If you missed last week’s trip to Costa Gravas and Sarah’s huge admission, catch up with a recap here.
This week’s Chuck begins in the Zargos Mountains of Iran in 1999. Iranian troops load crates into a bunker when the lights go off. Guns are fired and when the lights are turned back on, the Iranians are dead. Three U.S. commandos, named Packard, T.I. and Mackintosh (played Eric Roberts, Batista, and Joel David Moore, respectively) emerge to secure the crates. They open their find to discover hundreds of gold bars. A fourth soldier enters; it is their commanding officer, John Casey. He tells the group to not touch the gold, as they have been ordered by President Clinton. The three have other ideas, noting the opportunity to retire somewhere sunny with the gold. Packard pulls his gun, so everyone else does as well. Outnumbered, Casey re-holsters his gun, but handles his knife. He quickly throws the knife into a control panel, knocking out the lights. Only illuminated by gunfire, Casey knocks the men out. He turns the lights back on, and presses his palm against a security panel, locking away the gold. Packard starts to gain consciousness, but awakes to the image of Casey standing over him with his gun drawn. The only place the three of them are going to is Leavenworth.
The scene dissolves into Casey standing in the same manner, but with his price gun drawn. Jeff and Lester see him, and say that the Buy More hasn’t been as much fun since its resurrection, so they are thinking about getting the old gang back together. Casey sneers and curtly informs them that he is not part of the gang. Elsewhere on the Buy More floor, Morgan is helping a customer. A pair of femininely-fragranced hands clap over Morgan’s eyes. It is not Chuck, but rather, Alex. She goes to hug him, but Morgan turns the hug into a fist bump; he hasn’t told certain people at the store about he and Alex dating. Alex tells him that it is very important to her that they be honest with Casey about their relationship. Morgan promises that he will talk to Casey.
Chuck, hearing the end of the conversation, tells Morgan to be careful when he does talk to Casey, because the Colonel might “accidentally” kill him. Chuck asks Morgan if he can cover for him upstairs while he, Chuck, does some work down in Castle. They have secured all of the files on Volkoff Industries from Costa Gravas, and he needs to look at them. When Chuck and Sarah review those files, however, none of them mention Frost. Sarah knows that Volkoff also runs black site prisons, and if Chuck’s mother is a prisoner, she might be in one of those prisons. The Costa Gravas files did contain a photo of the three men that run those black sites for Volkoff. She shows Chuck the photo, and he flashes the trio’s time under the command of one John Casey.
Casey explains to Chuck and Sarah that these men “escaped from a maximum security stockade….” “To the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune,” Chuck quotes the gravelly narrator of The A-Team, the obvious homage being played here (Packard, T.I. and Mackintosh correlate to George Peppard who played Hannibal Smith, B.A. Barracus and Howling Mad Murdock). Casey grunts and Chuck responds “Have you ever seen The A-Team?” “I was the A-Team,” Casey gruffly replies. He goes on to tell them that the only way the three of those men would be in the same place is at his funeral. This gives Chuck a great idea.
“You want to use government resources to fake Colonel Casey’s death?!?” General Beckman incredulously asks. Casey is fully on board with the plan: he will be administered a drug that will slow his breathing and heartbeat dramatically, luring the trio to his funeral, where they can be taken and questioned about Volkoff and Frost. Chuck reviews the logistics of the plan, and Beckman signs off. She dismisses Sarah and Casey, but asks Chuck to remain. She tells him that she is really impressed with how Chuck has come along as a spy — with this plan and in sacrificing Casey’s safety, Chuck has shown that he is willing to put tactics and strategy above his emotions. This statement clearly strikes Chuck as when he is in Casey’s apartment preparing for the mission, he tells Casey that if Casey is nervous about the mission, he can pull out. Casey assures Chuck that he is ready, even joking about the drug Chuck will give him to knock him out. “Is it called ‘Fakindeathandall?'” “No, it’s actually tetradotoxin,”Chuck informs him. After it is administered, Casey will be paralyzed, bu still fully awake. Further, since Casey has been subject to so many toxins, tranquilizers, poisons, etc., Chuck isn’t sure how long the drug will last. Therefore, Chuck is providing him with an extra syringe of the tetradotoxin in case Casey needs to use it again.
The plan is almost operational, but Chuck needs one more part. Since he and Sarah will be too busy securing all of the expected guests for the funeral, someone needs to actually eulogize Casey. He asks Morgan if he will do it, pitching the role as an opportunity to tell a very captive Casey about Morgan and Alex. At that moment, there is a knock on the door; it’s Ellie and Devon, who are there to announce that they are having a girl. Devon pulls Morgan aside to further explain how Ellie’s “papoose” is hot. Alone, Ellie tells Chuck that although she may have been against it at first, she now supports Chuck’s search for their mother. When Chuck asks why she had a change of heart, Ellie explains that now knowing she is having a girl, she would love to give her daughter the chance to know her grandmother. Chuck promises that when he finds out something, Ellie will be the first to know.
Just before the funeral, Casey lays prone in his coffin. Morgan remarks that he looks so peaceful, until Casey’s eyes open wide, scaring the bearded one. Morgan tells Casey not to worry, he’s going to “eulogize the hell out of you,” before moving behind the podium. He calls Alex, and leaves her a message, saying he will tell Casey about them dating. Morgan begins the eulogy to a completely empty house, save the few government agents and snipers positioned throughout the church. Mackintosh opens the church doors, and walks down the aisle, straight to the casket. He leans down, and sticks a flag pin right into Casey’s arm. The paralyzed Casey doesn’t move. Next in is T.I., who takes his lit cigar and extinguishes it on Casey’s hand to similar effect. With Morgan babbling on about Casey (but not saying anything about Alex), Packard enters the church. He lays a flower on Casey’s body, and appears to be crying as he leans over the coffin. Chuck wonders if he is indeed crying, but Packard spins around, laughing, as he draws his gun. Mackintosh, T.I., Chuck, Sarah and all of the agents do the same, but Packard has an ace up his sleeve. He takes out a detonator and presses the button. Bombs at the back of the church explode, as do a ring of bombs places around Casey’s casket. When the dust clears, the ex-commandos, and Casey, have fallen through the floor and escaped. Chuck can only exclaim, “I lost Casey!”
Chuck and Sarah enter Castle, with Sarah calling for 100 SWAT members on the ready. Chuck locates Casey’s tracking device, and orders the men to its location. The SWAT team finds the tracker, but it is around the neck of an alley cat. “No, don’t kill it!” Chuck orders the SWAT member who assuredly asked a really stupid question. In a warehouse, the trio prepare to remove Casey’s hand so they can use it to access the locked-away gold. T.I. wants to use his knife, but they can’t risk damaging the hand. Fortunately Mackintosh has a surgical saw. When the men leave to gather the saw, Casey tries to move his feet, but is unsuccessful. The men come back with the saw and Mackintosh, eyes wide, starts it up. As he places the saw to Casey’s military jacket, a doorbell rings.
The three go to answer the door, giving Casey time to gain back enough strength to roll off the table, dropping hte spare shot and his wallet in the process. When the trio of commandos returns with a pizza (Mackintosh was hungry), they find Casey missing, but discover his wallet and driver’s license. Casey emerges from behind a wall and takes out the three men, but not before Packard is able to stick Casey with the extra dose of tetradotoxin. Casey stumbles outside the warehouse, staggering and with his vision going fuzzy. He places a call to the Buy More, but instead of getting Chuck or Sarah, he gets Jeff. He tells Jeff that he is in trouble and will be in a dumpster on the corner of 4th and Hill. “I know that dumpster!” Jeff excitedly replies, as Casey falls paralyzed.
Chuck and Sarah, tracking Casey’s phone’s signal, track him to the dumpster, but only his phone is inside. Seeing an open window to the warehouse, and figuring Casey must have been held there, they enter the building. But where is Casey? He in the back of Jeff and Lester’s car, zonked out with sunglasses on. Lester always believed Casey was a bit of a freak, and his belief was founded, because clearly Casey is into some weird stuff if he likes to dress up in a military uniform, get blitzed and pass out in dumpsters. They call Chuck, and gleefully tell him that Casey has been “hitting the O.G. cush.” Chuck has no idea what they are talking about, but ask them to deliver Casey to Morgan’s apartment.
Chuck hangs up with Lester and continues with Sarah through the warehouse. As he walks along a catwalk, he feels a slight tingle on his leg and stops. Chuck has stepped in the pathway of a laser sensor. Sarah blows some smoke in front of Chuck which reveals a pattern of lasers blocking the way. She is able to crawl beneath them to a control panel. When Sarah open the panel, sees what is inside, and can only utter, “Uh-oh.” The laser Chuck has tripped is rigged to explosives. If he moves, the bomb will go off. Sarah begins to try to bypass the detonator, but Chuck wants her to stop and leave. His emotional desire to find his mother has clouded his judgment and put her and Casey in danger. Sarah tells Chuck he is being ridiculous; she and Casey are professionals, and as such, know and accept the inherent dangers in their line of work. Besides, “it’s your mom,” she assures him. Chuck reflects, and says, “I love you, you know that? And I would say that even if you weren’t in the process of saving my life right now. Which does make you 20-25% sexier in my book.” Sarah looks at him with a wry smile. “Alright, 50.”
Back in Morgan’s Echo Park apartment, Casey lies on the couch, eyes open, but unable to move. Morgan is trying to revive him, but doesn’t know what to do. There is a knock at the door, so Morgan puts a Stormtrooper helmet over Casey’s head and opens the door a crack. It’s Alex. In the warehouse, Sarah works on the bomb when all of a sudden it powers down. She and Chuck try to figure out why, but the answer is soon revealed: an armed Packard disarmed it. He and Mackintosh, guns drawn, take Chuck and Sarah into custody. But where is T.I.? Cut back to the apartment complex, where the heavy is looking at the apartment numbers for Casey’s apartment. Morgan, seeing the brute, tries to encourage Alex to leave, but she can detect something is wrong, and assumes it involves telling Casey about the pair dating. Morgan asks if they can talk later, but Alex wants to talk now. Morgan is firm, and tells her to leave. She does, insulted, and spits back as she departs, “Hope you have fun playing Halo for the rest of your life!” (Nice use of Blatant Product Placement!)
Morgan doesn’t have much time to be heartbroken as T.I. approaches him and asks if he knows where John Casey is. Morgan replies in the negative, which is not what T.I. wanted to hear. He picks Morgan up and throws him against the door. He tells Morgan to tell Casey that he has 24 hours to show up, alone, where the gold is locked away, or he will have two more funerals (Chuck’s and Sarah’s) to attend. Morgan hurries inside, needing to get Casey back to strength. He calls Devon for some advice. Morgan tells Devon that Jeff is completely passed out on the couch and can’t move. “Ah, couch lock,” Devon recognizes. Captain Awesome continues, explaining that to awaken “Jeff,” Morgan needs to get his heart rate up.
Morgan disconnects from Devon and makes his first attempt to raise Casey’s blood pressure by slapping him. This hurts Morgan more than Casey, “It’s like slapping a car!” Morgan has to move to a different tactic. He tells Casey that he is dating Alex. This causes Casey’s eyes to widen with rage, but it is not sufficient, so Morgan goes in for the kill. “I have been a perfect gentleman, but…..I felt like pretty soon….she was going to……spend the night.” As if by magic, Casey’s hand is on Morgan’s throat, and the Colonel is on his feet. He eventually releases Morgan, who goes in for a hug, but all Morgan receives is a punch in the gut.
Later, in Castle, Morgan and Casey suit up. Casey explains that they are going into Iran, where there is no U.S. government support. “We are the mission, Morgan. You and me.” Morgan tries to address the elephant in the room, saying that he and Casey should talk about Alex. He begins, “I’m a good guy. Not to mention, stupid me, I thought we were friends…” “Were friends,” Casey quickly retorts. “Oh, right, or maybe it’s that you don’t have any friends,” Morgan replies, noting the lack of turnout for Casey’s “funeral.” For a moment, hurt actually crosses Casey’s face, but he quickly continues packing, with nothing more to say.
In the Iranian bunker where the gold is stored, Sarah and Chuck are chained up. Chuck wonders if, since they are going to be killed anyway, can he ask a few questions. The commandos will entertain a few, so Chuck asks if they know of a Volkoff prisoner named Frost. They laugh, noting that Frost isn’t a prisoner — she’s their boss. In fact, she’s Volkoff’s right hand woman. Chuck leans to Sarah, and begrudgingly says, “I think my mom might be one of the bad guys.” Outside the bunker, Casey and Morgan set up a position, and tap into the bunker’s security, gaining access to the bunker’s cameras, water, and electricity controls. When Morgan hears Casey say the word “security,” Morgan is to kill the power.
Casey enters the bunker, and his former troops pull their guns on him. Mackintosh notes that if it wasn’t for Casey, they could all be lying on a beach, earning 20% on their investments, “unless it was real estate.” Packard orders Casey to lay down his weapons, all of them, so he does. In talking, Casey says the word “security,” but when Morgan flips the switch, nothing happens. He flips another, and the bunker begins to flood. Another switch makes some of the electrical cables in the bunker short out. T.I. then grabs Casey, uses his palm print to open the gold vault, and chains up Casey next to Sarah and Chuck.
Casey warns them that there are fifteen fully-armed and helicopter-supported troops outside the bunker, so there’s no where to run. Mackintosh flippantly fires a bullet toward the bunker’s exit, resulting in a high pitch scream. “Is that a little girl?” Packard asks. Nope, it’s just Morgan, whose arm has been grazed. Casey acknowledges that he may have hit one of the troops, but there are fourteen left who will never surrender. Cue Morgan walking into the bunker and announcing his surrender. With no chains left to hold Morgan (not that they he is any threat to the commandos), the trio start to move the gold.
Morgan notices a dangling, and shorting out electrical cable, and the men standing in water. He mutters to Casey, “Couch lock,” indicating a plan to help them escape. Casey picks up what Morgan is getting at and instructs Sarah and Chuck to get their feet up out of the water. Chuck tries to stop his best friend, but Casey orders them to get out of the water again. Morgan jumps, grabs the cable and plunges it into the water, shocking the commandos and himself. Outside the bunker, Morgan blinks his eyes open on a blue sky and Chuck and Sarah’s faces. A bucket of water poured on him by Casey fully awakens the bearded one. Sarah tells Morgan that they actually lost him there for a moment. “You lost me?!?” Morgan asks with a bit of bravado. “It was only for three seconds,” Casey replies. “That was the single bravest thing I have seen anyone do,” Chuck tells Morgan. “Don’t ever do it again,” he continues, with a smile.
Back at the Buy More, Casey sniffs, a familiar odor penetrating his nose. It’s Jeff and Lester. Lester tells him that they do “installs” like the one Casey just experienced twice a week. “Yeah, we wake up in the best dumpsters in the city,” Jeff adds. Morgan pulls Casey away to tell him that he and Alex are over, not that Casey would be broken up about it. Morgan goes on, saying that being dead for a few seconds made him realize how much he missed his friends, so he’s having a party, to which Casey is invited. At the party (which only consists of Morgan, Chuck, Sarah, Ellie and Devon), there is a knock at the door. It’s Casey, who tentatively, and perhaps nervously, walks in to warm welcomes.
There is another knock, and this time it is Alex. She explains that Casey told her that Morgan’s attitude was just a cover for the fact that Casey wasn’t OK with the two of them dating, but he came around. Plus, she’s proud that Morgan stood up to Casey. Morgan still apologizes for his behavior, but admits that he doesn’t care what Casey thinks; he just wants to be with her. Morgan guides her into the apartment, and makes his way into the kitchen. Chuck, who had been talking to Casey, steps out so Morgan and Casey can talk. Morgan thanks Casey for speaking with Alex, and extends his hand. Casey shakes Morgan’s hand, but pulls him close. “If you break her heart, I’ll break your everything.” Message received.
Out in the courtyard, Chuck sits alone. Sarah finds him and asks him if he is OK. It’s hard for him to believe, but it is entirely possible that his mother is one of the bad guys. Further, and more importantly, to find the woman who completely abandoned him, Chuck endangered the people who never would — Morgan, Casey and her. So, he is going to stop looking for his mom. Sarah tries to protest, but Chuck says it is OK. “I thought I need to bring my family back together, but I don’t,” Chuck says. “You guys, Awesome, Ellie…you’re my family.” They exchange “I love you,” and Sarah says she’ll see Chuck inside. Left for a moment, and about to go inside himself, Chuck’s phone rings with an Unknown number. Chuck answers it. “Hello Chuck…this is your mother.”
After some very good episodes to begin the season, I have to say, “Chuck vs. the Couch Lock” was absolutely great. Everything about the episode worked fantastically for me, and it contained most of the elements I love about the show. For example, we had the return of Casey and Morgan working together. This was a great comedic partnership that blossomed last season when Morgan found out about Chuck’s spy life. Here, the underlying tension about Morgan and Alex’s relationship, while played for laughs of course, was also given a nice sentimental turn at the end with Casey covering for Morgan with his daughter. Plus, Morgan’s jibe that Casey doesn’t have any friends, led to a great bit of character development for Casey. The Colonel has always been part of the Chuck and Sarah team, but he has never really been a “friend” to anyone on the show. We have been seeing chinks in Casey’s emotionless armor since the introduction of Alex last season, so the prospect of him becoming more emotionally attached to the other characters is an intriguing development. (I know he’s shown some attachment to Chuck in the past, but that was always a bit begrudgingly. This felt different to me.)
Next, we had a pretty fun mission with some well-selected guest stars. The meta-A-Team was played very well, and I thought Eric Roberts, Joel David Moore, and Batista stepped in seamlessly. Sometimes, Chuck can draw too much attention to its guest stars when they are so obviously there for eye candy or as a joke (see: Munn, Olivia; Serico, Tony), but here, I thought the guys were used well. Moreover, I thought these characters were merged well with the search for Chuck’s mother; it wasn’t as if the search for Frost was an afterthought. Of course, the phone call from Chuck’s mom was a perfect, and slightly unexpected, end to the episode.
For me, it is always best when Jeff and Lester are somehow unwittingly used in the missions Chuck, Sarah and the gang are trying to execute. This has not been the case so far this season, and I have complained about the pair’s ineffectiveness as characters. This week, though, their collection of Casey led to some very funny lines (“the OG cush”), and helped Casey get out of a predicament. More of this please.
If I had any criticism at all (which I have to have something, I suppose), it was that all of this good stuff happened with Chuck and Sarah in the background. Yes, I’m glad their relationship issues weren’t front and center (as they usually are), but I think for this to have been an A+ episode, Chuck needed to be a bit more prominent. We did have that incredible moment in the apartment courtyard at the end where Chuck said he had his whole family together, so he didn’t need to look for his mom anymore. I mean, is there anyone better at delivering heart-felt I Love Yous than Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski right now? I think not. It was just that at times (and I’m thinking specifically of their conversation where Sarah was trying to disarm the bomb), the “I’m being selfish by putting you in danger” story felt a little shoehorned in to make sure Chuck and Sarah had something to do this episode. This is the nit-pickiest complaint of all time, I realize that, but I’m just putting it out there. I do want to reiterate, though, that this, for me, was the best episode of the season so far.
So, what did you think of “Chuck vs. the Couch Lock?” Have you ever heard the term “couch lock” before, or did the writers make it up? How do you feel about Casey’s growth in this episode? Are you happy to have the Casey-Morgan team back? How do you feel about Alex being around, do you want more or less of her? Please leave your comments below or in our Chuck Forum. Be sure to check out some more commentary on this week’s episode with Brittany’s review, and check out my thoughts on Chuck‘s back nine and renewal hopes (and if the rest of the season is like this, I think a Season Five renewal is a much greater possibility). I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to have some white zin and play Magic: The Gathering.