Monday, March 09, 2009

Chuck, "Chuck vs. the Lethal Weapon": The man with the plan

Spoilers for tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I draw up a Sepinuptial...
"Just so you know, I am going to get this thing out of my head one day. I will. And when I do, I'm going to live the life that I want with the girl that I love. Because I'm not going to let this thing rob me of that. I won't." -Chuck Bartowski
Outstanding. Maybe even, with apologies to Devin, awesome.

Where "Chuck vs. the Beefcake" appeared to be taking Chuck a step back in his relationship with Sarah and his unwanted spy career, "Chuck vs. the Lethal Weapon" shows that, in fact, Chuck is trying damned hard to take two steps forward. As he shows throughout the final few scenes, he is not a sap, not a clown, not a victim. He knows who he is and what he's capable of, and if he's the clown some of the time, he's also working to get better and to find a way out of this nightmare he's been living for two years.

If the episode had ended on the two final scenes involving Sarah -- Chuck leaving her alone with Cole (because he knows he can't just be clingy and neurotic about her), and then Chuck forcefully drawing a line about what he will and won't do in this fake relationship and what he hopes to accomplish in the future -- "Lethal Weapon" would have been a terrific episode. But by then taking us into Chuck's room to show us what's on the underside of Chuck's much-discussed "Tron" poster -- by showing us that Chuck has, all along, been assembling information on everyone associated with the Intersect, in an attempt to find a cure for his bizarre condition -- well... that was a great moment in "Chuck" history, folks. Not only does it give the story greater urgency going forward, but it changes the way we have to look at Mr. Chuck Bartowski, dating all the way back to the beginning. He cowers and he stumbles and he squeals like a girl at times, but he's not the loser it's sometimes easy to take him for.

And it feels right that this revelation would come at the end of an episode where he spent so much time hanging around with Cole Barker, archetypal man of action and someone who treats Chuck with more professional respect than Casey and Sarah ever have. Because he hasn't known Chuck from the beginning, hasn't seen his many mistakes and growing pains, maybe doesn't even fully grasp what Chuck's true story is (i.e., that he's an accidental asset and not an agent), he views Chuck as a colleague and not a burden. He puts a gun in Chuck's hands when Casey and Sarah never have(*), doesn't roll his eyes at every suggestion (other than some macho gamesmanship while they're on comms with Casey and Sarah during the party) and gives him advice even as he realizes that Chuck is serious competition for Sarah's affections. (Or maybe Cole respects Chuck as much as he does because he realizes that if Sarah sees something in him, then he must be more special than he appears at first blush.)

(*) And it's long past time for those two to teach Chuck some rudimentary skills about fighting, shooting, etc. They've been doing this a while now; they know Chuck's never going to wait in the car, and that he's not always going to have them around to protect him. Schwartz and Fedak have said that sort of thing is finally coming, so hopefully the events of this episode convince Casey that it's better to show Chuck how to use a gun than to risk him shooting more scientists -- or even Casey himself -- in the leg.

And the episode did a good job of mixing in good jokes about Chuck trying to play spy without actually making him look a fool. He screws up with the gun, but his clumsy foot pursuit of Busgang is funny because they're both limping, and Chuck's too inexperienced to realize that he should have pretended to tie his shoe and not his cast foot.

Speaking of Busgang, Hey, It's That Guy! Hall of Fame inner circler Robert Picardo wasn't the kind of guest star who made it easy for NBC to promote ("Guest-starring the holographic doctor from 'Star Trek: Voyager'! You may also know him as the gym coach from 'The Wonder Years'! Or that older doctor on 'China Beach'! Or..."), but like so many of this year's guests, he's so familiar and so well-cast that the writers didn't have to waste a lot of time building a character for him. You see him (working without his occasional toupee) as a government scientist and you go, "Okay, I know what this guy's about." And that leaves a lot more room for bits of business with characters we care about, like Casey actually appreciating Chuck's pointer about the hors d'oeuvres.

Though Busgang dies here, I'm guessing the mysterious Orion is going to tie in with Chuck's search for his dad. I can't imagine them making a point of telling us that Papa Bartowski bought Chuck the same "Tron" poster that he's now using to find the people who can fix him.

Though most of my favorite moments of the episode involved Zacahary Levi being a man, and/or Jonathan Cake(**) letting him, I don't want to shortchange the typically-great Yvonne Strahovski for the way she played Sarah's ambivalence about Chuck vs. Cole. She likes both men for very different and very obvious reasons, and that's not an easy thing for an actress to pull off without it seeming false or contrived, but she did it, the way she usually nails this stuff.

(**) Frequently shirtless for the benefit of a certain demographic!

While "Lethal Weapon" didn't tie the spy story to the Buy More story from a plot standpoint, there were at least important thematic ties, as well as an opportunity to see Chuck be a good friend to Morgan. Though Morgan's characterization has been one of season two's biggest improvements, there have been long stretches where the two don't interact at all, or where Chuck has to be dismissive of Morgan because he's dealing with three national security crises at once. We've been reminded time and again this year why Chuck is still friends with Morgan, but not as often why Morgan is still friends with Chuck.

So it's always good to see Chuck pause for a moment to offer some guidance to his hairy little buddy -- especially when the advice is so informed by what Chuck's dealing with over in spy world. Chuck doesn't want to live with Sarah, but only under these circumstances, where everything's fake and he has to miserably be around that forbidden fruit 24/7. Morgan and Anna are both weird, but their relationship isn't a cover story, and it's about time Morgan stopped acting like a little boy and embraced the best thing to ever happen to him. Chuck nudges him in the right direction, and you can see as he watches the two of them make out how jealous he is of what Morgan has for real.

Some other thoughts:

• My one real complaint, which I guess we file away as this week's plot hole I'm going to ignore only because the rest of the show is so good: at no time do Casey or Sarah or General Beckman think to question the truth of Cole's story about escaping from Fulcrum. For all the trouble the members of Operation: Chuck go to in protecting the identity of the Intersect, they're pretty loosey-goosey with a foreign agent who improbably escaped from the organization that poses the most danger to Chuck. They give him free rein at Castle, leave him alone with Chuck, let him go back to England, etc. What if he didn't escape? What if he turned? And even if he didn't turn, isn't his first loyalty to MI-6? What's to stop him from blabbing to them about America's greatest intelligence asset working at a Buy More in Burbank?

• Okay, no. Two plot holes this week: if Beckman knows Busgang was on the team that built the Intersect, why wouldn't they have called him in before now to ask him about getting it out of Chuck's head? The government doesn't want all its secrets in the head of this schnook, and it's not like Busgang was being held prisoner by Fulcrum. Can I excuse two plot holes in one episode? For this one, yes.

• Getting back to Cole's apparent escape from Fulcrum, I liked the running gag about Casey's inferiority/hero worship towards Cole, particularly the moment when he tells Chuck he's taken out 9 guys, and when Chuck questions him on it, he sheepishly says, "Just saying it's doable."

• For the five of you still watching NBC's "Life," didn't the poster scene at the end of this episode look an awful lot like those sequences where Charlie Crews stares at his conspiracy wall and thinks very un-Zen thoughts about revenge?

• A very funny week for Jeffster, even though Jeffster! the band did not appear. "Repulsion is our business." "And business is good." Yikes!

• This week in "Chuck" pop culture referencing (another feature that could use a sponsor): Both the episode's title and the opening scene of Cole being tortured while hanging from the ceiling, are homages to Mel Gibson in the first "Lethal Weapon," all the talk of "sweep the leg" is from Bill Simmons' favorite movie, and Morgan quotes Han Solo when he tells Jeffster, "Laugh it up, fuzzballs!" when he catches them playing the dozens about his mom and Big Mike.

• After being the main villains on the show since late in season one, Fulcrum as an agency finally starts getting an identity with Duncan's spiel about how they're "patriots" who "do what needs to be done to preserve this nation's rightful place in this world." So they're less SD-6 from "Alias" (self-interested mercenaries posing as the good guys) than they The Others from "Lost" (people who do reprehensible things but claim to be the true good guys of the story).

• Some other good Chuck-related gags: Chuck tries to brainstorm a cover identity for him and Cole that doesn't involve waiting tables ("How about dentists?") and Chuck offering Cole a copy of Us Weekly to help him in his time of recuperation.

• Before Chuck more emphatically broke up with Sarah (or, at least, declared that he won't move in with her), we at least got a little comic mileage out of the two of them as roommates, with Chuck unable to sleep and covering himself up to the neck in blankets. But haven't we seen them have to spend the night together before as part of their cover?

One final note: next week is a rerun of "Chuck vs. the Seduction." Originally, NBC was going to run the rest of the season straight through without repeats, but the Obama pre-emption last month caused a slight change of plans, and now they want to line up the rest of the original "Chuck"s to air on nights when they have original eps of "Heroes." I believe the season's remaining six episodes should run straight through starting in two weeks.

What did everybody else think?

71 comments:

Mac said...

I was hoping that Orion Pictures had distributed "Tron", but no dice. They did distribute "Robocop", though.

J said...

NBC's "Life," didn't the poster scene at the end of this episode look an awful lot like

So much so that I wondered if Life was cancelled and the Chuck folks went to a props auction.

Some solid moments, the hamfised Chuck vs. Action Hero stuff got much better when they teamed up, positive spin on yet another let's-talk-about-our-relationship-by-the-courtyard-fountain scene. And like you said, best of all there's some sense of a direction going forward.

Mostly, since I usually rag on Levi's severely limited range (especially re:Chuck's ooo-I'm-incompetent panic displays), I wanted to Thumbs Up his clumsy gun handling. It was a pip.

Myles said...

I liked this episode, don't get me wrong, but it kind of made last week's episode unnecessary. It gave me a serious feeling of deja vu, and while I understand why they chose to do this I almost wish we could have excised the relationship side of last week just to keep it from feeling like "Jeez, finally!" at the end of this one as opposed to a more natural occurrence.

But the mix of getting Sarah and getting the intersect out of his head? Much better.

MattB said...

Liked the ending a lot too. Anyone know the name of the song that played at the end?

Also, only six episodes left this season? I guess the long mid-season break made me think we had a lot more. Bummer.

Dio said...

Really outstanding episode!

I too think they need to put Chuck into some kind of boot camp in self defence so he can defend himself, but not to the detriment of situations where they can use "nerdy" ways to get out of tight spots. It's part of why Chuck is fun. Writing "Bang, Bang" on a script is much easier, but it's less fun then using the instruction manual.

Sarah "choosing" Chuck a second time! I wish they would let her open up sometime in this century about why she makes that decision, even if she "doesn't like to talk much". And yeah, at least this time, it didn't feel like a simple plot device to push back the what we can call inevitable. It rang true and felt right.

And how about that poster! That was truly Awesome. I was giggling of joy when I saw what Chuck was up too, even tho I have a feeling he will never get it out of his head, at least not permanently. The big game changer they talk about, Chuck choosing to be an agent full time it might be.

Sam Hobart said...

I really like how almost since the beginning (at least as far back as the Stanford road trip) they've been subtly setting up the idea that Chuck is almost exclusively suited to be the Intersect. More and more it seems like Chuck has the tools to be a spy, he was simply never pointed in that direction (likely because Bryce kept him out of it).

Sam Hobart said...

Also, I'm not so sure that plot hole number two won't have an explanation at some point, tying back into the theory that Chuck is ideally suited to be the intersect.

Alyson said...

if Beckman knows Busgang was on the team that built the Intersect, why wouldn't they have called him in before now to ask him about getting it out of Chuck's head? The government doesn't want all its secrets in the head of this schnook, and it's not like Busgang was being held prisoner by Fulcrum. Can I excuse two plot holes in one episode? For this one, yes.

A better question is, why didn't Beckman try to bring back Busgang and/or "Orion" to re-build the new Intersect and get it done faster? As you'll recall, Beckman wants Chuck dead, not de-Intersected. This all ties into my personal issue with the complaints about Chuck not having received training - he's not going to get it until he demands it, and he's not going to demand it until he accepts, once and for all, that life as he knew it before the Intersect is gone, and is never coming back.

I was not all that wowed by Barker last week, but I've turned around on him after this week. He can come back, just not very often, mmkay?

Jonny said...

if Beckman knows Busgang was on the team that built the Intersect

If Beckman knows Busgang helped with the Intersect, how did she not know who led the team?

Anonymous said...

Guest-starring the holographic doctor from 'Star Trek: Voyager'! You may also know him as the gym coach from 'The Wonder Years'! Or that older doctor on 'China Beach'! Or..."

Don't forget, the Cowboy from Innerspace! I also liked the development of Cole's character, he showed a lot more depth and humility than other "guys who have been brought into a show to put a wedge in a relationship". As soon as I saw Chuck in the hospital I knew he was going to get into a gimp-chase with Busbang, I was kind of disappointed it wasn't more like the tilt-a-whirl chase.

The Tron poster definitely made me think of Life (even though I stopped watching it). The only problem I see is that the show can't keep focusing on Chuck removing the Intersect, because then where does the show go? And we all know this while watching it.

Was anyone else expecting Sarah to come in at the end with the location of Chuck's dad? She had a look of sympathy when Ellie brought him up, and I would think the CIA has the resources to track him down. And, rather than have Chuck keep talking about how crazy he is about Sarah, I think they need to get back to him showing her why she wants to be with him. He wasn't as needy in this episode as the past, but I think it would be good to do more than just throw out an occassional line here and there.

Anonymous said...

I loved this epi. "Sweep the Leg"!But the Tron poster took it to a whole 'nother level. Go Chuck!

Puff

filmcricket said...

Why was there that moment, right before Cole returned, when Sarah and Casey were about to lock Chuck up and throw away the key? Didn't they already know Cole had been captured by Fulcrum? Wasn't that why Sarah was sleeping over in the first place? Did I miss something in the dialogue?

In spite of being confused by that, I was actually kind of excited that Chuck might be going into lockdown - temporarily, of course. Aside from him demanding that they give him training, as others here have pointed out, the only other way I can see Sarah and Casey (and possibly Beckman) recognizing Chuck's true worth is for them to have to do a few of these missions on their own. Yeah, looking after Chuck takes work, but I wonder if they realize how much easier it makes their jobs to have someone along who can identify the bad guys immediately.

Liked that Cole turned out to be a nice guy, and not just a largely unfeeling catalyst (a la Bryce). Liked that Chuck is trying to take control of his life. Loved the subtle moment when Chuck asks if the intersect can be taken out and Casey shuts his eyes because he knows what comes next: excellent work by Baldwin. Not so pleased that every episode I am now saying "Chuck, you moron" to the TV at least once.

Mo Ryan said...

You may also remember Picardo as the officious government guy from Stargate Atlantis!

If you were one of the four people to watch that show. Which I, er, was.

Gotta like how much shirtless dude footage we've been getting lately (Cake, Awesome). Some dug the Weinerlicious uniform, some dig post-workout or mid-interrogation hot guys. I'm just sayin'.

Stacey said...

NBC has Chuck's map up:

http://www.nbc.com/Chuck/exclusives/chucks-chart/index.shtml

Pamela Jaye said...

I just really loved that last scene.

This is it. I"m going to die underneath a yogurt shop.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Thanks, Stacey! That thing is amazing. Like I'm ever going to get anything else done, ever.

(goes to study picture)

Jonas Zarrow!!! That was the name of the guy from "Chuck vs. the Helicopter"!

Um... I may be there a while.

Karen said...

As a corollary to plot hole number one: when Cole showed up at the Castle post-escape, I couldn't help thinking that that was a stupid place for him to go, should he have been followed. He could, conceivably, have led FULCRUM straight to Chuck.

Great work from Levi (especially the look on his face as he watches Morgan and Anna making out) and from Strahovski (the nascent tears as she listens to Chuck's final speech--coming, as only she knows, on her kiss-off to Cole. That whole scene was simply terrific. When Chuck said "I can't move in with you," I got a little impatient, thinking this was another stalling device--so it made me even happier for him to come right out with what he wants. There's been a slight whininess to his protestations in the stalling scenes that was entirely absent here, as he came out and said what he felt and what he wanted. I guess you put a gun in a guy's hand, he really does man up some.

And then the scene with the poster! WOW. Kudos to the composer, by the way--the music under that scene was wonderful.

I love this show so much.

Sauce for the Goose said...

"(**) Frequently shirtless for the benefit of a certain demographic!"

Hey! - back away from the beefcake, Mr. Sepinwall.

You guys get Sarah :::every:: week.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hey! - back away from the beefcake, Mr. Sepinwall.

You guys get Sarah :::every:: week.


I was in no way complaining. Just pointing out that they were extra-attentive to your demo this week. Nothin' wrong wit dat.

John F. said...

Alan, I can't believe you didn't bring up Jeff's, "That 95% pure alcohol" line from the scene when Jeff and Morgan were trying to avoid Lester's group hug. I had to stop the DVR for a couple moments to laugh at that line.

Dio said...

Super cool map Stacey! Thanks for the tip!

General, Roan's girlfriend lol! I love all the little notes he put there!

Jenifer said...

Matt B- "Signs" by Bloc Party is playing at the end of the episode. Great song.

Michael said...

One quick question on what was a fun episode:

When Chuck gave his speech to Sarah at the end was he referring to her. Like telling her that she's the one he loves but not until it is real or am I looking too much into that? I don't think it was that obvious either way but frankly, sometimes I can be dense.

JImmyJ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Sepinwall said...

No talking about the previews. Did I not just post a reminder of the rules only a few days ago?

Sam Hobart said...

Loved the use of Weird Science for the scenes of Jeffster's repulsion plan. I'm thinking that should just be their theme song.

BTW, unless I missed something, how great is it that this show's first shipper nickname (of the bromance variety?) was coined on the show itself?

Jaynee said...

I just want to give you props for calling it "playing the dozens!" I call it that too and get funny looks from everyone. But if George Carlin taught me anything, it's playing the dozens.

Also, REALLY enjoyed tonight's episode. Stellar!!

MattB said...

Speaking of extras, did no one else besides me rewind and pause Morgan's prenup document? There was some pretty hilarious stuff on there.

Devin McCullen said...

Or even if they trusted Cole wasn't working for Fulcrum, there's always the possibility that they let him escape so they could follow him back to the secret hideout. I know I saw that in some movie...

Since I never got around to "Life", I was flashing on the Board O'Apocalypse that Johnny Smith kept in his basement on "The Dead Zone".

Michael said...

Another bit of pop culture from this episode: the doc worked at Constellation Science and worked with Orion.

Constellation is the name of the next NASA program that comes after the Space Shuttle, and Orion is the name of the crew vehicle that sits atop the rocket.

(I work for NASA, I have to know these things.)

Anonymous said...

Alan, people can't be expected to read your blog mind let alone read/remember every post. Unless your data suggests you haven't had any new readers in months, ;) may I suggest in every post that you include a link to a "discussing previews not allowed" post.

Personally, I didn't understand the no previews policy at first but I have come to appreciate how much better your visitors' comments are than those on other blogs.

Jenn. said...

I love Chuck and I love your Chuck posts, Alan.

And I'm not sure if I should thank or curse Stacey for posting that Chuck poster link.

OldDarth said...

Loved it! All the parallels were great.

Chuck is the man. Loved how he walked in after talking to Sarah and telling Ellie change of plans, talk later.Taking Charge! Woot!

BTW the Intersect wall idea has been done before on Lost and The Dead Zone and in other variations. What makes it work so well is that the Intersect Wall is on the back of the Tron poster given to Chuck by his dad, likely the genius behind the Intersect. Perfect fit for the Chuck 'verse.

We are in for a heckuva finish.

Anthony Foglia said...

Good episode. I'll be studying the Tron poster as well.

Does anyone know who performed that version of "Walk Like an Egyptian"? It didn't sound like any of the Bangles's versions I know.

Anthony Foglia said...

Fulcrum as an agency finally starts getting an identity with Duncan's spiel about how they're "patriots" who "do what needs to be done to preserve this nation's rightful place in this world." So they're less SD-6 from "Alias" (self-interested mercenaries posing as the good guys) than they The Others from "Lost" (people who do reprehensible things but claim to be the true good guys of the story).

The Others claimed to do good, but never explained how. Instead they always claimed to know more than the Losties.

I was thinking more Colonel Jessup in "A Few Good Men". True, Fulcrum is unofficial, but there's still the same, we-do-the-necessary-dirty-work-you-pansies-refuse-to ego. Or more nerdy, think Section 31, and Chuck is Bashir.

dave s said...

Another possible pop-culture reference (brought to you by the upcoming TRON sequel, TR2N): On Chuck's ankle to Ellie: "It's a flesh wound". Throw a 'tis in there and you've got a bonafide Monty Python reference.

Nancy said...

Cole Barker, archetypal man of action and someone who treats Chuck with more professional respect than Casey and Sarah ever have.

Exactly! Plus, I've never thought the General has shown Chuck even a shred of respect, that he's just a tool in their spy game, and I just do not trust her. I never have.

This is why I liked Cole: he just matter of factly gave Chuck a gun, like he was an equal, a partner, and not a flunky, like Sarah and Casey sometimes treat him. Of course Cole couldn't know that Chuck would bumble his way through that, but the thought was duly noted.

The reveal of the backside of the TRON poster made the episode for me...I was thinking that even though a lot was happening, it didn't feel like much was really happening, and then we see that our Chuck has really been keeping tabs on all of this the whole time. Brilliant.

Add me to the list that knows Picardo from Stargate Atlantis. I thought the gimping "chase" scene through the hospital was amusing. Not a lot of laughs in this one, but Jeffster in the tighty tennis outfits was at once hilarious, and yes, repulsive.

juniors said...

@Anthony Foglia:

The group was Puppini Sisters. I have that CD. They're a modern day British version of the Andrews sisters; I have that CD.

juniors said...

And apparently I'm also drunk and repeating myself.

Pamela Jaye said...

turn laptop back on to add

On Facebook there is an.. I think it's an app, not a group or a page - called Addicted to... for TV shows
Several, if not all - including Chuck - have a Donate Your Status option. so that, weekly, sometime, they will change your status to say you are looking forward to (or other wording, which you can edit -yay!) the next ep of Chuck.

Just another way yo plug the show to your vast group of Facebook friends and acquaintances (and maybe even their friends, depending on your settings and whether your friends comment of your Chuck status)

A couple weeks ago I was "hopeful" about the next ep of Grey's. I'm thrilled with the latest eps of Brothers & Sisters. House does' need my help - its writers do.

nite

marenamoo said...

I just love Chuck - it is my favorite show (and I just don't get why it is not more popular). I am willing to suspend belief on just about anything on the show. Cryogenic Bryce, Intersect in head, control room under orange-orange, geek gets girl - etc. But does anyone wonder why if Chuck is such a video game geek that he doesn't have better hand-eye skills. I am sure he has played shooter games so he should be a gun expert. Just saying.

Sonia said...

LOVED the poster at the end -- it show that Chuck has been trying to take back control of his life for some time now. He's got more backbone than Casey (and sometimes Sarah) give him credit for. Go Chuck!!

I guessing that Chuck is uniquely suited to be the Intersect and Bryce obviously knew this.

MikeS said...

A few points:

Anyone notice that right at the very beginning of the episode, Sarah seemed to be happy to be waking up next to Chuck, and then again at the very end, YS doing a great job of selling the rejection as Chuck gave his little speech.

I wasn't a big fan of Cole in the first episode, but I did like him in this one, like Alan said, I did like how he was the first that treated Chuck like an equal.

After this episode, it seems like they are changing the direction of Chuck as the Intersect. Instead of something that was unfortunately stuck in some geek's head, they seem to be making it clear with hints dropped all season that not just anybody has the ability to become the Intersect, and that Chuck is a valuable asset, and may continue to be after they have rebuilt the Intersect computer network.

One major gripe this episode...Chuck is a show that is in the business of 80's references (and business is good), and the title of this episode was Chuck Vs The Lethal Weapon! Where was even a throwaway villain named "Riggs"...or Casey, stuck at the Buy More, grumbling that he's "getting too old for this...", one of the bad guys at the Consulate Dinner claiming "Diplomatic Immunity", etc..

mjryan said...

Loved the Tron reveal. In that wordless scene, I forgave Chuck all of his bumbling from the last two episodes.

My personal opinion: Chuck wants the Intersect out so he can choose the spy life of his own free will. I think he wants to be Charles Charmichael to Jenny Burton's Sarah Walker. The Tron reveal solidified the idea. He did, after all, say he wanted to live the life he wants with the girl he loves. Methinks Chuck wants the spy life.

I don't understand why Chuck and Sarah don't take advantage of their 'forced' relationship by having a real relationship under the noses of everyone.

I'm guessing that Chuck's dad is Orion and the General knows this (and has always known this). Not sure how that all fits into the show's story lines, but I thought I'd throw that out there.

I was glad to see Chuck not do the freak out as bad when he flashed in this episode. Much subtler. Nice.

Still not feeling the Nerd Herd. But, I am glad that Morgan is finally growing up a little.

"Two guns. You really are a badass, aren't you?

There are a lot of great lines in every Chuck episode, but that one stood out for me.

Steve B said...

I agree with everyone who thought it was a nice touch that Cole treated Chuck like a spy, not like a younger sibling tagging along.

It was really nice seeing Chuck be assertive at the end. If his character doesn't continue to grow, the show will stagnate. We saw how that turned out last week. But by taking charge with Sarah and Ellie at the end, coupled with the fantastic Tron poster, and the gun Cole gave him, we're seeing a new Chuck. It'll be nice to see Chuck really grow into Charles Carmichael. I'm sick of seeing Sarah and Casey liking Chuck. I want them to respect him as much as Cole did.

Joe Beach said...

Verrry interesting that certain people have been redacted from the Intersect's files. This makes me suspect that Orion will be Chuck's dad, and when he inevitably shows up, Chuck won't flash on him.
It also means that there could be more to the General than we know, and Chuck wouldn't be able to flash on her, either. (Like others have stated, I simply don't trust that woman.)

Dave said...

Right now I'm reminded of a flash a while ago (early S2, I believe), when Fulcrum was trying to get their hands on the Intersect update chip that was stuck in a key chain. When Chuck flashed on that, he saw pictures of Casey and Sarah. That implies that Casey and Sarah were both assigned to Intersect duty before Chuck was around. But if Chuck's not supposed to flash on Intersect stuff, are they exempt? When the episode ran, I had assumed that it was the standard Chuck plot hole, but now I'm curious if it's not.

I've been on the fence about the previews-being-spoilers thing for a while now. I wish we could trust the networks to use the previews as just that - a tease of the next episode - though sometimes, the preview has huge spoilers in it. That being said, I do watch them, and despite the occasional spoiler, I think my net entertainment is increased by watching them. But that's why different discussion areas have different spoiler rules, and I have no problem abiding by these :)

As for the current episode, there was a split second where I was daring to hope that after Chuck explained to Sarah why he couldn't move in with her, she would look him in the eye and say, "Then maybe it doesn't have to be for cover," or some equally cheesy line, then kiss him. I'm sure that moment is being saved for the season finale.

Anonymous said...

Opening scene, Chuck in bed with Sara, Chuck's bed covers up to his neck, but is that a slight bulge about halfway down the bed?

Would be for me. If only I was younger...

Stephanie said...

I loved this episode from start to finish.

I liked Cole in last week's episode, but really enjoyed him here. I have to agree with others who have commented on the general lack of suspicion and concern surrounding Cole's escape. He's clearly an accomplished and capable agent, so it's not impossible to believe that he handily escaped and eluded his captors, but it's still a possibility that he didn't, and I'm surprised that Casey, Sarah and especially the General weren't more cautious.

I loved the looks on Sarah and Casey's faces when Chuck asked the General about getting the Intersect out of his head. Casey in particular, since, as another poster mentioned, he knows what that would mean for Chuck.

I agree that it's more than about time for Casey and Sarah to teach Chuck some spy skills, but I've always found their reluctance to do so understandable. I think there have been a multitude of reasons for doing so, even when they both recognized Chuck has made contributions. Casey has broached this very subject with the General, who promptly shut him down, and Casey, being who he is, obeyed that order. It will eventually get ridiculous if they don't give him some training, but it hasn't started to bother me yet.

The Intersect chart was terrific. I'm not sure how I feel about the possibility that Orion is Chuck's father, though I suspect that's where they're taking this. I also have the same questions about why Busgang wasn't one of the people involved in rebuilding the Intersect - which I assume is being attempted again - unless they were concerned he could be compromised, but I'm hoping this wasn't just a big plot hole, but something that will be explained down the road.

I'm bummed about the repeat next week, but perhaps I'll watch this one again to make up for it. There was so much packed into this one episode, it merits a second viewing.

Hoosier Paul said...

Throughout this episode I kept waiting for Agent Barker to die saving Chuck and/or Sarah's life, and I'm really, really glad they kept him alive. He added a nice new texture to the show, and now they'll be able to bring him back later on down the road.

Dave said...

@HoosierPaul - I actually get frustrated with the show's hesitation to kill off real characters. Now, we've always got the Bryce, Jill, and now Barker hanging over our heads. As soon as Chuck and Sarah get close, we're going to see one of them show up to delay things even more.

Karen said...

Incidentally, "Busgang" was such an odd name that I wondered if this was another obscure athlete reference. His first name was "Howard," wasn't it?

I Googled "Howard Busgang" and that turns out to be the name of a Canadian writer and producer of TV shows. Any idea what the significance might be, Alan?

Jayme said...

Although it would make sense if he was, am I the only one that hopes Chuck's dad is in no way a spy? I mean, honestly, his best friend and girlfriend in college were, and that was a bit far fetched, but his dad, too? You'd have to assume that he was basically groomed to be a spy and the government spooks have been watching him his whole life. Even though I'm glad he's embracing his destiny as a spy, I really hope it wasn't decided for him by anything but fate.

Anonymous said...

Haven't they shown that Chuck's room is under video surveillance? Or were they removed. Because if he's being watched, it sort of undermines the whole TRON poster reveal.

dvlman said...

Pink Lady is absolutely 100% my favorite variety of apple and I cannot understand how anyone would not enjoy its perfect balance of crisp firmness, sweetness and tart.

It's not believable and the writers really need to think these things through if they want this show to have any credibility.

Sean said...

The final scene is one of the reasons that i love life and Chuck, the conspiracy wall thing is a great touch. And seeing that Chuck has a side of him that isn't the dork we see him as is a good thing.

mjryan said...

I don't know if it's more an indication of how pathetic I am or how good Chuck has gotten, but I've been thinking about the show all day, specifically the Orion as Chuck's dad idea. It does seem to stretch believablilty that everyone in Chuck's past (Bryce, Jill and possibly his Dad) is somehow connected to this. However, consider this: if Chuck's dad is connected, then Bryce and Jill might have been brought to the attention of the CIA and Fulcrum through Chuck via his Dad without Chuck knowing. Still stretching the plausibility, but I'm willing to handwave it as long as Awesome, Ellie or any of the Nerd Herd don't turn out to be agents.

What I've been pondering is Tron and the poster's significance. Not to read too much into it, but Tron was a movie about an everyman being trapped in a computer, yes? While Chuck isn't physically in the computer, you could say that he's trapped inside the Intersect. What if the idea of the Intersect, from the beginning, was for it to be downloaded into a human host? If Chuck's dad was one of the architects of the Intersect, then the whole Tron thing becomes even that much cooler.

Chris said...

Does anyone know how likely/unlikely Chuck is to be canceled? It's definitely grown and grown on me, and just when it seems like Chuck's about to take a nice character turn, I'd hate to see the show canceled!

Geri said...

Alan, thank you so much for putting up that quote at the top of your review. I seriously died when Chuck said that. At the same time I´ve gotta say that Sarah is a really strong woman...how can one not be all over someone like Cole Barker? He´s hot, he has an accent, he´s truly great. Really admire the writers and actors how they managed to make both Cole and Chuck loveable in their very own ways.

BTW: 5.69 million viewers, 2.0/5 share? I am sooo gonna kill "Dancing with the stars". Hopefully it´s just because of the season premiere! How could I ever walk away from Chuck??? ;)

meh said...

speaking of references, how did you miss when the general revealed that the doctor had also worked on dharma initiative, as one of his previous jobs...

Alan Sepinwall said...

DARPA, not Dharma.

LoopyChew said...

I love the random callback to Lester's Hinjewness when he calls Morgan "bubbeleh." It wasn't the funniest moment in the episode, nor the coolest (the entire one-two scene between Chuck/Sarah and the Tron poster make the latter), but I died when he said that.

Stef said...

I thought they were really hitting us over the head with Chuck's dad turning out to be Orion (not nearly as shocking as Irina Derevko), but I'm okay with it if it turns out that way. It would give Chuck and Ellie the chance to have some interesting scenes together, if Chuck's dealing wtih his dad being a superspy (or programmer? not clear on that yet) but still not being able to reveal anything to his sister.

Two Karate Kid references in one week???

I also don't trust the general.

JustJoan said...

@LoopyChew said...

I love the random callback to Lester's Hinjewness when he calls Morgan "bubbeleh." It wasn't the funniest moment in the episode, nor the coolest (the entire one-two scene between Chuck/Sarah and the Tron poster make the latter), but I died when he said that.

I always collapse in giggles at all the references to Lester's Jewish heritage. He is the living embodiment of the punchline, "funny.....you don't look Jewish."

chuckfan said...

Hey Alan, what do you think the odds of Chuck getting renewed are? I can't help but worry, especially with the latest numbers! What can we fans do to help save it?

Anonymous said...

I loved the episode. I think it is my favorite so far. Just when you thought Chuck and Sarah were going to have another one of those silly "we can't be together" moments that the show has over used over and over, he says the opposite. That they will be together. Finally! Now can we move on with the rest of the story, Chuck creators? :) This show amazes me every week with how well written it is. Yet it has only won an Emmy for stunt choreography? Nuts.

Nicole said...

The last two scenes made this episode for me. I wasn't that into except for Chuck's speech to Sarah at the end and then the "Life conspiracy poster" brought it to another level.

Others have mentioned that Orion is perhaps Chuck's father, and I would be inclined to agree with that. Wasn't there mention that the CIA was looking at Chuck as a possible candidate back at Stanford? I don't think Bryce's downloading of the Intersect to Chuck is so accidental anymore, and I can live with that retcon, because it adds another layer. If Chuck realizes that he has the ingredients to be the spy, even if they aren't the obvious ones, then there can probably be another season or two of him learning to adapt and not being quite so goofy.

John said...

yep, MattB... I also went frame-by-frame through the prenup. Some very funny stuff there, including the legal terminology of "Grimes will not..." and so forth. Cymbal-banging monkey, indeed!

Zach said...

@marenmoo But does anyone wonder why if Chuck is such a video game geek that he doesn't have better hand-eye skills. I am sure he has played shooter games so he should be a gun expert. Just saying

Three words: Guns are heavy.

Surprisingly heavy, clunky, unfamiliar things, esp to someone so intimately familar with injection-molded plastic...

Ithiel said...

Of course I loved everything that everyone else is but there were a couple of other things that I thought I would throw out there. I was looking at Chuck's Tron board frame by frame and it was interesting to see that he wrote down Lisa as Sarah's middle name. That means that he heard her say it way back in Chuck vs. the Wookie. I thought that was a nice touch. I do like that he isn't the victim that they all think he is and that he is doing things behind the scenes and that Sarah & Casey aren't aware of it. I am looking forward to their reactions when they find out what he has been doing. And speaking of reactions, I also like the fact that Sarah didn't seem to know that Chuck was looking for his and Ellie's father. That he doesn't tell her everything just as she doesn't tell him everything. All around a VERY good episode.

Anonymous said...

Apt that you should describe Fulcrum as being like the Others, since the head torturer guy looked like Richard Alpert without the eyeliner.