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Review: Chuck - Chuck Versus Operation Awesome

by Allison Waldman, posted Jan 19th 2010 2:00AM
Do you have the nerve? That was the question a few times this go-round. If you get off on the "I double dog dare you" kind of action, then you were right at home. Chuck was put in an impossibly emotional situation, a continuation of last week, with Awesome drawn into Chuck's web of espionage. Would he be able to keep it together and use the Intersect to help his bro-in-law? And what about the new guy in the mix, the off-camera character the General was talking to? All that and more after the jump.

There were a couple of guest stars, starting with Law & Order vet Angie Harmon as Sydney Prince, a Ring operative who abducted Devon to recruit him. Of course how smart can the Ring be if they think Devon is the real spy? Doesn't their intelligence indicate that he has been pretty much a home body? That was a major hole in the plot... But it allowed Awesome to taste the action and realize that it's not for him.

It seemed to me that once Devon returned with the intel about Sydney and the communication device, the General should have put him in a safe house instead of throwing him back into action. He's a civilian. Goodness knows the CIA pros bitch about Chuck being a hindrance, it didn't add up that they would put Devon in the forefront of the case.

The plus was that it got Chuck to step up in a serious way. It was especially cool when Chuck used his IT skills to get into the Ring cell phone. They should do that more often, have Chuck use his Stanford-educated brain and not just his Intersect flashing to solve problems.

Brandon Routh, who played Superman in Superman Returns, was Shaw, the Ring specialist working for the CIA. The first impression the character is that he's pretty super. A Superman. Routh looked good in the part, but he needs to be more dynamic. The hinting at a back story involving a family life lost is important. Right now he's just too much like an 8x10 glossy.

When faced with having to be a real spy -- an operative with a license to kill -- Chuck glitched. He couldn't pull the trigger with Shaw -- even when Shaw told him to shoot him -- and he couldn't pull the trigger with Sydney. While he hemmed and hawed with Sydney, she was pulling a knife to kill him. Chuck will probably never feel good about being a killer, but that was a crucial test and he failed it.

We had a return to the Buy More this week, but it was perhaps the dumbest side plot ever in my estimation. I never got the "fight club" business when it was a Brad Pitt movie or in some of the TV variations. I wasn't amused by Lester and Jeff finding their manhood by turning the cage into a boxing ring. I also didn't buy it. The only thing good about it that worked was that it prompted Morgan to respond to Lester's taunting by firing him for insubordination. That was funny. Morgan Grimes, man of action.

Other points of interest

-- Chuck still can't control the Intersect, a point made clear when he smacked Lester in the face with a kick and then couldn't attack when faced with goons Ian and Glen.

-- Big Mike said to Morgan, "You can wipe the concerned look off that hairy face" before promoting Morgan to assistant manager. Has Big Mike noticed that he also has a big hairy face?

-- Shaw's business with the Zippo lighter is tired. I've seen that bit in too many other movies.

-- Chuck running from the thugs reminded me of a cartoon character, "exit, stage right."

[For clips and episodes of Chuck, go to SlashControl.]

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I loved the fact that they made Awesome a horrible liar and I agree with above posts that stated the "decapitating a bear" bit was great!

What I really enjoyed about this episode is that the Intersect really didn't help Chuck AT ALL. He repaired the phone using his own skills, charged in after Awesome in his own brave moment, shot the guards with tranqs using his own Duck Hunt aiming skills and (tried to) develop a cover for Awesome's absence. The only thing the Intersect did was glitch when the lady yelled at him in Thai and kick Lester in the face.

This was a great episode!

January 19 2010 at 6:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I got a kick out of the scene where Awesome is concocting a story to Ellie regarding his whereabouts. He's right,he really,really is a terrible liar. But any scenes that involve seeing the lovely Ellie always rate a thumbs up from me.

January 19 2010 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm a little confused... I was catching up on this season's episodes so far and at the end of 3.03, didn't the assassin poison Awesome or something? Sarah showed up at Chuck's and there was a somber moment, especially when Ellie showed up asking where her husband was.

There's a chance they explained this in the teaser (I missed the first 5 mins last night), in which case, I'll be filling in that gap later tonight.

January 19 2010 at 2:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Greg's comment

Yeah, I'm an idiot... it was all in the teaser.

January 19 2010 at 11:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Holtzinger

I thoroughly enjoyed last night's episode. The "decapitate a bear" explanation that Awesome gave to Elle was the funniest bit I've seen on Chuck. I repeated it (thanks tivo) 3 or 4 times. Of course I was under the influence of medicinal herbs at the time but still it was hilarious.

January 19 2010 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought this was a pretty good episode. I do agree with WhatI about Angie Harmon. She's a bit stiff. Sort of reminds me of the business side of Helen Hunt, without the softness. With regards to Routh, I was pretty wary of his introduction. I was afraid of more "Chuck v. Good Looking Spy" for Sarah's affections, but I think we're a bit beyond that. Also, the big push for Sarah and Bryce was the fact that they had history and I don't see Sarah's character as being one who's eye is turned just because someone is more attractive than Chuck. I think Shaw will turn out to be more of a mentor type for Chuck. The whole "I don't like guns, but I can use one" thing kinda feeds into a storyline with Chuck learning to use a gun.

Season ender prediction: Chuck shoots someone, not kills them, but shoots them.

January 19 2010 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to billyadams's comment

My sister's thought Chuck might end up taking a leaf out of Shaw's book and shoot himself (...I'm not quite sure what would lead up to that, but it would be epic in the sense that Chuck finally shoots "someone" but still "Chuck-ish" because he didn't pull a trigger on another human being).

January 19 2010 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To be fair, I think this episode was very good, more of a stepping stone to highlight Chuck's individual strengths than anything else (which was reflected in the Buy More plot by Morgan's struggle with the Lester). Being able to use his own intelligence to work on the Ring smart phone and putting his loyalty to his family before orders is very reminescent of season 1's Chuck, the one most people have grown to love and respect. And it was actually nice to see the Intersect glitch through-out the entirity of the show because I was beginning to worry that Chuck would become too dependent on it...that, and what reason would there be to keep Sarah and Casey around if not to bail him out of trouble when the bullets start to fly?

But lets not forget his weaknesses -- his loyalty to friends and family is a double-sided coin and his morals end up putting him in more danger than what's strictly necessary. And that's exactly what makes him interesting -- his weaknesses. Where would half the fun be if Chuck wasn't always getting into trouble?

January 19 2010 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

At work, we think that the "ring" is just one big training exercise. All the holes could be explained.

I loved that they used the music from Fight Club.

January 19 2010 at 10:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ryan's comment

Wow, that's actually an interesting idea. I know (*think*) that Shaw is there just to manipulate Chuck. I mean, why else would he ask Chuck to shoot him if he knew he could've just done it himself all along?

That, and the ring at the end of the show irked me. Maybe it's a subtle reference to "the ring"? It's just something he's going to use to tug at Chuck's emotional strings...

January 19 2010 at 10:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Barry Wilhelm

I doubt they would have killed Angie Harmon's character in the name of a training exercise.

January 23 2010 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Among the things you seemed to miss were the Animal House and Warriors references, so maybe some of the jokes slipped by you. I thought it was an entertaining episode, not the greatest but still good fun. I like how Awesome doesn't feel so awesome when it comes to spying, and his appreciation for Chuck's abilities. It adds a new dynamic to the show and allows for some expanded story lines down the road. And Routh's arrival will no doubt spark some sort of romantic complications for our intrepid Buy More hero.

January 19 2010 at 5:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Very disappointing episode, probably the worst Chuck ep yet. The story was there, but it just didn't come together like most Chuch episodes do. Some of that was Angie Harmon, I'm sorry to say, she's very attractive, but not very dynamic as an actress. Last year's Women's Murder Club was a good example, and her performance here was not impressive her either. The rest of the cast seemed to follow her tone and even the "chick fight" wasn't all that impressive. I'll watch it again this week and maybe I'll have a different opinion after, but for now, I'm a bit concerned with the "guest star" approach that seems to be a big part of this season. Guest stars have wrecked other shows, despite a few highlights, the episodes are usually sub-par and this episode seemed to fit the mold. I do find it interesting that Lana Lang will be following up the Superman visit and I hope it'll be good!

January 19 2010 at 2:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The introduction of Shaw brings a new twist to the show, and his character can go basically anywhere, so I like his addition a lot. Brandon Routh has the aura of a super man (and not just because he was Superman). The Fight Club subplot was my favorite of the season, and the main story wasn't too shabby either despite the obvious plot holes.

Review of the episode on my blog:

January 19 2010 at 2:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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