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Review: Chuck - Chuck Versus the Pink Slip (season premiere)/Chuck Versus the Three Words

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 11th 2010 1:14AM
chuck_guitar_nbc
(S03E01/S03E02)
Welcome back, Charles. Wasn't that fun? The return of Chuck Bartowski picks up the story where we left off at the end of last season. What we quickly learn is that this is not the same old Chuck. That Intersect thing is an ongoing issue, and as long as Chuck's the man with the data, he will be the man in the middle of the action. Unless General Beckman says otherwise ... more on that and the guitar playing fool after the jump.

Operation Bartowski had Chuck going to Prague for training. Of course, the opening sequence was a training session as I suspected -- and I imagine a lot of you did, too. But it did illustrate the problem with Chuck's "flash" drive. It's balky. It's obscured by Chuck's emotions and, therefore, unreliable. Beckman was quick to pull the trigger and shut down the operation ... but you knew that was just a plot device.

More concerning was the Sarah and Chuck development. First, I'm not sure I fully bought into Sarah's offer of "let's run away together." Chuck has been her puppy dog love for two years. Would she really want him for a life partner? I think she was fooling herself.

As for Chuck, his decision not to join Sarah didn't make sense. Oh yes, Chuck explained why he was committed to using the Intersect to help, that he was remaining in the spy business out of a sense of duty and patriotism. But those pesky emotions seemed to outweigh those altruistic thoughts. Seriously, it struck me as unrealistic that when presented the choice of spy stuff or Sarah, he went for the spy stuff.

But this is a drama, and that was the choice fraught with conflict, hence the right one for the TV show. Chuck's Intersect knows all kinds of things, but it's not prescient. When Beckman shut down the program, Chuck was left high and dry. Thanks for playing, sir, now go away.

The sight of Chuck back home in California and wallowing in despair was hilarious. The beard, the bathrobe, the cheese balls, being sucked into the couch ... How ironic that he was only motivated to move from his spot when the cheese balls ran out. (I think he should have also had a YooHoo or something to swig ... those cheese balls are salty!)

When Chuck went incognito to Buy More ("Sneaking back into the Buy More like some vagrant Serpico") -- for more cheese balls -- we saw how Emmett's management had sucked the life out of the place. Emmet, played with evil snarkiness by Tony Hale, was the perfect villain, but it was shocking that the show actually had him murdered in cold blood. That final shot of the bloody bullet hole in the eyeglasses was positive proof that he's dead, it was also a quote from Bonnie and Clyde (which was a lift from Eisenstein). Pretty tough stuff for Chuck, which is usually not a "real" violent show.

By the time Chuck had interjected himself back into the mission, which was all in his effort to reach out to Sarah, the on again off again Intersect 2.0 was starting to bug me. Considering that he's an IT guy, it's crazy that they can't figure out how to get a trigger for that thing! Intersect 2.0 did give him mad skills on the guitar and kung-fu kicks that are pretty impressive, too.

Javier, the assassin, got away from the Spanish restaurant, which only made Sarah -- not to mention Casey -- angrier at Chuck. I liked Casey's advice to Sarah -- put Chuck out of his misery. Of course, that was exactly when Javier struck. Don't know who he was out to assassinate because he only took Chuck and Sarah out of curiosity. He didn't even know who the heck Chuck Bartowski was.

In the end, after proving his worth in Mexico, Beckman reinstated Operation Bartowski, Chuck was returned to Buy More as a cover job -- so was Morgan and Big Mike -- and everything was basically back to normal.

By the way, wasn't the "Eye of the Tiger" enough of a cue to make you flash to Rocky? It did me.

The second episode wasn't as good as the earlier episode, but it was still a good exploration of what's going on with Chuck and Sarah.

However, doesn't Los Angeles have more than one club? How do Chuck and Morgan wind up at the same place where Sarah and Carina are hanging? Carina talked about the cardinal rule of spying -- spies don't fall in love -- which was clearly taught when Sarah was out of class. She's completely invested in Chuck, and it's screwing up her job.

Meanwhile, it was good to see that Big Mike is back. How weird is that the only mention of Emmett is that he's moved on to Large Mart in Alaska? What happened to the body? I can't imagine this won't come up in a future episode. Wouldn't it be something if Emmett had been undercover?

The mission, as usual, all depended on Chuck. However Chuck is still too hung up on Sarah to be effective. Somehow I thought Sarah would have been wise enough about Chuck to figure this out. Are we suppose to believe that she's as incapable of emotional control as Chuck? I think not.

Chuck didn't look as good as Cameron Diaz's double (Charlie's Angels) navigating the security beams, but somehow they made it work. And then Chuck went and spoiled it all by saying something stupid like "I love you." Now that Sarah has heard the words, thanks to the security tape, will she forgive Chuck?

Fortunately, amid all the emotional overload -- all those Smoochies -- Morgan came through ... sorta. He found the courage to say 'no' to Carina at the party, but also returned the gold cased weapon to Stromberg. More than a few Bond references there.

Finally, was that actual human emotion from General Beckman? That exchange with Shaw about telling "them" -- Team Bartowski -- what was happening was insightful. I think she really cares about them.

Other points of interest

-- Hooray for Morgan. He got to make love to Carina on the Star Wars sheets. Before he got lucky, I loved his theory: "Very tall girls have very short memories."

-- Carl's toast was hilarious -- "not never" and "may our first child be a masculine child." That was right out of the Luca Brasi handbook.

-- Chuck to Casey: "I think you have dungarees that are older than Carina."

-- Lester to Morgan re Carina: "That hot piece of tucchus wouldn't get anywhere near dirty traf like you." (That's a lot of Kosher talk there)

[Watch episodes of Chuck on SlashControl.]

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nisesmith

I agree with what has been said by most about the believability of Chuck turning Sarah down. The flashes are already bugging me. I think they are a little cheesy, especially the ones concerning recalling a skill. Too cartoonish for me. I'm all for more Awesome, though. Bring it on. All in all I'm thrilled to have Chuck back on my t.v. I really don't think there is a comparable show out there right now that has so many appealing aspects.

January 16 2010 at 12:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

I'll miss Anna, too. She was a much-needed reality check on the goofballs at the Buy-More, since Chuck rarely seems to be there anymore (most of last season).
Has anyone else gotten sick of all the scenes where the camera starts at someone's feet and then pans up to reveal who it is? They must have done it 5 times or more in these 2 hours. And how about the reveal of who's calling someone by showing their face on the iPhone? Enough already. The directing was very lazy--these are tropes now, drinking game moments. Also, the "will-he-flash-in-time-or-won't-he" moments are getting tedious. Before the flashes were surprises. Now he's trying to make them happen, and we get more of Chuck's constipated/stoned face. Also, Casey is doing more scowling than ever, but seems to have less to say (other than his toast, of course).

January 12 2010 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
taya

emmett death scene and the glasses was like a reference to CSI:miami. remember the bullet hole through glasses in whatever season promo.

January 11 2010 at 7:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
wilco

Did anyone get the Lebowski reference when they played 'Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)'? Chuck being a slacker with a beard and a brown house coat. Thought that was pretty funny.

January 11 2010 at 6:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

I shall miss Morgan's ex the lovely Anna.

January 11 2010 at 4:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Just the Facts

Worth the wait. But please don't make me wait again NBC.

I miss Anna.

January 11 2010 at 3:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Paul

The flashing to Kung-Fu got pretty annoying after the 3rd or 4th time. Once he flashes he should maintain the skill he learned. Either that, or make the flashes shorter. It's fine having a longer one when he 's learning something about a person, but it become too much when he's flashing about the same thing over and over again.

January 11 2010 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Paul's comment
Chris

Your right on with that. His body should develop some kind of muscle memory after doing all this, I mean blocking a punch should be a reflex reaction.

January 11 2010 at 1:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris

So happy to have Chuck back, great season premiere. I hope they can continue on with great episodes.

Why did Casey have to turn the water hose on the black man first?

January 11 2010 at 11:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Deej

It has been revealed in an episode that Lester is part Jewish

January 11 2010 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lisa

I loved both episodes and I am so glad that Chuck is back! One thing that bothered me was in the second episode where Chuck is locked in the room and just keeps going on and on. I would think he would be smarter than to just go rambling on like that not knowing who's listening. Sarah told him a couple times that that wasn't the time or place, yet he just kept talking and ended up blowing Carena's cover. I guess they had to do it that way or it would have ruined the whole episode, but still.

I also noticed that Chuck's sister and Awesome weren't in the second episode. I wonder if they're going to be in the show much since they moved? In the first part they were supposed to be moving right across the courtyard, but Sarah was coming out of that apartment in the second part.

January 11 2010 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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