscle. Chuck looks at the safe and flashes the combination. Meanwhile, the bodyguard, hearing who he believes to be Sophia enter the room, pledges his love for her (Sarah, imitating Sophia’s accent, told him not to turn around).
Chuck grabs the bullets but before he rises form the safe, a wet and naked Sophia comes up from behind with her gun drawn (God knows where she was hiding it!). Chuck turns around, but immediately diverts his eyes so he won’t stare at the beautiful naked woman that is decidely not his girlfriend. Sophia orders Chuck to look at her, and he “begrudgingly” complies. Outside the closet, the bodyguard continues his profession of love, noting that although he has been Sophia’s muscle for years, “the strongest muscle in my body is my heart.” It’s all very sweet, but his confession is met with a hard right cross from Sarah that lays him out. Sarah rushes into the closet, so Sophia grabs Chuck and holds her gun to his head. “Is she…naked?” Sarah asks incredulously. Chuck stammers the affirmative, but before Sophia can harm him, Sarah shoots out the glass shower door behind Chuck and Sophia. Sophia drops her grip on Chuck, and he and Sarah make a break for the window. They latch on their rappelling gear, but Sophia trains her aim on them. Sarah, however, gets off the first shot, making Sophia take cover. “Put some clothes on!” Sarah exclaims as the gear rockets Chcuk and Sarah upwards to safety.
Back at Castle, General Beckman compliments Chuck and Sarah on their work, but informs them that the bullets they retrieves are fakes. It seems Sophia knew they would be coming for the bullets, so she hid the software that guides the bullets somewhere else. All they can do now is sit tight, and wait for Sophia to pop up again. Greta calls to General Beckman that someone from the Better Business Bureau has arrived to present eh store with an award, and the manager must accept it. She mentions to Chuck that the uber-efficiency of the new Buy More is untenable, and that Morgan has been put in charge of rectifying the situation.
Cut to Jeff and Lester recording a video diary of their life on the lam. They are living in Jeff’s van, and have begun to become uncivilized. Jeff has a pet rock named Bruce, named as such because when he hits it, it doesn’t bruise. Lester, for his part, ha begin to wax philosophically about the purpose of man…and whether it’s OK to miss Ace of Base. Morgan and Casey sit in a car observing the former Buy More employees. Casey questions the intelligence of bringing these guys back, but Morgan insists there is nothing more genuine about a Buy More experience than Jeff and Lester. The agents approach the guys, scaring them silly. Lester even waves a hand, saying “These are not the boys you’re looking for,” and actually getting Morgan to fall for the Jedi Mind Trick for a second. Morgan explains that he wants to bring them back to work at the Buy More again. Lester, sensing an opportunity, figures that if Morgan and Casey were willing to try to track them down, Jeff and Lester must want them back pretty badly. Therefore, he wants to negotiate the terms of their return. Lester begins listing a litany of requests, including a raise and other perks, but before he can fully get out “free biscotti,” Casey pumps him with a tranquilizer dart. Lester falls, but it takes about ten darts to finally put down Jeff. As Casey and Morgan drag the guys back to their car, Morgan tells Casey that he had been talking to Alex the other day (“You were talking to Alex?!?”), and she mentioned that she hadn’t heard from Casey in a while. Casey tells Morgan what he had told Chuck: he just doesn’t think he fits into Alex’s life right now.
Sarah and Chuck return to their apartment just as Devon is returning home with a number of packages. They quickly stow their suitcases inside so Devon won’t realize they are just getting back from a trip. Chuck asks if Captain Awesome needs any help with his items, but Devon politely refuses. He does tell Chuck that he noticed something weird going down at the Buy More. All of the employees there were really attractive people that looked like him. “Why would I work in a Buy More, unless they are all spies?” he asks. Sarah chimes in, giving the same lie that Casey did — the Buy More is a front for her and Casey’s cover, but Chuck is out of the spy game. Devon is relieved because with the baby coming, it is very important that everyone Ellie loves is there and safe. With Casey and Morgan wheeling Jeff and Lester into Casey’s apartment, Chuck distracts Devon by assuring him that he is, indeed, there for Ellie.
Devon enters his apartment and tells Ellie that he went out and bought a couple sleep machines (one roaring waves, one forest at night, etc.) to help Ellie rest. She is appreciative, but tells Devon that he needs to slow down. He’s already bought two cribs, and whole bunch of vegan baby food…and they’re not even vegans! Devon admits to wanting to make sure Ellie knows that he is there for her. She never lets people help her, and he’s worried that she is concerned that her mother isn’t there to see her through the pregnancy. He doesn’t want Ellie to feel like her mother is missing. She swears that she doesn’t feel that way, so they agree that Ellie can pitch in. Meanwhile, in their apartment, Chuck enters the bedroom and sees that Sarah has begun to unpack her suitcase, albeit with only one dress in the closet so far. He tells her to stop because he doesn’t want her to unpack just because he said something; he wants her to unpack when she’s ready. Sarah apologizes for not unpacking before but it is just hard for her to be comfortable and set down roots. “Well, one dress doesn’t make or break a relationship,” says Chuck, as he retrieves Sarah’s dress from the closet. This action gives Chuck an idea. He remembers that all of Sophia’s dresses were unpacked except for the one she took off in the closet that she packed right away. The software for the bullets must have been hidden somewhere, so they must be in the dress. In fact, the sequins on the dress might actually be the software chips. If so, Sophia will simply pass the dress through customs at the end of Fashion Week. The final runway show doesn’t end until the next day, so Chuck and Sarah must return to Milan.
In a fantastic moustache (for Chuck) and a red bob wig (for Sarah), the spies enter the location for the final runway show. They figure Sophia’s dress will be backstage, but their way is blocked by a couple of security guards. Chuck, clad in a pair of leather gloves, makes like an Italian designer and kisses the guards on both cheeks, while pressing his gloved hands against their necks. When he does, a toxin is emitted that knocks the two guards out, allowing he and Sarah to pass. They find a stash of dresses and eventually discover Sophia’s sequined number. Sarah removes the dress she’s wearing, leaving her looking absolutely stunning in her lingerie and a thigh-strapped knife (sorry, I digress), and puts on Sophia’s dress. Before the two can make their escape (no doubt being delayed by Chuck’s (and our) staring at Sarah’s hotness), the previously knocked-out guards enter. Sarar runs through a door, but Chuck is pinne dbehind it when the guards start shooting. Chuck slams the door closed to protect Sarah, but she is not alone — behind Sarah, Sophia draws her gun and asks for her dress back.
Meanwhile, Chuck is able to grab the bar off a clothing rack, but more henchmen enter, including Sophia’s bodyguard. Chuck drops the bar, but flashes some martial arts weapon training. Before the bar hits the ground, Chuck kicks it up into two of the goons’ faces. He retrieves the bar and takes out the rest of the henchman in a manner that would make Donatello proud, except for Sophia’s bodyguard. He grabs the bar, tosses it away, and then grabs Chuck by the neck. Chuck pleads with him, saying that Sophia is a cold and distant woman who can’t appreciate the bodyguard’s love. With hi distracted by Chuck’s words, Chuck takes his knock-out gloves and slaps the guard across the face, hoping that there is still some tranquilizer gas left in them. If there is, it doesn’t work, as the guard then slaps Chuck across the face. He begins to choke Chuck again, but Chuck presses the gloves against the guard’s face. This time, the gas works and wins Chuck his escape.
In the next room, Sarah is able to maneuver herself into disarming Sophia. The two begin an epic battle (seriously, this was one of the best Sarah fighting scenes on the show, next to only the Nicole Ritchie shower scene and the lady-assassin-in-the-car scene) that spills, at first, into the models’ dressing room. There, the combatants use eyebrow pencils and curling irons to attack their opponent. Sophia gains the upper hand and kicks Sarah through a screen and onto the runway, in front of the gathered masses. Sophia pulls a knife from her boot, but Sarah’s acrobatic skills allow her to knock the knife from Sophia’s hands, stagger her foe, and eventually defeat her with a Jack Shephard flying punch. Bruised, beaten and back to blond (her wig had been ripped off), Sarah stands atop the runway. Chuck, who had entered during the fight, begins to applaud, as if the fight was all part of the fashion show. The crowd joins in, as photographers capture Sarah’s triumphant moment. Sarah, doing her best catwalk impression, turns on her heel and “works it” off the runway.
The next day at Castle, General Beckman throws down a fashion magazine with a bloodied Sarah on the cover. Sarah assures her that her cover was not blown, and the General agrees. Sarah admits the mission was fun, but that it’s good to be home. At his home, Devon has prepared a protein shake for Ellie. She appreciates it, but she’s running out to the Buy More to return one of the numerous sleep machines Devon purchased. “No!” Devon yells to stop her, saying that since he bought the extra stuff, he should return it. She reminds him that they agreed to share familial duties, so she’s going to go. She does, and Devon immediately calls Chuck. He warns his brother-in-law that Ellie is coming to the Buy More, and if she sees the new store, she’ll never believe that Chuck is no longer in the spy game.
Ellie enters the store and sees the new attitude the new employees display, all of which she finds a little weird. Chuck intercepts her and tries to distract her, but Morgan steps in himself. When she points out that the new store seems a bit off, he assures her that he will have someone more familiar with the store help her. To the strains of Alice Cooper’s “Feed My Frankenstein,” all of the old Buy More employees (White-Boy ‘Fro Guy! Kinda Fat Glasses Guy!) enter the show floor, led, of course, but a sunglasses-wearing Lester, and an open-shirted Jeff. Their slo-motion and wind-blown (thanks to Morgan) entrance is marred by the nerds all tripping over themselves, but Ellie thanks Morgan and asks Lester for some assistance. He tells her that they can’t help, because they’re on a break.
Later, General Beckman praises Morgan for his work, telling him that with the reintroduction of the old employees, the new Buy More is an airtight cover. She hands him a set of keys, telling him that he is the new Store Manager. He corrects her, saying that she means Assistant Manager, but she knows what she’s talking about. Without more discussion, the General leaves. Morgan, excited for his new position, tells the employees that drinks are on him tonight! Actually, only well drinks, and, really, during happy hour. He asks Casey if he’d like to join them, but Casey says he has a mission. Morgan asks how can Casey make Burbank home if he never gives it a chance. Casey shrugs him off and makes his way toward the store’s exit. He takes out his phone and makes a call. “Hi Alex? It’s your father….Yes, it’s good to hear your voice too.”
At their apartment, Devon is asleep, but Ellie is wide awake. She gets up, and goes into their closet to retrieve a box. Inside she looks through family photos of her and Chuck as children with their parents (great job by the production team of fusing together pictures of young Scott Bakula and Linda Hamilton. The pictures looked very real.). Clearly, Ellie is missing her parents as this new phase of her life begins.
Chuck enters his bedroom to find empty suitcases, a full closet, and Sarah in only underwear and one of his shirts (man, were they giving us “Super Hot Sarah” tonight, or what?). As Chuck begins to protest about her unpacking only when she feels comfortable, she stops him, and tells him just that. It’s always been hard for her to root her life, but she wants to do it with him. Chuck spies a picture of the two of them in her suitcase. She tells him that she always keeps it there so no matter where she is, she is remembered that Chuck is her home, and always has been. Chuck embraces her, and playfully thros her down on the bed. He apologizes for his concern, but Morgan had told him that stupid thing about every relationship’s Achilles Heel being discovered when everything seems to be going right. She assures him he has nothing to worry about. As Chuck spoons her, he murmurs that maybe Captain Awesome is right after all — marriage, a baby…maybe he and Sarah are next. Chuck smiles at the idea, but what he can’t see is Sarah’s seeming terror at that prospect.
OK, now that’s what I’m talking about! What a great episode of Chuck! Whereas I had some reservations about the show’s return last week, I thought it was back in fine form this week. First off, the whole gang (save Big Mike) was back, so the inherent comedy found in Devon, Jeff and Lester really brought the funny quotient to a higher level. Second, as I mentioned above, this episode contained one of the best fights of the series, with Yvonne Strahovski, Karolina Kurkova, and their stuntwomen doing some very strong work. One of the great aspects of this show is how they work the action sequences into the comedy and drama, and it was done very well here, as usual. Third, I thought Ellie’s relation to the mother story was introduced well. It makes sense that a woman would want her mother present when she’s going through her first pregnancy. Eventually, Chuck is going to have to let his sister know that he is looking for their mom, so bringing up this thread here allows the creators to make that revelation to Ellie later, without it being shoe-horned in. Yes, I found it a bit odd that Ellie and Devon were only talking about her mother, and not her father’s absence, but that was saved by Ellie looking at pictures of the both of them at the end of the episode.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the simply the structure of the episode. It would be easy for the show to just do “Chuck hunts for his mother” episodes until he finds her, but having a stand-alone episode with a Villain of the Week works, for me, early in the season. Yes, Sophia worked for Volkoff, which is connected with Mary Elizabeth Bartowski, but nonetheless, Mary was never seen, and wasn’t the thrust of the plot. Kudos to Chuck for daring to do that with only thirteen scheduled episodes.
If I had any fault with what was truly a great episode (besides not landing the Greta joke again. I mean, why is the Greta character even in this world? It’s been two episodes and there’s been no payoff so far. It leads me to believe that something is being left on the cutting room floor.), it’s that the whole “Sarah can’t lay down roots” story seems very reminiscent of all the “Sarah can’t commit to Chuck because she’s a spy” stories from last season. This isn’t to say that the story wasn’t executed perfectly, because it was. It’s just, to me, I found it to be treading over ground covered before. It actually made the plot discordant with the dialogue — Sarah is saying how much she loves Chuck and how committed to him she is, but she can’t unpack her belongings. Yes, there is the physical need for a spy to be able to run at a moment’s notice, but the whole thing seemed like one note in a chord was a step too low, making the sound a bit off. Again, the plot was still executed very well, and I think the introduction of Sarah’s concerns that maybe Chuck is moving a bit too fast could hold some great potential. The couple obviously (maybe not obviously?) needs roadblocks in their relationship to keep dramatic tension. Thankfully, these roadblocks won’t be of the “other lover” variety, but rather real life concerns about the speed with which a relationship advances.
So, that’s what I have for “Chuck vs. the Suitcase.” What did you think? Did you enjoy this episode as much as I did? Was Chuck back in fine form for you? Do you agree or disagree with my Commentary? For another analysis, be sure to check out Brittany’s review here. Also, word has it (thanks Ausiello!) that former The Daily Show contributor Rob Riggle will be guest starring on this season’s eighth episode, not as another Greta, but as a possibly crazy CIA agent brought in to help Chuck improve his own spy skills. What do you think about this bit of casting news? Please leave your questions, comments and theories below or in our Chuck Forum. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off ot decide between an Ergo and a Baby Bjorn.