Chuck Is Back! Review: Episode 3.01: Chuck Vs The Pink Slip

Written by Chris Fedak/Matt Miller Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill It has been a long time coming! Eight long nerdless months but Chuck is back! New Season. New Intersect. Does this mean a new Chuck? What does the first episode of Season 3 show us? Chuck: ‘Bueno, bueno, bueno.’ Old Chuck for sure. Sarah: ‘Chuck, we should talk.’ Definitely new Chuck. Old Chuck meet the new Chuck. The Lemon Comes To Sarahs Aid The Lemon Comes To Sarah’s Aid Season 3 picks up replaying the last few moments in the White Room from the Second Season. From there the show jumps 6 months to a spy training facility in Prague where we are treated to a great ‘show not tell’ sequence as to where things stand in the spy world for Chuck and Intersect 2.0. Things go relatively well until Chuck is given a kill order. An order which he cannot carry out. Things go downhill rapidly from that moment. Chuck literally gets caught with his pants down and Beckman sends him back home until they decide what to do with him. Chuck mopes around back at home and enters into a, ‘Vagrant Serpico,’ mode as aptly put by Emmett MillBarge. It is the discovery that Sarah is still at the Orange Orange, not even attempts by an Ellie recalled Morgan can snap Chuck out of his funk, which sparks Chuck’s decision to return to the real world. Rebuffed by Sarah and seemingly by Casey as well – though we see the old softie has been keeping tabs on Chuck – Chuck insinuates himself back into the spy game and by the end of the episode General Beckman grudgingly reactivates Team Bartowski. Throughout the episode call backs to the previous seasons abound with a tinge of new. A well groomed Jeff is off setting but the uncontrollable eye tics are still there. Devon & Ellie are still concerned about Chuck but move out to an adjacent unit. Morgan provides Chuck needed support but quickly owns up to flunking out of cooking school. Casey still tells Chuck to man up but berates Sarah for not giving Chuck closure. These are new times indeed in the ChuckVerse. Characters are being allowed to stop and ask questions or say things that occur in real life to a much greater degree. It is still the old Chuck with all the fun nerd references but there is more weight to the events because of the character beats. Nowhere is this more evident in how Chuck and Sarah interact with one another. Shown in flashbacks any doubts about Sarah’s feelings are quickly put to rest. In the first flashback, right after the events in the White Room, Sarah implores Chuck to run away with her to avoid becoming trapped forever in the spy world. Chuck agrees and the next flashback shows them meeting at a train station. A real romantic throw back. What happens at the station is heart breaking and a showcase scene for Yvonne Strahovski as she implores Chuck to come with her. A call Chuck regretfully declines. ‘This is simple. This is real,’ Sarah pleads with Chuck as she clasps Chuck’s hand. A big admission for Sarah. A very important reason must lie behind Chuck’s sorrowful refusal. Episode Flashes: – Tim Jones provides a rousing upgrade to the Chuck heroic theme during Chuck’s re-emergence sequence starting with his beard shaving onto Chuck donning the Nerd Herd uniform – Casey gleefully discharging his mini-gun aboard a helicopter as he rescues Chuck and Sarah – Morgan’s Benihana Chef utility belt – The Chuck and Sarah kiss and slap which puts the Nerd Herder down for the count. A perfect visual encapsulation of their relationship – Morgan’s ‘couldn’t flip the shrimp.’ line. – Emmett Millbarge’s mortally ill advised epithet leading to his shocking death and the haunting image of his blood covered and shattered eyeglasses. The stakes are higher this season indeed. – Chuck and Sarah talking about what happened between them. We may not like what we heard but finally the two of them are engaging in two way communications. A big step. Season premiere episodes have a lot of expositional setup ground to cover and often can be clunky. It is a credit to the writers so much background is covered and they still managed to incorporate several action sequences. The only thing missing was a clear explanation by Chuck was as to his decision not to run with Sarah. At the same time, threads have been planted for the Chuck and Sarah relationship, Chuck’s control issues with the Intersect, his aversion to guns and killing, Ellie and Devon moving out and Morgan moving in, and reassembling the team while also re-establishing Chuck’s cover at the BuyMore; all in a seamless manner. Of special note is Casey’s actions in covering up the Millbarge murder. Chuck’s entry into the spy world has come at a cost not only to him and his personal life. He inadvertently caused the Emmett’s demise when he lost his BuyMore Employee ID. This may have been nothing more than the show’s way of getting everyone back to the BuyMore. But it could also be a setup for a painful lesson for Chuck further into the season and a major confrontation between Chuck and Casey. As Casey says in the closing Eye of the Tiger/Rocky/Karate Kid/Kung Fu scene, ‘You have much to learn, grasshopper.’

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