Find out after the juuuuuuuump!
Writer Amanda Kate Shuman rides out guns-a-blazing in this one, backed by the directorial brilliance of Peter Lauer who has now helmed at least three, if not four, of the best episodes in series history (Best Friend, Colonel, Last Details, Santa Suit). Supporting them are the cast and crew, all fully engaged in delivering a masterpiece. And it almost all works to perfection.
As we discovered in the previous episode, there is a virus and it is doing bad things. Unlike last episode, our characters behave realistically and don't regress to fit the stupidity of the story. This time, everyone is behaving as heroically as 85 episodes of story have established.
One of the most surprising things in Chuck Versus the Santa Suit is Brandon Routh's excellent performance as Chuck and Sarah's ultimate nemesis, Daniel Shaw. The great thing about Shaw, unlike every other bad guy on the show, is that his hatred for the pair is totally believable, so much that there were times during the episode I actually thought some harm could come to our heroes. Of course no real harm can come to them, but that's how convincing Shaw's passion for hurting them was that I, a cynical veteran of television, forgot the most obvious. At times, the hairs stood on the back of my neck as Shaw beat, tortured, or stalked Sarah. Insanity!
Another excellent element? General Beckman who, as it is now clear, has been underutilized for most of the series. Her kissing Chuck should go down in show history as one of the most hilarious. I laughed, clapped my hands together, and probably screamed when it happened. The subsequent discussion between the two in the car, and the later attempt by Chuck and Beckman to explain it to Sarah, will continue to entertain me for some time.
As all that's going on, the show's also able to create a fun, funny, and exciting Buy More subplot that ended up being very important. As Jeff and Lester eat Subway sandwiches and drink Subway coffee, and get a personal Subway slave, while Subway eye-rapes the audience with its products, they are able to believably discover the true nature of the evil virus, giving Chuck and Morgan a solution to the Shaw problem.
The toughest job may have fallen on Yvonne Strahovski who had to play the defiant damsel in distress Sarah who slowly realizes the danger awaiting her husband. Her fight scenes against Shaw were some of the most violent we have seen on the show involving Sarah and a male character. Usually, this show will save Sarah beatings for a female opponent, but this time it felt appropriate to have Shaw dominate her physically, and it felt necessary as a way to elevate the feelings of danger throughout her ordeal in Castle. I give a tip of the cap to the writers room for going through with it and for Strahovski and Routh for making nearly every scene between them compelling.
Ellie and Awesome also get some focus, with the former getting her hero moment at the end. Big Mike gets a few very good scenes too, but the character continues to be underutilized by the writers. Casey and Morgan both get to be heroic, though I do feel that Casey's arc in the episode was too familiar. His getting shot is much like Kenny on SOUTH PARK getting killed. Except on CHUCK it feels more like a crutch when the writers have to take Casey out because he is too capable. That would be one of my nitpicks. It isn't a major problem, especially since he does get a couple of good moments, but something that did bother me a tad.
If there is a big logic bomb in the episode, it could be that Shaw still has the Intersect in his head. However, after thinking about it, there is a reasonable explanation. Before the CIA could suppress it in Shaw, he turned Decker into his pawn. So, Decker essentially protected him and kept him from being de-Intersected.
Speaking of which, one of the best fights in the ENTIRE SERIES was the one between Chuck and Shaw in the Buy More. Yes, we have seen this fight before, at the end of season 3, but this time neither one of them has the Intersect. To finally see Chuck demonstrate the skills he has naturally learned, and should have learned by now, was like the geek-payoff of the decade. So many times fans have questioned why Chuck's not trained to fight without the Intersect, or to do just about anything without it, and this season the writers have slowly been hinting that he's been working out. The fight choreographers even made sure Chuck's fighting style's similar to Sarah's (I notice such things being the master martial artist that I am), because she would likely be the one to show him most of her moves. Little details like that may not mean much to most people, but I salute everyone involved for making the little boy inside me geek out crazy style. So far, season 5 has done everything I wanted them to do it season 4. It is like the perfect book-end to the series.
And finally, we close out the episode with Ellie saving Chuck, the CIA accepting the gang back into the fold, and a government designed Christmas party for the gang. Did I forget anything? Oh, yeah! Sarah has a secret baby! But what does it mean? Tune in next week!
Alright, and now to my favorite portion of any episode write-up...
Big Mike being interviewed by a reporter for a local news story.
Big Mike: I'm Michael Tucker, assistant manager Burbank Buy More. I want customers to remember the true meaning of Christmas. And get back to what you're supposed to be doing. (grabs Jeff and pulls him into frame) Buying stuff.
Jeff: Like this iPad, a bargain for $599! Honestly it's overpriced. You can get all this stuff on the Internet.
Big Mike discovers that the store Santa suit is missing.
Big Mike: Damn, hell! What kind of monster steals a Santa suit on Christmas Eve but leaves the eyebrows?
Chuck, having stolen the Santa suit and just received a call from Awesome about it, addresses the situation.
Chuck: My wife has been kidnapped and I'm officially ruining Christmas for the children of Burbank.
Tied up Sarah realizes it is getting cold in Castle and Shaw explains why.
Shaw: I tapped into the internal generator. Lowered the temperature. To stop the mainframe from overheating. Once the virus activates, the resulting data influx could fry it in seconds. You with me? No, you're not. [If] you were, you'd have brought a coat, silly.
As Jeff and Lester work on the Omen Virus problem, Lester contemplates the situation.
Lester: God, can you imagine a world without the Internet? What if it's up to us? Two Buy More employees left to stop the Omen Virus and save the world.
Jeff: Come on. The government has their best people working on this. Right?
Cut to CIA workers getting drunk at their Christmas party.
When Chuck and Beckman are discovered breaking into Decker's office, the general sees only one way out of the situation.
Beckman: Pucker up, Bartowski! You're about to become a man!
After Beckman and Bartowski share a kiss, on the drive home, Chuck feels the need to explain something as the general fixes her lipstick.
Chuck: You know, I typically brush my teeth before I..
Beckman: We never speak of this again.
As Sarah sits tied to a chair, going in and out of consciousness, Shaw decides to take the opportunity to kiss her.
Sarah: You sick son-of-a-bitch!
Shaw: Just wanted to see if any of the old fire was still there. No. Ice cold.
After the highly caffeinated Jeff and Lester reveal to Chuck and Morgan what the virus actually does, Chuck tells them their work is done.
Chuck: You can go home. Happy holidays. Maybe drink some water.
Jeff: Water can only dilute this feeling.
Lester: Plus, fish have sex in it. Jeffrey, let's go for a run.
After Chuck and Shaw fight for some time, Shaw eventually gets a hold of his gun and aims it at his opponent.
Shaw: You're good, Chuck. But you're not lucky.
Ellie bashes Shaw in the head with something solid.
Ellie: That was for me.
Chuck: Nice shot, sis. But I told you to stay at home.
Ellie: I'm Eleanor Woodcomb. Since when do I do what I'm told? That man took our father away from us, Chuck. I wasn't gonna let him take anybody else.
If I had to rate this one, I'd give it:
95 out of 100
One of the best of the series. Dangerous, riveting, funny, action packed, family oriented, with one of the biggest payoffs to an important show arc. A nearly perfect episode from beginning to end. I may even grow to love this one more than I do right now.
So, what did you think? Comment below. As always, anonymous posting is enabled. Though, sign your comments if you want people to know how to respond to you.
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