13 January, 2012

21-Days of CHUCK! Day 9: From Lieutenant to Colonel, the Life and Times of John Casey


Lieutenant Colonel John Casey, United States Marine Corps [Retired].

Born Alex Coburn, this mean green fighting machine faked his own death so that he could become one of the elitist of the elite. And in doing so, he took on the cover name of John Casey. As John Casey, he eventually joined the NSA and that led him to the Intersect project after he intercepted and seemingly killed Bryce Larkin in the process of stealing it.

As a member of Team Bartowski, Casey acted as Sarah Walker's partner, she being assigned as Chuck Bartowski's handler. That meant his job was to protect and serve both the Intersect and his handler. Eventually, as the government began to assign the team missions, Casey became more of a (tor)mentor to Chuck, trying to show him how to better behave like a spy while reminding him over and over that he's an idiot.

Early on, Casey was shown to be someone who had the NSA's and the US government's best interest at heart. He was even written as the eventual assassin of Chuck whenever the government felt it no longer needed his Intersect, or due to him being a liability. At best, then Major Casey was seen as the man who would put Chuck in a deep dark hole somewhere if the government demanded it.

Things seemed to change toward the end of season 2, as Casey was promoted to colonel (most likely lieutenant colonel, since that is the next rank from major) and tasked with arresting Chuck and Sarah for going against government orders. However, it came to light that Casey was loyal to the team and eventually, especially in season 3, he eased up on Bartowski and became as loyal to him as he had been to the government.

When first assigned to team up with CIA agent Sarah Walker, Casey resisted and even distrusted the blond goddess, but in time the two became true partners, rarely questioning the other, and usually operating as one mind. Later, as Chuck became more of a capable spy, the Casey and Sarah partner dynamic thinned out a bit but they always maintained a loyal friendship and partnership.

As Chuck and Sarah became partners, Casey found himself often partnered with and mentoring the wannabe super spy, Morgan Grimes, who he had worked alongside at the Buy More as a green shirt for several years as his cover job. Morgan was a handful because unlike Chuck, who was brave even though scared to death, Grimes seemed too willing to die. This meant Casey had to reign in him and be even more watchful of the bearded nut. Still, the two developed a strong friendship and eventually moved in together. Not to mention that Morgan would also date Casey's daughter Alex.

Speaking of Alex, she was the daughter he had with his fiancee, Kathleen, who thought he was dead. Casey would tell his daughter the truth when he thought her life was in danger, and eventually confess the same to his ex. Alex has remained a fixture in his life since but Kathleen has not.

Finally, right before the end, Casey reconnected with an old flame named Gertrude Verbanski and they fell deeply in love and lived happily dangerous to the end of their days (which could be any day now).

Was Casey your favorite character? What was your favorite episode with him? Can I stop writing these articles at 9? Or do I really have to do 12 more? Is it sad that I'm doing these from memory?


18 comments:

  1. Yes, John Casey is my favorite character on the show.

    Superbly played by Adam Baldwin.

    My favorite Casey centric episodes were Tic Tac and Couch lock.

    Even in episodes like CAT Squad and Muuurder Adam Baldwin gets these really good lines.

    The part where he's congratulating the pregnant CIA officer in Muuurder.

    Then there's a good dramatic moment where Casey tells Chuck that he use to be just like him in the CAT squad episode.

    I liked it when he was annoyed at Chuck for talking about his favorite sandwiches to eat on a desert island.

    Then there's those little moments where he's looking at everyone through the window in Helicopter.

    Had the show be more popular i would have like to have seen the storyline in season 3 where he's fired from the NSA go on a bit longer.

    And the storyline in season 4 where he feels left out and gets another assignment to go on a little longer as well.

    P.S. You can do best villains as one of your 21.

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    1. Click on the sidebar link to the 21-Days of Chuck articles and you will know exactly what I will be covering.

      Granted, I reserve the right to change at any point, since I don't pre-write these (though, I did write Saturday's article already since I have to write a couple of episode reviews tomorrow).

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  2. You can pretty much track Chuck's progress as a spy by Casey's attitude towards him. As you say, he started out calling him a moron or idiot and noting how he screamed like a girl. But, it was Casey, and not so much Sarah, who first accepted that Chuck was going to be a real spy. For some reason, the scene at the end of "Nacho Sampler" when Chuck burns Manoosh and Casey recommends Johnny Walker Black sticks out in my mind. When Casey verbally acknowledged Chuck was becoming a real spy and it was a good thing, it seemed official.

    These days, Casey treats Chuck as the brains of the group and looks to him for "the plan" that will get them out of tough situations.

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  3. You forgot that Casey is a secret Shipper with girly feelings and that he took part enjoyment and part concern in torturing both Chuck and Sarah into letting them know that he knew that they loved each other, lol.

    So there is that.

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    1. You're right. Casey never really discouraged them.

      And Casey never liked Shaw at all.

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    2. True... Casey is a secret shipper.

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  4. I love Casey and hope he is not the "heroic death" that has been teased for the end of the series. That will really hurt.

    I also like Adam Baldwin and am thankful for all those Firefly fans who flocked to the first Comic Con and got this fandom started off with a bang.

    Sg

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  5. First…you must continue to write these articles because this series is preventing me from confronting the utter sadness of knowing that Chuck is coming to a close. Plus it’s distracting me from how much my life has been impacted and influenced for the better because of Chuck and it’s fans and I’m just not ready to deal with those emotions yet.

    That said…how can you write up a post about the wonders of John Casey with absolutely NO reference to his secret language of 'grunting'...or as I like to think of if Morgan whispering. Plus you forgot to mention that despite popular opinion, he wasn't hatched.

    I can’t narrow down my love for Casey to specific moments…it’s more the myriad of modes he has that I love including but not limited to…

    1. Bad Assery - This is John Casey's forte...beating a guy across the head with a microwave or radiator, brainwashing Lester into submission, headbutting a punch, or pretty much anything involving a gun
    2. Unexpectedly funny - Cleaning guns sexily with a Cylon, hitting a high C, losing a battle with paper cuts during Christmas wrapping season, enthusiastically selling beastmasters, & wanting to watch Jeff eat a 100 Twinkies to see if he dies.
    3. Heartwarming Sugar Bear - Anything with Alex, supporting Chuck, protecting Morgan, or defending his partnership with Sarah.
    4. Unwavering Loyalty - Admirable dedication to family, friends, and country...whether real (NSA/Ronald Reagan/Diane Beckman) or imagined (BuyMoria...where neither capitalist fat cats nor hippies are welcome)…is a cornerstone of Casey’s psyche. This is a man who will let you rip out his tooth to sell a cover, who’ll fake his own death (TWICE) to bring down bad guys, and even if your love of a Nerd makes you go all Giant Blonde She-male, he’ll brave the jungles of Thailand to back you up.

    In terms of gruff, opinionated manly men with a strong affinity for the right to carry weapons and a secret soft side for his co-workers, the only other TV character who comes close to John Casey is Ron Effing Swanson...and I can't think of a higher compliment than that. Job well done colonel...dismissed!

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    1. I'll continue it but it is becoming like work... actual work. Actual, unpaid work. Which should make it fun, but it isn't. It kind of feels like I'm back in college. Minus the hard drinking and sex!

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  6. Another awesome post, Wendy, thanks! You too, HGF. ;) Your articles are so fun to read, you know your show.

    I just love John Casey ("I love guys"). I think I started to really like him in the Undercover Lover epi because I was able to see another side of him. By season 3 I was a big fan. Tic Tac was such a great because it humanized this warrior in a big way and made me care about him even more. He suddenly felt like a more real character. I can say that Casey is probably my fave character, maybe because he has always been more consistent in the way he thinks and acts. He's totally reliable and dependable when he likes you.

    @MediaSavant: I kind of agree that Casey never liked Shaw, but he respected him and considered him a real spy (American Hero).

    HGF, I'm also having trouble in accessing the blog and even to post.

    S.

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  7. Oops! In the quote I wrote I meant to say "I love guns," as Casey told Shaw in Operation Awesome. Sorry about that.

    S.

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    1. I'm sure a lot of deluded fanfic authors out there would tell you "I love guys" is something Casey would definitely say... :P

      Cor

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  8. I miss when Casey used to get to dress up

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  9. Do we need to know his past ? His parents ? What made him join the Marines and become a NSA agent ? What about Morgan, will we ever learn about his past ? His Father ? Do we need to know this before the end ? I do. I want closer. just like "One life to life". closer. That is all troops. Dismissed.

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    1. You are going to be disappointed, me thinks.

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    2. Casey's parents, your guess is as good as mine. That it hasn't been addressed makes me think his childhood was probably fairly normal and unremarkable. What made him join the Marines is pretty obvious from sentiments he often expresses: patriotism and a desire to help protect America and its people. Ditto the NSA, as per "Tic Tac".

      I do really enjoy "Tic Tac" when I rewatch it, and seeing the Coburn scenes (even if I have a hard time buying the actor as a young Casey). Because there's really some great writing there. Even with those few sparse minutes, you can see how naive and idealistic Coburn was, compared to how savvy and hard-bitten Casey now is. You also get the idea of how Keller probably was a crafty bastard who played Coburn and his naivete and his desire to serve his country to get him to do something as extreme as leave behind a fiancee and fake his own death. I have the feeling the words "It's for her own safety" were involved...

      Cor

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  10. Yeah, he's my favorite character. Casey hasn't always been well served by the storyline--s4 in particular--but he usually gets the great lines, and he says a lot with subtle expressions and the ever-popular grunts. That's to Baldwin's credit.

    I even like Casey/Morgan a lot more now that it's not being played as Casey's sole purpose on the show while Chuck and Sarah are off doing all the important shit. The writers didn't handle it too well, but his feelings of constant demotion to the bush leagues last season and being irrelevant were pretty spot on. They've done a bang-up job this season keeping him involved and giving him development.

    As much as Sarah's crucial to Chuck's development, Casey was needed to help keep the balance of Team B. Casey's growing affection and approval of him is maybe a truer measure of his progress as a spy since it's not entangled with romance, and seeing their relationship move from freaked-out asset/reluctant handler and would-be assassin to a grudging respect to friendship to sort of a brotherly aspect, has really been neat. As much as Chuck strove to prove himself to earn Sarah's love, I think after a certain point he equally wanted Casey's respect.

    I've really loved the Casey/Sarah relationship too. From foes to partners and now good friends, they've really brought it home in s5 showing just how close they are now. There's kind of a brother/sister aspect to them now that I enjoy.

    Chuck/Casey and Casey/Sarah may be less flashy than Chuck/Sarah, but they're just as necessary to the show, and to see three wildly different and sort of damaged people come together and become a family like this, and help build each other back up, has been a great journey.

    Cor

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  11. Casey's parents? Casey said this of Mother Winterbottom, "She's like the mother I never had!". Which can strongly imply he was an orphan or maybe brought up by just his father. I'm guessing no living siblings either, or he would probably not have gone from Alex to John quite so easily.

    In 'Chuck vs the Undercover Lover', Casey proved to have a heavily hidden working set of emotions and a libido. This was later explored further with Carina, Kathleen and most gloriously with Gertrude.

    His disguises in the line of duty have been varied and memorable. I'm a particular fan of the bell hop with the pill-box hat and the almost Daniel Jackson lookalike Maitre D complete with stunt caterpillar!

    I did wonder whether Casey might have accidentally met Mary Bartowski when they were both there at almost the same time in Costa Gravas, but it was not to be.

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