Spoilers for "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I try some of Jeff's eggnog...
"Chuck Bartowski will return after the New Year... at least, we hope so."
Well, thanks to the back nine (or whatever) pick-up, not to mention the two episodes in the can that are being saved for whenever production resumes, we know "Chuck" will be back -- at some point -- and this wasn't a bad one to go out on for however many weeks or months it's going to take for the strike to end.
The meat of "Chuck Versus the Crown Vic" was ostensibly the status of Chuck and Sarah's relationship post-Bryce and post-kiss, but for me the real heart of the episode was Casey. Casey always gets stuck as the third wheel, posing as the limo driver or the roulette dealer or the cater waiter while Chuck and Sarah get glammed up, but he's kind of carrying the team, staying level-headed and (other than his boxers-and-handcuffs incident) not letting himself get sucked into the romantic shenanigans that so often distract his partners. As he said to Sarah, they made a choice when they became spies, and he has no problems living with the ramifications of that choice -- but damn if he didn't look conflicted when reminded that Chuck would be taken care of once the new Intersect gets up and running. The guy's human, after all, and not just for inanimate objects like his bansai tree, his guns or his beloved, now-totaled Crown Vic. Adam Baldwin always brings the one-liner-y goodness on this show, but last night he had a number of really nice dramatic moments, like his speech to Sarah or the aforementioned reaction to the Intersect news. But my favorite may have been a combination of the funny and the serious, as Casey tried to deal with the Crown Vic's destruction, and you could see him going through all five stages of grief simultaneously. He wanted to kill Chuck, but he also understood why it happened.
(That said, couldn't the three of them have just jumped off the boat? Or were there too many unconscious bad guys lying around who would have blown up real good?)
After Casey, my favorite part of the episode was Lester hustling the staff at dreidel to the tune of "Pimp Juice." (One of two superb hip-hop selections on the soundtrack, the other being Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" at the party.) I had almost forgotten that Lester was taking bar mitzvah lessons for whatever reason, and the idea of him trying to exploit his apparent conversion to Judaism to get over on his co-workers -- whether with the dreidel, forcing Big Mike to refer to the Christmas party as a holiday party, calling Jeff "bubeleh" (Hebrew -- or maybe Yiddish, I forget -- for "sweetheart") was damned amusing to me on the night before the Festival of Lights begins. Even though Schwartz refuses to make Chuck Jewish, it's nice to have some kind of Semitic culture from the man who gave us Chrismukkah.
The episode had a few weak spots -- after being really engaged in the Chuck/Sarah thing for the last three episodes, their bickering here didn't click for me, and Morgan with Anna's parents was definitely on the low end of the Morgan curve -- but what other show is going to give me gratuitous "Passenger 57" references in the middle of a Bond parody scene?
Bye, "Chuck." Of the new shows being scuttled by the strike, I'll miss you most of all. Come back soon, okay?
What did everybody else think?