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October 13, 2015

'Chuck' Season 4, Episode 2 Recap

by Ryan McGee, posted Sep 28th 2010 5:30AM
['Chuck' - 'Chuck Versus the Suitcase']

When 'Chuck' clicks on all cylinders, it mixes the spy world with an intimate yet odd cast of characters that bond beyond the ties of blood. Its theoretical scope is global, but its focus is often on the interpersonal relationships between its characters. The push and pull between the two is the source of a majority of the show's drama.

But sometimes, the show presents conflict on a personal level that simply exists for conflict's sake. At the core of 'Chuck Versus the Suitcase' was an example of such an arbitrary conflict. It didn't overwhelm the episode, but it did provide a hollow note in an otherwise melodious outing.

'Chuck' loves using its soundtracks to augment and/or comment upon the story at hand. So when the show used two songs back-to-back that feature the name "Frankenstein," one should probably pay attention. While Alice Cooper's "Feed My Frankenstein" ironically heralded the return of Jeffster and Co. to the Buy More ranks, Jeremy Messersmith's "A Guy, a Girl, and a Graveyard" showed just how much of a stitched life Sarah Walker leads. The central tension of the episode -- will she finally unpack her suitcase -- helped showed just how much settling down is foreign to her. (Call it Kate Austen Syndrome, 'Lost' fans.) But did that problem really have to threaten the stability of the Chuck/Sarah dynamic so much?

All too often, 'Chuck' places the central romantic pair in situations that probably should have come up long before they became a problem in the narrative. Applying "He's Just Not That Into"-esque rules to this particular relationship seems slightly short-minded of Mr. Bartowski, truth be told. That's not to say that the show shouldn't feature the pair as having no problems whatsoever. But Chuck and Sarah didn't need domestic squabbles to make stealing technology near a nude supermodel be awkward. That situation sort of brings its own level of tension to it, no matter how stable the couple. And making Sarah unafraid of runway throwdowns, but terrified by the prospect of babies, doesn't do the character any favors. And Chuck's nascent paternal feelings? Dude, you're a spy. Look how well that's worked out for John Casey.

Then again, with Morgan's help, John Casey might finally be able to balance both sides of his life for the first time. In an episode all about people trying to feel at home somewhere, Casey lamented that he didn't know how to live a life away from a battlefield, amidst enemies. The introduction of Alex in Season 3 could have been simply a stunt on a lesser show, but allowed 'Chuck' another way to show the more human side of our favorite grunting spy. And with Morgan constantly in contact with her already, no doubt Casey will find that fatherhood is a battlefield all its own.

Speaking of Morgan, he was once again the MVP of the episode, deftly showing General Beckman the errors of her all-too-perfect Buy More. Normally, I'm not against any store that features Isaiah Mustafa, on OR off a horse. But Morgan realized what the CIA couldn't: That the store's staff of trained operatives turned the "Buy More" sign into a "CIA SUBSTATION" sign for Volkoff and Company. Not only did this plot point earn Morgan a coveted promotion, but also organically re-introduced Jeffster into the mix. Thank God. It's just not 'Chuck' without one of those two making people feel like they need to take a dozen showers after encountering them.

If Sarah's fear of commitment sells her character slightly short, the entire "Don't Upset Ellie" campaign sends that character completely down the river. The show all but said tonight: "If Ellie finds out Chuck is a spy, she will lose the baby." Moreover, her Daddy issues are now Mommy issues. Most people would look at her life with a loving brother, overly protective (and chiseled) husband, and think, "Pretty damn great." But Ellie doesn't, which makes the laborious (pun intended) task of keeping her in the dark about Chuck's search for their mother all the more frustrating. Let's hope she's on board with things by sweeps.

And now, a hail of superbullets coming your way:

Continuing the cavalcade of guest stars: Bronson Pinchot (in a "blink and you missed" it cameo) and The Incredible Hulk himself, Lou Ferrigno. The latter's appearance should have warranted the episode title 'Chuck Versus the Slapfight.'

Chuck's faux-stache in Milan won't be giving Tom Selleck any sleepless nights. Nor Bradley Whitford, for that matter.

Tie for the line of the night, both attributed to Jeff: "I think my water broke." "Is there room in that womb for two?" All together now: SHUDDER. (Special mention to the kid who wanted to be a Buy More employee, thereby abandoning his dreams of being an astronaut.)

NBC needs to air Jeffster's video confessionals as a series of webisodes ASAP. It would be like "The Blair Witch Project" with keytars.

What did you make of 'Chuck Versus the Briefcase,' and Season 4 as a whole so far? Unpacked and ready to move on, or keeping that closet empty for the time being?

Check out our Skype Second Opinion for another take on tonight's episode.

'Chuck' airs Mondays at 8PM ET on NBC.

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Great review! Mirrors mine! :D


September 29 2010 at 6:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Traci Kurtz

I thought the characters were were pretty much on target. And how could Ellie not be thinking about her mother. She has acted as Chucks mom since their mom left, even when their dad was around. It explains her not being able to let Chuck out from under her thumb and his inability to hurt her by breaking away. But she took out Casey with a frying pan so they can't get away with keeping her wimpy & in the dark much longer. Wouldn't it be great to see her take on the general?

September 28 2010 at 11:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Couchtime With Jill

I didn't think it was a bad episode. Awesome's always been protective of Ellie because she doesn't have a family, so his reaction to the pregnancy is in line with their characters. And Sarah's always been unable to settle down, so moving in with Chuck was going to reveal some baggage. It's the same old characters in new situations, and I thought it worked. Check out my review of the episode here: http://www.couchtimewithjill.com/

September 28 2010 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Caroline S

The WB actually released "Buy Hard: The Jeff and Lester Story" at their website: http://www.thewb.com/shows/chuck/chuck-presents-buy-hard-the-jeff-and-lester-story-/cbc02eac-ae2b-4895-99d4-12aeaa2cedb5

September 28 2010 at 1:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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