If you missed last week’s heart-tease of an episode, check out my recap here.
The episode opens with Casey getting his ass kicked by a dark-haired woman. He staggers, and looks at his assailant and asks, “Is that all you’ve got?” the camera reveals his opponent…Sarah! She takes aim at his face and delivers a knockout punch. The scene cuts to two days earlier at the Buy More. Casey asks Morgan if he’s seen Chuck; he wants to make sure Chuck is in the loop that Volkoff has been taking notice of Sarah. Morgan acknowledges that that is important, but more importantly, they need to look out for Chuck’s mental health now that Sarah is gone. He’s likely moping and sulking and watching The View. Morgan’s fears are unfounded though as Chuck walks into the store with a beaming smile on his face. “There’s Mr. Mopes now,” quips Casey. Chuck notices his friends eying him intently. “You’re afraid I’d just be sitting around eating Fritos all day,” he notes. Morgan replies that he figured it would be Cheetos, but Chuck insists that he’s OK — He knows Sarah will always be the same Sarah Walker.
Cut to Sarah with dark hair and clad in a cat suit. She enters a room to meet Volkoff, who is wistfully painting. He comments the he likes what she done with her hair (of course he likes it dark — he’s eeeeeevil!), and asks her to have a seat. When asked why she would turn on the CIA, Sarah explains that she is in love with Chuck and wanted him to run away with her, but he refused. She betrayed the CIA so she could cash out and be with Chuck. Volkoff says that, as a romantic, he understands where she is coming from. Volkoff wonders why he should trust her, as he motions for his four guards to draw their guns on her. “Fair question,” Sarah says before quickly disarming the guards. Aiming two of the guards’ guns at Volkoff, she tells him he can trust her because she’s not going to kill him right here and now. “You’re such fun!” Volkoff gleefully exclaims, “Welcome to Volkoff Industries.” He pours a drink for Sarah, and wonders how best to use her skills. “Sarah Walker. Traitor,” says Mary Elizabeth Bartowskit as she enters the room. “I had to see this with my own eyes,” she mocks before asking to talk to Volkoff privately. She warns him that Sarah is going to betray him. Volkoff figures as much, but says she can be very useful. He is going to use her to break his head bodyguard, Yuri the Gobbler, out of prison. Why is he called “The Gobbler?” Because he eats people. Volkoff tells Sarah that it’s a suicide mission. No worries, “I love suicide missions,” Sarah remarks. “So do I,” Volkoff relishes.
At the apartment, Chuck shows Morgan a beeping device. He tells his best bud that the beeping is Sarah. Since they can’t have direct communication, the CIA developed a system of tonal communication. The current message means she loves him…or that she’s buying a Buick. “Can I borrow your t-shirt?” a voice intones from the bedroom. It’s Alex. Morgan remarks that she is the coolest girl he’s ever dated. Well, the she’s only the third girl he’s dated, but nonetheless, she’s the best. Alex enters the room wearing Morgan’s never worn Robert Zemeckis autographed Back to the Future t-shirt. The guys look on in horror as Alex pulls some sloppy food and drink out of the refrigerator. “Pizza! Orange juice! Pizza!! Orange juice!!” Chuck exclaims in a stage whisper to Morgan. Morgan watches in slow motion as drip from the items fall to the floor, but do not make contact with his shirt. Alex beckons Morgan back to bed to cuddle before they go to work. Chuck says that they can save his shirt if they act quickly. “No, I’m cool,” Morgan calmly states. “I’ve got some news for you, Morgan,” Chuck tells his buddy, “I think you’re in love.” It dawns on Morgan that Chuck might just be right. Should he tell her? Well, it’s a big deal, Chuck explains. Morgan decides that it will be better if they finish the conversation at the Buy More — he has some cuddling to do.
Sarah meets Mary in the woods, and explains her true mission. To accomplish her goal, Mary wants Sarah to break out Yuri because the bodyguard knows all about Volkoff’s weapons program: Project Hydra. Mary continues, noting that Hydra is more important than Volkoff himself. She further warns Sarah that going undercover, like the two of them are, requires hard choices and she will run the risk of becoming someone she doesn’t recognize. Meanwhile, back in Echo Park, Ellie finds Chuck in the apartment courtyard. She wanted to see chuck because of an issue she is having with Devon. Chuck asks if she still can’t get him to stop cooking without a shirt on. That’s funny, but the real problem is that every time she suggests a name for their daughter, he knocks it down (I can attest to this difficulty. My wife and I are almost hoping for a girl just because we can’t agree on a boy’s name). Ellie believes she has the perfect girl’s name: Grunca. “Grunca?!?” gasps Devon to Chuck at the Buy More the next day. Devon and Chuck need to come up with a plan to dissuade Ellie from that name.
Down in Castle, Casey menacingly stands over Morgan and informs the bearded one that he saw Alex leaving Morgan’s apartment that morning in his shirt. Morgan fumbles for an explanation, eventually settling on saying that she couldn’t find her shirt during their “shirt party” where they put on numerous shirts. Casey tries to burn holes through Morgan’s skull with his gaze, but Morgan continues, saying that he’s been nothing but a perfect gentleman with Alex. Casey grabs Morgan’s shoulder, but smiles (well as much as Casey ever smiles) and says that’s all he wanted to know. Chuck enters and asks if General Beckman had contacted them about Sarah? She has not. Just then, someone disables Castle’s security and lights (for a secret CIA bunker, Castle has the worst security ev-er). Casey pulls gun for protection. The lights re-illuminate, revealing the cat-suit wearing, raven-haired Sarah. “Hello boys,” she intones with a classic Sarah smile. Chuck rushes up and hugs her. Morgan says she looks…evocative. When she moves on from hellos, Chuck can’t stop staring at her because she looks so different. Sarah tries to move on, saying that she needs a diversion to break Yuri out of prison. Yuri is the connection to Volkoff’s Hydra database, so they need to release him. Chuck follows Sarah out as she leaves. He plants some deep kisses on her, leading her to say, “I missed you too Chuck.” He notes how weird the whole situation is, “It’s like I’m cheating on you with you!” She asks that Chuck call her with the plan to bust out Yuri, and leaves. “See you in prison!” says Chuck.
At the prison, Chuck, with a face tattoo(!), is brought in for processing by Casey and Morgan, posing as corrections officers. They warn the guard on duty that Chuck is a dangerous guy, to which the guard replies that the prison is due for a stabbing. Morgan explains that Chuck’s tattoo is one for the most ruthless gang in the country, but it is smudged. Morgan tries to fix it, but eventually decides on using a Wet Wipe to just take it all off. Chuck is to start a prison fight where, using the Intersect, he will knock out toughest guy there to gain respect. They walk Chuck into General Population, while Morgan talks Chuck up as the dangerous inmate around. As his guards leave, Chuck bellows, “Which one of you is Yuri the Gobbler.” The other inmates immediately hush and flee from Chuck. One inmate, however, starts frantically, and strangely, rolling his eyes at Chuck. When asked what he is doing, the prisoner remarks that Yuri is sitting behind him in a chair, but the last time someone sought out Yuri, Yuri took his fingers. The prisoner holds up his bandaged hand to emphasize the threat.
Sarah radios to Casey that she will be there in three minutes. Casey relays that message to Chuck, but is then asked by Morgan about saying “I love You” to Alex. Casey grunts, and says that that would be a very stupid move. Morgan believes he gets the point, but Casey says that it is stupid because it is just words — real men show their love, not say it. Meanwhile, Chuck moves toward Yuri. Casey and Morgan break into the guard tower with an acetylene torch. When the guard on duty questions their presence, Casey points the burning torch at the guard and warns him about a surprise. Casey pulls back to show Morgan holding a birthday cake. The torch is for the birthday candles. Down on the prison floor, Chuck demands Yuri’s seat because it’s comfortable. Yuri picks up chair to smash Chuck with it, but Chuck flashes his Chuck Fu (remember when the Intersect had other abilities stored in it?). The two men brawl, with Chuck being thrown through a ping pong table and choked. Chuck radios to Casey that he needs more time, but more guards, have made their way into the tower. “What’s going on here?” one of them demands. “No one told us it was your birthday!” The guards join in the celebration. Using the distraction, Casey bugs the security camera feeds so as to block what is actually occurring on the prison floor.
Outside, Sarah drops down from under a bakery truck and makes her way toward the prison. As Yuri tries to bite Chuck (he is The gobbler, after all), Chuck is able to free himself. He makes his way to a weight bench and grabs a barbell weight to block Yuri’s punch. Chuck smacks Yuri in the face a few times with the weight, and eventually fells the brute. “Top dog!” Chuck exclaims to raucous cheering from the other inmates. With the guards distracted, Casey opens a back door for Sarah. Another big inmate wants to challenge for Chuck’s chair, but before he can swing at Chuck, Sarah knocks the guy out from behind. Together, Chuck and Sarah grab Yuri and make a break for it. Once a safe distance away in the bakery truck, Chuck, Casey and Morgan jump out. Chuck moves around to the driver’s window, kisses his finger and touches Sarah’s face. “Was that weird?” Chuck asks. “Yeah, but I love you, too,” Sarah replies. Chuck tells her that he can’t wait for her mission to be over soon, but Sarah can only say that she hope so; the mission could take some time yet. Chuck is a bit crestfallen, but Sarah has to leave. She’ll let Chuck know what she learns about Volkoff andYuri.
Devon and Ellie enter the Buy More because Devon is in desperate need of a new toaster. Lester immediately appears to help them with their purchase. After complimenting Ellie in only the way Lester can, he asks them if they have chosen a name yet for the baby. Upon hearing the name “Grunca,” Lester admits that he lost his virginity to a girl named Grunca. Ellie replies that she is happy with the name. Big Mike then arrives, saying he heard the name Grunca mentioned. Would she be named after the famous Armenian serial killer Grunca Garabedian? Why yes, Ellie answers, yes they are naming heir daughter after the serial killer. She turns on Devon, telling him that she knows what’s going on; she is going to wait in the car.
At Volkoff’s headquarters, Volkoff is delighted to see Yuri. He was at a complete loss without his bodyguard. as he is the only man with complete access to the Hydra database. Volkoff was, however, disappointed, that Yuri was imprisoned. In fact, he was very disappointed. Volkoff pulls out a gun and shoots Yuri square in the forehead!! (Honestly, this may been the most violent moment in Chuck history.) Volkoff tells a shocked Mary and Sarah that he has a hard time dealing with disappointment. Back at Castle, Chuck is sad that Sarah is not there after their mission. After a mission, Chuck used to play a board game with Sarah to unwind. He glumly asks Morgan if they recorded The View. Morgan looks knowingly at Casey, and tells Chuck that they want to play game.
Back in Russia, Volkoff explains that Yuri was Hydra. He emphasizes this fact by plucking out Yuri’s eye. He places the eye into a device on his desk, which displays holograms from teh eye. The Hydra database is how Volkoff communicates with his people as none of them know each other; Hydra is the hub of Volkoff Industries. That Hydra was out of commission with Yuri in prison, however, points to a major flaw: human error. Volkoff removes the eye from the display device and smashes it on the floor. Mary is surprised he would destroy all that information, but Volkoff explains that he downloaded the information to a secure location. As he departs the room, Volkoff says he still has one more mission for Sarah. Actually, there are two missions remaining. The first and foremost is the dead Yuri on the floor. He orders an underling to clean up the body as he leaves. Mary, unbeknownst to Volkoff, picks up the pieces of the eye.
In Echo Park, Chuck, Casey and Morgan are playing Risk. Casey remarks that world domination is always fun. Morgan, still trying to keep Chuck’s mood light, tells Chuck that he can always talk to Morgan. Casey is too distracted by the game to care much, as he gleefully takes out Chuck’s armies in Australia. Casey then gets a text from Sarah. Since she didn’t send it to Chuck, something must be wrong, so Casey must go alone to answer it. When Chuck protests, Casey explains that Volkoff knows who Chuck is, so he can’t be seen in fear of exposing Sarah’s mission. For her part, Sarah tells Volkoff that she can use Casey’s loyalty against him. That is exactly what Volkoff was thinking. He wants Sarah to kill Casey on the ninth floor of the Triton Tower. It was he who texted Casey to lure him into the trap. Volkoff informs Sarah that he will be watching her via security cameras throughout the building.
Mary and Sarah ascend the stairs to the ninth floor. Sarah asks how she is supposed to make “killing” Casey look real with all of the cameras around. Mary tells her she will figure something out, and if she gets a chance, she should hand the pieces of the eye to Casey. Meanwhile, Chuck paces in his apartment. Morgan says he knows how Chuck misses Sarah, but Casey told them to sit tight. No, Chuck replies, they could need the Intersect, so he is going to go to Castle to hack into Casey’s phone and get the location. Morgan tells Chuck the location, Triton Tower. It seems Morgan has perfected the “looking at someone else’s text without looking like he is looking” move. By the time Morgan finishes explaining this, Chuck is gone.
Sarah approaches a waiting Casey on the ninth floor with her gun drawn. Noticing the cameras, she purposefully kicks a can of paint to draw Casey’s attention. He spins around and disarms Sarah. They fight about the room. When Casey gets her into a corner unseen by the camera, she tells him to follow her lead. Chuck calls General Beckman as he approaches the building, but Volkoff’s guards pull their guns on Chuck. “Perfect timing,” Volkoff utters as he emerges from the shadows. He tells Chuck that there is a specific moment when a spy chooses to flip to the other side. Now is that time for Sarah, so he brings Chuck into the building to watch.
As they continue to fight, Casey tells Sarah to shoot him in shoulder, but she refuses to shoot him. As Sarah presses Casey against a window, and hands him the pieces of the eye, he notices a window washer’s platform about forty feet below. Casey says to throw him out of the window onto the ledge. Sarah, reluctant at first, finally agrees. When Volkoff, Chuck and Mary make their way to the scene of the fight, Sarah staggers Casey by the window. Volkoff asks if she wants his gun. No, she replies. Then in a replay of the episode’s opening scene, Casey asks “Is that all you’ve got?” Sarah rears back and punches Casey through the window. He lands safely on the window washer platform. Casey and Sarah smile, but their joy is short-lived as the platform gives way and Casey crashes to the ground unconscious. Chuck is horrified, and yells after him. “It’s done,” says Sarah, not betraying her great concern for Casey’s safety. “Why?” asks Chuck. Volkoff tells Chuck that she did it all for Chuck. Before he can respond, Chuck is knocked out by one of Volkoff’s men. Sarah leaves him on the ground and departs with Volkoff.
At their home, Devon apologizes to Ellie for involving the Buy More guys in their name issue. Ellie worries that he doesn’t like any of the names she has picked out. Ellie suggests Clara. Devon likes that name, but he hesitates. This choice will set their daughter’s course for her whole life. True, but that’s parenting, Ellie reminds him; they are going to have to make a lot of decisions about their girl. Finally, she asks “Clara or Grunca?” Devon chooses the former, happily. With that decided, Ellie says that she can’t believe he thought she’d name their daughter after the spoons she bought from Ikea.
Sarah looks worriedly out of the window as she, Mary and Volkoff fly back to Russia. Mary grabs Sarah’s hands, and tells her that it gets easier, with distance. Chuck and Morgan sit vigil by Casey’s bed as he lies unconscious in the hospital. Alex rushes in, and says that though she barely knows him, she already loves him so much. Morgan promises her that Casey will be ok, and that he, Casey, loves her very much. Chuck sends an encoded message to Sarah. Sarah sees the message coming in, but declines it, whispering “Distance.”
Hrm. What can I say about “Chuck vs. the Gobbler?” On the whole, I thought it was a pleasant episode. There were some really interesting elements like Sarah’s costume, her fight with Casey, and Volkoff’s cold-blooded killing of Yuri. I also continue to thoroughly enjoy Timothy Dalton’s performance as Volkoff — the guy just seems like he’s having so much fun, and it’s infectious. In fact, all of the acting on the show has reached rather fine proportions. All of the regular actors are really at the top of their games.
My problem with the episode is just that it felt soooo very much like a set-up episode, which, in essence, it is. If you remember, before NBC ordered an additional eleven episodes months ago, Chuck was only supposed to have thirteen episodes this season. Therefore this, the twelfth episode, would have been the penultimate one, leading into the season (and possibly series) finale. Further, Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak were recently on Alan Sepinwall and Dan Fienberg’s podcast, “The Firewall and Iceberg Podcast,” to talk about the show, and they referenced that the last ten minutes of Episode Thirteen are the best ten minutes of the show’s history. That’s some pretty big talk that I can’t wait to see if they live up to, but more importantly, it created a real sense of anticipation for next week’s episode. To be honest, I was more interested in figuring out how this week’s action informed where they might be going next week, that I probably wasn’t enjoying this episode for what it was.
All in all though, even with me distracted as I was, I enjoyed “Chuck vs. the Gobbler.” It was nice to have all of the cast in the episode (save General Beckman), though it appeared Ellie and Devon were shoehorned in just to make sure we didn’t forget they existed. What did you think of the episode? How do you feel about Sarah joining Volkoff and making the hard decision to cut off Chuck? Do you really have any fear that Casey won’t recover? Do you think Morgan should tell Alex he loves her? Please leave your questions, comments and theories below. For another take on the episode, be sure to check out Emma’s review here. I’ll be back next week with another recap of what is supposed to be the best episode of Chuck ever! Until then, I’m off to grab some sourdough bread.