Contributor: Henry T.
Written by Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc
Directed by Anton Cropper
Following a great episode that focused on the Volkoff arc that’s been the crux of the whole season, “Chuck” takes a step back to address the other arc: Chuck and Sarah’s impending wedding. It had to eventually be combined with the return of Sarah’s father, which had been hinted on throughout the season and was another opportunity to delve into Sarah’s backstory. It’s a busy episode that also works in the issues raised by Casey’s difficulties with telling Alex’s mother that he is actually alive. Sarah’s past is more or less resolved within the episode while I got the sense that Casey’s story will continue until the end of the season.
I think it would have served the show a little better if Jack’s return had been earlier in this season because there was such a large gap between here and the last time he was involved in his daughter’s life back in the second season. It takes a while for the story to get going, as Sarah has to get conned by the wedding planner before he comes back and even then, there’s an odd interlude with him and Captain Awesome before Jack gets involved in the mission to get Iranian nuclear intelligence. Much of the episode at this point felt really cartoonish and played more goofily than the show is really known for.
Once they all get into the fake wedding con, the cylinders seemed to be clicking. Gary Cole demonstrates the natural charm that comes with being a lifetime con man and it’s made very clear that he’s better at that than being a normal father to Sarah. The parents in this series have never been the definition of “normal” in the traditional sense so it’s in keeping with what has been going on in the series all along. Sarah knows this and it comes from what she experienced during her hard upbringing that was shown throughout this episode. Chuck may seem his usual naive self in wanting the normal things for his future wife, but is supporting and loving when it counts. That was what Sarah arguably needed, though the money gift from her father to cover the wedding expenses doesn’t hurt. They can both move forward with the wedding of their lives, and perhaps this is the last thing needed to be done in order for Sarah to stay instead of the running she’s been doing her whole life.
Casey gets the lesser storyline this time around, and it was muddled by all the chaos in the Chuck-Sarah storyline. He has continually avoided telling Kathleen the truth about his being alive for as long as possible and now that part of his life is unravelling. I would have been fine with Casey standing in support of both Chuck and Sarah while they went through the mess with the wedding planner (why was he put on a separate team away from Castle in the first place?) through this whole episode. Then devote one full episode on where Casey stands with telling Kathleen that he’s alive.
By shrinking it into a subplot, it lessens the impact of what happened in the parking garage with her knowing the full truth. That said, Adam Baldwin does a good job with what he’s given. There’s real weight and history behind Casey and Kathleen’s interactions. I’ve had the small inkling of a feeling that the writers have always seen Casey as a supporting player rather than a lead, but he has proven to be a very capable lead when given a story with some weight and oomph (like in “Chuck vs. The Couch Lock”). It’s getting near the end of the season so that won’t happen, but this felt like a miscalculation on the writers’ part.
As if there weren’t other things to worry about in terms of the plot of the show, there now is a growing possibility that the show is nearing the end of its run. Ratings are apparently continuing to steadily drop episode by episode to the point where the network has to ask itself whether it wants to keep the show. I’ve remarked in earlier reviews that the writers have written themselves into a place where things could go a number of different ways. Chuck and Sarah could get married and leave the CIA forever to start a normal life if the series ends. Or they could be a married spy couple if the series were to continue on. The Volkoff arc still needs to be addressed, along with Ellie and her absent supercomputer and the Agent X files. It should be a nice buildup to the finale, whether that be a cliffhanger or a final resolution to everything.