Tonight (Sunday) on NBC, the first two episodes of the new season of Chuck aired back-to-back. In the Quibbling family, that’s known as Awesome Squared. Tomorrow night Chuck will be back with yet another new episode in its regular slot: 8pm on Mondays.
Chuck vs. the Pink Slip
C: We open with a real grab – a scene of Chuck getting his official spy on, and then a move worthy of Alias – a six-months time jump!
M: Yeah, that was chintzy. However, it did get us right into the, um, fake action.
E: I loved the kung fu flash – because we just saw it, it reminds me of the Sherlock Holmes movie and the way Holmes thought through pummeling his adversaries. What’s with the inconsistent flashing, though? Is it emotional, like they all seem to think? Or is it something else? Liked the potempkin village, anyway.
M: Without getting into it too much, I love the inconsistent flashing. C and I had worries about Chuck losing his inherent Chuck-ness if he could flash anything he needed/wanted, and this helps assuage those fears. And clearly, he can flash whenever he needs to if Sarah is in peril. Sorry, getting ahead of ourselves…
C: Going by the first commercial break, we seem to have an idea of the promotional stunts the cast will be required to perform to keep the show on the air – the devil’s bargain agreed to at the end of last season when the show almost got axed. There was talk that Sarah might be employed at a Subway instead of the shi-shi yogurt joint, but clearly that didn’t pan out. What we do have is Ellie, Awesome, and Morgan playing themselves in commercials. Hmm!
E: Call me a corporate slave, but I loved that. I found the “Awesome Road Trip” commercial series to be completely adorkable and I will happily stop the DVR to watch them all. This is product placement I can handle. It would not cause me to buy that car (because even if a commercial could do that, where would I put my children?) but I liked it a lot anyway.
M: I’m in, too. Now, back to the show.
C: “We need to protect the world from Chuck Bartowski.” From his special brand of awkward badass, yeah! However, I’m not sure what I think about them essentially pushing the reset button (Chuck and Sarah are back on hold, Chuck is back at the Buy More, Morgan and everyone else is back too). I was disgustingly pleased to see Emmett shot in the face, though.
E: I don’t even feel guilty about enjoying that.
M: Oddly, I didn’t enjoy that. That shouldn’t be oddly, but is. What was really odd was that I found myself not wanting him to be shot. Clearly last season was not fresh enough in my mind.
C: I always thought he was out-of-tune with the show and am glad to see him gone. Sorry, Arrested Development fans! Another nice change is that now the Buy More really is a cover for Chuck, not his life. Still, things will be operating pretty much as before, it seems. That’s what I expected, but I’m not sure they explained it in a plausible way. If Chuck really washed out of spy school, why would they just kick him to the curb when the whole point of the first two seasons was that, as a civilian with access to government secrets, he couldn’t be left alone? And why suddenly reinstate him, just because he did one thing right?
E: The return to the Buy More bothered me less than I thought it would, but yeah, I agree, it’s tough to see him go back. It was worse to see how stiff they all were with each other, though, and the way Casey and Sarah just tossed him aside. I do not enjoy Bitter Sarah.
C: I do understand, actually, why he wouldn’t run away with her. Going from a life of feeling like a nothing to a life of essentially being kept by your superspy girlfriend would not stay satisfying for very long. He wants to be somebody – no amount of romantic happiness can take the place of that. But I do think he ought to have explained that to her better at the time!
E: We had a whole debate about that. Well, not about his pathetic attempt at explaining himself, which we universally decry. Dad thought it was inconsistent; Mr. E. thought that what would hold him back would be going on the lam and losing all his friends and family. But to me, it makes all the sense in the world that he’d be lured by the offer of status and achievement.
M: Okay, you’re all wrong, and this is where I am remembering last season better. At the end of last season Chuck wanted two things, and two things only. To be with Sarah and to not be a spy any more, in that order. Would Chuck stand Sarah up on the offer to run away together after three weeks of training? NO WAY IN H-E-DOUBLE-HOCKEY-STICKS! None, zip, zilch, zero, not even the slightest chance. I will forever not buy that. I won’t stop watching, but that was an error of “The ring will go to Gondor” level proportions.
C: To sum up. Highlights of this episode: Chuck flashing on Spanish Guitar skills and breaking into sweet music, accompanied by silly facial expressions; and Chuck and Casey training to the tune of Eye of the Tiger!
M: I agree. Copying the ending of Rocky 3, right down to the etching over the final freeze frame? That’s the stuff that makes this show so great. Loved it.
E: Yes! Loved that more than words can say. Great music in this episode, too.
C: Yeah, except now I can’t get Imogen Heap’s “Wait it Out” out of my head!
Chuck vs. the Three Words
E: In my opinion, this was by far the better episode of the two. Death to Smoochy! That had to be on purpose, right?
M: Of course it was, no doubt. Oh, and Smoochy being the creepy guy from Midnight Meat Train? Well cast.
C: Don’t forget Morgan’s sage advice that “there are 2 million women in the City of Angels. They can’t all say no to us!”
E: I can’t speak for LA, but I could give Chuck your address, C, if he was really looking.
C: You can contact Chuck, and you’ve been holding out on me for two years? Not nice. Anyway, am I remembering wrong? I thought Carina left under a cloud at the end of her previous episodes, went rogue or something. It certainly surprised me to see her all BFF with Sarah again right off the bat.
E: I honestly don’t remember.
M: Me neither; though she clearly made an impression on Morgan, she was not THAT memorable to me.
C: I love that Chuck got that memo about vests (and how they turn ordinarily attractive men into gods). Perhaps he took a call from Matthew Bomer?
E: Hee hee. The former Bryce Larkin’s White Collar character would be a good fashion icon for anyone. But speaking of Chuck’s own brand of badass, how freaking great was him flipping through the laser beams – how is it possible to be that gymnastic and that awkward at the same time? I love how his progress wasn’t strictly forward – he kept making these insane lateral moves. So great. I was a little annoyed with him insisting on having a big emotional talk with Sarah, though, at the very most inopportune moments.
M: That was the one other thing that was poorly written. They’ve historically been good at having Chuck be a bit ADD, but never at such horribly bad times as tonight.
E: So, um, Smoochy’s house was pretty ostentatious, huh? All those gilded columns. Ack. Although I have to say, the wood paneled library made me a bit envious. But can I say how much I loved the Bartowski & Grimes housewarming party? That was outstanding. So many perfect details, like Jeff’s t-shirt and M.C. Hammer pants, Morgan’s white jacket with the black shirt, Jeff and Lester trying to out-drink the so-called “sides of beef.” And Carina with knock-out powder in her ring! I love that.
C: Poison rings will never go out of style!
E: And then Morgan, yelling at Carina, giving away the gold brief case and drugging himself all in one fell swoop? And the flaming fountain of jail juice? I am awed. Seriously. Also, Chuck talking Smoochy down by being empathetic (and figuring Sarah out as he did it) was a whole other kind of fantastic.
M: You’re forgetting the best line of the entire night, when Chuck asks about the security system for the complex, wondering if there’s a button they press that calls the cavalry. To which Casey dryly replies, “Me. I’m the button”. Loved that, and that he came out in a bathrobe with a garden hose. Awesome.
E: You’re right, that was totally the best line of the night. Final thoughts: who is this Shaw character that the General was talking to, and what won’t s/he let her tell our team?
C: I accidentally spoiled myself for that, but I won’t say a word.
E: Big, big ew, Morgan and Carina in the Star Wars sheets. My six-year-old has those sheets. That was just a little disturbing. On the other hand, her parting gift to Sarah, and watching Sarah tear up over Chuck’s complete confession which she hadn’t heard? Sigh. That was lovely.
M: And on that familiar note we end – yet this time, only having to wait 22 more hours until more awesomeness. Chuck is back, all’s right with the world… or at least the broadcast part of it.