Written by Zev Borow & Max Denby
‘Doc! I’m not insane!’
Fasten your seat belts everyone! Chuck is about to engage hyperdrive once again. Much like the last handful of episodes from Season Two the narrative from Chuck is amping up. In the ChuckVerse amping up the story narrative means going way past eleven and off the scale into faster than light mode. It has been ‘Engaged’ with Chuck Vs The Tooth.
One of the things to be savored about Chuck is its willingness to push the storyline in new directions and the characters along with it. The downside to that is the show often forges ahead through fertile dramatic ground planting seeds without ever coming back to partake of the bounty from those plantings. It is a tip of the iceberg approach to storyline that skims between dramatic issues with no time allotted to diving deeper to explore the treasures that lie beneath the surface.
In Chuck Vs The Tooth a cornucopia of new ideas are thrown out: Chuck’s apparent merging of his subconsciousness with the Intersect, the potential for the Intersect to overpower Chuck’s brain, Chuck possibly going insane, Sarah unable to say ILY to Chuck, Ellie being pulled into the spy world by the Ring, Chuck and Morgan running missions without the rest of TeamB, and the possible return of Shaw. So many avenues to explore. So little time to do it in. Throw in the return of Anna and the end result is a bursting at the seams with concepts. Many of which could have entire episodes devoted to them.
It is a marvel that Chuck can take so many disparate elements, cram them into one episode, and come out with one of the best installments of the season. Plus it is done in the most balanced manner of the season to date. There are equal measures of spy intrigue, action, romance, relationships, drama, comedy, and nerd references that mimics those plate spinner acts. Is there any show that can switch as seamlessly from comedy to drama as Chuck can? Simply amazing!
The highlight of the episode was the curve ball thrown by the restrained and carefully modulated performance given by Christopher Lloyd as Chuck’s CIA psychiatrist. Expectations of an eccentric Doc Brown or Reverend Jim knock off are not met. Yet Lloyd plays the role exactly the way it is needed for the episode. His ‘Doc’ role is tailored to elicit the needed responses for Chuck and later for Sarah.
Morgan is given closure with the welcome return of Anna Wu as that relationship is put to bed. Is this the last we will see of Anna? I hope not. The timing of this raises my speculation antennae. Having this closure now has to lead to something for Morgan because as happy as I was to see Anna return, this was not the episode to do it. This episode is putting the show into position to commence the run to the finale. As such the screen time allotted to the Anna storyline would have been better served to be used to addressing some of the main storyline or Ellie’s. Anna should have popped up in the Role Models episode.
There is much to enjoy in this episode. Chuck and Sarah spending quiet time watching TV. Morgan working with Chuck on a mission. Ellie! Finally Ellie getting a worthy storyline. One that will play directly into the main storyline for the finale. It is so great to finally see Sarah Lancaster be able to flex her acting muscles outside of playing mother hen to the men in her life. There is also the ever strengthening bonds of friendship between the members of TeamB, including General Beckman. Who did not love that shot of Beckman’s kitchen with an unidentified male companion in the background? Plus the scene on the Doc’s doorstep where Sarah admits her love to Chuck publicly and finds Casey there too.
- Chuck and Sarah chilling at home on a quiet Monday night
- Spies Like Us and the value of humor lesson for Sarah
- Chuck’s dreams
- Beckman with bed hair in the kitchen with male guest? in the background
- ‘General. Permission to slap Bartowski. He had a bad dream.’
- Chuck babbling on the couch.
- Intersect possibly responsible for dry scalp?
- ‘You can die from a spider bite in Africa as easily as from a spy in Burbank.
- Dune reference! ‘Fear is the mind killer.’
- Morgan saying the wrist gripper is stuck.
- President of Zambibia is Washington from Welcome Back Kotter!
- Jeff and Lester lamenting their single status – ‘Its full of lumpy housewives. My favorite.’
- ‘Hi guys. Long time no smell.’ ‘She remembered our smell!’
- Anna gets a ‘slo-mo’ entrance only to be trumped by Morgan’s ‘slo-mo!’
- Chuck and Morgan on a mission
- ‘My codename is Cobra.’
- 15 season boxset of ER
- Ellie gets a mission! Too bad it is for the wrong guys.
- ‘Chuck’s in a tux?’
- ‘I got the elf.’
- Sarah demonstrating beyond a doubt where her loyalties lie.
- Casey tranquing Morgan at the concert.
- World Class spy -Morgan Grimes!
- Spy Asylum – complete with Will Sampson broom pushing look alike. If only Hurley had strolled by in the background too.
- ‘Give your boyfriend your hand.’
- Sarah’s – ‘I need him to be OK.’ and the discovery that Casey does too.
- Chuck air ‘fighting’ under psychotropic influence
- ‘Spies! Attack!’
- Chuck’s burden of knowing that continued use of the Intersect could be at his mental peril
- Morgan moving on from Anna
- Sarah saying ILY to Chuck
- Ellie being manipulated into contacting PapaB
- Chuck’s final dream and the potential return of Shaw
‘This is a new science. Only time will tell.’
For the first time the seams of one of the additional episodes does not line up with the original thirteen episode order. Chuck’s issues with the Intersect should have had some foreshadowing sprinkled throughout the earlier episodes. The softening of Casey and Beckman seems rather abrupt as well. Last week Beckman’s, ‘Its about damned time,’ seemed like using the character as a voice for the fans. Now, with some egg on my face, I must retract my stance that it was out of character to attribute such sentiments to Beckman. For this episode proves that she does indeed have affection for Chuck. (Though in my defense I maintain the show gave us nothing previously to show this character growth for Beckman.)
As much as it is great to see Casey and Beckman softening up, there is a worry about this. There is a need for a hard liner character in the show and that is being lost. In tandem with this, is the unpredictability of how Beckman and Casey will be portrayed going forward. Once you open up a character you cannot put the cork back in without undermining the character in the process. Lastly, seeing characters reach some form of equilibrium tweaks my spec antennae once again. When characters come to such a place they are usually at the end of their dramatic usefulness.