'Chuck': The courtship of Sarah's father

chuck-vs-wedding-planner-320.jpgWe're likely to get heavy doses of drama and action in the final three episodes of "Chuck's" season in May. So consider Monday's (April 18) sweet, funny, affecting episode the relative calm before what we expect will be the storm of the end of the season.

The setup for "Chuck vs. the Wedding Planner" -- Chuck and Sarah get conned out of their wedding money by a shady planner, overreach in using national-security resources to find her and then stumble on an actual national-security issue -- was kind of an eye-roller. But the return of Gary Cole, a heart-tugging B-story involving Casey and good comedy all around more than made up for it.

That setup served mostly as a reason to bring Sarah's dad, Jack Burton (Cole, last season in Season 2's "Chuck vs. the DeLorean"), back into her life for a little while. Jack hasn't really changed, which both he and Sarah know, and because they both know that the fact that she didn't invite him to the wedding is underplayed. Instead, we get to see the two of them come to appreciate one another a little bit more: Jack gets to put his skills to use to help his daughter and Chuck win Beckman's confidence back, Sarah gets to see her dad in a (slightly) different light, and Jack, even though he leaves again, gives Sarah and the schnook a pretty lovely wedding present.

And we don't mean the money (although that's nice too). Jack's note to Sarah, left with her old piggy bank, is probably the most honest expression of love he's able to give, and even if he doesn't actually come to the wedding, Sarah knows how much he likes seeing her happy.

That final scene of Sarah reading the note was one of a couple moments where the room suddenly got dusty. The others involved Alex's mom Kathleen finally confronting Casey. As he predicted, she doesn't get why a guy would fake his death to become an electronics salesman/part-time security guard. Then she sees him doing what he really does, and she at least starts to understand.

One of Adam Baldwin's best traits as an actor is his ability to convey a lot without actually saying much. It's usually employed for comic effect on "Chuck," but this was a time when Casey was genuinely at a loss for words, and Baldwin played it extremely well (his reaction when she said "You have everything you ever wanted" slayed us a little bit). With Kathleen now knowing about Casey, we sort of fear for her safety, but we're also looking forward to seeing the big guy let her into his life the way he's done with Alex.

"Chuck" is off next week (grr), but it returns on May 2 to close out the season. This episode was a great way to get geared up for the final run.

Other notes from "Chuck vs. the Wedding Planner":

  • Yvonne Strahovski got to play the full range of emotion this week, balancing that touching final scene with a lot of good comedy. Her accent while impersonating Daphne Peralta was good, but her imitation of Chuck's flash face? Brilliant.
  • The flashbacks to Jack and little Sarah were also very effective. We particularly liked watching her teach the shell game to her stuffed giraffe.
  • The Chuck who got on the Super Shuttle (and really, Sarah doesn't know what that is?) seemed more like the Chuck of Season 1 or 2 than the guy we know now. Seems to me he could have handled Daphne's fake freakout a little better. And why the fake beard? Once they were both in the van, did it really matter whether she recognized him?
  • Angry Gen. Beckman is awesome Gen. Beckman. We'd be scared too if she looked at us the way she did Chuck and Sarah after the Daphne incident.
  • One of the best lines of the night, courtesy of Morgan: "Thanks for including me. I always wanted to run a con."
  • So, after the team captured the Hungarian scientists' dad and recovered the device, do you figure they went back to the ballroom and reset it for Tammy's bat mitzvah?
  • Speaking of the dad: He was played by Timothy V. Murphy, aka the "I am epic win" super-rich Russian guy in the DirecTV ads. Even though his character here was established as being from Hungary, we're going to choose to think of him as the same guy from the commercials.

What did you think of "Chuck" this week?
Photo/Video credit: NBC