They Are Still Our Chuck & Sarah Too – Episode 3.13: Chuck Vs The Other Guy

Written by Chris Fedak
Directed by Peter Lauer

‘I appreciated the tank.’
Chuck and Sarah are together. Huzzah! The elephant in the room has been set free. What was so great about this episode is that the Sarah and Chuck relationship was resolved early in the episode. That early resolution allowed attention to shift to other matters such as tracking down the Ring Leader.

Still The Sarah and Chuck We Know

The episode opens with the best teaser the series has done to date. Like Chuck we rightly believe that Shaw is intent on seeking revenge on Sarah. He leads her to an abandoned Ring location where monitors show Sarah’s Red Test playing in a never ending loop. Sarah learns that Eve Shaw was her Red Test while Shaw hovers menacingly in the background. With that setup a hilarious payoff is delivered when Chuck arrives on the scene after seemingly mobilizing the entire military to rescue Sarah. Including stealth bombers and tanks.
From the teaser the episode never falters as it gives resolutions and changes for the main characters all done in that uniquely comedic touching and heartfelt way that the Chuck show does so well. When the show shifts back to the spy world, the little beats between Chuck and Sarah as they worry about Shaw in general and about him finding out about them specifically; continue the fun of the previous normal world moments.
‘You saved me.’
The show shifts gears in the final act as Chuck really has to save Sarah this time as Shaw’s end game plays out. Season long threads are revisited as Chuck’s aversion to violence, his priority on family and friends, his Red Test, and the struggle to not lose himself even as he must do necessary things he abhors. The final act is the serious version of the teaser and this time it is all about Chuck handling it on his own with no backup.
Chuck tries everything in his power to prevent the eventual outcome from happening but once he knows there are no other options he does the necessary thing and pulls the trigger. A trigger pull that he knows will save Sarah’s life but may cost him Sarah’s love. If Sarah remains steadfast in her belief that if Chuck kills it means he cannot be the same guy she fell for. Fortunately for Chuck, Sarah was able to witness the moment in her paralyzed state so she knows the truth of that moment. She knows what Chuck did was unavoidable. She saw Chuck trying everything to not have to kill. Sarah knows he had no choice and that Chuck’s love for her is such that Chuck was able to have the stones, as Casey would say, to pull the trigger.
Chuck saved her.
Most fitting that the theme of Chuck doing the right thing no matter what the cost is the very thing that brings him and Sarah together.
Episode Flashes:

  • Opening sequence – one of the best ever for the series. Tense, action packed, and funny.
  • ‘And the tank too.’
  • General Beckman chewing Chuck out for his rescue mission – ‘This bill is longer than my copy of Atlas Shrugged.’ LOL
  • ‘I appreciated the tank.’
  • MORGAN! Like every scene he was in!
  • Morgan saying goodbye to Big Mike
  • Casey and Morgan wishing each other well in their respective old lives
  • Chuck on a nerd bender mixing whiskey, mint ice cream, guitar hero, and John Hughes movies.
  • Sarah’s amazing ability to conceal knives no matter how she is dressed
  • OMD -‘If You Leave,’ on vinyl! Or at least the show used a needle on record sound effect
  • Morgan yelling he hates the song now
  • Sarah admitting she loves Chuck – without ever saying it – and fell for him pretty well from the start
  • Morgan obviously eavesdropping on Chuck and Sarah’s heart to heart and popping out at the mention of a mission
  • Chuck and Sarah worried about whether or not Shaw knows about them and resultant shot down the elevator shaft
  • the elevator scenes – including the cheesy Ring logos at the end of the hallways
  • Morgan sussing out right away that Shaw’s fight was staged – Sonny Chiba for the win!
  • Beckman does sleep sometimes! Plus she uses the clapper!
  • Morgan’s Yoda line delivery, ‘There is another.’
  • Morgan rallying Casey to help out Chuck rescue Sarah
  • Chuck trying everything to avoid killing Shaw but doing what was necessary in the end
  • Casey getting back on the team and adding Morgan to Team Bartowski!
  • Joy at RingLeader Mark Shepherd not being dead somewhat muted by him being captured
  • Sarah’s realization that Chuck saved her for real
  • Beckman’s interruption – very Bondish
  • Sarah’s, ‘Shut up and kiss me, ‘ followed by Chuck’s you betcha head shake before diving in
  • closing shot of Chuck’s Chuck hanging out of the bed before panning to the Eiffel Tower

‘Shut up and kiss me.’

Being Together Does Not Mean Puppy Dogs & Sunshine All The Time

‘Chuck Versus The Other Guy,’ is a crackling piece of enjoyment. The action, the humor, the drama, nerd/80s references, and of course – romance are mixed together to provide a finale in midseason. Chris Fedak has introduced several major changes, the key one being the long awaited, and for many – way overdue, resolution to the Chuck and Sarah, ‘Will They, Won’t They,’ storyline. Yvonne and Zac nailed their heart to heart scene with Josh hovering in the background. Chuck at its best. Funny and touching.
There were many other things to like in this episode. With the Love Interest storyline between Sarah and Shaw finally put to bed, so to speak, the shift of focus to Shaw’s revenge storyline was most welcome. Too bad it was undercooked and left till so late in the game. However the production budget was apportioned for the episodes, this one felt like it had something a little extra as there was never a moment where costs seem to be an issue. The Paris scenes especially looked very authentic. Kudos to the production crew!
Most enjoyable was Morgan’s role in this episode. He straightened out Chuck several times, pointed out Shaw’s duplicity, and gave Casey a kick in the rear to boot. His inclusion on Team Bartowski opens up a wealth of story possibilities and the comedy potential is off the charts based on his interactions with Casey and Beckman. Glimpses of him in action from the promo for the upcoming episodes are hilarious.
Quibbles with the episode? Three minor ones. First one; the lack of Ellie and Awesome was a disappointment in what is a midseason season finale. Secondly; thematically the same material was covered again contrasting Shaw against Chuck. It felt like the character of Chuck was treading water, waiting for everyone to catch up until the last act. Finally, it would have been a nice call back to 3.04 if Chuck had repeated his nothing matters more to him than family and friends creedo in response to Shaw’s belief that Chuck would not pull the trigger.
The gang is back together and the next 6 episodes should be a blend of the best elements of Seasons 1 and 2 mixed in with the evolved characters of Season 3 to date. Safe to say, everyone is looking to the next half dozen episodes with great anticipation.

MidSeason Melodrama – Episode 3.07: Chuck Vs The Mask – Part I

(The views express in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the universe.)
Written by Phil Klemmer
Directed by Michael Schultz
Part I

Wow.
If 3.06 was Chuck’s watershed episode then 3.07 seems to be the one for the fans.
Sometimes it is better to sit back and let the dust settle before offering up one’s thoughts. Since this episode aired the internet; via forums, tweets, and blogs has been indundated with thoughts negative and positive; covering the range from well thought out to impulsive and silly.
Given the fallout from this episode I will forgo the normal review structure to throw my hat into the Ring – sorry could not resist that one – and speak my piece.
So I apologize for the length up front. I tried to condense things as much as possible but found it impossible to do so and get this out in a timely manner. Due to length it will be posted in two parts. Don’t freak out! They will all be posted at the same time. Look for the link at the bottom of the page.
Here we go: a combination review/soapbox piece. Enjoy
Some quick clarifying statements that hopefully will prevent discussion about issues that have been hashed on the internet already and keep attention on the points being made in this article:
1) calls for boycotting the show because of one episode are silly and counter-productive
2) Chuck as a series has a very superior batting average(in the high .900’s easily) when it comes to the quality of its episodes
3) every series, every season has an episode or two that does not sit well with viewers
4) fans are not entitled to dictate to the showrunners how to conduct their business
5) fans are entitled to voice their opinions both negative and positive about the finished product *
6) the issue with this episode is not what is being done but how it is being done
* – and do so in civilized ways. Communicate with the recipient in the same manner you expect someone to do with you.
Overall this episode falls within the bounds of what can be expected from a Chuck installment and it hums along pretty well for about 34 minutes of its 42 minute running time. There are some great action scenes centered on the musuem vault, some great comedy moments as well – the opening and closing vault doors taking the prize, and some entertaining beats between Chuck, Sarah, Hannah, Casey, and Shaw depending on the scene and whom is in it.
The ‘B’ story line with Morgan and Ellie is fun too; loved the secret knock that took Ellie awhile to master. In fact if I was Devon I would be a tad jealous of the chemistry that exists between Morgan and Ellie.
There is a beat earlier where Sarah raises a concern about using a civilian in a mission that is a Chuck line. Even after the point is made, Chuck remains in total spy mode. A little moment that shows how much the roles have switched between Chuck and Sarah.
Then the gas gets released and things start to get a little stinky.

'Simply Being Professional' No Longer Possible For These Two
‘Simply Being Professional’ No Longer Possible For These Two

Episode Flashes:

  • Opening action scene with Shaw – nice Mission Impossible nod
  • Casey sporting writer Phil Klemmer’s last name on his work overalls ID aka Klemmer Fine Art Movers
  • Chuck and Hannah to the rescue using their brains
  • Chuck’s abilities as a spy increasing
  • Morgan and Ellie’s secret knock
  • Casey’s coffee – black and bitter, what other way would he have it?
  • Casey cutting the mics in the van under the guise of annoying gabbing to protect Chuck and Sarah
  • Chuck and Sarah jealously mocking each other’s PLI or LI now
  • Sarah and Chuck as a team breaking into the vault
  • the opening and closing vault doors while Chuck dangles upside down
  • Sarah kicking ass while Chuck dangles
  • Chuck making the catch in the vault that Shaw could not – and upside down to boot!
  • Casey’s chagrin at not being able to blow something up
  • Morgan’s devestation seeing Chuck and Hannah together
  • Ellie’s elation seeing Chuck and Hannah together
  • Casey’s disapproving grunt at Sarah and Shaw as he leaves the Castle

It is up to Chuck to save the day and he does with aplomb; saving not only Shaw and Sarah but Hannah too. Team Bartowski regroups at the Castle. Chuck is told he is well on his way to losing the training wheels ie his team mates. This comes out of the blue and hits the floor with dramatic thud not because we know that Sarah and Casey are not going anywhere but because Casey and Sarah would not be so nonchalant about it. It appears to link back to Shaw, who is doing his best to accelerate Chuck’s training. This drive by Shaw to get Chuck out on his own and away from Team Bartowski for purposes foul or fair is yet to be determined.
Then Chuck and Sarah talk about their situation and within short order he and Sarah are on their way to exploring new relationships. This switch in show dynamics is played too quickly. It is these moments that have become the flashpoint of fan discontent.
Click here for Part 2 of MidSeason Melodrama – Episode 3.07: Chuck Vs The Mask

MidSeason Melodrama – Episode 3.07: Chuck Vs The Mask – Part II

Part II

Note: the moments in question may reside in this episode but that is a matter of circumstance. There are preceding story telling decisions that led up to this point. It is not an issue that can be analyzed in isolation.


Chuck: ‘Sarah and I have a very unique relationship.’
Indeed they do. Relationships are what drive this show. Not just Chuck and Sarah but all of them. More precisely it is the characters. This is the crux of the matter about the unhappiness being expressed by what transpired during the last 8 mins or so of the show. It is not about  WHAT of the show. It is the HOW.
When a piece of creative work is put forth to be experienced by an audience there is an unspoken bond taking place between the two parties. The creators are offering a story telling experience via the use of dramatic tokens. In turn for these tokens the audience gives the creator their willing suspension of belief. The creator sets up the premise of the show and within the first half dozen episodes build up an array of dramatic tokens for the audience to use to suspend that belief.
These creative tokens come in various forms via characters, plotting, show mythology, story telling logic, internal consistency, etc. Those tokens create ‘buy in’ for the audience. They know from episode to episode the show will be worth investing in because the tokens will be be in play. The more dramatically and empathically these tokens are woven into each episode the more engrossed the audience becomes. Synergistically so does their suspension of disbelief. The better the creators can get the audience to suspend their disbelief the stronger the audience’s involvement becomes. There is a symbiotic relationship going on between the two parties.
The amount of initial suspension of disbelief is dependent on the type of show. Obviously shows grounded in the reality of our world require less suspension. Comedies and shows with fantastical elements require a greater suspension of disbelief. The creators of such shows must compensate for this by offering up bigger storylines, bigger characters, bigger action and so on.
While Chuck may take place in a real world setting, it is one rife with fantastical elements. The show’s basic premise, that a computer database can be downloaded into a person’s brain, allowing them to access information, and now physical abilities, is a big step for the viewer to take. In turn the show offers a mix of entertainment that includes comedy, action, drama, pop culture/nerd references, romance, music, wish fulfillment, spy world vs real life conflicts, and characters.
Out of all of these tokens the show offers, the bedrock one is the characters. Chuck is blessed with an awesome cast and the chemistry between the two leads is captivating. This has turned out to be both blessing and curse. Double-edged sword as it has been referred to elsewhere. For the character/romance token has become so powerful and so dominant that the other tokens pale in comparison.
What it has allowed the show to do is skate around most tokens with a greater degree of freedom. The tokens of story logic, internal consistency, and story mythology are not scrutinized to the same degree we would with other shows because the entertainment payoff is well worth it. We get some great laughs, action, music, spy intrigue, romance, wish fulfillment, and character interaction because of the cross genre show pedigree.
But the caveat is all of our suspension of disbelief hinges on the characters and, by extension, the Chuck and Sarah romance. They are the realest things in the show. They are the anchor for the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. The moment the show wavers on that token then everything else built around it comes crashing down like a house of cards.
The show has set up the dynamics of a, ‘Will they, won’t they?’ tension that has been carried over the 3 seasons of the show. The longer that tension is maintained the more mass it acquires. The more mass it requires the bigger the elephant it becomes in the room. I liken it to a dramatic ball of inertia, or DB for short.
The longer the show runs with this DB, the more history and emotional investment by the viewers it acquires. So it becomes more and more of a complex story telling exercise that the writers must address if they want to bring in other romantic parties to the mix. The days of having a guest star show up for 1 or 2 episodes and strike up a romantic relationship with Chuck or Sarah are long past.
Now it requires several episodes to set up a storyline that can overcome the inertia that the DB has accumulated. It is not just an operation of injecting the new characters into the storyline. That is the easier part of the equation. The more difficult part is positioning the two leads where the new characters can be integrated into their lives in a manner that is not contrived. To add to the difficulty, all this must be done in a manner that the viewers will find plausible and dramatically interesting.

Switching Things Up Is Getting More & More Complicated
Switching Things Up Is Getting More & More Complicated

Extremely vital is the storyline being told, must be told honestly. This means that story points, character traits, etc established previously must be adhered to going forward. With Chuck this comes down to being true to the characters. A difficult one to maintain too as character evaluation is subjective and varies from individual to individual. We may agree on the broad strokes but beyond that there are many interpretations on the finer points.
When it was announced that the third season PLIs were going to be around for 4 and 8 episodes it appeared that the story requirements would be addressed. However as we have seen that has not been done entirely successfully. Of the two, the Chuck and Hannah one has been the more successful. Hannah has been in consecutive episodes and it can be seen that her character is a perfect match for Chuck. Though in 3.06 little was done to advance her arc with Chuck.
(Total aside here – I find it hard to believe that Chuck would be interested in striking up a new relationship given his focus on becoming a spy. He, more than anyone, is aware of the danger he is putting Hannah’s life in by mixing civilian and spy worlds together. This is one of those out of character issues that arise based on previous character history. To date the show has given me little to remove this objection.)
Matching Chuck up is easier than it is for Sarah because of the fundamental nature of the characters. Chuck is open emotionally and provides many doorways to new relationships. Sarah is the opposite and hence requires a lot more story finesse to do so. So when Shaw is MIA in episode 3.06, any momentum built up between him and Sarah is lost. This was a tactical error.
Shaw’s absence places the Shaw/Sarah storyline in a difficult spot. Sarah may have expressed concerns over Chuck turning into a spy in 3.06 but, again, nowhere enough story time is allocated on this point to make the necessary dent in the DB. Especially when Shaw does return in 3.07 and Sarah spurns him for three quarters of the episode. This makes telling the story honestly no longer possible if the goal is to initiate these new pairings by the end of the episode.. What happens then is a rush to move the characters to a targeted position. An exercise in artificiality. In this rush corners have to be cut. This means corners that involve story logic concessions and the use of out of character behavior.
This is the overhead the show must carry when it decides to sustain the, ‘Will they, won’t they?’ dynamic over time. If the Chuck showrunners want to use that device then they must be willing to pay that price. A price that has to be based on honest story telling instead of rushed story telling.
Rushed story telling is what happened in the last 8 minutes of 3.07. That is the HOW that is the issue.
Rushed story telling takes away the capacity for true storytelling and diminishes the most critical dramatic token the show has to offer; that of the characters. That is why the reaction is the one that resulted from fans.
It is not about telling the showrunners what to do.
It is not about objecting to injecting new PLIs into the storyline.
It is about whatever the show does, it does so by being true to the story telling and the dramatic tokens it gave us.
It is about the implicit bond of trust between creator and audience.
A speedbump was encountered on the third season journey. We saw it, we hit it, and we have gone passed it. It was a bump. Not a supernova. Let’s look forward instead of back, shall we? Because the road ahead is oh so, very inviting!

Living The Lie – Episode 3.08: Chuck Vs The Fake Name

Written by Ali Adler
Directed by Jeremiah Chechik

Identity.
‘Everything you think and feel. Even your innate reflexes have to change.’
So Sarah and Shaw inform Chuck as he is prepped to take the place of hitman – Rafe(as wraith as in ghost) Gruber. Being a spy has a heavy price. Taking on the identity of another person is much more than that of merely playing a part. The immersion into a new persona has to be all encompassing. Your own identity has to be submerged. One slip could cost lives.
Do enough of these covers for long enough and you begin to lose who you really were. Or are. This is the subtext which runs through Chuck Vs The Fake Name. In this episode we are clearly shown the opposite paths that Chuck and Sarah are running on. Chuck is losing himself while Sarah is desperately trying to retain her identity. Something she was able to do when she had Chuck as her anchor.
‘I can pass for an cold blooded killer.’

Chuck or Cold Blooded Killer?
Chuck or Cold Blooded Killer?

For Chuck, the game is still so new and his desire to become a spy is so strong that he does not yet see the downside. He does not see that he is losing those intangibles that made him the person to whom Sarah was attracted to in the first place. Chuck is on so much of a tunnel vision express he cannot see how it is affecting his relationships with his family and friends.
All around Chuck are warning signs like the Ellie/Hannah encounter, the dinner he did not prepare, the lies he is telling to Hannah, his total ignorance of the state of his friendship with Morgan, and even the fact that he is dating Hannah, a civilian, in the first place. He is very much a person with blinders on. Unaware of the consequences that inevitably will arise.
‘The way he lies to Hannah. Lives are being affected.’
Sarah sees Chuck doing and saying things in the real and spy world that are stripping away the better parts of him. There is a price to these actions and we see one of the results when Chuck breaks up with Hannah. The hurt and the pain he has unwittingly inflicted on Hannah are the actions of a person that Chuck would have never sanctioned before. Now he has become that person and Hannah rightly calls him on it. He is no longer that nice guy.
‘I barely remember who I am anymore.’
For Sarah being an alias goes even further than that. She has been in the game for so long now that her grasp on who she is, is slipping away. Just the simple act of saying her real name now feels unnatural. When you reach that point the sense of loss must be great indeed. For names have power. Names are the tool by which people are identified.
With Chuck being so focused on becoming a spy, Sarah has lost the anchor she was using to cling onto. In a revelatory moment Chuck overhears Sarah telling Shaw all of this. It is a paralleling of Chuck’s speech to Sarah in the vault back in Chuck Vs The Three Words. If nothing else Shaw has become Sarah’s confidant. A sounding board for her concerns. With Shaw, Sarah has someone who can understand the issues that spies deal with when they are living the lie. They have both been there and back again. Chuck has not.

A picture tells a thousand words.  Or in Yvonne's case -  a million.
A picture tells a thousand words. Or in Yvonne’s case – a million.

Episode Flashes:

  • Casey sniping the assassin with a tranq dart
  • Chuck sliding down the Castle rail bringing donuts
  • Chuck’s first crush Mrs. Seaver – the mom from Growing Pains
  • Chuck flashing on Alex Coburn in regards to Casey – someone else with an alias?
  • Casey’s urging Chuck on to torture him by taking out his tooth
  • Chuck’s reaction to the torture tools – ‘Is this stuff sterile?’
  • Casey telling Chuck how proud he is at Chuck’s ability to play the part
  • Sarah’s cheese knife throw
  • Hannah’s toast during dinner coupled with Sarah’s reaction to watching it
  • gangsters voicing fan concerns and giving Chuck relationship advice
  • Casey sniping the assassin for real; making the shot only 5 other people could do
  • Chuck and Ellie talking as brother and sister
  • Hannah calling Chuck on being a very good liar and not being a nice guy
  • Sarah trying to create something real

This is a strong episode that features great performances by the leads. Zac kicked ass inhabiting the role of a hitman with zeal bringing menace and humor to the role. He was equally adroit at handling character moments most of which involved painful revelations. It was great to see Chuck and Ellie share a brother and sister moment again too.
Yvonne turned in another stand out performance and continues to express Sarah’s struggles not just in dialogue but through her amazing ability to emote through body language and facial cues.
Adam Baldwin was badass as Casey. Again. The revelation that he too has a potential alias will no doubt have payoff further along. The respect that John Casey has for Chuck’s abilities as a spy was most welcome to see.
The BuyMore stuff was a mixed bag. While Jeff and Lester being perplexed by Chuck’s prowness with the fairer sex is in line with their characters their use as a Greek Chorus to point out the magic of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship did not work for me. Those two are the BuyMore equivalent of snipers. Using them for them for meta statements was a choice due to the budget restrictions the show is under but that moment would have worked much better using Morgan and Big Mike instead. Or better yet, dropped altogether. In contrast, the use of the gangsters to discuss, ‘Will they? Won’t they?’ relationships and give Chuck relationship advice was a hoot and a humorous wink to the fans.
‘I thought you were a nice guy!’
Chuck has hit rock bottom. The pain he inflicted on Hannah and the revelations from Sarah have been a hard slap of reality. Chuck is positioned to find his way back. But what a difficult balancing act it will be to keep his identity and yet be able to function successfully in the spy world.
Ali Adler has written another great episode.   Chuck and Sarah are struggling in unfamiliar territory.  They are making mistakes and are searching to find the right answers.  Never have the two of them been more vulnerable; more human; more real.
I love that.

Fortunate Sons – Episode 3.09: Chuck Vs The Beard

Written by Scott Rosenbaum
Directed by Zachary Levi

‘I’m firing you as my best friend.’
A relationship that has been crippled since the pilot and gone through a lot of ups and downs; mostly downs; has finally been repaired. No not that one. The Chuck and Morgan one. For almost three years now Morgan has been pushed off to the side ever since Bryce sent Chuck the Intersect. From that moment Chuck has been unable to be best buds with Morgan. But now Morgan knows everything that has happened to Chuck and has become paramount in Chuck’s ongoing ability to flash.
‘I’m tired of being a loser.’

Last Action Hero – Grimes Style!

It is good for Chuck to hear from someone else that their life is not what they want it to be either. Morgan was badass to the extreme in this episode. The character is severely flawed in several aspects but his fearlessness, or lack of looking before leaping perhaps, and his unfaltering loyalty to Chuck are admirable. While the benefits in the bromance between Morgan and Chuck may seemed heavily skewed to Morgan’s side, Morgan provides Chuck with a constant reality check.
‘Its awful you had to pretend to be in a relationship with someone you clearly loved.’
It has been pointed out that the previous episode had Chuck realize he still had feelings for Sarah. In the confessional scene where Chuck tells Morgan all, Chuck undergoes an emotional release that expunges all the things he kept secret since the Intersect first came into his life. The final beats where Chuck confesses out loud his love for Sarah are needed. It is one thing to realize something internally but to put those thoughts into words; to publicly profess something, takes those thoughts and turns them into something real. Something tangible. This is the power of spoken or written words. They turn thoughts into something with weight and heft. They capture feelings and thoughts. This was a catharsis for Chuck, and Morgan, and was not a repetition of beats from previous episodes.
Episode Flashes:

  • Chuck’s shifting looks at Sarah and Shaw when told he can talk to them about his problems
  • Morgan calling Chuck to the office for disciplinary action
  • Jeff’s snake jaw ability to place a whole apple in his mouth
  • Chuck practicing with flash cards to try and get his own flashing back
  • Morgan stumbling onto the locker entrance to the Castle
  • Morgan sneaking around the Castle and meowing when he bumps into a wall
  • Casey’s flashbomb scene
  • Morgan’s willingness to do what has to be done to defend the Castle
  • Chuck and Morgan bonding when held as prisoners
  • Morgan’s joyous reaction to finding out Chuck is a spy
  • Morgan allowing to Chuck to voice out loud that he does love Sarah
  • Jeffster rocking it to Creedence Clearwater Revival – aww yeah!
  • Chuck taking out the bad guys once he flashes
  • Morgan taking out the last bad guy with the requisite Hai-Yah!
  • Morgan giving the bad guy he knocked out the Star Wars Ewok confirmation poke
  • Morgan’s exit from the OOC and calling Sarah – Agent Walker
  • Casey’s dismayed reaction to the release of Morgan
  • Morgan ribbing Casey, ‘Colonel Casey. Always so angry. I knew you had a secret.’
  • Chuck owning the Duck Hunt level – foreshadowing of his reacquired confidence?

A very upbeat episode that harkens back to the lighter tone of the previous seasons that features the entire cast and the directing debut by Zachary Levi. He does some great work here with some nice shot compositions including not just the flash bomb sequence but several scenes of fight choreography too. He proves himself adept at character moments too and his scenes with Morgan are set up to highlight the emotional beats. Josh Gomez and Zac Levi have some great moments too, together and apart.
While the Morgan, Chuck/Morgan and BuyMore storylines ranged from awesome to very good the spy stuff was, at best, trying. If there is one area the show needs to tighten up it is the logic of the spy story. Most of the time I am more than willing to meet the show halfway on these points but increasingly it seems like my need to reach is going beyond the halfway point.
The hotel feint was suspect. In the spy game information is the gold standard so when we are told they received intel it should be explained. Also we are told no known spies are listed at the hotel but did anyone take a moment to look at the names? Devon and Ellie’s should have jumped out. Or did they only look under, Occupation for spy?
Then there is the Ring cell phone. We were told in 3.02 that the Ring phones operates on a closed system and that the system had been tapped for use by Team Bartowski. So it seems in 3.09 that the Ring knows that their cell phone system has been cracked. Rather than utilize that for tactical advantage as a tool for misinformation they use one of their cell phones as a trap and give up that advantage in the process.
The closing scene has the same Ring phone being used to put a call through to Casey. How did they know Casey was there to pick it up? If they really wanted to contact Casey, would they not have sent him a phone directly like they did with Devon in 3.04 or used other means?
As to jumping on a self-destruct plan to solve the Castle takeover, surely there must be other nonlethal contingencies in place? Not to mention the idea of blowing up a facility in an area with civilians present!
Going forward into an anticipated fourth season I petition the showrunners to step up their game when it comes to the future spy story plotting and logic.
‘You are rehired as my best friend!’

The Boys Are Back In Town!

Chuck has started his ascent. With Morgan at his side as Alfred to Chuck’s Batman, Chuck now has a sounding board to keep him grounded. Rather than turning inward towards himself, Morgan enables Chuck to focus outward and release his emotional insecurities.
It is fitting that the first relationship crippled by the Intersect has been repaired. Look for big things going forward for Chuck Bartowski. Including the resolution of that other relationship. There is no discussion of the Chuck and Sarah relationship in this review for good reason. This episode is about Chuck re-establishing himself through the life long bond of brotherhood with Morgan.
Chuck has rediscovered his old self. With this healing complete, we can expect to see a confident and more assured Chuck than we ever have to date.
Chuck has his wingman back. Someone who understands him, whose loyalty is unquestionable, and who will always have Chuck’s back. By any definition of the word they are brothers. Fortunate sons indeed.