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Everybody Talks: Chuck and Sarah Face Torture and Beefcake on "Chuck"

And that's the problem with "dating" a super-hot super-spy: that she'll cross paths with a super-hot super-spy of her own.

That's just what happened on last night's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Beefcake"), in which Chuck's potentially-the-one-cover-girlfriend Sarah came face to face with her male equivalent: undercover MI6 agent Cole Barker (Jonathan Cake) posing as a Fulcrum agent. He's everything that Chuck isn't: dashing, prone to firing handguns to take down a helicopter (seriously), and as seductive as one 007.

Last night's episode, written by Matthew Miller and Scott Rosenbaum (who previously teamed up to write Season One's "Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami"), picked up some of the threads established in "Chuck Versus the Suburbs," including Chuck's testing by Fulcrum (under the guise of Charles Carmichael), the death of Brad White, and the sense of distance between Chuck and Sarah after posing as a married couple and getting a glimpse at a future most likely denied to them.

I was really glad to see a small sense of serialization creeping back into the season's narrative and this week's installment followed up on the surprising twist that Fulcrum is developing their own Intersect with a sense of tension and drama. Just as the team tries to get a hold of the belt buckle stolen by Cole Barker from the CIA dump site, Cole himself is trying to decode the data contained on the microchip by posing as a Fulcrum operative. Everyone however has other plans: Sarah sets out to seduce Cole (and winds up getting hot and bothered herself), Fulcrum tries to retrieve the data themselves, and everyone ends up on the roof at the receiving end of some helicopter-mounted machine guns. Just another day, really.

I wasn't totally in love with the Buy More plot this week, which had Jeff and Lester take over Morgan's responsibility to find a new "green shirt" hire... only to turn it into an opportunity to oogle some hot women on a casting couch. (Jeff in an open robe? Just not cool, guys.) While the plots sort of came together with Fulcrum tracking the GPS device in the chip right to the Buy More, it didn't have the same feeling of cohesion that previous episodes have managed to find between the spy plots and the Buy More plots. Still, it was a fun opportunity to see what would happen if Jeffster was left in charge of the store.

I'm glad that the writers are continuing to shake things up a little between Chuck and Sarah but wish that the latest ploy to split them up had been something more internal rather than external (Cole). It's clear that Sarah does have feelings for her asset but knows that they can't be together in "real life." Still, the news that Fulcrum knows that Chuck is the Intersect (even after crazy Fulcrum agent dosed herself with ricin rather than be interrogated by the CIA) means that the duo--on the outs somewhat in public--will have to step things up... by moving in together. Just wait until Morgan finds out about that little twist, given that Chuck had just agreed to move in with him.

Still, despite the seeming escalation in their cover relationship, it must hurt Chuck to see that Sarah is blatantly attracted to Cole Barker, who represents everything that Chuck isn't. And while Cole and Sarah's banter in the bar was just pretext to getting his belt buckle, Chuck definitely took Sarah's words about not liking nice guys to heart. And it's got to hurt to see (or rather hear) your would-be girlfriend seducing another man in the name of national intelligence.

Even worse: watching them kiss on a monitor in the Orange Orange... for real this time. Yes, Cole says he'll keep quiet about Chuck's identity as the Intersect but given his kidnapping at the hands of Fulcrum, their paths will definitely be crossing again. And something tells me that next time Sarah's heart won't escape unscathed.

However, while I thought that Jonathan Cake was, well, awesome as Cole Barker, the romance plot feels a little recycled. Didn't we already see Sarah fall for another kick-ass superspy who seemed like an enemy but was later unmasked as a daring undercover operative? A certain someone named Bryce Larkin? While the similarities between the two storylines are definitely there, I am willing to overlook the repetitiveness because "Chuck Versus the Beefcake" was a fun outing that had things going boom, our spies getting busy, and Casey being... Casey.

What worked for me? Big Mike's amorous sounds being likened to a wounded sea lion; Morgan admitting that he won Anna over by serving himself "a la mode" (and Ellie and Awesome's reaction); Chuck's line about being "curious if I'll be home in time for Charlie Rose"; Sarah's knife skills; Big Mike's discussion of, er, plumbing problems at Morgan's mom's place; Lester's exclamation of "casting couch" when stumbling on the idea to hire a Buy More babe; Morgan surprising Ellie and Awesome with ice-cold martinis, a bubble bath, and a roast... and undoing all of that by walking around the house in the buff; Alexis slugging Casey with the faux baby (and later injecting herself with ricin); Chuck forcing himself to black out during the pre-torture; Chuck watching Sarah and Cole kiss on the monitor; Casey's "impressive" line about Cole, er, physique.

Best line of the evening: "Great. Most annoying romance of my life is over." -Casey

What did you think of this week's episode? Were you happy to see the Chuck and Sarah relationship go in a different direction? Will Chuck and Sarah actually move in together? And will Chuck's life ever really get back on track? Discuss.

Next week on Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Lethal Weapon"), the team investigates a man named "Perseus" who is said to be behind Fulcrum's plans to build their own Intersect; Chuck and Agent Cole Barker are forced to stay in a safety bunker but when Casey and Sarah's mission takes a dangerous turn, they are forced to get involved; Morgan tries to convince Anna that moving in with him would be a bad idea.

Comments

Anonymous said…
It discouraged me seeing sarah so blatantly attracted to cole.Then the kiss at the end I was like come on. It was like she didn't have feelings for chuck at all.
Anonymous said…
I dind't like seeing sarah acting like she didn't have feelings for chuck too. And I didn't like agent cole barker at all. I don't like jill but I really hate cole. And poor chuck, seeing that kiss..
Kerry said…
I am *this* close to being over the Chuck and Sarah relationship. I feel like the conversation where Chuck and Sarah break up is the exact same conversation they have had at least two other times. I get it, you like each other but you can't be together and pretending to be is hard. Blah, blah, blah!
I think that the situation is starting to make Chuck super pathetic. Once again he is pouting over what he hears Sarah saying during a mission. It is her job, she's a spy, you know that - now let her do it without you reading so much in to it.
Don't get me wrong, I do like this show, but it seems that lately I have been disliking every other, or every third episode because those are the episodes that deal with the on/off, should they/shouldn't they relationship. Just pick one and let's see how it goes for awhile.
Anonymous said…
Oh Cole is much better of a character than Bryce in so many levels. He was bad-ass, gallant, much better spy, and most importantly sensitive to Chuck/Sarah feelings (esp. when he asked Chuck if there anything between him and Sarah, before advancing to get Sarah). Thus when Chuck is compared to Cole, it's a whole different league. I think he understands Sarah more than Chuck, in that he understands Sarah has her needs too -that is, at the moment, some time off and do something for herself for once.

Though this external obstacle (Cole) for Chuck/Sarah has been already done in a similiar way, it is far better than the dynamics between Chuck and Jill. Besides, while you can say oh poor Chuck, he's so lonely (so that's why he hook up with Jill again), it's apparent that Sarah is too.

But ultimately I have to say that the Sarah/Chuck relationship are getting tiresome with all the tug-o-war. The writers have been focusing on their angst too much that it becomes frusterating enough to the point that I don't quite care anymore. Their dynamic has not been going anywhere.

Also I would like to say that Casey has all the best one-liners tonight. And Sarah's skill in chopping up those bananas, and followed with Morgan's fruit bowl..hilarious!
Anonymous said…
The show has hit a threshold to be sure. No more external romance issues please. Give us mission based obstacles fine. Chuck took a beating in this one. Hope he kicks everyone's butt next week.

Its time to fish or cut bait.
Page48 said…
"Come with me if you want to live"

I think I just flashed on Terminator SCC.
Anonymous said…
Kerry I completely agree.

It feels like ever since the Santa episode Chuck is different and I'm Not liking it. He has become this babbling PUTZ who needs to grow a spine. This isn't the same Chuck from earlier in this season. What happened to the Charles Carmichael that saved Casey from that flu thing, up until the man kiss...eeewwwww.

I love Casey as always.

Sarah...have you got to be kidding me. Cole IS Bryce all over again. Stupid writers and Producers.

As far as I'm concerned Cole is an A.. and I hope is he long gone soon.

UGH! is the best way I can describe it.
Anonymous said…
I think that we need to have a bit of faith in the writers...seems to me that they are setting up the rest of the season by bringing the Chuck/Sarah relationship to a "make or break" point.
Given that we know that another agent (guest star Tricia Helfer) will be sent in to evaluate the relationship between handler (Sarah) and asset (Chuck), might we suppose that the writers are signaling that something will happen before "Chuck" signs off for the season? Maybe it's a core part of their "game-changer" plan for Season 3, as alluded to in their recent comments at various convention appearances and interviews.

Food for thought: recall what Cole said to Sarah as he was leaving...come away with him on an island vacation to experience fun and passion, and more importantly, a break from the worry and stress of her duty to protect Chuck; a duty made so much more complicated by her personal feelings for him. Isn't it likely that she is emotionally exhausted from denying her feelings for Chuck as she tries to maintain her ability to distance herself to keep him safe (think the climax of "Chuck vs the Break-up" and the hesitation to take the shot)? Cole isn't disregarding what Sarah feels for Chuck, but he does see that she seems to be caught between a rock and hard place. And hey, if he gets something out of it, he's only human.
Like it or not, Sarah is attracted to Cole because he is her equal; he understands the unique demands of their chosen career, and he can take care of himself. Chuck sees this -- why else would he engage in the proverbial p***ing match with Cole during the torture scene, if only to try to prove himself to Sarah?

Maybe this is what the writers are leading us and the characters to for Season 3...the final push for Chuck to leave behind his "five year plan" existence and use his gifts (curse?) by becoming an agent like Cole and Sarah because it may just allow him and Sarah to have a future together as equals.
Anonymous said…
Sarah would not be this emotionally exhausted if they had made Chuck and Sarah go against the odds and say "bring on the danger of consuming this relationship". To me that's much more fun to watch, then watching them break up or having some kind of pity party. Thank God for Casey in those moments. He was especially golden in this episode!

Hopefully that's where they are going with the "game changer" for the relationship. I mean, anything BUT what they did in the Beefcake episode should do.

Oh and never make Chuck that wimpy again. It was over the top mostly to make the MI6 guy look even more "cool" it seems and not funny.
Unknown said…
Jace, I think Anonymous's post above might have some spoilers in it, but I didn't look too closely. :)

This episode seemed very rushed to me. They set up the Jill arc much better, but crammed Cole's into one ep. I think this would've been better as two. One ep introduces Cole, and they do a mission together. The next with the torture and Sarah-angst. The choppiness made this ep seem flat.

I don't remember the salami ep very well, but it was better than this. The writing in Beefcake was surprisingly off-base. Cole's cliche-ridden, macho method of attracting Sarah: dropping towel, asking why she didn't come to bed, worse ways to pass the time. C'mon! We're expected to believe Sarah's attracted to this schmuck? In almost every other ep, she's got far better taste than that.

Casey Fan, I agree that Chuck is back to being a caricature of his former self. Earlier this season, he was becoming more comfortable doing "spy stuff," so to have him become this babbling, insecure chicken now seems out of character. Nothing wrong with being afraid of torture, but whimpering when it hasn't even started... sheesh.

I know Chuck and Sarah can't ever get together because of the laws of TV relationships. (See Moonlighting and Remington Steele.) Given that, yes, they'll move in together. Tension, tension. Then the end of the season will have them drugged and waking up not knowing if they slept together. (Another TV cliche.)
The CineManiac said…
First SKST - it's not spoilers when you're speculating.

I loved the episode. And I'm glad that the writers are pushing Chuck & Sarah's relationship to the brink, it's either going to have to break or become stronger and I can't wait to see which way it goes.
As someone whose pined for a girl before, I know what Chuck feels like, and sometimes it can make you feel and act pathetic. But eventually you either get the girl or move on.

I just feel bad for Morgan. He finally gets what he's always wanted, a place with just him and Chuck, and Sarah comes along and ruins it. But I have a feeling, he'll completely understand Chuck moving in with a "super hot chick" like Sarah.

Another great episode. I just wish that they had run them in order. I realize they wanted the Valentine's episode to run right after V-Day, but I don't think the episode revolved enough around it that they couldn't have aired chuck v. the best friend and then Chuck v. Suburbia (or whatever that one was called)
The CineManiac said…
skst, I realize now you were referring to the Tricia Helfer stuff at the beginning of that post.
But since it's been out there for months I don't really think it's a spoiler.
Unknown said…
I can appreciate the opinion that it's not a spoiler if Web sites have revealed it, but I don't agree.

I'm a purist when it comes to spoilers, so my definition of a spoiler is something that tells us something that hasn't been revealed in the episodes already aired. If a character says they're buying a house next week, the fact that they buy a house in the next ep isn't a spoiler. However, the house burning down would be a spoiler.

Again, I didn't read Anon's post (because I hew religiously to the spoiler-free creed), but if it says something about the character Tricia Helfer is going to play and especially if it says something about what that character does, it's a spoiler (by my definition).
Time Waster said…
I don't care if Chuck and Sarah break up as long as they end up together in the end, so the writers better not disappoint! Reminds a little bit of when Summer thought she liked Zach on The OC, but we all really knew she'd end up with Seth. Really, any show Josh Schwartz is behind is brilliant! Anyone else a huge fan? TheWB.com is having a "Questions for Josh Schwartz section" on the message boards. He's promoting a new online series called Rockville, CA, which looks promising judging from the promo clip on www.rockvilleca.com.

http://www.thewb.com/boards/showthread.php?t=269
Jeff & Shayla said…
I agree, Chuck needs a spine. I think they need to write a show where Chuck either suffers torture or certain death in order to save Sarah. He could continue to be ambivilant about their relationship after the event, knowing their relationship would never go forward. But this would allow Sarah to warm to Chuck and know that he truly loves her because he is willing to act and not just talk about how he feels for her. That has been her complaint for the last couple of episodes.
Anonymous said…
I am so sick of the angst ridden relationship that exists between Chuck and Sarah that Im inclined to stop watching altogether.

Let them get it together for real or stop wasting my time.

Its like watching Reaper!
Unknown said…
Dying to know the background tune from a scene in Chuck Season 2 Episode 15 - Chuck versus The Beefcake. It plays at the scene where Agent Barker is meeting his contact with Casey & Sarah. It's the only scene with Casey in glasses. Please help!

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