Three years ago, Chuck Bartowski opened an e-mail from his college friend Bryce Larkin and downloaded all of the U.S. government's secrets into his brain. Chuck soon understands that he must choose between a normal life as a civilian, or a thrilling, action-packed existence as a spy. This is the premise of NBC-TV's "Chuck."
By Nick Avery,
December 1, 2010
This review follows the NBC show "Chuck," which airs at 8 PDT on Mondays. Check here regularly for a synopsis and commentary on each episode.
Three years ago, Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi) opened an e-mail from his college friend Bryce Larkin (Matthew Bomer) and downloaded all of the U.S. government's secrets into his brain. Chuck soon understands that he must choose between a normal life as a civilian, or a thrilling, action-packed existence as a spy. This is the premise of NBC-TV's "Chuck."
After the Nov. 29 episode, "Chuck" went on its winter hiatus. Commentaries on episodes that aired after the break are available in 'Chuck' commentary, Part II.
'Chuck Versus the Leftovers' (Ep. 10) Originally aired on Nov. 29
Volkroff learns about how unsuccessful his attempt on Chuck and Sarah's lives was, and sends a group of assassins after the couple. Before the attempt can be completed, however, Chuck's mom returns and eliminates them in front of Chuck and Sarah, leading to a round of questioning inside Castle.
It is not long before Volkroff comes looking for his best agent, leading a squadron of men who quickly disable Castle's main self-defense controls, leaving Chuck, Sarah and Casey completely helpless. Casey attempts to reengage the controls by shimmying through the ventilation system with Morgan. As soon as the two emerge from the vents, they are cornered by Volkroff's men, leaving Chuck and Sarah no other choice but to surrender.
With the intent to terminate, Volkroff raises his gun toward Chuck, but halts when Chuck's mom reveals to him that Chuck is her son. It appears that Volkroff developed feelings of love for Chuck's mom over the years, and is actually quite delighted to hear the news. After a call from Ellie, Volkroff decides to invite himself and Chuck's mom over for a meal of Thanksgiving leftovers, but warns Chuck that if he sees him and Sarah conspiring, he will hurt those they care about.
After a family dinner and some casual chatting, Chuck warns Devon about Volkroff's affiliations with his crime syndicate, and a plan is hatched. Devon pretends they are out of sugar and walks briskly to Chuck's. There, he grabs a gun, which he hands over to Sarah as soon as he returns to his apartment. To finish the escapade, Devon fakes a call from the hospital, which draws him and Ellie away from danger.
"I thought this episode was extremely rich, especially compared to the last two. It had everything: action, drama, comedy and several Die Hard references." --Nick Avery, '12
The plan ultimately fails, and Volkroff sees through Chuck's deception. With an emergency CIA team still in route, Chuck is left to Volkroff's mercy. Chuck's mom is able to convince Volkroff to not harm her son, and they leave peacefully.
Before the show's end, Chuck's dad's computer is handed over, and, after a quick password is inserted, Chuck sees several encrypted images which download the intersect back into his head.
Once again, I found Timothy Dalton's performance to be amazing. The way he portrayed his character was interesting, and I found him to be very likable (even if he is the bad guy).
The way the writers were able to include each character into the plot without making it a complete mess was impressive. Even though the characters were spread out within the story, I felt that they all had a unique roll in the development of the plot.
I am still absolutely annoyed with Chuck's mom. She continues to be indecisive about which side she will aline herself with, which I, as a viewer, find to be slightly insulting to my intelligence. Everyone knows that she will eventually become a good guy, so I really do not see the point in dragging it out.
I thought this episode was extremely rich, especially compared to the last two. It had everything: action, drama, comedy and several Die Hard references. Although previous episodes seemed to be something which would send "Chuck" into a spiral of poor performance and cheesy plot, this episode was a fresh performance by the entire cast and crew.
'Chuck Versus Phase Three' (Ep. 9) Originally aired on Nov. 22
The Belgian absconds with Chuck to a secret facility in the jungles of Thailand, where his scientist attempts to stimulate different parts of Chuck's brain in order to reactivate the intersect. As a result of these experiments on Chuck's subconscious, he begins to hallucinate, believing each of his closest friends and family members is asking him to flash.
In Burbank, Sarah is incredulous after General Beckman attempts to assure her team that the NSA is using all of its resources to locate Chuck. Sarah believes that, given the assets, she and Casey could simply find Chuck. The general is not convinced, however, and forbids their interaction in the case.
Sarah becomes frustrated with her inability to aid her boyfriend, so she goes AWOL, kidnapping a Thai ambassador (a known associate of The Belgian), torturing him and traveling to Thailand. Once there, she proceeds to fight her way across the country, eventually acquiring the nickname of "giant blonde she-male" from the villagers. She locates the man who knows where The Belgian is. The man agrees to supply Sarah with the information she desires if she can fight against his best man, which she wins, even after having sand thrown in her eyes and being hit by a table.
All of The Belgian's attempts to draw information from Chuck's slumbering intersect have proved futile, leaving him with one option: He must go into phase three of the process, which would erase all of Chuck's memories and thoughts, leaving a hollow shell of a man with an intersect left.
Thankfully, Casey, Morgan and Sarah arrive just as the procedure is beginning. After a few strikes to the bad guys, Chuck is safe. Although he was on the brink of nullity, Sarah is able to pull Chuck from his collapsing subconscious after a hasty confession of love and a quick kiss.
Meanwhile, at Ellie and Devon's apartment, the couple discovers the computer under Ellie's seat. After a day of nerd-herders working on it, the computer turns on to reveal a password-protected lock. Ellie is able to crack the code by using a password which she believes is a play on an old joke that she and her father shared. The computer is accessed, revealing something which shocks the couple.
Although the episode this week proved to be just about as uneventful as the one which aired last week, I found it entertaining. Watching Sarah kick butt through an entire country -- even acquiring a nickname because of it -- was hilarious and action-packed, something the show always proves to be full of.
One thing which I found to be especially interesting in this episode was the way Chuck's subconscious is portrayed. I figured it would be something like a great black void, full of memories and feelings. In fact, Chuck's subconscious was rather like one big memory, which could be molded and perverted by a few words. The concept was fascinating, something I would expect from one of my favorite shows.
The plot hole which revolved around Ellie's dad's computer was filled, to my great relief. Although impractical and utterly annoying, the find even seems to be promising to "Chuck" fans and will most likely give the next episode an unexpected twist.
As the holiday break looms, I have nothing but great expectations for the final episodes of "Chuck" before its short hiatus.
'Chuck Versus the Fear of Death' (Ep. 8) Originally aired on Nov. 15
Without the use of the intersect, Chuck becomes as useless as a normal civilian and, therefore, a danger for Sarah and Casey. General Beckman foresees this problem and hires a team of top scientists to probe Chuck's mind in order to locate the reason that he can no longer flash.
The scientists believe the root of the problem is a "rock" that is figuratively pinning down Chuck's ability to flash. Over the course of the next month, they try to fish the intersect out through a series of mental tests, usually having to do with pictures hiding several encrypted images.
After conventional methods fail to provoke any sort of mental blip, Agent Jim Rye (Rob Riggle) from the CIA's Psy-Ops Division is called in to sort Chuck out. Rye believes in a hands-on approach to instructing and suspects that Chuck's mental block can be lifted through a series of painful, fear-inducing struggles. After Rye puts two knives to Chuck's throat while in his apartment, he concludes that Castle and the apartment are both a sort of safe zone for Chuck and demands that he go on an actual mission.
Despite Sarah's cries of protest, Beckman clears Chuck for a mission, and he soon finds himself with Rye in Switzerland. Their mission is to obtain a diamond from Adelbert De Sme aka "The Belgian" (Richard Chamberlain). After Chuck loses the diamond in an auction to another bidder, the two are forced to steal the gem from a highly secure safe. Chuck is unable to flash, leaving Rye to punch in the code in order to secure the diamond.
In reality, there are actually several diamonds in the vault, although they are all fake. Chuck soon discovers that the diamonds contain microdots, which store vast amounts of information on them. This information is sent to Castle, which prompts Beckman to make the decision to send Sarah to Switzerland in order to aid Chuck and Rye.
Rye comes to the conclusion that Chuck's mental rock stems from his dependence on Sarah, and advises him to keep Sarah from interfering with the mission so Chuck can obtain a dependence from his girlfriend. The two approach The Belgian and his men on a gondola, which Chuck immediately regrets, as he is thrown off, while Rye battles the men without aid. Just when things are looking up for the dynamic duo, The Belgian shoots Rye and takes Chuck to an undisclosed location in order to procure the intersect.
Although this episode was highly entertaining, I did not see much plot development during the 40-something minutes I was glued to my television. Of course, I take the pessimistic view on this and believe the entire episode was just a filler, sitting on the huge plot-hole of Ellie with her dad's car.
Once again, I must spend a certain amount of time raving about the guest stars of this episode. It seems as if "Chuck" has gotten to the point where it will seek out the nerdiest actors from across the TV spectrum and bring them to the show; in this case, Summer Glau from "Firefly," who played Greta in the episode (although the writers failed to use a "Firefly" reference).
The series seems to be branching off to its original roots, that is, the lighter, nerd-herd side of "Chuck" that was so prevalent in the first and second seasons. This annoys me because I believe the series did wonders in the third season when there was a darker feel to the show. Going back to the original theme seems to, in my mind, be a lot like backtracking the progress the show has made thus far.
Despite the episode being an overall filler and a minor disappointment, I look forward to the episode next week, which will be full of butt-kicking and suspense. Or at least that is what the trailer looked like.
'Chuck Versus the First Fight' (Ep. 7) Originally aired on Nov. 1
In the aftermath of his mother's arrest, Chuck becomes furious at Sarah for betraying his trust, which leads him to go behind her back and meet with his mom. During this rendezvous, Chuck learns that his mother has an MI-6 handler named Gregory Tuttle (Timothy Dalton), who holds information that can exonerate her. Armed with this knowledge and his trusty side-kick, Morgan, Chuck heads to a bar to meet with Tuttle.
Morgan turns out to be a rather horrid look-out, as he drops his ear-piece into a glass of water and spends an unusual amount of time in the bathroom trying to fish it out. In the meantime, Chuck meets with Tuttle. He informs Chuck that they must be on the move, since Volkroff's men will be looking for them. This warning is issued too late, however, as the two are drugged and forced onto an airplane.
Chuck and Tuttle fight their way through some baddies, then parachute to the ground. The two make their way to a bank, where they retrieve the files which will acquit Chuck's mom. More of Volkroff's men arrive at the bank seconds after Sarah and Chuck's mom, and a fight ensues. Volkroff's men are defeated, but not before Tuttle suffers a bullet wound; he is left at the bank while the others head to Chuck's childhood home, in order to read the files on a special computer.
At the house, Chuck is surprised to discover that the disc supposedly containing the files is blank. After the file is loaded and reloaded, the obvious becomes apparent, and is only confirmed when Chuck's mom shows him a device which apparently removes the intersect from his head. Soon, Tuttle emerges on the scene unscathed, and knocks Sarah out cold.
Chuck and Sarah are tied to chairs, and, while he places explosives, Tuttle reveals himself to be Volkroff. Before she leaves, Chuck's mom places a small sharp object in Sarah's hands and tells her to keep Chuck safe. The two escape and make it to the street before the house explodes.
Back at the apartments, Ellie contemplates a visit she received from her mother; she decides to buy a Mustang in the classifieds that she believes to be her father's. This assumption is correct, as Ellie and Devon discover a note on the wheel of the vehicle from her father. As they drive off, the camera pans down and reveals a computer -- possibly the intersect -- under the driver's seat.
One of the best things about this episode was that, although it will be one of the most intense of the series, it still had a light sense about it. Whether from Morgan being his usual goofy self, or Chuck chatting about his relationship problems with literally everybody, I found myself laughing throughout the episode.
The star of the show had to be Timothy Dalton. For the past week I have been waiting with anticipation for his guest appearance on the show, and his performance failed to disappoint me. I often find Dalton to be at his best while playing a heinous fiend, and I am beyond ecstatic that his portrayal will continue for the remainder of the series.
The way the writers chose to portray Chuck's mom in this episode was, to me, the most annoying thing in the world. Although they did a fairly decent job concealing her true intentions, I found myself practically screaming at the television set asking her to chose a side.
For about the third time in the series, Chuck has lost the ability to use the intersect, which I find repetitive. Although it occasionally provides for an interesting plot-twist, it has been done to death.
With the recent developments in the last episode, I, along with many other "Chuck" fans, will eagerly await the upcoming events in two weeks. They will hopefully bring closure to this week's installment.
'Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror' (Ep. 6) Originally aired on Oct. 25
After a phone call from his mom, Chuck heads to Echo Park, where his mom has agreed to meet him for the first time in years. For Chuck's safety, Sarah tags along. Before the two even talk, Sarah and Chuck's mom have drawn guns at each other. Chuck soon settles the two down, and his mom reveals why she has emerged from hiding after so many years.
It seems a deranged doctor named Stanley Wheelwright (Robert Englund) has created a nightmare-inducing toxin, which can stop an entire army through fear alone. Chuck's mother believes the toxin to be a perilous threat to the safety of thousands, and arranges for Chuck to meet with Wheelwright to extract the poison.
Chuck meets Wheelwright at a cafe in Burbank. He is about to close a deal granting him the weapon when he is interrupted by his mother. In a complete change of character, Chuck's mom reveals Chuck as a CIA spy, withdraws a gun and shoots Chuck in the heart. Fortunately, the projectile is stopped by the bulletproof vest Chuck wore under his shirt, and the team meets back at Castle in order to converse and plan their next move.
In light of the day's events, Chuck is given the night off. He is about to leave the Buy More when his mom pulls up in an expensive-looking car and orders him in at gunpoint. While she drives him to an abandoned shipping yard, Chuck's mom reveals that she had worked for the CIA in an operation known as "Project Isis," which required her to go deep into Volkroff to bring the organization down from the inside. Unfortunately, Chuck's mom went so deep that she actually became an agent, and is now unable to escape the clutches of Volkroff.
At the shipping yard Chuck's mom vanishes, and the team intercepts Wheelwright and his mobile lab. Wheelwright is transported to Castle, where he sets off his weapon and exposes Chuck to the lethal toxin. Chuck begins to experience vivid hallucinations and agrees to release Wheelwright if he can acquire the antidote and halt the nightmares.
Chuck trips the lockdown feature in the Buy More, which prompts Wheelwright to lead Chuck down the "Aisle of Terror," a feature added to the Buy More for Halloween by Jeff and Lester. The aisle contains images which, according to Jeff and Lester, would scare even the insane. Wheelwright has become unstable, and the images in the aisle frighten him to his breaking point when he reveals the location of the antidote.
While these events transpire, Casey does a background check on Chuck's mom and fails to discover any of the information which was given to Chuck about "Project Isis" or his mother. This leads Casey and Sarah to capture Chuck's mom and take her to a secure CIA facility.
One thing "Chuck" always delivers on is attention to detail. In this episode, the thing which caught my attention was the casting of Robert Englund as Dr. Wheelwright, as he also played Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street. I thought this was a brilliant move for the season's Halloween special and a perfect way to add some thrills into the episode.
Another thing which caught my attention was the way the episode was set up. A lot of the scenes with Chuck and his mother occurred at night, with each camera angle adding an eerie tone to each scene. This, along with the goofy hygienics of the Buy More, made for a superb Halloween episode.
Surprisingly, the thing that bothered me in this episode was not plot or character relationships but the acting. Now, I adore Zachary Levi; I think he plays the shy, nerdy super-spy without flaw. But this is the main problem: He is just comical sometimes. This mainly occurred during the scenes when he was hallucinating. Instead of feeling sorry or being scared for the well-being of his character, I just laughed at the "scared" faces Levi was attempting to make. Unfortunately for Levi, he just did not possess the correct attitude or facial features to be truly frightened.
Other than this minor flaw, everything else about this episode of "Chuck" was superb. Each actor did an amazing job, and the plot was breathtaking to the nth degree. I have found over the years that holiday specials are always my favorite, and this episode was no exception. As a midseason episode, I cannot expect "Chuck" to get any better than this, but I have been wrong before.
'Chuck Versus the Couch Lock' (Ep. 5) Originally aired on Oct. 18
Chuck, Sarah and Casey hatch a plan to capture Casey's old combat team after Chuck flashes on a picture of them. The team, made up of Packard (Eric Roberts), T.I. (Dave Batista) and Mackintosh (Joel Moore), went AWOL on a mission, and attempted to steal a small fortune of gold bars before Casey stopped them. In order to apprehend them, Chuck hatches a plot, using a fake funeral for Casey, to lure them out of hiding.
The ploy works, and the team is drawn into the open. Unfortunately, the team is able to abscond with Casey's thought to be lifeless body, whom they want in order to access the vault containing the gold from the mission they abandoned many years ago. The vault contains a lock which is activated through a fingerprint recognition system, so the team figures that if they cut off Casey's hand, they will be able to open the vault.
After years of exposure to paralysis drugs, Casey is able to battle the one flowing through him and fight off his assailants before they can sever his hand. Casey jumps out of a window, sends out an SOS and jumps into a dumpster before he collapses from another drug Packard gave to him.
Jeff and Lester intercept Casey's SOS and pick him up in the Nerd Herder (the car the Buy More provides) before Chuck and Sarah get to him. Casey is dropped off at Morgan's apartment, where Morgan and Devon attempt to revive him by any means necessary. They are finally successful when Morgan reveals he has been dating Alex (Mekenna Melvin), Casey's daughter. The shock revives Casey, who immediately begins to choke Morgan out of sheer rage.
While Casey was unconscious, Packard was able to capture Chuck and Sarah, who were looking for Casey in the warehouse that the team occupied. Packard sends T.I. to Morgan's apartment to inform him of the hostages, and the location of the vault in Iran where they will be heading. Knowing there is no time to waste, Casey and Morgan rush to Iran and plan a rescue.
Casey soon barges into the vault and attempts to stop his former companies single-handed. It soon becomes apparent that this effort was foolhardy, for Morgan, Casey's secret weapon, is unable to flip the correct switch for a trap, and surrenders. Morgan's efforts were not in vain, however, as he uses a broken electrical wire to electrocute the water-soaked ground and Casey's former team.
Everyone returns to Burbank for a dinner party, where Casey informs Morgan that he may date Alex. Chuck excuses himself from the party for a minute to catch his breath when he receives a phone call from a blocked number. After answering the phone, the caller reveals herself to be Chuck's mom as the screen cuts to black.
I always find it interesting to learn more about the characters before present day, and this episode presented the perfect opportunity for a look inside Casey's former life. I liked that the writers chose to emphasize the contrast between Casey's life before and after he met Chuck and Sarah. Casey now has a sitcom-like relationship with his friends, which creates a sense of unity and love in the group (which is ironic, because it comes from such a cold source).
The premise that Chuck's mom might be a bad guy, which is hinted at in this episode, intrigues me to no end. When it was revealed last season that Chuck's dad had been a spy for years, I was left thinking that Chuck's mom had been killed in combat, or had gone missing at the very least. Never had I suspected Chuck's mom of being an agent he would soon face off against. This season provides a well-thought-out plot twist, which enhances the show's enticement.
This season, as the episodes have progressed, the plot and character development have slowly been increasing, as mysteries unravel and characters are discovered. I can only hope that the series will not climax with the next two episodes, because that can only mean there will be a fall for "Chuck."
'Chuck Versus the Coup D'Etat' (Ep. 4) Originally aired on Oct. 11
Devon and Ellie decide a vacation is needed in order the escape all the baby drama. This desire comes at an opportune time, as the Woodcomb manor is visited by the right-hand man of Premier Alejandro Goya (Armand Assante), or the Generalissimo, and invited to Costa Gravas.
It seems the Generalissimo wishes to thank Devon for saving his life in the previous season, by throwing a party in his honor. Chuck and Sarah offer to tag along in order to keep Devon and Ellie safe in the "stable" Costa Gravan democracy.
Hortencia Goya (Tia Texada), the Generalissimo's wife, begins a coup with several of the Generalissimo's men, and after a few short moments, seizes control of Costa Gravas. Chuck, however, is able to escape with his loved ones and the Generalissimo after an underground tunnel leads them to a private tarmac.
While back at Castle, Chuck flashes on pictures Sarah took of the palace the party was held at and discovers that Costa Gravas has an arsenal of nuclear weapons scattered throughout her jungles. This, along with the sudden betrayal of the Generalissimo's remaining men at Casey's apartment, prompts the team to once again return to Costa Gravas in order to secure the dangerous weapons and reinforce its political structure.
Casey leads Chuck and Sarah through secret tunnels, which converge on the Generalissimo's palace, and spy on Hortencia. The team soon discovers the main reason Hortencia arranged a coup was because of her exasperation with her husband.
At this time, Chuck appears from the tunnel and attempts to be a mediator for the wayward couple. He is eventually successful, and the two embrace as Commandante Juan Pablo Turrini (Alex Fernandez), one of the leaders of the coup, is led away by Casey.
This episode was the best of the season so far, and might possibly be in my top 10 favorite "Chuck" episodes. The installment had everything: action, comedy and the always amazing relationships between the characters. To me, this episode was a perfect bridge between the old "Chuck" that is in the back of my mind at all times and the new "Chuck" that I wish would just take over the show already.
I think the real star of the show in this episode was Armand Assante. Never before have I seen a guest star with such talent as Assante. The man had such raw emotion and swagger in his performance that it is amazing he did not charm every single woman in the cast.
Since the brief clip shown last week, I have been eagerly awaiting this episode of "Chuck," and I am glad it met every expectation I had for it. I can almost feel the tension as each episode brings Chuck closer to finding his mom, and closer to forever winning the heart of Sarah.
I can only hope everything works out for the character I have been following for four years, as he slowly plays out his destiny to become a spy.
'Chuck Versus the Cubic Z' (Ep. 3) Originally aired on Oct. 4
A heavily armored prison van breaks down on a desert highway and is redirected to a top-secret government facility, the closest haven in which to store two dangerous criminals. This “secure location” happens to be the Buy More, and before Chuck and Sarah know it, they are facing two people they thought they would never have to deal with again.
The two captives are Volkroff agents known as Heather Chandler (Nicole Richie), last seen in season two, and Hugo Panser (Steve Austin), whom Chuck knocked out on an airplane in season three. Chuck flashes on Heather early in the episode and discovers she worked on an assignment with his mom years ago, which leads Chuck and Sarah to question her.
While the couple is doing this, Hugo manages to escape his holding cell and secure a weapon, which he uses with no limitations on the agents inside Castle, the base hidden under the Buy More.
While this onslaught occurs, Morgan is dealing with his own issues, as the release of a hot new video game has brought every nerd in town to the Buy More for the midnight sale. Morgan is further strained by the return of Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence), the former manager of the Buy More and Morgan's mother's current boyfriend. Morgan's initial fears are relieved, however, when Big Mike reveals he has not come to seek his old title, but rather to ask for Morgan's permission to marry his mom.
Back at Castle, Sarah, Chuck and Heather manage to escape Hugo through the ventilation system and begin to make their way to the roof, where a helicopter is waiting to escort Heather to a guarded location. They eventually get there, with the occasional attack from Hugo, and discover the helicopter team is actually a Volkroff extraction team sent to kill Heather because of a mission she botched a few years back. Chuck and Sarah launch into a fire fight, with Casey soon following. The Volkroff agents are subdued, but not before Casey takes a bullet.
Chuck once again confronts Hugo, who attempts to escape through the Buy More. A riot in the Buy More begins after customers are informed that the video game would not be on sale to everyone, for the store had only received six copies. The riot is quieted by Big Mike seconds before Hugo runs through a gang of customers. Big Mike mistakes him for an unruly customer, and when Hugo starts to use Morgan as a human battering ram to get through the crowd of people, Big Mike takes the offense and tases Hugo.
Chuck and Sarah meet in Castle at the end of the episode to discuss the problems with their relationship they had encountered. It seems Sarah loves Chuck, but due to her upbringing, is frightened by the thought of hunkering down with marriage. This prompts Chuck to ask Sarah several yes or no questions in order to discover how comfortable she is with their relationship.
As this transpires, a ring Morgan lost during the riot rolls through the ventilation system and makes its way to Chuck's feet. He drops down to one knee, picks it up and examines it, leading to an awkward moment between Sarah and Chuck, as it appears that he is proposing.
I was a little annoyed with Sarah throughout this episode; her character is built to resist any improvement Chuck attempts to make on their relationship. She supposedly loves him, and has throughout the series, but refuses to give her insecurities to Chuck. I think she just needs to get over herself and learn to accept the relationship she is in.
One thing I found to be superb on the writers' part was the scene where Casey is shot. Often times in TV shows, the characters are near superhuman, and impervious to any sort of physical injury. In real life, these sort of actions are, of course, impossible, so it was satisfying to see a realistic scene in which one of the main characters does get hurt.
It seems "Chuck" is beginning to return to its heritage of wacky Buy More incidents, while mixing in a bit of the season-three dark action. Although it is a little disappointing to see the show slip back to a sort of goofy mentality, the episode was amusing. I can only hope the writers and producers will see a need to develop Chuck more as a spy, rather than focus on relationships and on the Buy More's social hierarchy.
'Chuck Versus the Suitcase' (Ep. 2) Originally aired on Sept. 27
Everyone gathers in the apartment complex after the news of Ellie's pregnancy is revealed. Devon has taken the news well, but rules that Ellie must not lift a finger while she is pregnant, and goes about buying a plethora of mobiles, baby monitors and cribs.
Chuck encounters relationship difficulties when he discovers something annoying about Sarah's mannerisms: She refuses to store her clothes in Chuck's closet, but prefers to keep them in a suitcase. Morgan later tells Chuck that every relationship has an "Achilles' Heel."
Beckman sends Sarah and Chuck to Milan, where a model (Karolina Kurkova) has gotten her hands on smart bullets — bullets that can impact at certain points using microchips. The CIA is concerned by this and sends the pair to retrieve the weapon.
After several attempts to intercept the weapon, Chuck and Sarah finally succeed, only to be cornered and held down by gunfire. Chuck makes the decision to separate himself and the baddies from Sarah, in order to protect her, and a fight between Chuck and five other men ensues.
This occurs right about the time I was finding the plot a bit dole and lacking "flashes" from Chuck's part. The fight did not disappoint. Within seconds, Chuck takes down four of the men with a metal pole, leaving just the supermodel's bodyguard (Lou Ferrigno) to be knocked out with chemicals applied to a piece of cloth.
Meanwhile, Morgan and Casey begin searching for the old Buy More crew and discover Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay) eight miles outside of Burbank. The two have been on the run from the "po-po" (police) since the old Buy More burned to the ground. Morgan assures Jeff and Lester that the police are no longer searching for suspects and urges them to continue their work at the Buy More.
I found myself quite nostalgic at the premise of the old employees returning to work. I had forgot how much I missed the hilarious and quirky predicaments they could get themselves into. Whether it be through a fight club in the storage area or a plot to retain control of all the TVs in the store, these nerds had always brought a smile to my face. It was nice to see them back where they belong.
I also liked that the writers decided to highlight relationship issues in this episode. I felt the previous episode was lacking when it came to relatability, so this conflict was needed. Everyone has relationship issues at some point in their life, and this episode clearly reflected what those issues can be like.
Although the first episode of 'Chuck' was insipid and simple, the second episode offered a brief look back to the older episodes of 'Chuck.' These passages were often brief, but when they were there, they were good. I am hoping 'Chuck' will continue on this path for the better part of the season.
'Chuck Versus the Anniversary' (Ep. 1) Originally aired on Sept. 20
The season premiere of "Chuck" opens with Chuck and Morgan on a quest to find Chuck's mom, Mary (Linda Hamilton). The two travel on a mission around the world which ends in Los Angeles, where a lead brings them to an empty safe.
While they are gone, Casey and Sarah have been sent on a mission of their own to intercept an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a new terrorist group known as Volkroff Industries. The distance between Chuck and Sarah becomes apparent as the two struggle to make it to their anniversary.
Chuck and Morgan return home to Burbank to find the Buy More has been transformed into a secret CIA facility crawling with spies. It is there that General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy), Chuck's former employer, informs him of the CIA's plans to reactivate his occupation as an agent.
Casey and Sarah are captured during a mission in Moscow where, coincidentally, Chuck and Morgan happen to be looking for clues about Chuck's mom. The two are able to rescue Casey and Sarah and return unscathed to Burbank, where Ellie informs them of her pregnancy.
In the closing scene, Chuck's mother is seen being questioned by Volkroff agents who captured Sarah and Casey. When Mary discovers Chuck is searching for her, she turns on the team of Russians, killing them and escaping their custody. It is unclear whether she was working with them or not.
For a season opener, I thought the episode was a little slow. Most of the plot circulated around Chuck searching for clues as to his mother's whereabouts, which was interesting but, compared to the normal "Chuck" format, lacked in action and adventure.
In addition, the episode lacked comedic appeal. Instead of highlighting the awkwardness between Chuck and Sarah, or the unpleasant task of job hunting, the episode focused on dirty jokes.
Although "Chuck" commenced with a crawl, I believe the series can only gain ground from this point on. This season will see a plethora of guest stars, as well as plot twists and perfectly placed comedic jests.
SUMMARIES OF SEASONS
For those who have missed "Chuck" over the years, the following summaries will get viewers caught up on the program.
Throughout the first season, Chuck slowly learns about secret government operations and the Intersect, the database inside his head. Chuck begins to experience "flashes" -- embedded images that flow through his mind when a trigger is discovered.
One of the more substantial secrets the government has been hiding from the public is the awareness of a terrorist faction known as Fulcrum, whose plans include destroying both the CIA and NSA. This group hopes to attain global domination through employment of the Intersect. In order to protect Chuck, but more importantly the Intersect, the NSA and CIA send their top spies: John Casy (Adam Baldwin) and Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski).
The season closes with the realization that the Buy More, the company who employs Chuck, has been bugged. Sarah and Casey discern the importance of this and warn Chuck that if the bugs cannot be found within a certain amount of time, he will be sent to a secure CIA facility. This implies that Chuck would never see his family again. Sarah is able to capture the agent who bugged the Buy More before said agent can release a bio on Chuck to rouse terrorist groups around the world.
The Intersect 2.0 is a recurring theme throughout season two of "Chuck." It is disclosed early on that Fulcrum has begun construction on the updated software.
Chuck's father Stephen Bartowski (Scott Bakula) is revealed to be Orion later on in the series. Orion was a top secret CIA agent who built the Intersect and tested it rigorously on himself. He is captured by Fulcrum later on in the series in order to finish construction on the Intersect 2.0.
As the season draws to a close, Chuck rescues his father, who in turn destroys the Intersect in Chuck's head through a program he creates. Chuck later downloads the Intersect 2.0 in order to stop Fulcrum after agents kill Bryce and threaten the lives of Sarah and Casey.
The season cuts to a close after a new feature on the Intersect 2.0 appears, and Chuck fights his way through a mass of enemies using kung fu. It is explained in season three that the new Intersect allows the user to copy select abilities when danger presents itself.
Chuck's choice between a normal life and fulfilling his dream of becoming a spy is put to the test in season three. Through the first episode, viewers learn of a romance which has kindled between Chuck and Sarah. Chuck cuts off the relationship in order to further his spy training, which he ultimately flunks due to his inability to kill with a firearm.
Although he fails the highly expensive training given to him, the CIA continues to use Chuck as an asset on further missions. A fourth member is added to the troop of do-gooders in the form of Daniel Shaw (Brandon Routh), an agent who specializes in The Ring, the bad guys of this season.
As Chuck is sent out on missions to further his advancement as a spy, Shaw slowly moves in on Sarah to the point where the two secretly start dating. The Ring uses the romance to their advantage when they disclose that the killer of Shaw's wife was Sarah, who was sent by the CIA to kill her years earlier.
This revelation breaks Shaw, who kidnaps Sarah and holds her at ransom. Chuck dashes to Sarah's rescue and shoots Shaw, who falls into a turgid river.
Sarah and Chuck are now together, touring Europe on leave from the government. Unknown to them, Shaw has been saved from near-death and now has the use of the Intersect.
Chuck's father returns in order to help him grasp the full potential of the Intersect, but is shot and killed by Shaw when the two discover The Ring's plan to destroy the CIA from the inside. Chuck, Sarah and Casey are able to stop The Ring with the help of Chuck's friend Morgan (Joshua Gomez), his sister Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and his brother-in-law Devon (Ryan McPartlin), known as "Captain Awesome" or just "Awesome."
With his father dead, Chuck promises his sister to give up the spy life, only to be pulled back into it when a message from his father appears in an e-mail. The message tells Chuck about a secret base hidden under his childhood home which contains information about his mother, for whom his father had been searching in previous years.