I’ve always had a thing for big, epic and expansive stories, whether in movies, video games or television shows. I guess that’s the reason why, in the process of becoming a Chuck fan over this past year, I have tended to gravitate more towards the “mythology” episodes that strongly tie into the show’s overall backstory and that showcase Chuck’s development as a hero than I have towards the “standalone” episodes (though I have enjoyed each and every episode).
With that in mind, I have to say that this week’s “standalone” episode “Chuck vs. the Seduction Impossible” was one of the most enjoyable episodes for me not only in this season, but overall. From John Larroquette’s welcome and long overdue return as Roan Montgomery, to the POV shot showing everyone oooh-ing and aaah-ing over little baby Clara, to Mama B’s joyful zeal at being the uber-grandma we all expected her to be, to Chuck and Sarah’s back-and-forth over a big wedding vs. eloping, this episode’s fun, lighthearted tone was a very refreshing change of pace after the largely serious and intense tone of the Volkoff story arc that has dominated Season 4 up to this point (make no mistake, though, I have thoroughly enjoyed the Volkoff arc and Timothy Dalton’s performances).
Aside from the overall fun tone of this episode, what really made it enjoyable for me was the fact that despite its “standalone” nature, it provided good, solid material for moving the mythos of the show forward, and further developed several characters. The first example is the exploration of General Beckman’s history with Roan, which not only revealed a softer side to the character (and gave her the chance to fire off a rocket launcher), but also established that she has gone on missions in the field and hasn’t always just been calling shots from behind a desk. I would really enjoy it if Schwartz and Fedak would create an episode sometime in the future that delves further into Beckman’s backstory. I also appreciated the opportunity to see how Mary is eagerly diving back into being a part of her family again, and is bonding with Ellie. The scene between the two of them in the kitchen also allowed us to see that Ellie is closer to being able to come to terms with Chuck being a spy. I only hope that when that time comes, whether it’s by the end of this season or into Season 5, Ellie is able to fully accept that she no longer needs to protect or take care of Chuck, and that it’s his destiny and responsibility to serve his country as a spy. One bit of character development that was a bit of a downer–though it was really good–was Casey finally showing a willingness to re-connect with Kathleen, only to find out that she was already in a relationship. Hopefully, they’ll find a way to resolve that subplot at some point, because I’m not sure how much longer Alex will be able to hide Casey’s true identity from her mom as her relationship with Morgan progresses.
Of course, key in this episode is the fact that Chuck and Sarah have developed in their relationship to the point where, although there is some initial hesitance to broach a topic that both of them are uneasy about, they can discuss their disagreements on what kind of wedding they want without an overwhelming amount of angst (although I cringed when Chuck gave Sarah a “No, woman!”). Also, the fact that Sarah admits that her reluctance for a big wedding stems from her lack of connection with her own family is further proof that she really is becoming more comfortable with a stable home life and is continuing to open up emotionally to Chuck. It also (thankfully) opens the door to bring back Gary Cole as Sarah’s father, and to explore the rest of her family history. As far as the eagerly awaited belly dancing scene is concerned (You knew I had to mention it eventually), it was neat to see Sarah using her feminine wiles and seduction skills to try to get something she really wants from Chuck, rather than just as tools to accomplish part of a spy mission. And of course, Yvonne Strahovski looked gorgeous in that costume, to say the least. 🙂
In closing, this was an all-around fantastic episode of Chuck, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next week for the return of Carina, and for the rest of the season beyond!