Did you miss last week’s CAT-tactic episode? Catch up with my recap here.
“Chuck vs the Masquerade” opens in Samara, Russia. A man gets into the back of a car and asks the driver, Jurek, if he has heard of the whereabouts of a key. Volkoff didn’t give it to him, Jurek answers. Volkoff must have “chosen Anotnia.” That was evidently the incorrect answer as the man kills Jurek. Cut to Perugia, Italy. The same man kisses a beautiful woman passionately. She pulls gun on him and says she knows what happened to Jurek. She tries to fire the gun, but there are no bullets. The man shows her the bullets he removed from her gun an kills her. Next stop: Bremen, Germany. The man tells Chrisoph he is the last of Volkoff’s lieutenants. Christoph swears he doesn’t have key, but he knows who does.
Echo Park. Morgan puts the finishing touches to the tons of Valentine’s Day decor he has laid out for his and Chuck’s shared night of love for their respective ladies. He and Chuck review the evening’s schedule: Morgan is to start in the living room with Alex while Chuck and Sarah in bedroom. Then at 9:30, they are to switch so Morgan and Alex can spend some time in the bedroom while Chuck and Sarah settle in for a viewing of Love Actually. The two share a fist bump for their excellent planning.
Also sharing a fist bump are Ellie and Devon who look like parenting has gotten the best of them. It’s been three days since they’ve had any sleep, and three months since they’ve had anything else. They have finally gotten Clara to go to sleep, so maybe it’s time for “Mommy and Daddy” to break that three-month streak, Devon suggests. Ellie agrees, as long as he drops the “Mommy and Daddy’ talk. They kiss, but Clara starts to cry. They try to ignore her, but they can’t, and quickly rush to her bassinet. Chuck, meanwhile, puts on a funk record and moves toward Sarah, who is poised coyly on the bed. Sarah tells Chuck that she has a surprise for him — she made him chocolate covered strawberries, and they are in the fridge. Chuck worries that he can’t get them because Morgan has the living room. Then again, it’s only been five minutes so they can’t be too involved yet. Chuck sneaks into the kitchen silently, and finds Morgan and Alex in blindfolds, doing some sort of yoga breathing. Chuck grabs the bowl of strawberries, but his phone begins to vibrate with a call from General Beckman. Chuck drops the bowl, but Sarah grabs it in midair. Morgan and Alex detect something is wrong, but agree that the sound was because they are so close, they’re souls are vibrating. Chuck and Sarah move to leave the kitchen, but Sarah is caught on a hook! She tries to free herself, but her rope rips off, revealing a sexy red nightie. Chuck is slack-jawed, and becomes even more so when Sarah’s wings unfold behind her!
Casey received a call from General Beckman too, and as he makes his way across the apartment courtyard, tells her that there better be a damn good reason Chuck, Sarah and Morgan aren’t picking up their phones. As Casey enters their apartment, Alex is painting Morgan with chocolate in their pajamas, Chuck is wearing a “Love Machine” t-shirt, and Sarah is standing in lingerie with wings! Morgan and Alex take their blindfolds off, and see Chuck and Sarah. Morgan complains that he had the living room. “What do you kean ‘had’?” Casey pointedly inquires of Morgan. Before the bearded one can fumble for a response, Casey commands that they all leave, “Mission. Now.” All Chuck can say of the situation is, “Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!”
As they enter Castle, Morgan, still clad in his silk pajamas, explains that he and Alex were just trying to transfer their energy to each other. The team notices some construction going on in Castle, which General Beckman explains is as the NCS making some changes to Castle. She informs the crew that there was supposed to be a bust three Volkoff’s top three lieutenants the night before, but all were killed by Boris Kaminsky. The CIA believes Boris is trying to take hold of Volkoff Industries by eliminating all of his competition. In searching Volkoff’s Hydra files, there is one name for which Volkoff has no contact information: Vivian MacArthur. It is believed she has been kept hidden because Volkoff chose her to be his successor. No one knows what she looks like, but she is supposed to host a party in Somerset, England. The team is to go to Somerset, find Vivian and bring her back to the States. Morgan has one question: what type of party is it?
The colorful and weird masks mean only one thing: a masquerade ball (which, of course, makes me think of this. You can’t blame me, my wife is in that show on Broadway.) Chuck tells Sarah that masquerades creep him out. It could turn out to be a sex-crazed orgy party like in Eyes Wide Shut. Well, Sarah has been to those, and this party isn’t like that. “Really?” a surprised Chuck stammers. No, not really, Sarah assures him. A woman goes up to the and asks the bartender for a drink. Casey mixes something for her, and she thinks the drink is incredible. Morgan notes that Casey’s drink is pretty good; with Chuck and Sarah taking the lead on mission lately, maybe Casey should think about retiring and becoming a bartender full time. Casey bristles, and says that he is an integral part of the team. Further, if anyone should think about moving on, it’s Morgan. “Wake up, Grimes. You’re living with an engaged couple. You’re like their kid,” Casey fires at Morgan. Meanwhile, Chuck chats up a guest looking for Vivian as Sarah talks with Boris. When Chuck chokes on the heat of an hors d’oeuvres, he grabs a random glass of wine. The woman who belongs to the wine is sitting nearby. Chuck apologizes for taking the wine, but she doesn’t mind. Like Chuck, she is creeped out by the masks, as well. When Sarah sees Boris’ gun she excuses herself and heads for Chuck. He asks the woman how she knows Vivian, but she replies that no one really knows her. When Chuck turns to locate Casey, the woman disappears. Sarah finds Chuck and tells him (and Casey and Moran by radio) that she met Boris. Chuck replies that he thinks he met Vivian.
Chuck and Sarah run out of the party and find her by the stables. As they approach her, with Sarah’s gun drawn, they inform her that they are there to protect her. What they don’t see is Boris and his men rounding the corner of the stable. Boris fires, trapping them in the stables. Chuck radios to Casey for help, noting to Morgan that nothing had changed — Chuck and Sarah still need him. Boris demands the key, but Vivian doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Chuck and Sarah explain to her that Volkoff had her name in his system and that Boris has been killing Volkoff’s associates that might have this key. Vivian says she hasn’t seen Volkoff in years. Further, she is Volkoff’s daughter. The spies try to tell her that Volkoff is an arms dealer, but she doesn’t believe them. Regardless, they need to escape. Sarah lies down some cover fire, and the three of them jump into a car. Chuck drives up to the front of the house with Sarah shooting at their pursuers out of the sunroof. Casey and Morgan run up. “What are you doing?” Chuck asks. “Saving you,” replies Casey. “What are you doing?!?” Casey asks in return. “Saving you!” Chuck responds. “You’re the best spies in the world!” exclaims Morgan (much to Casey’s chagrin), as Sarah continues to shoot at the bad guys while Chuck speeds away to safety.
Back at the Buy More, Ellie and Devon enter the store, looking haggard. In fact, according to Big Mike, they smell like vomit and Cheerios. The couple needs help getting Clara to sleep and stop crying. Big Mike shows them to the sleep and baby care section, and points out a Sleep Sheep. It’s the same Jeff uses to make him sleep, as he is shown clutching the sheep and hanging upside down like a bat in the home theater room. Ellie and Devon notice that the music being played frmo Jeff’s sheep has clamed Clara and put her to sleep. Big Mike tells them that it is Jeffster!’s cover of Rusted Root’s “Sedm Me On My Way.” Ellie says that they need that sheep. What if the guys say no, Devon asks. “They can’t!” a desperate Ellie yells. She has plan. Ellie enters the home theater room with Clara in her arms, and pretends to be surprised by Jeff and Lester’s presence. She says that she came in to breastfeed, but since they are there, maybe she should go to the break room instead. When she leaves, Lester wonders if they shoudl follow her. the answer is obvious, so they rush off after her, with Jeff leaving his sheep behind. In sneaks Devon who absconds with the sheep, and hopefully, sleep salvation.
Downstairs in Castle, the team confirms that they believe Vivian didn’t know about Volkoff’s activities. Morgan, however, is not part of the conversation as he is talking to Alex on the phone and promising he will make up Valentine’s Day to her. Casey tells Chuck and Sarah that he will handle the paperwork on Vivian if they take care of Morgan, who has been feeling irrelevant lately due to Chuck and Sarah’s relationship (projecting much, Colonel Casey?). Sarah suggests to Chuck that since Morgan always sees her in context of her and Chuck’s relationship, maybe she and Morgan need to hang out alone more often.
Cut to their apartment. Morgan and Sarah sit in awkward silence. He finally asks her if there is a reason behind their get together. No, Sarah tells him, she’s just looking to “hang.” She spies some figurines on the mantle, and says she knows Morgan and Chuck like having those toys around. She picks up large Chewbacca and Han Solo figures, and starts making Chewie growl at Han as if they were dolls!! (I felt this was some of Yvonne Strahovski’s best comedic work. I can’t d it justice by writing it down, but it was hysterical to see her playing with the figures. Check it out on Hulu.) Morgan, almost voiceless with shock, says that they are not “toys,” but “collectibles.” “They’re really fun…to look at,” Sarah replies, putting the figures back on the mantle. Morgan explains that he has been collecting them since he was thirteen. As Morgan says this, he has a revelation. They are just toys, aren’t they? “You’re here because I’m a third wheel!” he says to Sarah. “I’m like a child!” With Sarah protesting, Morgan continues. He can’t do this anymore. He needs to grow up and move out.
Over in Burbank, Vivian asks Chuck if her father really kills people. When he confirms that fact, she explains that Volkoff was never part of her life. She just went from school to school, not knowing what he did. Chuck suggests that maybe he Volkoff was trying to protect her from the dark and dangerous world of which he was a part. Vivian laments that she doesn’t know what to do with her life now. “Can I not be a spy for a second?” Chuck asks. He explains his old, dead-end life. But then, an opportunity then fell into his lap. Chuck never expected this to be his life, but he’s happy now, and that could happen for her, too. Well, now what? Vivian asks. Chuck says they will take her to a CIA safe house. Vivian protests, but Chuck explains that Boris has taken out everyone else, and now going after her. Vivian has her own idea: use her as bait. “Noooooooooo!” Chuck replies, but Vivian presses. This is the first chance she has had to take control of her own life. Will Chuck help her? He thinks, but agrees. Yes, he’ll help her.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in Castle, Casey sees the woman who liked his drink at the bar in Somerset. She introduces herself as Jane Bentley, an agent for NCS, the National Clandestine Service. She sees Casey’s true potential. while she’s sure he loves running around supporting Chuck and Sarah, she knows he is so much more than that. Bentley explains that she’s putting together a new spy team and wants Casey to head it. Casey doesn’t reply, but his face speaks volumes. Clearly, he’s interested, so she’ll be in touch.
Devon and Ellie lie awake in bed, wearily repeating the nonsensical lyrics to the Rusted Root song emanating from the Sleep Sheep. Devon asks if it is safe to turn it off after two hours. “It can’t hurt to try,” Ellie replies. He does, and there are two seconds of blissful quiet before Clara starts crying again. It could be worse, Devon says. They’re doctors, so they’re used to going without sleep. He turns on the sheep, and Clara falls quiet again.
When Chuck arrives home, he finds Morgan packing up his stuff. Chuck explains that he has to prepare for a mission, but Sarah called him to say Morgan is moving out, and he knew that was ridiculous. He apologizes for busting in on Morgan’s Valentine’s Day and tell shim not to leave. “It’s time,” Morgan answers, though neither of them want to admit it. Chuck is going to be married soon, and he and Sarah will need their own place. It’s time for them both of them to grow up. “We are grown up!! We’re happy!” Chuck exclaims, but Morgan continues. Things change, but that’s not a bad thing. “It will be OK,” says Morgan.
Chuck asks where Morgan will go, but he isn’t sure. Morgan thinks he will just open himself up to the universe and see where it takes him. “So….you’re going to your mom’s,” Chuck retorts. Morgan turns to dividing up their mutual stuff. Chuck gets the original Nintendo; Morgan gets the horror films. What about Han and Chewie? The guys went in on them together. Should they split them up, asks Morgan. No, they can’t. Han and Chewie are companions, and they’re worth more as a set. Should they sell them? As each of the guys holds one of the figures, remembering their long friendship, they settle on deciding that later. For tonight, Chuck takes Han, and Morgan takes Chewie. The cause the figures to give each other a high five before Chuck heads into his bedroom and sinks against the wall. Sarah is inside, and asks Chuck if everything is OK. She’s sorry about Morgan, but Chuck insists that it’s fine. he’s fine. They’re fine. Chuck straightens up and gets ready for their mission.
At Castle, Chuck and Sarah ask Vivian to walk them through an average day. She explains that every morning she goes for a ride on her horse. Cut to Somerset, where Sarah, dressed as Vivian, saddles up for a horse ride. To finish off the look, Vivian give Sarah her necklace, something she is never without. Casey confirms that he will be watching their every move in the woods. As Sarah gallops off, Vivian asks Chuck is he is sure Sarah will be alright. “She always is,” he replies. Sarah rides through the picturesque and misty woods. She radios that she doesn’t see Boris, while Casey lies in wait as a sniper. What Sarah doesn’t see is Boris and a number of his henchmen hiding behind some trees.
Boris’ gunmen start to move out of the woods. Sarah feels something is wrong. Casey starts moving toward her, but Boris presses a device that makes Sarah’s horse buck. She is thrown from her mount and knocked out on the forest floor. Moments later, the horse returns, alone, to the stable. Chuck radios to Casey that Sarah must be in trouble. Casey answers that he is sixty seconds out from Sarah’s location. Though Chuck tells her to stay safe in the stable, Vivian shouts that she is not letting anyone die for her. She climbs onto the horse, lifts up Chuck behind her , and together they race off to find Sarah.
One of Boris’ henchman confirms that Sarah is not Vivian, so Boris says to kill her. As the baddie readies his aim, Casey shoots the gunman dead. Sarah rouses briefly and mutters that there are too many gunmen, so he should go and get Chuck. Casey says he is not leaving her, and that they need to find cover.
Chuck and Vivian are rushing to find Sarah and Casey when a couple of Boris’ men in red English riding coats (real inconspicuous guys) chase after them. Vivian comments that she didn’t spend ten years in equestrian school for nothing, and kicks the horse to run faster, as Casey and Sarah are surrounded by Boris’ men. Chuck notices that the red coats are catching up to them because they have too much weight, so he has a Plan B. He tells Vivian that no matter what, she should not stop or turn back for him. Chuck, spying an upcoming tree branch, flashes some gymnastics skills. He grabs the branch as it passes overhead, swings around it and knocks the red coats off their steeds. Chuck flips down into a stuck landing, and radios Casey. Casey confirms that the bad guys are moving in, but he deftly kills all eight of them. He aims at a ninth coming down the hill through the mist, but it is Chuck, and he holds his fire.
Chuck rushes to Sarah and wakes her. She asks where Vivian is. Vivian radios that she is back at the stables. At that moment, Boris steps form the stable shadows. He says if she gives him the key, he will make her death painless. Vivian protests that she has no idea what he is talking about. She was never part of Volkoff’s world. Boris explains that Volkoff, indeed, prepared Vivian to take over for him. She was trained in skeet shooting, multiple foreign languages, and economics. Vivian is Volkoff’s chosen successor. Vivian uses Boris’ explanation to get her horse to rear up on its hind legs and startle Boris. She grabs a shotgun from the saddle, and expertly dispatches with Boris. Perhaps she is her father’s daughter after all.
Chuck, Sarah and Casey arrive back at the stable. Sarah knows that what Vivian did was hard, but she was only defending herself. She asks, while handing Vivian back her necklace, if Boris told her what he was looking for? No, he did not, Vivian lies. She thanks “Charles” for everything he did for her; it is time she figures out what to do with the rest of her life. “I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Chuck replies with a smile.
Back in Echo Park, Morgan announces that this is it. Chuck says he knows Morgan is committed to moving out, but he wants Morgan to know how much he and Sarah love him. Morgan knows. He sighs, noting it is an end of an era. The guys promise they will still will have video game night. Should they sell Chewie and Han? Well, Morgan explains, Chewie is Han’s constant companion. Besides, they should stay in the family. Cut to Han and Chewie on a shelf above Clara’s bed. Ellie and Devon back out of the room. Devon asks if it is smart that they leave her alone in her own room. She’s three months old, Ellie explains, so her own nursery is just fine. Now they can finally get to do what they’ve been wanting to do for three months. The two collapse into bed and sleep!
In Castle, Casey tells Bentley that he isn’t leaving his team. She understands the bond the three of them share, but he’s been there for four years. This is the longest position he’s ever had. He is going to have to leave eventually. “I’m not leaving Burbank,” Casey states definitively. “You won’t have to,” Bentley replies, opening a door in Castle with her palm print. “The mission is here.” The opened door reveals a hallway leading to a secret NCS room in Castle. Again, Casey’s expression says it all.
The scene shifts to a picked over Volkoff Industries. Vivian enters underneath police caution tape, and goes into Volkoff’s office. She uncovers her father’s desk, and sits down. She notices a horse statue. In its base, she discovers an indentation, seemingly the reverse of the pendant she wears on her necklace. She takes the necklace off, and places the pendant in the indentation. When she turns it, a wall panel opens. Light cascades from the new opening. As Vivian rises and walks toward the light with wonder, the office doors close.
With the fun, light episodes aside, it was time to put Chuck back into drive, and introduce the elements that will motivate the story for the remainder of the season. Color me intrigued by the possibilities surrounding Volkoff’s daughter. The final scene begs the question: Is Vivian amazed by the power she now holds in her hand, or is she frightened by the larger conspiracy revealed to her when she opened the wall in her father’s office? Will she attempt to run Volkoff Industries herself, or will she alert her new friends to a possible greater threat? For some reason, I believe it may be the latter, but I kind of hope it would be the former. All of Chuck’s main foes have been men: Daniel Shaw, Ted Roark, Volkoff. So, it would be nice to see a true female crime boss for the team to oppose. Either way, if the story brings back Timothy Dalton as Volkoff, I will be happy.
I am less intrigued by the NCS storyline for Casey. We all know that no matter the operational control Casey receives working for NCS, there is going to come a point where he will choose his old team over NCS. Now, I trust the creators to put some real meat on the NCS story, so I don’t think it will be a waste of time, but the other times the team has been broken up, it hasn’t led to the best episodes. Maybe Casey will recruit his possible future son-in-law to keep tabs on him or something. That could spice up the plot.
As far as this particular episode is concerned, I thought all three stories did a great job of illustrating the theme that there comes a time when people must grow up, and move on from their current situation. Chuck and Morgan are becoming adults more and more, and realize that they need to be committed to people other than each other. Casey recognizes that he may no longer be useful, in the same ways, to Team Bartowski, so perhaps he should lead his own team. Ellie and Devon recognize that maybe they don’t need to watch over Clara every single second and that it is OK to let her sleep in her own room. Each of these stories, in its own way, gave the show some nice forward momentum, informing us that the season is ready to pick up again. So, as a transitional episode from the big midseason climax, through two light, “reset” episode, and into the main action of the back half of the season, I thought “Chuck vs the Masquerade” really worked.
What did you think of the episode? What side do you believe Vivian will be on? Will Casey find fulfillment in his new NCS gig? How long before he heads back to Team Bartowski? What do you think are the chances the Echo Park apartment complex happens to have another open apartment for Morgan to move into? Maybe he will move in with Casey!! Please leave your questions, comments and theories below. For another take on tonight’s episode, be sure to check out Emma’s review. I’ll be back next week with another recap. Until then, I’m off to Big Lots for their sale on bearskin rugs.