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August 30, 2015

'Chuck' Season 4, Episode 6 Recap

by Ryan McGee, posted Oct 26th 2010 12:15AM
['Chuck' – 'Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror']

'Chuck' fans had good reason to worry about this week's episode. The title of this week's outing, 'Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror,' reeked of Theme Week over at 'American Idol.' Casting Robert "Freddy Krueger" Englund as this week's baddie only added to the high risk, reward nature of the outing. So, was the episode scarily good, or frightfully bad?

The answer: mostly great, even while proving that a central aspect of the show has long overstayed its welcome and needs to be minimized, if not outright eliminated, for the show to become more than it currently is. Sure, eliminating that aspect would be risky, but so was 'Aisle of Terror' itself. And that little experiment worked out just fine.

Let's start off with the great: Linda Hamilton's meatiest work to date on the show, finally appearing at length as Mary Bartowski. Her initial scenes didn't really jive with the tone of the show at first, with Hamilton unsure how much to play Mama Connor as much as Mama Bartowski. But given the results of Casey's findings, that inability to find the right tone actually works in her favor. Mary declared that she had been away as part of a long-standing operation called Project Isis, but Isis ended decades ago. So where does that leave Mary?

Potentially in a mental world of her own, which fit the overall theme of the episode. Sure, it owed a lot to the plot of 'Batman Begins,' but the toxin's ability to bring out Chuck's innermost thoughts has a parallel in Season 1's 'Chuck Versus the Truth,' in which he actively sought for the first time Sarah's feelings for him. Rather than confess his romantic impulses to her tonight, Dr. Wheelwright's toxin revealed his worst fear: Mary being the literal death of Sarah. Too often this season, Chuck's biggest worry about his girlfriend has concerned huge relationship steps that feel completely rushed. But this fear -- the fear that his blind spot for his family could endanger Sarah -- now THAT's a legit fear, one that should be haunting his spy life. (Admit it: You thought the episode's title was going to refer to another "Chuck and Sarah hem and haw about being ready to get married.")

What's great about Mary's potential psychosis is that it could drive home for Chuck just how dangerous a world he has entered. So much of the season has revolved around making the work/romance balance workout, but what Chuck REALLY needs to worry about is losing his mind trying to keep track of who is good, who is bad, and most importantly, what is real. Sarah admires how much Chuck still trusts people, but how long until he starts questioning his own mind if he sees that his mother's work in the spy world has turned her cuckoo for Volkoff Puffs?

For her part, Ellie spent this week as she has all season: in a mental world in which her mother is simply an absent, apathetic parent. Chuck telling Ellie about her true nature tonight got a fist bump from yours truly, because Chuck keeping her in the dark while letting everyone else in has sold out both characters this year. It had turned her into a shrew and him into a lying brother. Not good qualities for either of them. With this secret out in the open, hopefully Chuck's return to the CIA can finally be brought into the open and 'Chuck' as a whole can get the whole gang back together into the fold.

Speaking of the fold, Morgan folded ever more into the spy world himself this week. Impressed by his actions in Iraq, Casey sees potential in Mr. Grimes. Of course, he also realizes that Morgan's heroics often happen despite himself. So rather than throw Morgan into active duty right away, Casey uses him as bait. "Morgan the Magnet" will soon cause fear and/or insatiable curiosity in all spooks who come across his path. The Morgan/Casey dynamic is pure gold this year. Honestly, 'Chuck' could (and probably should) have an episode in which these two just grunt at each other while fighting international terrorism. The show could develop its own grunting language for them, sort of like a sparse form of Klingon.

As for the only negative this week: Look, it pains me to say it, but The Buy More has more than served its purpose at this point. Much like the vastly inferior episode 'Chuck Versus the Cubic Z,' the Halloween-centric antics in the Buy More were nothing more than an elaborate set-up for an ironic capture of this week's baddie. The comic relief that are Jeffster and Big Mike still works, but it feels of a piece with a show in which Chuck was still straddling his two lives. With Chuck fully enmeshed in the CIA, the Buy More can still exist as a cover while not dominating 20 percent-30 percent of the episode. Between Mary Bartowski circling her children, Chuck's latent fear of her presence in his life ,and the Morgan/Casey show, did we really need a photo montage of old people and snail babies?

A few more bullets to the chest about this episode:

– Morgan Fairchild's reappearance as Awesome's mom Honey didn't bring anything to the table, but didn't take away anything, either. In as much as she served as another example of how mothers can surprise their children, she was fine in her brief screen time.

– 'Lost' fans probably got a longing for Room 23 while checking out Jeffster's audio/video installation in the Aisle of Terror.

– "Nothing I won't do for $30 and a sandwich. Or just a sandwich." No kidding, Jeff. I'd HATE to see what that dude would do for a Klondike Bar.

What did you make of 'Chuck Versus the Aisle of Terror'? Leave your thoughts below!

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

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Really liked this one, a welcome return to form for Chuck. Although I imagine you're probably right about the Buy More...

October 30 2010 at 12:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Correct me of I'm wrong, but is this the second episode in a row where Chuck never actually flashed? I think it was mentioned he later flashed on Wheelright, but not explicitly shown. It's nice to see Chuck developing actual spy skills, but his having the Intersect 2.0 in his brain is where his real value lies, and diminishing that on the show raises the disbelief level in his actual ability as a spy. It shouldn't be dropped or relegated to the back burner. In fact, since the 2.0 upgrade at the end of the season before last there hasn't been any significant change to his abilities. He's upped his experience and intellectual skills, but that's it. I'd like to see the Intersect taken in a new direction but still prominent.

Casey gruffly admitting Morgan's either a genius or an idiot is funny, but when we all know Morgan's actually an idiot (albeit a lucky one) it lessens Casey's character (and the General's for that matter) that he's fooled. Better to give Morgan an actual skill, like computers or subterfuge, that can really help the team instead of constantly getting in the way/needing rescue/providing comic relief. Bring him along slowly, like they did with Chuck from the beginning.

What an interesting plot development at the end of the season for Chuck's Intersect to transfer to Morgan somehow! Hmmm.....

And finally, just to scare all of you....... OTTERS!!

October 26 2010 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Barry's comment

Morgan's usefulness to the team comes from his outside-the-spy-box thinking. There are times when the proper response to a situation is not what a highly trained CIA/NSA agent would come up with. Plus Morgan is more tuned into the real world, not the spy world that Walker and Casey (and increasingly Chuck) inhabit. So there'll always be a place for him.

But I am pretty asure that Chuck did flash in last week's episode. I didn't save it on the DVR, and I'm not about to rewatch it on Hulu, but I'm sure someone else can confirm it.

As for what to do with the Buy More, I've suggested it before, and my answer is to spin it off into its own series. Have the CIA abandon the Buy More HQ and Chuck and Morgan both become full time spies. Big Mike, Jeff and Lester can become the lead characters on a 30-minute "Buy More" sitcom.

October 26 2010 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Last week, he flashed on Casey's squad members, which is how Csaey got involved.

This week, he didn't even do that: when Beckman talked about confirming Chuck's flashes on Freddy Krueger, it was because he got the information directly from his mother.

November 01 2010 at 2:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Viviannsl M. Glass

Tonight is the Premier for Chuck Season 4 Episode 1 i think and i really wanted to see it.. We dont have NBC where i live :/ . So , anywhere i can watch Chuck Season 4 Episode 1? maybe after it airs or live? Dont say youtube Please!


October 26 2010 at 1:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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