E: Tonight’s episode centered around Chuck’s determination to win Sarah back and take her away to Rome as part of his new team, and Shaw’s determination to take out the Ring, even at the expense of his own life. I confess, if I’d known the title in advance I’d have been very disappointed. I’d have thought they were referring to the cult 80s tv show (a family favorite, of course) rather than Shaw’s Viking/Klingon-like desire to die gloriously in battle. (M: Perhaps today IS a good day to die!)
So, first Chuck goes to D.C., meets General Beckman in person (who kicks him a little for acting like a puppy, and then uses Tim Gunn’s immortal phrase to set him back on his feet – “make it work!”) and gets his assignment as a expatriot playboy living an astounding villa near Rome. Then he flies back to Burbank to plead for Sarah to join his team. No luck at first, but he does get Casey, Morgan, and Awesome in his corner. Casey and Morgan want to go to Rome with him, and Awesome wants to go to Africa with Ellie, and so they all decide they need to sabotage Sarah’s budding relationship with Shaw in order to help Chuck make it all happen. Of course, when you mix in the Ring and its obsession with Shaw, events get pretty out of control. We end up with a kamikaze mission, an assignation at a train station, and a kidnapping. They’re setting up quite the episode for next week!
C: Probably the best part of tonight’s episode? Awesome, Morgan, and Casey teaming up to help Chuck get Sarah back.
E: Completely amazing. Loved it! Those three are such distinct voices, with such different experiences, each one trusting in himself and thinking he’s best prepared to give romantic advice. Really, really great.
M: That felt like old-school Chuck. It was fun, goofy, and yet had a good spy-espionage plot behind it, with bad guys being nefarious and menacing.
C: In an episode where Chuck spent a little too much time angsting instead of pursuing the forward momentum he’s usually so good at, the secondary characters really stepped it up a notch. Even Ellie, who mostly gets to spend her time complaining, got to tell Chuck not to give up on Sarah – he’s a Bartowski! That’s not what Bartowskis do!
E: “You didn’t go far enough” – excellent. That was Ellie’s best moment in ages.
M: Considering that she’s gotten on average one line a week this season, that doesn’t take much.
C: Sad but true. The three guys in Jeff’s van stalking Shaw and Sarah on their date, though: that was priceless.
E: Let’s not forget Morgan’s dismissal of Awesome’s dating advice: what works for Awesome won’t work for Chuck, because “you live in a bubble! a charming bubble of handsomeness!”
M: Awesome’s face was classic!
E: And then there’s Jeff and Lester. I actually enjoyed Dumb and Dumber for the first time in ages. When they decided to stalk Shaw (in resentment for not being included in the gang of three stalking earlier in the episode), just when he’d been taken to the Ring’s secret lair, and had lost his tracking device? Outstanding. Lester properly declaring Jeff “the Picasso of creepiness”? Genius.
M: I have to say, the art geek in me loved that Jeff’s reply to that was that he was in his “blue period”. Semi-obscure greatness.
E: Is that obscure? To whom?
M: My very scientific analysis leads me to believe that at least 50% of the general public don’t know that Picasso had a “blue period”. 😉
E: Right. Anyway, I love Chuck vowing to tell his grandchildren tales of Jeffster’s brilliance. From art to technology, though, did you guys get what the little hand held device was at first? I originally thought it was scanning for the tracker/film, not pulling it up out of the swallower’s stomach. Gross. It took me until the second time around to get it. I couldn’t figure out why Shaw was squirming so much at first. An interesting gadget, that.
M: I didn’t get it at first, but when Beckman said that the mole was digesting it the light bulb went off.
C: Speaking of tech, and proving the point well established by The X-Files – that there’s nothing hotter than a man in a utility vest – Chuck looks awfully kickass when he strips off his Buy More jacket to reveal a tricked-out vest stuffed with warlike implements. Nonetheless… does anyone else miss the Chuck who had to think his way out of trouble? Couldn’t we have kept a little more of that in his new spy persona?
E: I don’t know, I kind of thought he brought along the arsenal for just that reason – to help on the fly. I wasn’t so offended by that.
M: I agree, at least to a point. I liked when he would use computer geekery, his wits and his purple crayon (sorry to those who don’t have small children and don’t catch that reference). But I liked that they are letting him grow. I have to say, I enjoyed the “didn’t even need to flash” moment.
C: Speaking of X-Files, I appreciated the cameo by Mark Sheppard (known to X-philes as Cecil L’Ively and to Battlestar Galactica fans as Romo Lampkin) as the director of the Ring.
E: Mr. E and I were quite excited about that as well. Not to mention the fact that he was a hologram. Let the nerd flags fly!
M: Ok, I remember him from BSG, and from Warehouse 13… was he in X-Files after I stopped watching (you know, when Mulder left the show and it sucked)? How do I not know this!
E: You’re just not as all knowing as you think you are, I guess. By the way, he was on Dollhouse, too. The man has an all-geek resume. Anyway, the director used the red test spy’s information to break Shaw – by revealing that Sarah had killed his wife. And then the stealth bomber flies in and blows everything up!
C: I love that Chuck, carrying Shaw out of the burning wreckage of the bombed warehouse, looks very strained – Shaw’s a big guy! But the melodramatic music featuring Our Lady of Soundtrack Sorrow was just a bit much.
E: Indeed. I have to say, about a third of the way through the episode I felt like the whole Chuck and Sarah thing was so over, and I just wanted the pain and the pleading to stop. But I’m a big fan of his declaration of love, and him saving Shaw because Shaw means something to Sarah. And I loved Casey confessing to Sarah about the red test from last week.
M: Couldn’t agree more, with each bit of that. Half way through I just wanted the soap opera to end, but by the end they were back to pushing the right buttons. Good for you, Chuck writers!
E: Given all the tedium of early on, I’m kind of thrilled by the whole kidnapping of Sarah. And did I not call it, that Sarah’s red test victim was going to be Shaw’s wife? What I want to know is why. I expect we’ll find that out eventually, but will Shaw go utterly off the reservation first? And will General Beckman find out that Casey stepped in and rigged Chuck’s red test? You know what they say about inquiring minds…
M: I think Shaw goes bad, I think Sarah’s red test (still not liking this whole concept) was a mistaken identity thing, and I think that no one ever finds out that Casey killed the guy from Worst Week (I forgot to mention in last week’s review, but after having watched that show, I totally couldn’t buy him as a criminal mastermind spy).
E: You mean that Sarah killed the wrong person who just happened to also be a CIA agent? I don’t buy that. I think it’s more likely that Mrs Shaw was a double agent, or that Sarah’s orders were bogus. Beckman ought to be able to find all that out, right?
M: Maybe. However, I’m getting a suspicious feeling that Chuck will end up killing Shaw in self defense, or more likely to save Sarah.
E: Oooh. Uck. That’s upsetting. I don’t like that idea at all. Still, self defense in the line of duty – or to prevent the death of a loved one – is surely not the same thing as an assassination/execution, which the red tests seem to be.
What did you think, by the way, of Chuck changing his mind again and deciding he wanted to run away to Mexico with Sarah and give up the spy life? Make up your mind, kid!