Stay Away From Me, If You Want To Live! Episode 4.06: Chuck Vs The Aisle of Terror

Written by Craig DiGregorio

Directed by John Scott

You have to hand it to the creative team at Chuck. The amount of material, and characters they can stuff into an episode is staggering. Sometimes overwhelmingly so. The question becomes then, are the results worth it? More often than not they are.

Alas, this is not one of those times.

What hurts here is that Chuck Vs The Aisle of Terror is so close to pulling it off but one section is so constrained by the dictum of fitting in the rest of the story that it snatches greatness from the jaws of the tolerable. Inevitably shows crib from themselves; recycling story elements because of the restrictions of the world that has been built. Not necessarily a bad thing if new twists are put on them. But when the show reuses scenarios that irked the first time, well, each of us has our own tolerance level for these types of things. Mine, for the record, is low.

First the good stuff. Linda Hamilton still has the ability to dominate the screen with the intensity of her personae. Her initial meeting and stand off with Sarah Walker is a moment of great tension. Not just on the professional level as spies but on the personal one too, as potential mother and daughter – in laws. Right now MamaB occupies that same no man’s dramatic land as Sarah Walker did in Season 1. Unsure of MamaB’s motivations, it is impossible to get a true read on her. Especially in an episode where she flipped from being bad to good to bad to good to bad…etc. Nevertheless, Linda Hamilton’s presence is most welcome and it can be expected the real emotional moments will come to the front once MamaB and Ellie meet. But there was not much of a search for MamaB looking back over the first five episodes.

MamaB’s presence is the first adverse relational test Chuck and Sarah have had to face since becoming a real couple. And, as expected, stumbles resulted. Chuck acknowledges MamaB is a blind spot for him and asks Sarah’s help. Sarah does so but by the end of the episode she slips back into spy/asset mode with Chuck and proceeds against MamaB unilaterally breaking their personal agreement of, ‘No lies. No secrets.’ Like with Chuck’s actions, Sarah’s actions comes from the right place but the means in which they set about doing them are a circumnavigation of the basis of their relationship.

Robert Englund is great in the episode and his scenes via the auspices of the fear toxin are a Halloween/Nightmare On Elm Street, Fright Night of Fun. He also carries himself well as the creepy scientist, Dr. Wheelwright. Casey and Morgan continue to be a joy as spy partners. Still one cannot help for longing for an episode where all four of the Team Bartowski members are working together as a unit or family.

Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.

  • Cool nightmare sequence to open at Volkoff Industries with Wheelwright and Security Guard
  • Sarah Connor and Freddy Kruger together on the screen
  • Chuck telling Sarah he has just heard from a ghost ie MamaB
  • Sarah Vs MamaB standoff – awesomely done! ‘Not old. Just slow.’
  • ‘Please don’t kill each other.’ Girlfriend meet future mother-in-law
  • holographic iPad!!?!? Me wantsies!
  • MamaB knows all about Charles Carmichael
  • Casey’s, ‘You are either exceptionally smart or incredibly stupid.’ Morgan’s, “My father use to say the same thing!’
  • CIA coffee mugs!
  • Chuck’s admission MamaB is a blind spot for him
  • Casey, once again, smells a rat about the latest mission
  • Chuck and Sarah looking very stylish and hot at the mission buy location
  • love the Chuck and Sarah banter here about keeping the dress
  • Morgan’s classic Ross & Rachael snipe to Casey
  • MamaB’s footplant Terminator callout as she arrives to crash the mission buy
  • MamaB’s hits, er shoots, Chuck in the heart once again
  • Casey and Morgan conversing in grunts
  • Jeff’s plea to be able to, ‘Sprinkle some dead ones,’ ie real bodies throughout the BuyMore. ‘ There goes my deposit.’
  • MamaB and her styling Caddy and keeping up appearances
  • Casey’s Crown Vic makes the scene!
  • ‘Chuck, how’d you get here?’ ‘My mom dropped me off.’
  • Morgan’s – ‘Bad guys don’t make such delicious lemon bars.’
  • the true weirdness of the, ‘Aisle of Terror’
  • the things Jeff will do for 30 bucks and a sandwich. Actually, even just for a sandwich…
  • hilarious use of The Nutcracker’s, ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies,’ inside the Aisle of Terror
  • the Castle does have a turbolift! Now those big air ducts make sense!
  • fear effects done Ghosthunters style
  • Casey and Morgan The Magnet procure the MamaB Intel
  • HD-DVD players are alive and well at the BuyMore. Now what was that about the BuyMore being obsolete again?
  • Otters, man feet, and black licorice! (ed. Hey! I love black licorice!)
  • Sarah clotheslines Wheelwright!
  • Morgan’s modified paint ball gun
  • Morgan – the Human Target!
  • Sarah still has the Porsche!
  • another touching Chuck and Ellie scene
  • YES! Ellie knows the truth about MamaB!

Everyone puts in an appearance but this time some of it felt contrived. Big Mike’s bit seems to be foreshadowing that at some point he and Morgan are about to switch jobs. Morgan Fairchild’s appearance was strictly an exposition one to contrast her Honey Woodcombe smothering tendencies against MamaB’s non-mothering ones.

Is the BuyMore obsolete? HD-DVD Stock is telling.

Now back to the part that did not work for me. Remember that painful sequence in Chuck Vs The Mask where Shaw and Sarah accidentally release the gas? Me too. Apparently, the show does not. Chuck gets cut a lot of slack in story logic because the end results are often worth it. Not this time. The reveal that Chuck is afraid of MamaB killing Sarah and him was already shown earlier in the episode. So what is the pay off here? Oh yeah. It ties in with the BuyMore storyline. But at what cost? Standard containment protocols are ignored. Sarah wears a spiffy pair of goggles that look like sunglasses, works in an open environment, etc, etc. The list of aggrievements are endless. Bottom line: Chuck and Sarah get hit with the stupid stick in order to fulfill the need to address the BuyMore storyline and the Halloween theme. Painful to watch and the end results are not worth it. Want proof? Watch the episode without that sequence and the episode works fine.

More than just fine. The rest of the episode is very good.

The conflict between Chuck and Sarah is set up. The setup for conflict is in place at the end of this episode and the fallout from Sarah’s and Chuck’s actions will keep them apart, even if they quickly reconcile on a personal level, for at least the next episode. Who knows how many beyond the next one?

Ellie now knows MamaB is a spy. How long before Ellie finds out, or figures out, that Chuck is still in the business? Next week we will get some of those questions answered.

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  1. The episode writer’s name is Craig DiGregorio…

  2. lol Is it a snail or a baby 🙂

  3. Finally got a chance to watch the episode just now, and I really loved it! This episode is one of the ones that feels more like watching a (short) movie than a TV episode to me. Regarding the nerve toxin sequence, Lou, I can definitely see where you’re coming from. Maybe it would’ve worked better if they’d been following better safety protocols, & forced Wheelwright to assist them from the start, only to have him trick them and trigger the device, and then having Chuck shove Sarah into another isolation chamber. In the end, guess it didn’t bother me as much, but that’s just me. 🙂

    As far as the HD-DVD players are concerned, speaking as someone who works in the electronics department of a major retailer, you’d be amazed at the amount of obsolete crap we get stuck with on a regular basis. X-D

  4. Loved Mama B’s story. I’m curious as to what side she’s on? Sometimes she seemed rather sane and trustworthy, other times she’s like a dangerous loose cannon. So I’m rather torn about which side I want her to be on. The good side would be that her motherly parental side would take over and be the protective mom for Chuck and Ellie as well as being an ally to the rest of the team on the dark side it would be neat to have a dark sheep in the family to cause problems for Family Bartowski. We’ll see what time tells us.

    I’m sorry but I didn’t like this episode nearly as much as last week, don’t get me wrong it was fun but kinda campy and boring in places.

    Jeffster doesn’t need to be on the show every week they were al right last time but twice? Nope not gonna even go there.

    And don’t get me started on Morgan.

    Casey. Casey, Casey, how you keep surprising me I don’t know. 🙂 I loved that he had Morgan out as the bait and threw me for a loop after he said that Mary B’s story checked out but when he meets with Sarah, it had just been a cover up her story hadn’t checked out after all. Clever John Casey very clever.

    Oh boy, now with Sarah’s betrayal *so much for the No secrets, No lies* pact she and Chuck had promised each other things are gonna hit the fan. I want to see Chuck being angry I mean really angry I mean I love how he’s so forgiving but seriously with all the issues he has as well as his GF going behind his back I’d be ticked off if I were him.

    • Hope, I am in full agreement about the anger issue. Chuck has shown mild flashes of anger at Sarah in the past, but they’ve always been muted to the point where they border on mere disappointment. I’m thinking of “the Wookie” when he learns the real nature of the Sarah-Bryce relationship, and “the Ring” when Sarah announces that she’s leaving in the morning with Bryce to work on the new Intersect project. But here we have the opportunity for Chuck to get a little closer to actual rage. As much as I love this show, I am always yearning for something really different to happen, and this could be a major shakeup that would ramp up the narrative tension. I think that after the dust had settled, Sarah would end up respecting him for standing up to her.

  5. I didn’t consider the ending scene to be a secret / lie between Chuck and Sarah. As we saw, Sarah found out about Mary’s situation while Chuck and Ellie were waiting to meet her. There really wasn’t much time to have a discussion with Chuck about it and then proceed to save his life (or at least try to, depending on MamaB’s true intentions). I don’t see this as betrayal at this point. However, depending on what happens between them as this storyline unfolds (for instance, if Sarah doesn’t explain to Chuck why she did what she did, if she begins sneaking around to protect him, etc), it could turn to that.

    All in all, I did think it was a great episode. Sure, there were a few parts that slipped up a bit but still a great one!

    • That’s how I saw it. No time to pull Chuck in the loop. Casey and Sarah had to act. Given what they knew and the time frame they had, the consequences of not acting were much greater than the consequences of acting. The consequences of acting depends on whether Casey and Sarah snatched mama B or if the CIA did.

      • No time to pull Chuck in the loop? Come on after all they’ve been through together to resort to the agent/asset mode has to be the ultimate insult to Chuck especially after Sarah made him promise no more secrets no more lies and the fact that he considers them his family. All it would have taken was a phone call to Chuck telling him about Casey’s new intel on Mama B. The problem here is that more than looking out for Chuck’s blind spot Casey and Sarah are too quick to forget that Chuck has been spot on when it came to trusting other supposedly rogue agents like Bryce and Papa B. While Mama B. could be rogue the odds are against it and that Casey’s new intel is actually bogus.

      • When you think about it. It’s easier to apologize for grabbing mom by mistake than to extract a bullet from your boyfriend’s brain. From Casey & Sarah’s perspective, if they informed Chuck, he would have acted without backup. It’s been known to happen.

      • Chuck and Sarah both have cell phones. Plenty of time to make a call.

      • What do you say? Your mom is bad, get the hell out of there? Is that going to convince him?

      • Say whatever needs to be said. Honor the agreement. No secrets. No lies.

      • I thought about that but it seems there’s a significant risk that Chuck would end up confronting his mother on it and escalating the danger than seeking safety. Putting together a plan and grabbing her and sorting it out later was a lot safer.

      • Even if it doesn’t convince them, at least it would cause him to be more on guard.

      • I always think the same thing whenever I see that excuse, OD. Sarah and Casey drove back from their meeting place, put together a team including a sniper, changed their clothes, piled in to the van, drove to the restaurant and got into position. On top of that Mama B was running late. Chuck is supposedly in dire danger, yet they couldn’t scrounge together a few seconds to call him, or even send him a text message warning him that his mother was still rogue and might be coming to kill him and his sister.

      • I’ll even give an example of a possible text message.

        New Intel. Isis ended 20 years ago. Your mother might still be rogue. Be on your guard. Casey and I are in route to provide backup if needed.

      • I appreciate the possible text message weaslelone. The other thing that was running through my mind is didn’t Papa B. have more reliable intel on Isis? After all he has hundreds of neatly labeled boxes in the OC yet Chuck really hasn’t been back there since episode 1.

      • I was thinking about that, but my theory is that Orion had a lot of intel on a wide variety of individuals and organizations, but that there were still gaps in what he knew about a lot of things. I figure this was particularly true when it came to tracking down Frost, since he had never been able to come out of hiding to the degree necessary to actively search for her the way Chuck has done.

    • In a way it is before he had gone to meet Ellie and his mom he had told Sarah to stay behind and trust him. What does she do next? instead of honoring his wishes she goes behind his back and takes his mother in custody (I don’t trust Ma Bartowski just yet) Something seems to be rotten in the state of California :Location Burbank.

  6. OH NO!!!! Chuck is no longer TV guide’s cover poll nr.1.

    We are SECOND!!!! LETS VOTE PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We cannot lose this cover!!

  7. I have to agree with Lou on this episode. Parts were good and made total sense but the “isle of Terror” was just sick, and to have the Wheelwright freak out over it was an insult. I know they are trying to keep Jeff and Lester involved in the show but I would have preferred to have them use their comic skills rather than their wierd sick obsessions. I loved how they ended the show and did not consider that Sarah was lying or keeping secrets from Chuck but using this opportunity to grab and question Mama B without the loss of life or Casey getting shot again. They have portrayed Mama B as a woman who cleans up messes, is not afraid to get her hands dirty, was being protected by Papa B who was also protecting Chuck and Ellie, Someone who now knows the life choice she made has left her children in danger, longs to be part of her children’s life, and knows she now has to protect her children and grandchild. I had issues with the editing of the Sarah Mama B Standoff how Sarah went from holding the gun with two hands to one to get a sexy shot then back to two. I also felt that Morgan should not have let Big Mike get away with just reading a novel, it completely took away the respect I had for both characters. What I am really happy about is how they are showing the Love Sarah and Chuck have for each other and that we have only seen one quarter of the episodes this season instead of half.

  8. I must be on a different wave length. Loved the episode and all of the parts worked fine for me. I have only one burning question: what happened to the teddy bear?

    • chuck didnt have it when he went back inside so i would say its in the parking lot. he should have brought it with him in my opinion but then how do u say yeah i saw her she gave this to me to give to you but she didnt want to see you.

  9. Linda Hamilton appears to be the best actor/actress that has ever been on Chuck –bar none. One breakdown in my opinion was that no one mentions Chuck’s dad is dead–do we assume everyone knows? Sarah should have told Chuck of the plan to arrest his mother. He would have objected, which played a part in why he was not told. It was sad to see the bear for Ellie forgotten and left on the street. Will Chuck forgive Sarah–? Will she move out or can they get by this major problem? I do not like problems to exist between S & C for more than a partial episode. I thought there was a little too much going on in this episode and 42 or 43 minutes is just not enough time to take a chance on diluting the major storylines. The episode was okay but did not meet my expectations–close but a missed swing. I enjoyed the comments!!

  10. Episode Flashes: ‘I could stay at the W’

  11. You know Lou I am with you that sarah broke the agreement but I think that there is something a lot deeper that ultimately I do not think the show runners are going to address. The deeper concern for me is that when chuck and sarah made that agreement in the premier, for me the way sarah’s character is set up that agreement was always going to benefit sarah, sarah wanted that agreement so she could keep tabs on chuck and know everything about him, I do not think she was ever going to recipocate, because she never has done in the past! And this is where I know the show runners will not push this to issue to the forefront I think chuck should say you do not trust me, you do not trust my judgement, you broke the agreement, you told shaw your name, you told him your red test, you never treat me as an equal, I am the only one who ever opens up emotionally about my past and I am sick of it, I really want chuck and sarah to really go at each other badly, I mean I want real emotions to come out from both, tears, anger, shouting, passion and desire! I really think that this has been building for a long time now, Sarah has always wanted this emotional relationship with chuck, right from the pilot she said please trust me, and in the second episode we saw how upset she got when he did not and he thought the worst in her and she was hurt and upset. I think that the show runners will not do this but I wish they did, it would make their relationship more real and it could bring up a lot of hurt that chuck may feel, especially her telling shaw stuff about her past!

    • It is a good comment. I agree with you. We should see a real passion, anger, tears. This is how I see their first fight. Some unclear things from their past could make their” fight” really energetic. This would be a good development for this show. Of course this fight does not have to last very long (1 or two episodes), and a well written scene as a reconcile between them could enhance the end of the episode.

      • Wow seriously? I think you guys are totally misunderstanding Sarah as a character. In fact I thought that nonsense in Season 3 about her telling Shaw her real name was the worst possible piece of that season, but it was totally the fault of the writers. They used it as an emotional bargaining chip to try and sell the fans on the “she should wind up with shaw” story line. I think the ways in which she has opened up to Chuck are way more significant than telling him her real name or the story of her red test (both of which Chuck found out about anyway). Also, she obviously does trust Chuck, in fact more so this season now that the intersect works fine and he’s an official spy. In fact one of the highlights for me since Honeymooners has been seeing them work more as equals. I think from her look at the end she knew the emotional impact her actions would have on Chuck and she was trusting that he would look past that and see why she was doing what she did.

  12. Wow- I’m surprised at all the people who think Sarah somehow violated their pact from the premiere. I thought it was pretty clear when she got the intel from Casey that Chuck had already left to meet with Ellie and wait for Mama B. I know eveyone has said she could have called, txted, e-mailed etc. but I agree with the few who have pointed out that likely those might not have convinced him or given him enough info. to convince him of the possible danger he might be in. Second, she was following through with something Chuck asked her to do specifically earlier the ep.; to protect his “blind spot” with respect to his mom. Also, are we forgetting that Chuck basically lied to Sarah for the first half of the premiere about the search for his mom? Not to mention other instances in the past: ie. the intersect malfunction. I guess I’m just a little shocked everyone is so willing to jump all over Sarah on this one. Her intentions were in the right place no matter what, and yes maybe she was thinking more like a spy than a girlfriend; but regardless she did what she thought would ensure Chuck’s safety. Especially considering nobody seems sure about Mama B and her allegiances.

    Also what’s with all this demand for “Chuck anger”? It seems weird to me and very out of character for both my Chuck 🙂 and the show!!!

    • Chuck’s request and actions regarding the search for his mother are irrelevant as to whether Sarah broke their agreement. I hardly think anyone is forgetting that Chuck kept his search for his mother a secret from Sarah, given that incident led to Sarah and Chuck making the “No Secrets, No lies” agreement in the first place.

      I think it’s fairly clear that Sarah (and Casey) acted behind Chuck’s back on this one. The writers clearly established that this information was purposefully being hidden from Chuck from the get go with Casey lying to Morgan, divulging the information to Sarah at a remote location, having Casey and Sarah show up in the van with an entire team, and by having Mama B show up late. The writers made it very clear that this information was being withheld initially and that Sarah had time to correct this matter.

      Obviously, there were extenuating circumstances, justifications and rationalizations for Sarah’s keeping the secret, much as Chuck had his reasons for lying/keeping secrets at the end of the 3rd season and during the first episode, but Sarah still violated their agreement. Worse, this is the first time where the agreement has posed a real conflict for her and she reneged. That brings in to question whether she ever had any real intention of keeping the agreement, or was simply using it to pin down Chuck.

      • Perhaps you could say she went behind Chuck’s back in obtaining the information, but even that is a stretch. She and Casey had no idea if Casey’s contact could even get anything on Mama B and I think it was clear she had no intention of keeping the information from Chuck once they actually got it. It was just that the timing and circumstance with which Sarah received it didn’t allow for her to show it to him right away. I do not think she had time to correct that and or address it in a way that would have convinced Chuck of the danger he might be in. And how come Chuck’s action’s are irrelevant? His actions in the premiere are basically the reason for the agreement in the first place. And during this episode he admitted to Sarah that his actions were being motivated by things that were not logical but emotional, something which the show has shown can both help and hinder Chuck. Also, how do you deduce from one instance with extenuating circumstances that Sarah never intended to keep the agreement? Or that it was some kind of sham to manipulate Chuck? I think that is jumping to some pretty big and unfounded conclusions. Sarah loves Chuck and was acting to protect him from harm; how she did is fine point to debate, but certainly not a reason to condemn her character as some kind of lying, manipulator. Not to mention that Morgan, Chuck’s best friend, also knew about Casey’s plan at least to get the info and didn’t tell him either. And Casey yes, did purposely keep the plan and real info to himself, but how come he gets a pass? Because he didn’t have someone verbal pact with Chuck? Yet, he’s someone Chuck considers a trusted friend and someone who has watched his back for 3 years now.

      • Perhaps you can say that Sarah went behind his back in obtaining the information but even that is a stretch. When Casey brought it up to Sarah he didn’t even know if his contact could get the info and I think it was pretty clear that Sarah was never intending to keep the info a secret from Chuck. The timing and circumstance in which she found out about it didn’t allow her to tell him right away or in way which would have convinced him of the danger he might be in. How do you deduce from one instance with extenuating circumstances that Sarah never intended to keep the agreement? Or that she was somehow using it to manipulate Chuck? Sarah acted to protect Chuck because she loves him; how she went about it is a fine point for debate, but certainly not a reason to condemn her as some sort of lying manipulator. And how are Chuck’s actions irrelevant? His actions in the premiere were the reason for the agreement in the first place, and in this episode he admitted to Sarah that his actions as a spy were being affected by his conflicted feelings about his mom. Not to mention on the other hand that Morgan knew at least about the plan to get the info and didn’t tell Chuck. And Casey, yes did obtain the info and keep it to himself until the end, but nonetheless they are both people Chuck considers trusted friends, yet they get a pass because they didn’t have some verbal pact with Chuck?

      • Sorry about the double post- not trying to be an instigator. Mel- please fix if possible!- Thnx!

  13. I do agree with Lou about that toxin scene. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it portrayed Sarah and Chuck stupid but more that the writers are stupid let me emphasize that it portrays them as stupid because I don’t think the writers are because the problem lies with the fact that there are new writers this year. That has to to be a major factor some time in this season. These writers need to know the backstories and what has happened. It will get old if they don’t fix this soon.

  14. All season long sarah has been more than willing to help chuck find mama b, at the end of couch lock when chuck said she is a bad guy, sarah said we do not know that, sarah has had an open mind, until! she met mama b in the flesh. I have a feeling that when sarah saw her she was looking at a woman she used to be pre-chuck and I think that is the moment she sub-consciously broke their agreement. You can see all episode that sarah does not trust mama b but did not say anything to chuck, because she tried to stay emotionally strong for him. You know as much as sarah has changed by being with chuck and to be honest she has changed a lot, it seems that she is still plagued by potential feelings of abandonment and mistrust, she has said you are “my chuck” and we are seeing that now more then ever and I think her actions are deep down based on not beeing a spy or a girlfriend but just a person who does not want to lose the most important person ever in her whole life, I do not think she has ever loved anyone more than she loves chuck and we are seeing how far she is willing to go to keep someone like mama b taking her chuck away.

    • Good point Amrit. Mama B. pushes Sarah’s buttons in much the same way that Heather Chandler did in Cubic Z because they are so much alike. Sarah has changed through Chuck’s influence but now that she has met Mama B. face to face her protective instincts have kicked in and she is not about to lose the man she loves. Sarah will have to learn how to watch out for Chuck’s blind spot without treating him like the unpredictable, emotional asset he used to be.

      • I agree with you, Donovan. The real conflict will be between Chuck wanting to believe he can have his mom back and Sarah doing her job to protect her partner and her love. Hence, the spy world comes face to face with the real world. This is what Sarah didn’t want, she knew that she couldn’t have it. That’s why she didn’t want Chuck to be a spy.

        I have to disagree with the Casey/ Morgan thing. Its getting real stupid. Morgan is starting to grate on me.

  15. Is this two episodes in a row without a flash?

  16. Babies in costume! (Is it a baby? Or a SNAIL!?)
    Inter-Species Relationships!!!
    Old People!
    Public Showers!
    Man Feet!
    Black Licorice!
    I had a big grin on my face when this came on. It’s Jeff and Lester at their finest. Also, I think the ending was pretty interesting. You have to feel sorry for Ellie. What ELSE doesn’t she know about her family? Everyone’s a spy. Also, I can’t say this enough, Let’s get that COVER!!! VIVA LA REVOLUCION!!! LONG LIVE “CHUCK!”