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It's a New Life: The Honeymoon is Far From Over on Chuck

"It's a new dawn/It's a new day/It's a new life/For me/And I'm feeling good..."

Chuck returned last night with the first of six all new episodes ("Chuck Versus the Honeymoon"), written by Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins (with a story by Ali Adler) and directed by Robert Duncan McNeill, that altered the landscape of Chuck's world, thanks to the start of a full-blown relationship between Chuck and Sarah.

With the haunting refrain of Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" (which astute readers will note I hinted about several times in my advance review of this episode) threaded throughout Chuck and Sarah's dilemma throughout the episode (and not just in the final, climactic, and utterly romantic scene between the two), the newly formed and "exclusive" couple had to decide whether to run away from the spy life, return to Burbank and split up, or choose neither option.

Yes, the either/or conflict between Sarah and Chuck--one that has colored much of the interaction between the two spies--finally came to a head this week, with both parties realizing that they didn't have to choose between professional and personal lives. They could have it both ways: they could be spies and lovers. They could, in essence, eat their cake and have it too. Or at least order some more from room service.

So what did I think of "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners"? Let's discuss.

Reversing the period of darkness that marked several of the more recent episodes of Chuck this season, "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners" offered a fun and light-hearted installment that found Chuck and Sarah attempting to live a romanticized notion of "real life," one that is populated by lush staterooms, frequent, uh, couplings, and the adventure and excitement of a European vacation.

After the events of the last few episodes--the entire Shaw arc, the botched red test, the reveal that Sarah had murdered Evelyn Shaw--it was nice to see these two cut loose and lose themselves in each other for a change. Their happiness has always been just out of reach, so it was wonderfully rewarding to see them not only achieve that but attempt to hold onto it with a vise-like grip. Offering a nice callback to the Season Three premiere in which Chuck and Sarah found themselves at a train station in Prague, possibly about to run away, this week's episode offered an alternative to their decision, an opportunity to reverse their previous mistake and investigate the possibility of being together.

But it would be a coupledom that's as much about unity as it as about isolation, about a life on the run from their responsibilities and their identities. This week's episode found both of them unable to do just that: no sooner do Chuck and Sarah believe that they've left the spy life behind them than the espionage world finds them once more in the form of a Basque terrorist aboard their train. With the either/or supposition still firmly in place, both Chuck and Sarah have to decide: selfish desires or selfless duty? That both of them both choose the same option while keeping the other in the dark is just one of the delicious quirks this episode offers.

But rather than have Chuck and Sarah have to take down the bad guys--not Juan Diego Arnaldo (Carlos Lacamara), as it would turn out--on their own, the writers wisely thought to throw them together with another unlikely partnership, that between Colonel Casey and Morgan Grimes, the most absurdly mismatched partnership in espionage history. But while Morgan might be all but useless in the field, I was glad to see that he proved his value in other ways: an encyclopedic knowledge of Chuck Bartowski and his behavior patterns (including his need for the latest issue of "Justice League") and his eczema medication needs. (He also pretty deftly handled the Oracle system down in Castle, a nice surprise.)

Pushing the two parternships together resulted in one of my favorite episodes of Chuck to date as the quartet of spies had to work together ultimately to protect Arnaldo from assassination, resulting in one of the very best action sequences to date on the series, one that involved an airborne moped, handcuffs, and swing dancing. (And one which should, really, earn the fight choreographers a much deserved Emmy nomination.) Each of the members of Team Bartowski earned their keep here and it was an absolute joy to see Chuck and Sarah working so closely together, timing their attacks with the precision and grace of dancers. (Even Morgan took out the shadowy female operative.)

But it was that final scene, set to Nina Simone's "Feeling Good," that offered the most romantic and passionate moments of Chuck's run as Chuck sought to awaken Sarah's musical desire as they climbed onto the bed and became entangled in one another's bodies. It was beautifully filmed and perfectly captured that early period in a relationship, when each partner is discovering new things about the other and there's a true magical quality to every interaction.

What else did I love about this week's episode? Morgan's "Oh Canada" line; the bait-and-switch of the opening with the porter sharpening his knife; the double use of a proposal for Sarah and Chuck's relationship; the Charleses; the way both spies managed to steal equipment aboard the train; Morgan's belief that he has to "root" for the plane to stay aloft; Sarah's battle with Juan Diego while Chuck was trapped on the other side of the stateroom door; "My God, you even make terrorist groups sound sexy"; Sarah as a boozy Texan newlywed; the double-punch to Casey's face; Morgan figuring out that the alleged Interpol agents were fakes based on his knowledge of Lake Como; Arnaldo's advice to the couple not to run ("No matter how far you run, you cannot run from yourself"); and Jeffster's amazing acoustic (and turtleneck-clad) rendition of John Denver's "Leaving on a Jet Plane" at Ellie and Awesome's going-away party.

Speaking of which, I'm not sure what to make of the fact that Ellie and Awesome actually did depart Burbank for Africa and Medicine Sans Frontieres, after all. I thought that they would inevitably decide not to go in the end but the fact that they really did leave--after Ellie got to say goodbye to Chuck--makes me wonder if they're sticking around for the next five episodes... or if Team Bartowski will have to save them when they find themselves in danger. Hmmm...

All I know is that, if "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners" is any indication, the back part of Season Three is going to be quite thrilling, quite exciting, and quite romantic indeed. Monday can't come quickly enough.

What did you think of this week's episode? Thrilled to see Chuck and Sarah as a full-blown couple? Sad to see Ellie and Devon go? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Next week on Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Role Models"), Chuck and Sarah are assigned to train under Craig and Laura Turner (guest stars Fred Willard and Swoosie Kurtz), a married CIA team who, despite their impeccable record, hate one another. The Turners' stormy relationship forces Chuck and Sarah to wonder if they are doomed with the same fate. Meanwhile, Casey must train the newest member of the team: Morgan.

Comments

Jimmy_J said…
I loved the episode! Definitely top 5 of the entire series. If the rest of the season is like this episode we are in for a heck of a ride.
Annie said…
AMAZING EPISODE!! Can't wait to read your thoughts tomorrow. Favorite ep ever!
askew said…
I loved the episode. However, are they writing out Awesome and Ellie or are they coming back?
Anonymous said…
Great episode! Who sang It's a New Day, It's a New Dawn? Thanks.
TiredOfSoap said…
I just went from "I survived another Chuck episode" to "is it Monday yet".

Loved the episode, all of it, and it's about freakin' time!
Paul said…
I totally agree: The final scene was an absolute thing of beauty!
rockauteur said…
Don't think it was as amazing of an episode as other commenters. I did like it, but after the previous installment and the episode where Morgan uncovered the truth about Chuck's secret identity, it paled in comparison to the brilliance of those two episodes. But still enjoyable of course.

I definitely think Chuck will need to save Awesome and Elllie's life in Africa... maybe she will finally discover his identity as well... or she is tied to their father coming back into the picture, so maybe she comes home before then. Either way, I'm excited the show is back for the next few episodes!

Loved all the Canada stuff though totally predicted the Canadian girl would be the real bad guy. Morgan is an awesome spy with his stalker/encyclopedia knowledge! I know people online are angry about his skills at the Castle computer station but he was a Nerd Herder so its logical that he could be good at computers.
Bella Spruce said…
I was worried that once Chuck and Sarah got together things would get boring but this episode proved to be one of the best and most exciting yet. I LOVED the fight sequence in the cafe with Chuck and Sarah handcuffed together. And the added comedy of team Casey/Morgan was pitch perfect!
Chris L said…
Loved...I...it...love...I loved...I...

Words cannot express... Just -

*thumbs up*
Bethany said…
Okay, I'm laughing just reading the "other things I liked" and remembering those moments. The only thing I have to add is Casey's grunts whenever Sarah and Chuck kissed in front of him, especially the one that alerted them of his presence before the double punch.

I loved the four leads in this episode so much, and even Jeffster's performance was my favorite so far. Morgan taking out the terrorist with his backpack, and then raising his hands in "touchdown" mode - classic.

While I think Beckman's "it's about damn time" was maybe a little out of character for her, I really appreciated the nod to the fans, and agree wholeheartedly!
Tonya Ricucci said…
loved this episode, absolutely loved it. I hope we get to have Chuck and Sarah work together as a Nick and Nora Charles kinda couple - it really worked. I would be sad to have Ellie and Awesome off the show, but wouldn't mind so much if we get more of Jeffster and Morgan.
Ben Rasmussen said…
I just watched this episode the other day, so I'm a little late to the game, but your 'what else I liked' section missed the best line of the episode. That's when Ellie finds Awesome's dumbells and Awesome replies, shirtless atop the stationary bike "babe, this didn't happen by accident."

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