Monday, March 08, 2010

Chuck, "Chuck vs. the Beard": Do you hear the people sing?

A review of tonight's "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I hear the sound of liberty...
"My best friend is a spy? This is unbelievable. This is the best news I've ever heard!" -Morgan
I'm absolutely on-board with the darker direction "Chuck" has taken this season. If the characters don't grow and the stakes don't get raised, then we might as well be watching repeats from season two.

But for one week, "Chuck" was back to being 100% fun - even in the midst of an episode with a huge status quo change and a chilling cliffhanger - and it was a pleasure to watch.

Because Morgan is Chuck's best friend, he seemed like an obvious choice to be the first civilian to find out about Chuck's secret identity. Instead, the show zig-zagged and let Captain Awesome in on the truth, and got some very good comic and dramatic mileage out of Devon struggling to reclaim his awesomeness in the face of entering this dangerous new world. And once Awesome found out, it seemed like we had missed our window for the little bearded one to also join in.

Instead, Morgan Guillermo Grimes became an unofficial member of Operation Bartowski in the most raucous way possible, helping Chuck foil the siege of Castle and giving his best friend back his mojo by providing him a sympathetic ear to listen to. Awesome's no good because he's too busy freaking out, Casey's not exactly empathetic, and Sarah and Shaw are useless because they're causing so much of Chuck's emotional turmoil. So bringing Morgan into the circle of trust, and that in turn leading the Intersect 2.0 to come back on-line (and finally help Chuck use the bo staff that caused him so many difficulties back in "Chuck vs. the Three Words") felt perfect, as did Morgan's ecstatic reaction to greeting Sarah and company outside the Orange-Orange freezer. I had a smile roughly the size of Morgan's for the entire second half of "Beard," going back to when Morgan first followed the bad guys into the Castle tunnels.

And I loved how, even within the revelation, the show again zigged where I expected a zag. We were being set up for Morgan to feel hurt and betrayed at the news that Chuck kept this enormous secret from him, but instead was both relieved to get a good explanation for all of Chuck's shadiness, and happy for his friend that Chuck is doing something, well, awesome.

It's hard to remember now, but at the start of the series, Morgan was easily the least-popular regular character, always getting in the way of Chuck's missions and generally being mopey and weird. When the show came back for season 2, Schwartz, Fedak and company figured out that the character worked much better when he was supporting Chuck (even when he didn't realize he was). Letting him in on Chuck's secret, and making him excited about it - accepting that, while he's never destined for greatness, he can assist in Chuck's greatness - was a wonderful continuation of that trend, and an outstanding showcase for Josh Gomez.

I particularly liked that period in between when Morgan discovered Castle and when he learned about Charles Carmichael. It would have been really easy to play it as Morgan acting smug and superior to what he thought was his cowardly pal Chuck, but Gomez low-keyed it. You can't say he reacted the way a real person would in that situation, because "Chuck" is frankly so ridiculous - and the Buy More corner of "Chuck" even more ridiculous - that reality doesn't really figure into it, but within the show's universe, I believed that this is how Morgan would react, and that he'd try to help Chuck get through this ordeal while he played hero.

"Beard" was the last "Chuck" episode written by Scott Rosenbaum (who's now hopefully salvaging "V"), and very much in the vein of the Rosenbaum-scripted "Chuck vs. the Santa Claus" from season two, with bad guys again infiltrating the Buy More because it's so obvious there's a spy base of some kind hidden there(*).

(*) Which brings us to our "Chuck" Plot Hole of the Week, if not of the series: now that two different evil spy organizations have twigged to the place's existence, what exactly is the point of Chuck still working there as a cover identity? Other than, of course, nobody on the show rightly wanting to say goodbye to Morgan, Big Mike and Jeffster?

It was also the first episode of anything directed by Zachary Levi. That's a big risk to hand such a crucial, mythology-altering episode to a rookie, but I thought Levi acquitted himself really well, even if there were some inevitable growing pains from a first-timer. The scene where Casey throws the flash-bang grenade into the Ring agent's hotel room was shot in an impressionistic, Hey, look at how much I'm directing! style, and the montage of Buy More employees cocking their toy guns in the midst of their revolt also called attention to itself. But I thought Levi nailed most of the humor (loved the way the camera initially drifted past Jeff shoving the apple into his mouth, as if this lunacy is so typical of the Buy More that it's not worth dwelling on) as well as the more human stuff involving Chuck and Morgan. Give him another turn or three behind the camera and I suspect the self-consciously showy stuff will go away and Levi will give us an episode that feels entirely on-format. And I can never complain about a Jeffster! performance being filmed like a rock concert, now can I?

And in the meantime, Morgan knowing Chuck's secret opens up a world of fun possibilities for the show, just as the cliffhanger with Casey getting a call on the Ring communicator opens up a host of scary ones.

Terrific episode (and next week's is even better).

Some other thoughts:

Fienberg was much less happy with the episode than I was, taking more of an issue with the direction and tone than I did. He does raise one point with which I wholly agree, and that's that it felt redundant to have two episodes in a row climax with Chuck realizing he still loves Sarah. That's why I feel like "Chuck vs. the Fake Name" would have been better off playing up the Peter Parker/Mary Jane scenario with Chuck's reasons for dumping Hannah, and/or why I think this episode's climax could have worked just as well if Chuck got his mojo back simply from being able to unburden himself to Morgan, having already recognized his Sarah-love.

• Interesting that Casey and company are all so convinced that Awesome can handle Chuck's secret better than Morgan, when so far all the evidence points to the contrary. Looks can be deceiving. I'm still as confused about what The Ring does and doesn't know about Awesome, Chuck, etc. as I was back in "Chuck vs. Operation Awesome", though.

• This week in "Chuck" music: Jesus Alejandro El Nino's "Bululu" (Chuck calls Awesome during his vacation), the Billy Idol & Generation X version of "Dancing with Myself" (Chuck bored in Castle), Dawes' "Bedside Manner" (the final montage), Martin Padilla's "Arroz Con Pollo" (Shaw and Sarah locked out of Castle), and, of course, Jeffster! covering Credence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son."

• This week in "Chuck" pop culture references: pick an iconic revolutionary or counter-culture movie moment, and the Buy More revolution had it, but most notably Big Mike paraphrasing the "they will never take... our FREEDOM!" speech from "Braveheart." The Buy More staffers all take a blood oath, which itself is an idea from countless movies and shows, but which I always attach to this scene from "The Untouchables." The staff also raises a Buy Moria flag like the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima, and two Buy More staffers recreate the iconic Times Square kiss from the end of World War II.

• Between the Buy Moria flag and the mace collection, it's nice to see that Millbarge is dead but not forgotten at the Buy More.

• The revolution was fairly silly, but at least it gave us Casey convincingly talking his way into it by telling Big Mike and company, "The only thing I hate more than hippy, neo-liberal fascist anarchists are the hypocrite fat cat suits they eventually grow up to become."

• With Hannah having quit (not surprising, since she only took the job to be around Chuck) and Anna Wu still in Hawaii with Morgan's Benihana rival, the Buy More could use a little estrogen. If there's a fourth season, and if Chuck is somehow still working there, I'd love to see even a recurring female Nerd Herd'er - or, failing that, to have General Beckman decide to have Sarah and Casey swap jobs. (That's a win-win, come to think of it: Casey would grunt even more about having to push yogurt instead of Beastmasters, and Sarah would get to dust off her old Nerd Herd uniform from "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer.")

• I remember Brandon Routh having a few funny moments in "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," but it was still a little startling to see Shaw being so goofy while posing as the Buy More CEO to calm down Big Mike's revolutionaries.

• Has someone been keeping a running tally of the number of times characters have had to don or remove rings this season? Here, it's Shaw and Sarah briefly posing as newlyweds while off on the decoy mission.

• Another, more minor plot hole about the Castle siege: how did the bad guys not find the hatch in the floor of the Buy More's AV room? That's way more obvious than the secret passage behind Casey's locker.

• First Subway product integration of the season, with Chuck and Morgan scarfing down meatball marinara subs while playing a little Duck Hunt. Mmm... meatball marinara...

Finally, I want to thank everybody for, as of this writing, keeping such a clear head in the discussion of "Chuck vs. the Fake Name." Some liked it more than others, but everyone was able to disagree without attacking each other or going crazy, and that's much appreciated.

Given the Casey cliffhanger, let me remind you of another of the commenting rules: the No Spoiler policy, which extends to discussing the previews for upcoming episodes. Please refrain, and don't even allude to the contents of it, okay?

What did everybody else think?

128 comments:

Ryan said...

Not only was this the best episode of the season, it was perhaps a Top 3 of the series. It kept the shipper garbage that had been choking this season down to a bare minimum and brought the Chuck/Morgan friendship back to the forefront. And I’ve always been way more interested in the awesome Chuck/Morgan friendship than any romance on the show. This episode reminded me why I fell in love with the series. Bravo Chuck!
One last thing, if they’re writing Awesome/Ellie out, then I take back everything I said and this episode gets a big fat fail.

Lisa said...

All is forgiven.

Otto Man said...

now that two different evil spy organizations have twigged to the place's existence

Uh ... "twigged"?

Chris said...

I was smiling the whole time. What a wonderful episode :D

Anonymous said...

I really liked this episode, but I hope Fedak and Schwartz don't go the "Monica and Chandler Route" from Friends in how they slowly let the entire cast know Chuck is a spy. Right now I think the balance is OK, but pretty soon too many people will know Chuck's identity for it to make sense to try and keep it from anyone.

And the guy on the phone at the end sounded like Mr. Smith from The Matrix.

Oh, and I'll second that I almost screamed NOOOO when Awesome suggested Africa because it sets them up for being written out of the show for a while.

Anonymous said...

Oh, only other grievance from the show. They need to do something more with The Ring then just have them come after Shaw. I know they're probably building toward something, but this is starting to feel like the Gilroy arc from Burn Notice.

W Gladstone said...

Simply loved the episode. It was classic Chuck, which is not to say the direction season 3 has taken is bad but this was just so much fun.

On another note I hope the intersect 2.0 glitches become a thing of the past or at least less frequent.

Nikki said...

I love this show. This episode had every reason why Chuck is so awesome.

I loved it when Moragn was attempting to take on the bad guys and he said "buddy, don't freak out". I honestly don't see how anyone could have any complaints about this episode.

Alan, thanks for being so adamant about no spoilers. I always change the channel right after the last scene so that I don't see what is coming next. I also avoid anything that may give away the next episode.

Gonna go watch it again.

Flap Jackson said...

I was really hoping they might actually have to self-destruct their bunker. Get a new set or two, change out the Orange-Orange with a Subway, and I would have bought it because The Ring knew too much about it and they were actively sending information out of it (or at least that's how it sounded to me).

Also, I would miss Awesome & Ellie too much if they went glob-trotting. I guess it's a good way to not have to pay for them in every few episodes, but they add a nice background dynamic to the show, apart for Awesome's knowledge.

Overall, Awesome episode.

"Did you just flash during Duck Hunt?"

Michael G. said...

Yeah, that was awesome.

All-around a great job. Only major points off come from the continued idiocy of the supposed "masterminds" of/working for The Ring:
--Hey, we've got a dangerous adversary under our guns. Think we should shoot him? No, let's pause for a moment and give him a chance to disarm him.
--Hey, we've got these two guys chained up. Think we should shoot them? No, let's unchain them and give them a better a chance to fight back (this one makes more sense--carrying bodies is tough work).

I forgot that the episode was directed by Zach Levi. Pretty impressive--the flash bang scene didn't bother me, though the NERF gun-cocking was distracting.

Also, the background music is good every week, but it was truly stellar on this episode. One of the theme's was channeling Terminator. Mmm...

Anonymous said...

All is not forgiven for me--no-one will convince me that ep 7 and 8 were well executed or necessary. I too think it's ok to go dark to show growth, but the LI's haven't been handled well and THAT was what the fuss was over. Enough already. It's bad enough to keep doing it, but to do it poorly after barely coming back for another season is poor form. That being said, this was a throwback to S1 and S2 and alot of fun on all levels. Zach seemed to handle directing well and the spirit of the show was back.

I thought there were relationship plot holes this time as well--no discussion of the name reveal, no clear understanding of where Shaw and Sarah stand, and no reaction from Sarah onscreen to Chuck's revelation about Hannah. Also it occurred to me, if Shaw wants the intersect to work why play with Chuck's emotions. No-one wants to watch an ex, a new ex at that, date another guy. That's not news. Of course he couldn't flash-duh. I agree with Feinberg--thought the exact same thing. And since when is it a revelation to Chuck that he loves Sarah? Didn't we go through that at the start of the season? Thought the remark to S/S at the hotel about being a good looking couple was strange too. Why keep drawing attention to them? I do think Shaw has shown his true colors wanting to blow up Castle with Chuck in it. I'm not giving up on Chuck, but it will have to be a really well done ep 13 to make the past few worth it as they are predicting.

Alyson said...

Since Fulcrum was supposedly a subset of The Ring, technically it would only be one organization that knows about the Buy More. One really, incredibly poorly-assembled organization that seems occasionally too stupid to function, but still one group on the whole.

Was this the first episode of the season to feature the entire cast?

Baylink said...

My take on the "cock the guns" scene was that Zach stole it from the "meeting the KLF" scene in The Hebrew Hammer.

Otherwise, nice.

amysusanne said...

I enjoyed it. A lot. I'm sure that when I watch it again (which I will) I will notice the flaws and question the plot holes, but for now...awesome, awesome fun.

And I think it's safe to say that Jeff, no matter what he sees or hears or participates in, will never know that Chuck, Sarah and Casey are spies. I love that.

Bobman said...

The biggest plot hole for me was how bad Castle's security was. Just because they pried the locker entrance open, suddenly there's no other security?? C'mon now.

Great ep though. I was expecting the worst after Feinberg's doom and gloom on Twitter; I'm glad I disagree with him.

Michaelangelo McCullar said...

Great episode, although I've got to take you and Feinberg to task a bit, Alan. As I and others pointed out last week, it seems premature to jump to the conclusion that Chuck dumped Hannah because he realized he still loved Sarah. It's just as conceivable, and really more logically likely, that he dumped Hannah because he'd come to the realization that the more extraneous people in his life, the more he puts them and himself in danger.

Stephanie said...

I loved, loved, LOVED this episode. While I found the showy direction a tad annoying - that blurry shot of Casey entering the hotel was very distracting - and the Morgan/Chuck convo about Sarah tiresome, these were minor problems in an otherwise stellar episode.

I really enjoyed how every character was present in this one and used to great effect. Awesome was indeed awesome again and I was cheering for Morgan. Of all the characters, he's the one that has bothered me the most with his neediness and occasional selfishness, but I was loving his determination to stand up to the bad guys even though he had no real idea of what that entailed.

Great work from BR and YS. Lots of tension there and understated emotion. I don't ship them but I'm getting their connection.

I'm less bothered by the idea of Ellie and Devon going to Africa, only because I feel it's just temporary. Ellie and Awesome, though around less this season, are still a big part of this show. And having them join Doctors Without Borders is a believable reason for their absence. It won't be the same without them around, but I'm confident they'll be back.

And Casey. Casey. I'm still shocked by that reveal. It looks like we're in for some serious work by AB and I'm really looking forward to it. And just so you know, it's taking all of my self-control to keep my lips sealed about the previews.

I can't wait until next week. If Fedak and Schwartz should happen to drop by and read these comments, I just want to say THANK YOU.

Anonymous said...

The look on Jeff's face when he heard they were searching lockers was just perfect.

I love this show. Especially Jeffster.

amysusanne said...

I thought there were relationship plot holes this time as well--no discussion of the name reveal, no clear understanding of where Shaw and Sarah stand, and no reaction from Sarah onscreen to Chuck's revelation about Hannah.

Do we really need everything spelled out and spoon fed to us? The name reveal was part of why Chuck wasn't flashing. It's clear that's why he was upset. They could tell us about it every five minutes, but there'd be no point. I'm also not sure why every little emotion needs to be explored constantly. It's okay to have fun every once in awhile. Sarah and Shaw and Chuck minus Hannah will all still be there next week. What's the rush?

Anonymous said...

Also, I don't see any way they write Ellie and Awesome off the show completely. Ellie is the only normal character left.

Jessica said...

Best. Episode. Yet.

Alan Sepinwall said...

it seems premature to jump to the conclusion that Chuck dumped Hannah because he realized he still loved Sarah. It's just as conceivable, and really more logically likely, that he dumped Hannah because he'd come to the realization that the more extraneous people in his life, the more he puts them and himself in danger.

And sure, I think/hope that was part of it, but the stuff he talked about (at least with Ellie, with whom he couldn't share the whole "I thought I watched Sarah die today" issue) was his recognition that he still cared about Sarah.

"Chuck" isn't a show that bothers much with subtext. Like its hero, it wears its emotions on its sleeve. If they wanted us to think of the Mary Jane scenario, they'd have had Chuck talk to Casey or Awesome about what he saw at the hotel (with Casey predictably shutting him down), rather than have him talk to Ellie about Sarah, and then move to dump Hannah immediately after.

Joseph said...

Classic Chuck indeed. This is the type of stupid entertainment I tune in for, and I was even cheering the long awaited Subway integration. Bought the time the episode was done, I was hungry and meatball marinara sounded pretty good.

The Chuck loving Sarah re-re-revelation was overkill, though. But I'm not gonna complain.

ST said...

Possibly the best freezer walk-out ever filmed. :D

Mo Ryan said...

I absolutely loved it. Definitely in my "Chuck" Top 5. Possibly Top 3.

Scott Rosenbaum now has to transform V into a show that is an awesome combination of Chuck and The Shield (his pre-Chuck writing gig). The Buy More + the Barn + aliens? Hypothetically, that may just be my dream TV show.

Ian said...

Definitely top 5 of the entire series. Not only do we get a well-deserved Jeffster! performance, but they finally give Chuck the "shoulder to cry on" he's needed all season to balance himself and make the Intersect reliable.

Also, flashing on Duck Hunt!

Dan said...

Episode put a huge smile on my face. Jeffster playing CCR with the raising of the Buy More flag was great.

Horation said...

I hate how this show is always putting up artificial barriers keeping Chuck and Morgan from consummating their love for each other. Now that Morgan knows Chuck's secret, can they finally be together?

Mo Ryan said...

Just thought of the only way "Beard" could have been more awesome -- NPH could have sang a song.

Anonymous said...

Alan, I feel compelled to stick up for Levi and the Impressionistic Flash Bang, because it was very similar to the Flash Bang effect seen in Chuck and Morgan's beloved Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I hate how this show is always putting up artificial barriers keeping Chuck and Morgan from consummating their love for each other. Now that Morgan knows Chuck's secret, can they finally be together?

These will never cease to be funny. Well-done, Horation.

Stacey said...

Duck Hunt! I love our canine brethren as much as the next person so I hope I wasn't the only one who used to fire off a few useless rounds at the hound dog when he would do his Chuckles McGee routine...

Chuck does silly very well and I especially love when we get unadulterated silly/joyful moments like an Indian lesbian belting out "Fortunate Son" amidst Nerf-gun fire.

Sam Hobart said...

RE: Levi's direction, the look at me type stuff kind of distracting during the Buy More revolution, but I didn't have a problem with the flash bang because it helped sell the confusion over the team being set up pretty effectively.

My favorite was the shot looking up at the Buy More crew preparing for their interrogations/interviews. Keeping everyone on screen at once and at an unusual angle had me noticing little looks between Chuck and Morgan and Jeffster.

Finally, while some of the acting was clearly over the top, I'm with Firewall over Iceberg that Gomez was fairly understated and I thought we got some nice cutaway acting from Yvonne, Baldwin and Routh.

The biggest let down was probably the action. This show does some great fight scenes but occasionally falls down on the job and I thought this was a case of the latter. Probably a result of Levi having less time to work on the choreography as a participant.

One last note, usually when an actor directs an episode it like NPH's HIMYM where he disappears after a few minutes or several Frasier's that Kelsey Grammar was barely in. While they utilized the full cast and gave Levi some breathing room, he still had to carry some large chunks of the story and did some great work acting.

Rick said...

Makes me excited for the Point/Counterpoint on Wednesday's Podcast. Let him know that the tonality contrast he wanted was episode-to-episode instead of A-to-B story.

Finn said...

Pretty good episode. Had a lot of revelations that I look to pay off later as well as bring more comedy down the road - especially with Morgan. The Buy More stuff is so ridiculous most of the time, and this was maybe the most out there of all. I like it when they rein it in a bit. And I note how a lot of the commenters dump on the "shipper garbage", but to me, that is such an integral part of the show, I really hope they move forward with it more. I did not like the lack of shared screen time the terrific trio had - the show is at its best when they are interacting with one another. Morgan, never my favorite character, has improved this season and this turn might make him even more palatable. I also wish we could give Ellie another note to play besides annoyed/suspicious wife and sister.

The apple gag with Jeff was very good. Kind of wasted the guest stars - two very funny men that really didn't get to do much.

Love this show though, and often think it is analyzed, (including by me as evident by my comments), way too much. Just sit back and enjoy it.

Rick said...

Oh, and I say this whenever I get the chance- for all the Strahovski worship that's out there, you HAVE to admit that Sarah Lancaster is just smokin' hot.

kwas said...

Usually 'game-changer' is such a cliche, but for once it was true, but in a good way. Hope NBC doesn't derail this train, I would love to see where this show goes. Bravo - this ep had it all, including the triumphant return of Jeffster!

cgeye said...

Horation, if the world were cooler than it was, Chuck and Morgan would have a brief fling, then get over and remain good friends.

I skipped last week's episode 'cause I wanted no relationship drama, period. I think their constant service of it weakens the spy plotting that CHUCK gets a lot of energy from. I'm not wanting ALIAS, yo, but I do want them to deal with the moral issues instead of saying 'spy' at moments they think are fraught with meaning.

Por ejemplo -- sure, the Ring cut off all communications -- but how did they get their people to do that? Someone had to call in, 'hey, we found Carmichael's base, cut off cell and wire traffic so we can kill everyone.' Just like Shaw had to call the Pentagon to activate the self-destruct? Bureaucracies run by a few shadowy figures demand top-down accountability, and no matter how the Ring sux about fighting Chuck, et al., they must have a procedure for that.

THEN the baddies mentioned that they DOWNLOADED ALL THE INTELLIGENCE FROM CASTLE COMPUTERS. Ya think that intel includes the specs for Castle itself? Intel files on Chuck's entire family, including Orion? Folks, the jig is up, and the only reason Shaw's keeping Castle and Buy More standing is to lure the Ring on ground he controls. If that's not his reason, he's straight up suicidal, and homicidal toward everyone in Buy More and in Chuck's life. Just like the gaping plot hole left by Roark's OS installed base, this untidiness will come back to bite them when they want to return to it.

The only worse thing that could happen is that Ellie and Awesome move. Awesome didn't get witness protection because he lived across from Chuck, had a predictable public job, and no one was willing to disrupt Ellie's life because of one more spy frakking it up. If he goes overseas, and the Ring chooses to make their life hell in order to turn Chuck, that's the end of the show, really.

Everyone who knows about Chuck manages to be protected because this is an action comedy. Once they twist the premise so that things that should happen to advance the plot (the Ring/Fulcrum/the next idjits in line successfully destroying/bugging Castle, or blackmailing Chuck) never happen because the status quo of one-step forward/half-step back still entertains. One week it won't.

Matt W said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nikki again said...

To Anon @ 10:04, I agree with you about the shout out to Call of Duty. That's the first thing I thought of when it happened. I love that game.

Also if I remember correctly, Awesome doesn't know about the intersect. I can only imagine how much more freaked out he'd be if he knew.

I just have to say again that I love this show. This episode really had the same feeling as Chuck vs. The Ring.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Matt, no talking about what's in the previews, as mentioned at the end of the review.

Joyeful said...

Loved it. This was definitely the most fun episode of Chuck this season, and the first one to keep me at the edge of my seat. I think writing Morgan in to the secret was brilliant, I don't know why I didn't see that before! I always thought that Morgan would be bumbling and in Chuck's way, but I never even thought of his loyalty to him. This will be good.

Great Buymore subplot...almost a little too outrageous, but viva Buymoria. Although I do think the greatness of Jeffster! was lost in the mayhem of the Buy More.

And for Mr. Levi's directorial debut, not a bad job. This was an important episode, and he got it right for the most part.

Dan said...

How has no one mentioned the "Office Space" paralels with not only the interview-style examinations of the staff but "hey Peter man, turn on channel 9, it's the breast exams" man aka Lawrence being the lead member of The Ring!

Anonymous said...

Old School Chuck and I loved it.

Morgan's reaction to the news was awesome, and his reaction to the Intersect flash just made me fanboy goofy.

Time for a meatball marinara.

Puff

coursejester said...

Do we really need everything spelled out and spoon fed to us? The name reveal was part of why Chuck wasn't flashing. It's clear that's why he was upset. They could tell us about it every five minutes, but there'd be no point. I'm also not sure why every little emotion needs to be explored constantly. It's okay to have fun every once in awhile. Sarah and Shaw and Chuck minus Hannah will all still be there next week. What's the rush?

It's not about spelling out every little thing; it's about consistency. 308 contained some huge relationship moments that were pretty much ignored this week. Chuck's been trying to learn anything real about Sarah for more than two years, and she tells her real name to a guy she's known for about an hour. Then she launches herself at that guy at the end of the episode, but this week they seem like nothing more than work colleagues who share the occasional lunch. It felt like the relationship arc went from 100 MPH to zero in two seconds.

That said, the rest of 309 was excellent. Good Buy More zaniness, Grimes rocked the house, and most importantly, Chuck was much more like the guy we used to root so hard for. TPTB just need to figure out how to tell the relationship story in a consistent manner, because it was the lone jarring note in an otherwise excellent episode.

Cree said...

Please forgive my ignorance, but was I supposed to know who was on the other end of The Ring phone with Casey at the end of the episode? Everyone continues to call it a big cliffhanger so I didn't know if there was more to it than I got.

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

It went unaddressed in the show, and I've not seen it mentioned here, that the secret Morgan knows is of a whole different magnitude than the one Devon knows.

Morgan knows about the Intersect. That presumably puts him in a lot more danger than does Devon's awareness only that Chuck's a spy.

It's unclear whether any of the bad guys even care about the Intersect now--I have no idea what anyone is after at this point--but you'd think this would matter.

cadfile said...

Nice episode - nice and goofy and added to the story.

A little bummed that Awesome and Ellie will be MIA for a few episodes but they had to tie up the loose end and explain why they won't be there in the few remaining episodes.

I'll have to watch it again but I believe that Shaw said once the Ring guys broke in all communications to the outside were cut off so sending the files didn't work so they don't really have all the intel that Shaw had.

Joyeful said...

Cree said...

Please forgive my ignorance, but was I supposed to know who was on the other end of The Ring phone with Casey at the end of the episode?


Nope, no one knows at this point. I certainly don't...and I haven't missed a second of Chuck! I'm assuming it has something to do with him being Alex Coburn...

Hey Mr. Sepinwall, there was no Walker/Lancaster mixup this week. I'm impressed! :-)

Jack said...

Agreed that it's not about spelling out every little thing, but if you're going to hammer us with the S/S and C/S interactions last week, then tie them up. Why bother with these other love interests otherwise? That part of the season has not lived up to the Chuck level of excellence. The vibe of the show has been off until tonight. We can all suspend disbelief on Chuck plotholes including those, but since it's not been a well received arc, it seems like if you're going to anger alot of fans you should see it through with consistent writing.

Anonymous said...

I side with Friedberg on the episode. The writer's just don't seen as sharp this season.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Feinberg on this one. The writing isn't as sharp this season. It feels very much like it's disjointed and repetitive.

Lisa said...

I have been looking forward to the day Morgan got clued in for so many reasons. The first was shown tonight -- above everyone (and particularly Sarah, as it turns out), Morgan has Chuck's back. I think that whenever any future crisis in confidence over Chuck's abilities surfaces, it will be Morgan who slaps everyone around and gets them back in line. And the brief "I love Sarah" scene underscores how instrumental Morgan could end up being in FINALLY getting these two crazy kids together.

I am so glad the producers checked under the seat cushions and came up with an episode where Josh Gomez could shine. I do love his chemistry with Zach Levi.

So, after tonight, the last woman out is Ellie. Granted, we see Awesome offering to take her away from the danger Chuck poses, but now Morgan -- her recent co-conspirator -- is in an even more precarious position than Awesome. Morgan is more like family to Chuck and Ellie than any other castmember save for Pa Bartowski, and Ellie's ignorance of her father's true circumstances makes Morgan an even closer family member. So will Morgan have a role in keeping the truth from Ellie...or will he be the one who tells her or forces Chuck to tell her? I see Morgan continuing as comic relief, but also as Chuck's conscience. I just hope he doesn't get hurt.

Col Bat Guano said...

I could have done with less of the Buy More revolution, but any sins are forgiven for Morgan's "You haven't had sex with that woman yet!?!?" This is the true mystery of the show.

sabra_n said...

On a completely inane note, I'm pretty sure that the weapon Chuck handled in his fight scene was something like a bokken (a wooden sword) rather than a bo, which is a full-length staff. And Morgan's weapon looked like a jo, a short staff.

But anyway, aside from a few small touches (the needless repetition of Chuck's love for Sarah, the "drugged" shorts) I adored this episode. Josh Gomez knocked his showcase out of the park, and who would have thought Morgan would go from being that little troll of early S1 to the totally lovable character he is today?

Marty McKee said...

"If the characters don't grow and the stakes don't get raised, then we might as well be watching repeats from season two."

Geez, you must have hated every series ever made before 1981. Except PEYTON PLACE. I don't recall characters growing or stakes being raised on THE HONEYMOONERS (or a more apt analogy, GET SMART!), but I wouldn't argue that it's not as good as CHUCK.

Best episode of the season so far, and great work by Levi. The Iwo Jima bit was a little much, but a very well directed show overall.

OldDarth said...

Morgan is da man! He kicked ass six ways to Sunday! Loved his Indiana Jones like entrance into the OO!

He had so many great lines I don't know where to start and the cat meow he made when he bumped into the Castle Wall corridor. lol But the coup de grace was his Ewok jab at the bad guy to make sure his was really out.

Great episode!

Anonymous said...

Only Ellie is now in the dark about Chuck's secret life. I'm waiting to see one day when Mama Bartowski shows up and goes "Ellie, we - your dad, your husband, his best friend, and his on/off/on/off girlfriend, heck even I - were in this secret all this time. Sorry you missed out on the fun."

dez said...

Duck Hunt! I love our canine brethren as much as the next person so I hope I wasn't the only one who used to fire off a few useless rounds at the hound dog when he would do his Chuckles McGee routine...


I used to shoot the dog whenever he laughed at me, the furry little bastard.


Viva Buymoria! Long live Jeffster! Also, very much looking forward to Morgan assisting Chuck in future missions.

Charles said...

Fantastic. My faith in Chuck has been revived.

Anonymous said...

I never thought that Chuck dumped Hannah because he knew he still loved Sarah. It was part of the reason but not the sole reason. He saw how she was endangered in the Mask and how she almost blew the mission in Fake Name.

Morgan is the best. This episdoe was a joy to watch. But Ellie better not leave! If Awesome wants to go to Africa then he can go alone. Or he can have Jeffster go with him so they can sing Africa in Africa. Ellie needs to stay put.

Anonymous said...

One word: Awesome!

My personal favourite of the season and maybe the series.

Mika said...

How does Chuck have a degree from Stanford. If I'm remembering correctly didn't Bryce get him kicked out halfway through?

Ambaryerno said...

FYI Alan:

Chuck was not using the bo staff. He was using a shinai. This is a practice sword for katana made of four slats of bamboo (I use one myself that's modified for German longsword).

Charles said...

the CIA got him one and his "alibi" to ellie for being absent all the time was because he was taking online courses clandestinely.

BigTed said...

I understand that this is part of what's made the past few plot lines work, but it still doesn't make sense that the CIA wouldn't do anything to help when Chuck stopped flashing. It would be obvious to anyone that Chuck needs a clear head for the Intersect to work, but they just left it to random chance in hopes that would happen again. Forget about advanced CIA mind voodoo -- how about teaching him some relaxation techniques, or meditation, or even just getting him some counseling? Considering that Chuck's brain is a billion-dollar property that could affect the future of the free world, you'd think they'd try just a little bit harder to keep in in working order.

Paul Worthington said...

I really enjoyed this episode -- it made me laugh,and made me care about the characters.

One thing I've not seen anyone else comment on explicitly:
It seems to me that at the end, when playing the video game: Chuck did NOT flash, but he still had some Mad Skills - and he was quietly surprised by this.
This shows even more evolution is on the way for Chuck's abilities. I think that, to really be a practical, useful spy, some skills have to eventually get engrained, as he can't always depend on the right Flash popping up when needed.

Andrew said...

I enjoyed this episode too. Thought we saw some nice story progression for once. However, I understand the action/comedy/drama angle but the "action"? I mean, The Ring guys were ordered to kill Casey, and with both their guns on him, they just stood there? Also, as said earlier, uncuffing chuck and morgan to move them to where? Thought they wanted to kill them and blow the castle up. Did they need to move them to a different place so their bodies could be more destroyed? Very confused there. I'd be content with at least 'D' level action but that's just total fail and I hope this improves before the end of the season.

Also when Chuck and Morgan were coming home from their date when Awesome was waiting outside the apartment, for a second, I thought there was going to be a serious man session of therapy of Chuck's secret. Glad to see that wasn't the case.

Good review Alan.

Anonymous said...

How does Chuck have a degree from Stanford. If I'm remembering correctly didn't Bryce get him kicked out halfway through?

Back in season two, Sarah and Casey pulled some string to get him the degree.

Karen said...

I agree with @Joyeful: Casey's clear discomfort with Chuck's mention of Alex Coburn last time set up something funky in his past. I don't think he's a mole--not Casey!--but the guy who called him on the Ring cellphone clearly had something on him.

I loved this episode. I was drumming my heels with delight I was laughing so hard. Morgan came through exactly as I'd hoped--no, KNEW--he would. And Chuck was right: Morgan's loyalty to Chuck is absolute. He'll handle it better than Awesome because Awesome's loyalty is to Ellie, and to protecting her.

I wonder if Chuck told Morgan about Orion as well?

Casey's disgust at Morgan's familiarity with him at the end was priceless.

Speaking of trust, by the way, I am pleased that I trusted the writers to bring us through rocky shoals to this brilliant episode. I guess I'm loyal, too.

Anonymous said...

It's episodes like this one that have made me fall in love with this show. What heart and soul. To see Morgan and Chuck like that - beautiful stuff. Friendship is a big theme on this show and their friendship is the anchor of that them.

Rich, Denver

amysusanne said...

It's not about spelling out every little thing; it's about consistency.

I saw no inconsistency. Chuck was upset. Chuck was all "emotional". Chuck couldn't flash. They could have taken five minutes and had Chuck spill his guts about how much his feelings were hurt last week and how he's broken up with Hannah and how he's bummed that Sarah and Shaw were making out in front of him. Or the audience could draw on that previous knowledge and the knowledge that earlier in the season Chuck's emotions were getting in the way of him flashing and we could save a little time and get on with the show.

Then she launches herself at that guy at the end of the episode, but this week they seem like nothing more than work colleagues who share the occasional lunch.

They were a little busy keeping Awesome, Ellie, Chuck and Morgan alive.

A Guy said...

Awesome episode, but for one HUGE missed opportunity.

Morgan: You haven't had sex with that woman!?

Should have resulted in:

Chuck: No. You owe me a condom, by the way.

Or some variant thereof. :P

Brien said...

I noticed a big Polycom logo (including the name) on the phone tapping equipment Shaw and Sarah used at the resort. Any idea if that was paid product placement?

Xeddicus said...

Sarah should have shot Shaw in the leg (or head, I'm not picky) when he started dialing that phone. Otherwise, great episode.

Levi should have directed Yvonne into a bikini to match Sarah's, but since this was his first episode I'll give him half credit.

I'm glad Morgan lost the electric knives (even though it was amusing) and ended up actually contributing to a combat situation without an Intersect to help him.

Buymore gang was great in every scene basically. Even Casey: "The only thing I hate more...".

Justinian said...

The only bad thing was the eye-twitching, gag-inducing "beautiful couple" comment. The way last episode ended was upsetting enough. Anyway, even Roark thought Chuck and Sarah were a cute couple, so there.

Awesome and Ellie are going to Africa? Good riddance. He's more of a Lt. Commander Awesome this season, and Ellie's been a pampered nag since day one.

If only Shaw were played by a GOOD actor, I'd tolerate this neverending Ring storyline. I have to mute the TV because his monotone voice makes me cringe.

Stonewall said...

I agree with what some others have said - this was one of the top 3 episodes of the series. I absolutely loved it. I love that the Bearded One is in on the secret now, because it has so much potential for more funny moments.

Gambs said...

I loved the episode. The tone of the stories were much more in line with previous seasons while still allowing for growth in the series. I don't understand why some people had an issue with Zac Levi's direction in the flash bomb scene in the hotel. I understood where it was coming from. Levi is a gamer, and it's similar to Call of Duty, plus (as mentioned), it added to the confusion of the decoy by The Ring.

Alan, I asked Mo Ryan this question on her blog, and I have to ask you also: Is a 2.8/8.5M too much to ask for today? NBC has issued out a lot of early renewals. Chuck fans want to see one as well.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is a 2.8/8.5M too much to ask for today?

With House airing a new episode (which it didn't last week), probably. That would be, I believe, by far the highest-rated Chuck ever.

What you want is for the numbers to remain steady. So long as they stick around where they were last week, or before the Olympics, renewal should be a lock, given the state of the rest of NBC and the danger of trying to launch too many new shows at once next season.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And, indeed, the show pulled a 2.3/6 in the 18-49 demo, and 6.3 million viewers. That's down slightly from last week, which shouldn't be a surprise given a new "House" (plus whatever drawing power you ascribe to J-Lo on "HIMYM"). Still well within acceptable range, though, given NBC's other problems; "Chuck" did far better than "Trauma" at 9 and "Law & Order" at 10.

Mo Ryan said...

"well within acceptable range" = happydance!

I surely would love for Chuck, someday, to mention the missing condom to Morgan. I'm sure they could get an enjoyable comic moment from that.

Jen said...

I enjoyed this episode thoroughly, definitely a highlight of the season.

I think that had the shots of all the Buy Morons with the nerf guns been followed up by an image the frizzy haired blond nerd taking their pictures it would've made much more sense (as it did w/ the Iwo Jima homage). It'd be nice to get a shot of the lockers in the break room w/ those snapshots taped up.

So given the overall arc of this story, before NBC ordered the additional episodes, how much longer do Chuck, et al have to take down the ring in epic style as implied by Shaw at the end of the episode? I had a flashback to Jack from Lost telling Ana Lucia he wanted to build an army only to have absolutely nothing come from that seemingly epic development. I'm assuming/hoping that the Chuck writers won't skirt the issue in a similar way.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The missed opportunity for Chuck to mention the stolen condom eluded me, too, A Guy. Nicely-done.

Larry said...

It would be funny if Anna Wu left Morgan in Hawaii to become a spy thanks to Casey.

Martin said...

hey,

does any1 know what song plays when Morgan discoveed the CIA secret base ?

Alfred A. A. said...

This is the Chuck I remember and love, it's been a while since I smiled and laughed so much while watching any show (maybe even since Season 2). It's been even longer since I walked out of an episode just feeling so goddamn happy! Great work!

Michael G. said...

The stolen condom was one of the first things I thought of during their conversation. I was hoping for a "Speaking of which, I'm going beat the living hell out of you. Trust me, it is well-deserved."

Elena said...

Great move letting Morgan in on the secret. A couple of episodes back, we were complaining about how this was going to work, Chuck and Morgan being roommates and Chuck disappearing all the time. Now at least, the situation works. And everyone needs someone in their corner, and Chuck's been missing that, especially since he and Sarah split. And someone who thinks being a spy is cool, which Chuck thought at the beginning, but has lost as of late. One of my favorite moments that hasn't been mentioned yet is when the crew is talking about how they were going to hang together and not give up any secrets, and then when they called Lester in, Chuck says something like -We're doomed. And of course, Lester starts the conversation with -I want immunity!

CEK said...

I continue to like the little things they get right, like in Morgan's "office" the smaller mounted fish behind his desk.

Henry said...

I dunno. I actually found Morgan being shoved to the forefront in this manner like him reverting back to his first season annoying persona. He always has to have a response to everything and acted like he was a kid in a candy store who's free to go to town. Yes, it's nice that Chuck could unburden himself and the Intersect finally starts working again, but did Morgan really have to be so giddy about it? Does he realize the danger he's just walked into? I was prepared for Chuck and Morgan to get a reaming from Shaw and the others, but they just passed it off as something that's normal when it's anything but. I dunno. Morgan just seemed so in-your-face in this episode and I just couldn't get into it like you did, Alan. Maybe Morgan's "support" for Chuck in future missions can be toned down, which I would think is good for the show overall.

The Comic-Con panel promised Jeffster in a limited capacity this season, but did they really need to pull out Jeffster here? I mean, I enjoyed the spoof of two of the most famous WWII photographs of all time, but I agree with Fienberg that Jeffster's performance of "Fortunate Son" seemed to be drowned out by the chaos at the Buy More. Plus, with the Ring being the latest organization to infiltrate the Buy More, Shaw's team MUST step up security somehow. Facial regcognition stuff in the cameras aimed at the door? Something because the integrity of the Buy More has been compromised.

CeeCee said...

Well within acceptable range--hmmm. Surprising actually. But they better hope for renewal soon. Loved it for 2 seasons, but I know that I am not participating in any Save Chuck campaigns if this season is what they think they should deliver to their fanbase.

Abhimanyu said...

Vast VAST improvement over the disasters that were the last two eps. Definite flashbacks to vintage Chuck. Am intrigued by what they can mine from the addition of Morgan to the circle. Interesting cliffhanger too. Less emo, more of the supporting cast. Always a good way to go.

electricia said...

What an exceptionally fun, satisfying episode!

There is something that I honestly don't understand, and I'm hoping that maybe someone can explain their viewpoint, and that's all the Ellie love. I understand it about Awesome, because he's awesome. But I don't think Ellie has ever been written as anything other than an annoying controlling harpy who doesn't want Chuck to be happy for Chuck, but to be happy the way *she* thinks he should be happy. She's never been supportive of Chuck the person, she's only ever pushed Chuck to do things like quite the BuyMore because SHE thinks it's best. I think all of that could have been written in a way to make her seem like a supportive, caring, concerned big sister, but instead it just comes off as pushy and superior and treating Chuck like he's a loser. Her comment when Awesome suggested going to Africa just underscored that... "What about Chuck? I'm the only family he has" or whatever she said exactly just made it seem like she thinks Chuck isn't capable of being a grown-up and taking care of himself without her. And it proves that she doesn't actually know much about Chuck the real person (separate from the spy secrets, obviously), only the Chuck she sees. She's just such a one-note character, and that note is so obnoxious. Sure, she was useful in advancing the storyline with Orion and it's thanks to her that we have Awesome, but those are the only real contributions I think her character has ever made to the show. So I would be happy if she did go to Africa, since any time she's on screen I'm actively annoyed. Even her interaction with Devon is shrewish most of the time. Instead of being a supportive wife concerned with the fact that something is clearly going on with him and letting him be able to say "I know this huge secret and it's getting to me" and being able to be okay and supportive about that (as I would if it were my husband!), instead her reactions are all about "Why are you hiding things from ME? How does this affect ME? ME ME ME ME ME." Sure, Devon isn't handling it that well, but maybe if he had a wife who trusted him and who he could confide in (without sharing the actual secret, because a supportive, trusting wife wouldn't ask her husband to betray a huge confidence), he wouldn't be acting so crazy. I think we could still have him not handling the secret as well as Morgan and defy our expectations in that regard without actually compromising his Awesomeness.

Speaking of Chuck's family, I can't remember where Orion went at the end of the last season. The last thing I remember is him giving Chuck the wristband computer. Is it possible we could see him again?

After watching last night, my husband and I were laughing hysterically at the Gaping Plot Holes this entire show has, which it does and which we accept because it's the Chuckverse and if there weren't the gaping plot holes, we wouldn't be able to have the show "Chuck" we all love so much. It makes me sad to see fans upset and picking apart why the CIA or other spies did or didn't act a certain way, because that's not the point. It's supposed to be fun, and if TV really portrayed what being a spy is like, none of us would want to watch it because it would be tedious and boring. We're not picking apart things like how the BuyMore is still in existence in spite of the fact that no one there ever actually sells anything, because if we were watching people ask questions about electronics, that would be boring. I don't even know anymore who's part of what organization, what it is they're after, if they know Chuck's the Intersect, etc., and I really don't care because those things aren't the heart of the show. It's not "Lost".

(continued in the next comment)

electricia said...

(continued)

That's why the over-the-topness of everything BuyMorian doesn't bother me. It's always been over the top and ridiculous, and that's why we love it. I thought the revolution was perfect and fit with everything we've ever seen or known about the BuyMore. I especially love that Big Mike has gone from being the bumbling authority figure he started out as to being just as insane as the rest of BuyMoria. Technically he's still in charge of the employees, but he's no longer a foil that they're always trying to hide things from, he's more their leader in all the insanity.

To wrap up, one note regarding Duck Hunt that I didn't see anyone else mention in the comments - I don't think it was intended to mean that Chuck flashed on Duck Hunt. I thought it was a callback to "Chuck Versus Operation Awesome" where Awesome and Chuck were breaking in to the CIA office where Shaw was. They came around a corner and there were a bunch of bad guys and Chuck easily took them all out with his tranq gun. Devon said something like "Chuck, that was awesome! Was that your spy training?" And Chuck replied "Duck Hunt." So I would assume this was a parallel situation and that in fact Chuck the gamer does have some skillz that don't come from the Intersect.

Anonymous said...

Was anyone else expecting some reference to True Lies when Morgan finds out Chuck is a spy?

CJ said...

Electricia,

I love what all you had to say about this show and this episode in particular. I am also a little confused about all of the Ellie love. The only reason she means anything to me is because CHUCK loves her so much, but most of the time I feel like I am tolerating her when she is on screen. Chuck caring as much as he does about his sister and making difficult moral choices based on that loyalty adds to his "out-of-the-ordinary nice guy" character.

From what I have read of comments about Ellie on this forum, it does appear that much of the love comes from love of the actress, and not really from what this character brings to or takes away from the rest of the show.

Anonymous said...

Jeff pulled out another great line (and a switchblade) when he vowed that the Buy More would be sold "over dead bodies" instead of "my dead body".

Anonymous said...

I thought the Shaw phone call at the end of the episode was confusing.

I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be a humor bit, or if it was a suggestion that Shaw had set up the fake sale in the first place.

boffo said...

I agree with everything Electricia said, which isn't surprising since I'm her husband.

I find that approximately 75% of the time Ellie's talking, I can only tolerate her presence by imagining that she's on fire.

The other 25%, it's by imagining Awesome realizing how awful she is and dumping her.

Anonymous said...

I think in this episode the spy part of the plot was borderline retarded. sooo many plotholes for one episode. but it was still a lot of fun to watch. I guess that's why you've gotta love chuck.

Anonymous said...

Very enjoyable ep but hardly epic or the best thing ever like some say. Loved Morgan in this. It was really nice to see him and Chuck reconnecting.

However, the continuity was off here with the Shaw/Sarah relatinship. It's like they were afraid to show them as a couple, or what? Lame. I like them (and the actors acting), and I'd like to see what happens with their relationship. Hope the writers don't just ignore this storyline, otherwise I'll be very disappointed. We need better consistency with the writing.

I also found very annoying how Chuck keeps realizing (again and again) that oh yes he loves Sarah! It's too overhanded and tired already. Either put them together or don't mention it so often, PLEASE!

Can't wait for next ep.

Star

cgeye said...

Someone must have mentioned how the alias "Alex Coburn" must have been Casey's homage to famed leftist journalist Alexander Coburn? Sorry I didn't check there....

Anonymous said...

has anyone else notice that the awesome wrist computer disappeared???

Anonymous said...

I liked the episode, I was annoyed the whole thing went on as if Mask and Fake Name never happened though.

Lisa said...

In response to the posts about Ellie, I think there has been a BIG change in how Sarah Lancaster's role has been written, and it's been for the worst. Particularly in the first season, Ellie was written as a very intelligent, very caring mother figure for Chuck and SL did a wonderful job playing her increasing confusion over whatever was happening to her brother. SL has both great comic timing and the skills to show how heartbreaking her circumstances really are.

The problem is that the writers let Ellie stall, and worse, turned her into a one-note nag. It's very easy to see why Ellie is frustrated and even a little afraid for her brother. For a brief, fleeting second, I thought they were going to actually revive Ellie in "Chuck vs. Angel de la Muerte" where both SL and YS were locked in conversation about Sarah's true feelings for Chuck, but it turned out to be a brief snippet of girl talk where, again, Ellie was in the role of nag, except this time she was nagging Sarah.

I thought this week's episode single-handedly saved the Chuck/Morgan relationship to potentially great effect. Now I want to see this done for Ellie because, in case we've forgotten, Ellie had Chuck's back before Morgan. I think that Ellie, more than any other character on the show, is responsible for the great guy Chuck turned out to be, and she and Sarah Lancaster deserve SO much better!

Anonymous said...

I also forgot to say that I'm not happy with how the Shaw character has been written lately; Shaw doesn't seem like a very competent spy. They don't give Brandon Routh good enough material to work with, and that sucks since I like the character and the actor.

I don't mind that he has a romantic interest in Sarah, I like their scenes together and get their attraction, but if Shaw is supposed to be this super spy, well, I'm not seeing it lately. He was so well written in Operation Awesome and First Class. I want more of that. I want to see him kicking real Ring ass. Sigh.

Star

steph said...

I agree with Anonymous 11:29 up above: the big difference between Awesome knowing Chuck's secret and Morgan being in on the spy game is that Devon was spared from knowing Chuck has the intersect in his head.

pretty upset this didn't cause a bigger uproar among the team - Superman was right here. Morgan needs to go into witness protection, he can't possibly withstand torture no matter how good a liar he becomes in the name of loyalty to his friend. Chuck needs 22 better reasons why he's endangering his best friend in the name of having someone to hear him out. I like the idea of Morgan acting as his conscience but not at the (heh) furry little bastard's expense.

Otherwise, great episode, I think they'll address the name reveal thing next episode (or the next, c'mon, they're the stars of the show!), and I love flashbangs. more flashbangs please.

Canadian Gringo said...

Loved the Chuck and Morgan moments.
Loved the whole Buy More gang!
Loved the Awesome and Ellie decoy.
Loved the fact that Shaw and Sarah really didn't do much of anything... Eh? - did anyone else notice that the Ring guys - had more personality and Charisma than Shaw?
Really - the guy needs an award for playing the most uninteresting character ever... it must be really difficult to act like someone so completely BLAHHHH!
How many more EP's will Shaw have
this season?
- Best moment ever: 3.08
the scene with Shaw and Sarah
at the moment of the big name reveal - both my teenage daughters
shouted,
"Shoot him Chuck - shoot him!"
- that says it all!

Anonymous said...

There's a huge plot hole that nobody has mentioned yet! If Chuck got a perfect score in Duck Hunt, then why was the dog laughing at him???

Stellar Drift said...

"If the characters don't grow and the stakes don't get raised, then we might as well be watching repeats from season two. "

Nonsense. That's like saying you'll stop drinking cola because they all taste the same. We've seen the old stories, but if you like the characters they don't need to change them, because that runs the risk of them turning into character you no longer like (and most of us are supposed to watch this because we like it, not because we are paid for it). Its fairly bad how they have changed just about everybody this year. Awesome is not. Sarah keeps getting beat up. Even Casey was bettered today (be it ever some brief). Chuck is acting like an idiot. Only Morgan is mostly the same (and i suspect that is because the actor can't act and is just being himself mostly)

As for the directing, does it really matter whos name is on the credits? Its not supposed to be art, its supposed to be finished on time. Its so much of a teamwork before the execs cut it up that i doubt it makes much difference. Except it can signal that an actor asked for a raise and get an extra job instead.

But yes, it was somewhat better with the teenage angst banned (for once)

Dave S said...

Had a thought upon re-watching Chuck from last night (and I know nothing about next week, so this is just a theory). The voice on the other end of that call to Col. Casey sounded a bit Scott Bakula-n to my ears. Could Orion & Casey be in on something? And could the something (please please please) lead to the exit of Shaw?

Anonymous said...

I used to be a huge Chuck fan. I even went and bought Subways last year, filled in comment cards, because I cared about the show even though I threw away the sandwitches (sorry ... can't carb load)
This year ... Last episode I watched as it aired was Nacho Sampler. I DVR since then and you know why? I no longer care about what will happen next week to characters I used to love. They just don't interest me anymore, they make no sense. And that's bad when this is supposed to be THE character growth season.Fake Beard, I watched half of it, rest I fast forwarded through. In the middle of a lot of storylines I don't really care about they did a pause (the storylines) here's some overdone comedy relief. Thanks. Thanks for exaggerating the visual elements too, to the point I was wondering if it was Chuck or some random slapstick show.
Good luck to the show, and the fans, I will most definitely not be joining the fight to save it again. I ll probably still DVR and watch a bundle of episodes together but they lost me a live viewer.
Jason

Pamela said...

Dear Producers and Writers of Chuck--I hope for the show's longevity that you HAVE owned Sarah and Chuck by 3.13. Because the only way you will survive what you have done this season, is for this huge epic finale in 3.13 that you are promising and presumably that will mean ending these ridiculous Sarah and Chuck obstacles, comes to pass. It may not be the entire fanbase that objects, but for a show that was so recently almost cancelled--it's enough of the fanbase. You need to start listening and not just hearing what you want to hear. Critics aren't your fanbase. Arrogance and self-indulgence has killed many a show. And you've shown both all season. Even acting perplexed that anyone was having a problem with what you'd written. Tip--when you have to grant interviews to break "the fever" of upset coming from fans over the direction of your show, take note. Something isn't going right, and don't blame the fans for that. NBC is in enough trouble that you may get a season 4 just because. That might be enough for you. However, going out on a high note, should be a goal-not just getting by. We've had enough and we're not going to take it anymore. We're pulling for you, but there's only so much we can do.

Anonymous said...

Mediocre episode in my opinion. So Morgan found out, so what, replace dorky Chuck with dorky Morgan for comedy relief and turn Chuck ito James Bond. Yeah, sorry they can't pull it off.
Franchise has been going downhill all season, if their hope was that a bit of fluff (Fake Beard) would save them I think they will be disappointed.

Toby O'B said...

I realize the tele-synaptic circuits in my brain are a bit fried, but when Morgan finally learned Chuck's secret, I was thinking: Just like when Major Healey finally learned about Jeannie! And it is an apt comparison because the storylines can now open up, go in different directions, because it's no longer hampered by Morgan being left in the dark.

It looks like it was just me, but I was disturbed by the look on Awesome's face when he turned away after being reassured that he was not being suspected of being a double agent or that he was in any way involved. Maybe it was a deteermination on his part to get Ellie away from all of it, but I wondered if there is still a possible seed of "Manchurian Candidate" in there.....

Cameron said...

Wow, Alan. I watched Chuck and then immediately listened to your podcast. I like Chuck less than you, and maybe it isn't just personal taste -- you sound a LOT like Zachary Levi.

aam said...

I only got about half way through the comments before I felt obliged to quibble with Alan's dissatisfaction with Chuck's re-realisation that he is still in love with Sarah.

One of the great qualities of shows like Chuck (and particularly Buffy, although it was more extreme around this issue) is that they use an unreal universe to give space to show what perhaps all of us have been through in life. It is often far more effective than showing "real" characters experience the same thing.

Sissy said...

I have yet to find a show that makes me laugh out loud like this one. AND I actually feel happy I took the hour to sit down and watch it!!! I love this show!!

Molly said...

Someone on another board said something that sums up how I feel completely. They said that when your 2 main chracters spend the season hardly interacting, then your show has missed the boat. In other words, when Shaw and Sarah have more screentime, more interaction, than the 2 leads, you've missed the boat. It was truly like they went out of their way to NOT write Chuck and Sarah all season. Remember this was a 13 episode season initially. They insist we need to give it time. We are on episode 10 now. How much more time is there? My guess is they don't think they really need to do anything more than some quick C/S scene in 13 and it's done and we're off to the last 6 where they will continue to back and forth those 2. After doing such a fantastic job with them last season, they dropped the ball. The troubling thing is they don't seem to see that. As much as I love Chuck a part of me has started to hope it's not renewed. THEN maybe Josh Schwartz will get it.Give the fans what they want not what you think they need.

Otis said...

Some people gasped at the suggestion of boycotting the show after the direction it's taken, and said it's too late to make a difference. Not for season 4 it's not.

Andrew said...

I think the style of the flash-bang was a direct reference to the video game "Counter-Strike" -- that ghostly after trail is the exact effect that occurs when a flash-bang goes off in the game -- since Zachary Levi is a known gamer, inserting that reference seems like it might be a kind of clever nod to the game.

A Guy said...

Toby:

If anyone's got a "Manchurian Candidate" vibe about him, it's Shaw.

1) It would explain why the Ring didn't kill him when they had him "dead to rights"

2) His last name is Shaw :P

A Guy said...

And, while I'm here, I agree with the Anon who said he/she misses the way Shaw was initially portrayed.

I know he's only had a few episodes but it already seems like he's been derailed. For me, he's gone from being a surprisingly good new addition to the cast, complete with an intriguing past, to being something of a bumbling idiot. Hopefully he'll get back on track, soon.

While I'm at it: I'm I weird for thinking the main problem with the Shaw/Sarah thing is the fact that it seems totally out of character for *Shaw*? The guy still breaks out the wedding ring on occasion and flat out told Sarah that relationships in the spy game were a mistake.

Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I'm a new Chuck fan. Yes, Alan, you told me to watch. But it took the marathon just before the season began to hook me. So I've seen each episode this season as it aired--while catching up on some shows from the earlier seasons.

I've liked every episode--some more than others. This latest was, of course, awesome. And I'll gladly go wherever Chuck wants to take me.

It seems to me that a boycott would be a great way to ensure there will be no 4th Season. Now, I'm getting a yen for a Subway sandwich....

--not Bridget

Crazy like a Fox said...

Loved the episode, and Alan your blog's comments are always insightful. Although, and a few people have mentioned it here as not liking it, I loved the Nerf gun cocking montage--I nearly fell out of my chair laughing. It's a perfect nerd/geek moment--what else would a bunch of geeks have handy for their very own revolution but a bunch of Nerf guns? It was that or Wii guns, and the Nerfs you can actually cock and act Rambo-y with. Between that, the Jeffster! CCR cover, and the WWII homages, I thought the secondary story was pitch perfect and flat-out hilarious.

For a first timer, I think Levi did a great job directing. Hit the emotional/plot high points of the show well, some inventive thoughts on camera work (the pan shot with the apple bet; the back and forth sensitivity to the unfolding of Chuck telling Morgan his story and Morgan's reaction). The only part I thought didn't really fit (and it's a comedy, so I'm okay with going over the top if done judiciously) was the grenade hotel room entrance.

Anonymous said...

(Behind by several weeks and just now catching up with DVR)

I LOVE this show, and this episode in particular. While, yes, there were some plot holes and some weird shots that messed with the flow, this episode had me giggling for the last half. It was a return to the awesomeness that was season 2, and I'm so very, very happy.

I want to thank you, Alan, for dedicating so much writing to this show each week. I love having all of the pop culture references and songs spelled out in addition to a great write up.

Caz said...

Horation said...
I hate how this show is always putting up artificial barriers keeping Chuck and Morgan from consummating their love for each other. Now that Morgan knows Chuck's secret, can they finally be together?


Nice.

Sam Hobart said...
My favorite was the shot looking up at the Buy More crew preparing for their interrogations/interviews. Keeping everyone on screen at once and at an unusual angle


And a lovely call back to Vs Santa Claus, where it was used with Awesome directing the Ned take-down.

I have always loved Morgan, from day one. So much so that I am always surprised to read that some viewers have found him tedious. And I really hope that someone, somewhere is working on Joshua Gomez's award season showreel. And also that it includes "It's a walkie talkie, don't drop it, it's expensive" and "You never had sex with that girl?" Although, and this was a bad decision and unfair to JG's performance, we are actually on Chuck's face and not Morgan's during that line.

It's interesting to me that some great comedy moments were mined from the cast by one of their own, reminiscent of some of the work done on Scrubs eps directed by Zach Braff.

Arguably my favourite thing about this episode was how is showcased the architecture of the Buy More's backstage and also Castle. Seeing bits of the corridors etc for the first time through Morgan's eyes worked superbly.

.analogtrash. said...

Okay, so make Nerd moment, but there seems to be an inconsistency at the end of the episode...

When Chuck and Morgan are playing Duck Hunt you get a brief glimpse of what appears to be either a Plasma or LCD Flatscreen...

Now it's become common knowledge that the Zapper (well light guns in general,) does not work with the ANY of the new HDTV technologies. Short of buying a very expensive scaler (from what I've read/seen/etc.,) there should've been no way for this to work.
I don't think Chuck has the kind of disposable budget to make Duck Hunt work on non-CRT HDTV.

Not that this detracts from the show at all, it just left me curious as to if anyone else noticed this...