Dalton. Timothy Dalton. Guest star extraordinaire.
In Chuck Vs Phase 3, Yvonne Strahovski elevated a solid episode storyline with her outstanding performance, turning it into the signature episode for the series.
Timothy Dalton gives a guest start performance that also soars to great heights. But he is not so fortunate on the storyline side. His performance takes place in an episode that disappointingly concurs with the episode title.
This is one of the funniest episodes of the season and, if you maintain a 50,000 foot view, the individual scenes do offer good laughs. The best bit by far was Chuck and Morgan taking defense lessons via a Strip Kick Aerobics class. Even better that there was payoff to that bit when Chuck used one of the class moves to take down a baddie later on. However, diving down to levels where more detail is revealed the mechanical nature of the plot and the recycling of bits from previous Chuck holiday episodes, including more Die Hard references, detract from the fun. Mileage on the laughs will vary from individual to individual but for myself this episode, when Dalton was not onscreen, felt forced.
By far the best element of this episode was Timothy Dalton. He dominated the screen every second he was on the screen. The now revealed volatile and erratic nature of the Volkoff allows Dalton to run roughshod over everyone. One second dashing. The next, incensed. Another beat; sensitive and caring. The next; commanding and violent. The fact that his Achilles Heel is MamaB is a rather cliche but Dalton exploits to its fullest. So much so, that when he is onscreen he obliterates everyone else. All they can do is stand back and hope Volkoff does not lash out at them. Volkoff is a certifiable loon and Dalton can be seen having a ball with the character because of it. His performance gave me that same vibe when I first saw Anthony Hopkins portray Hannibal Lecter in Silence Of The Lambs.
Episode Flashes: Add your own in the comments.
* Ah a villain listening to classical music. Cliche but it always works
* Chuck Unplugged
* Strip Kick! ‘I saw an infomercial.’
* ‘Casey can never know about this.’
* ‘Come with me if you want to live.’ MamaB to the rescue
* Big Mike is so slick shilling Subway subs. Who can resist?
* ‘Who has two thumbs and is taken?’
* Morgan enjoying a foot massage a la Die Hard and the carpet trick.
* ‘Shave my back.’
* Volkoff’s Die Hard Assault Team
* Nerd Machine sticker on Volkoff’s computer expert’s laptop
* CIA Internal Defence System – not so special
* Fatman & Indian – the not so dynamic duo
* ‘Hand Frost the damn phone!’
* ‘I got lucky. I got assigned to you.’
* Casey gives Morgan a gun. Again.
* ‘Is that a threat?’
* Exploding Soccer Ball Of Doom
* ‘That’s how you threaten somebody.’
* Sarah and Chuck holding hands before going into battle
* ‘Charles is my son.’ Really? Really. Really? ….Really!
* ‘Kids love me!’
* Chuck and Sarah’s silent planning during charades
* Volkoff doing charades
* Devon needs to be Awesome. Again.
* ‘Cold. But surprisingly soothing.’
* ‘I don’t have to really do that. I just love the sound.’
* ‘You see. That is a real threat.’ MamaB protects her family.
* Morgan unable to reach taped gun
* Chuck knows Kung-Fu. Again.
With the totality of the spy arc pretty well revealed now, and we were told way back in Chuck Vs the Coup D’Etat that MamaB was a kept woman, Season 4 seems destined to be another season with another underwhelming spy storyline. At least in the first thirteen episodes. The saving element is, obviously, Timothy Dalton’s virtuoso, mesmerizing portrayal of Volkoff. To use the series’s best villain solely in the service of a kept woman storyline seems all the more the pity.
I fully disclose that my expectations of the Chuck being deIntersected arc not being realized undermine my enjoyment of this episode. But even from the perspective of judging what the show delivered, the resolution to said arc is undramatic, leaves many dangling – and somewhat contradictory plot threads, and offered no character growth for Chuck. He is literally handed the remedy via Devon. No struggle to reacquire it. No chances to show his mettle without it. No strengthening of family bonds. If anything Chuck was diminished during this arc. Chuck Vs The Couch Lock is my one of favourite episodes so far this season. It also one of the few episodes where Chuck felt like Chuck this season. Henry Alonso Meyers did not fare as well with this outing.
MamaB’s assertion that PapaB never wanted Chuck to be subjected to the Intersect Suppressing PSP does not ring true nor does her motivation. How leaving Chuck defenceless makes any character sense is impossible to ascertain given the paucity of details. There may be very valid reasons for what transpired but without any context, the reasons behind the creation of the PSP and the laptop, appear to serve only one purpose: as very mechanical story devices to facilitate the loss and retrieval of the Intersect. This is borne out by how the episode glosses over Chuck’s reacquisition of the Intersect. Will these questions be answered at a later date? Given some of the unresolved dangling story threads ie Devon giving Chuck the laptop which is expressly against Ellie’s wishes; the answer is not likely.
Even worse the deIntersect arc ends with Ellie still in the dark about Chuck spying and having the Intersect. With the PapaB heirlooms in the form of the car and the laptop, MamaB on the scene, Ellie’s impending motherhood, and the off season announcement that this is a season about family; this was the PERFECT time to bring Ellie into the know. Even more disappointment abounds; Chuck, Devon, and Ellie are back to lying and keeping secrets from one another. It is a writer’s maxim that writers should not give the fans what they want, they should give fans something better. I am hard pressed to envision a scenario that exceeds the possible payoff that was waiting to be realized in this episode.
All that aside, watch this episode to see Timothy Dalton’s performance. What a coup for the show in being able to cast him! His tenure on the show is a precious treat rarely seen on television.