Here is another roundtable assessment from the Chuck This crew…….after the break!
What Joe Saw
After such an amazing episode as Phase Three I’m not too surprised that I was left feeling a bit colder about Chuck vs. The Leftovers. It almost had to be. For most if it, I felt like the episode was walking a tightrope.
Jeff and Lester were at it again, in classic form (good)! And just about the time I thing I’ve had enough of them (bad), that’s when Volkoff appears and we have about 20 minutes of great spy story in the Buy More (good). Well timed! From the start, Chuck and Sarah were comfortably together (good). That’s wonderful! They were so comfortable, in fact, that The Romance ™ was a non-issue (bad). Volkoff was as monstrously evil as you could hope (good). And twice as demented. Was he going to prove to be an absolute loon? That would have been silly. I thought only fools fall in love, not twisted arms dealers! He came close, but nearly saved the completely unbelievable story-line in Echo Park (bad) with great acting by Timothy Dalton (good).
Linda Hamilton was every bit as wonderful as MamaB as she’s been, but honestly, I’m tiring of the game they’re playing – is she good or is she evil? We have to ask if the twists and turns in her character and the various explanations for her actions that she gives are acceptable, and really, each of us will come to our own conclusions about that. So please don’t go shouting to the skies that “her reasons made no sense!” or “her reasons made *perfect* sense!” – we’re each going to decide that one on our own.
Everything was a re-use, including “Guys I know Kung-Fu.” But by adding “Again” to it, by having Morgan almost-but-not-quite save the day, by having Chuck ask Devon to be awesome again but laying down the law about Ellie, by having Jeff and Lester in the story but passed out for 35 minutes not counting commercials, the show just managed to pull it back from the brink.
Chuck’s ability to flash is back, but without seeing the episode again, I’m not sure how Stephen knew what had to be done. At the same time I’m impressed that way back in the middle of S3 TPTB had enough foresight to plant Ellie’s neurological knowledge in the story for its use now. So I am going to watch again, but I am doing that to study it, and I am doing it to get to the next episode. It may turn out to be a nice bridge, but that will depend on where we go next.
Dave’s 2 cents Worth
First impression, I had a great time. Laughed a lot and enjoyed myself. Timothy Dalton may be the best villain they’ve had. He manages to be both funny and scary, and one of the most convincing psychopaths I’ve seen. He even made charades frightening. I liked the way mom proved her loyalty to Chuck, while maintaining her cover with Volkoff. Devon was well used in this episode; he does what he can and has Chuck’s back, while resenting it at the same time.
Morgan was very funny; and the Die Hard parody was the best. Pretty funny how many times they keep mining material from the same movie.
A very good use of Jeff and Lester, they were unconscious most of the episode.
Casey had little to do.
Sarah also had little to do, but I guess that’s to be expected after owning the episode last week. Yvonne is however, always impressive. Even with a fairly small part she is actively involved in every scene, and her reactions almost do more to set the tone than anyone else’s actions.
I was a little disappointed in Chuck being so passive. You would think when an enemy starts hacking into Castle’s computers, Chuck is the one who know what to do about it, not Casey. I think I like the way the Intersect was restored; Ellie was pivotal yet in the end she didn’t know it. But I am disappointed Chuck never got to prove himself without the Intersect working. It is good Sarah was clear last week about loving Chuck without the Intersect; she is clearly completely committed to Chuck. But it would have been nice if Chuck had been able to do something more worthwhile purely for his own self-confidence.
So this doesn’t rise quite to the level of some of the earlier outstanding episodes we’ve seen this season. But it was very good and a great time.
Ernie Really Wants to Know What Volkoff’s Charade Was.
It’s a funny thing watching your favorite show return to its roots, but in a more grown up way. We’re back to “trust me” versus “believe me”. How can you protect the ones you love in the spy game, where everything is built on deceit, without losing their love and trust? It’s a bit of a game Mama B has had to play, expecting, or hoping for trust, but having to continually disappoint Chuck. She knows the stakes, and knows that hurting Chuck is protecting him in the long run. This is something Sarah is all too familiar with. I was glad to see it pretty much resolved tonight. Another round of good or evil mom would have been flogging the lame, but not yet dead horse.
It’s a funny thing to see your favorite show return to its roots. Literally, funny. Chuck has managed to present menacing villains humorously, and tonight was one of the best examples for a long time. Volkoff wanting to connect with the family, playing charades, I’m sorry, it was both bizzarre and hillarious. There was a more dramatic tone, but seriously, Timothy Dalton was just absolutely fantastic.
The A and B plot were so intertwined as to be inseparable, and despite knowing from the second I saw Morgan in a wife beater soaking his feet where it was headed, it was no less fun. They managed to pull off the capture of the Buy More/Die Hard episode, which they do about twice a saeason on average now, and still keep it fresh. Oh, and a poll dancing class… Of course. It’s Morgan. OK, that one seemed a bit strained for a moment, but when I just relaxed and went with it… Kind of like Chuck and Morgan. Yep, funny. Cinnamon is a hard taskmaster after all.
It’s a funny thing, finding what you loved and thought you lost in a show back again. Maybe some of the passion is a little more subdued, but the thing that struck me was that I was back to loving Chuck, and while this wasn’t my favorite episode of the season it did occur to me, I felt comfortable with Chuck again. This wasn’t a Colonel or Fat Lady episode, there were no giant shifts in the season, no grand reveals, and so I can see some thinking not much happened. Not much was resolved after all, but it was a fun and funny and dramatic Chuck. It hit all the aspects of the season it needed, and set us up for a three act mini-finale. The intersect is back, Mary is on their side, and Volkoff is a major threat. Now comes the hard part. Waiting for seven weeks.
Tonight was interesting, and I’m still letting it sink in. I just sat back, let go, and enjoyed watching my favorite show again. Huh, the angst is gone. Funny.
Faith aka Jem has so many questions:
I guess I have to depart from my fellow bloggers because my initial thoughts: I didn’t like it. Meh lol. I know that they don’t often get to decide which episode to leave off of, but as a “Chuck” fan (let’s face it we’re more cognizant of the consequences of breaks and ratings than most) I felt like this was a bad episode to go on a hiatus on. I’d rather they ended with last week’s tour de force of badassiness. But again, I know they don’t get to decide these things; sometimes it’s just the roll of the dice.
What I did like:
– There are couple of things I called within this epi. I’m totally tooting my own horn on these in particular lol…namely that a.) Volkoff is in love with Mary and b.) Mary and Sarah will have a kinship of some sorts because they both know full well the life each have led/have had to lead and the choices they have had to make.
– Linda Hamilton is fantastic. I can’t say enough about her and what she brings to the show. I felt her pain in imploring Chuck to trust her, and I felt her panic at having to toe the line between being a mom and being a spy. She has a mission and it’s become sort of her only thing in life at this point. She’s lost everything and all she has to show for it is taking down Volkoff Industries (emphasis on industries), eventually.
– Timothy Dalton is no less impressive. On a night where the plot really struggled to get off the ground these two professional actors brought their best and made what would have been an ok episode into a Chuck episode (obviously I’m using “Chuck episode” as synonymous to good if not great lol).
– I really liked the camera movements on some of the shots. In particular the psychoses of the dinner. ZL chose a perfect angle and illustration of just how bizarre and awkward that moment was, not to mention it was a great illustration of just how off the rocker Volkoff is.
– Finally, the spy biz. I don’t have as much an issue at the lack of hands on with regards to Chuck and computers. In fact I didn’t have much of an issue with his role in the spy game in general. On the contrary I’m impressed at the short hand he and Sarah have developed. It really reminds me of Bryce actually. Remember when Sarah came into the view in Break Up and Bryce just knew? Chuck and Sarah have developed that same bond and that partnership even without the intersect and in their case it’s all the more powerful because like Volkoff puts it, it’s just different when it’s the woman you love that’s threatened.
I also found the parallel between Volkoff and Frost and Chuck and Sarah interesting. The repeated references to, “this is how you do it” was inspired. We’re reminded just how long they’ve been doing this and how much of a life this has been for them. For our heroes (Chuck and Sarah) it’s what they do (something that has changed for Sarah in particular BTW, from years past) not who they are. For Volkoff and Frost, it’s who they are. Notice Mary’s “you don’t know how to love…”
Now for the questions and perhaps the biggest detriment to me praising this episode:
– What now? It felt like a lead in episode but where it leads to almost doesn’t even get off the ground. I mean usually when you lead in, you clue in to where that is and you get the viewer/reader interested somehow, someway. This episode didn’t really have that. Instead it felt like there were missing pieces and missing plot breadcrumbs that would have made it make much more sense and create more of an anticipation on behalf of the viewers.
– So does knowing that MamaB is stuck motivate Chuck to get her out? They didn’t really give us enough on that front to really move the plot along.
– Does Ellie figuring out the ins and outs of the intersect and the brain involve her further into the Bartowski legacy? (I say legacy because at this point it’s become quite clear they are a family of spies, all your really need is what should be done which is Ellie being hands on with Chuck’s intersect health/well-being).
– What exactly did MamaB do and it was fixed just like that? While I believe her when she said she did it so he wouldn’t follow her, I think just like most of her answers it’s incomplete. I still think that she did something apart from just temporarily disabling the intersect to get away, but time will tell on that front. But I have to depart from Joe a bit on this, I think the fact that we don’t know and are never given any clues makes it all the more intriguing. I think it’s inspired not to even tell Hamilton the side her character plays because it adds to the puzzlement of the role.
Thinkling’s First Thought — Farther Up & Further In
Though not nearly as emotionally or physically intense as Phase 3, Chuck vs the Leftovers, with its unique “Chuck” blend of humor and action, cranks up the tension on all fronts as it takes us farther up and further in (another Clive Staples reference) to all things Chuck. We learn more of the complex life of MEB: her loyalties, the psychopath she works with, and the world she has lived in for 20 years. Chuck & Sarah’s relationship, the Intersect and Chuck’s destiny, family issues, and spy plots all find themselves on higher plains where the demands are greater, the stakes are higher, and there’s no going back.
I can’t praise TD and LH enough. They have such a great chemistry with the cast. The more of them we get the better.
CHUCK & SARAH get one step closer to a proposal, this time thwarted by North America’s top 3 assassins. I hate it when that happens! Poor Chuck. If this keeps up, he’ll have to settle for a drive-through wedding in Vegas … or not. Maybe it’s just me, but is there a new C/S vibe after Phase 3 … a greater level of comfort … the walk/talk … the hand holding … a deeper connection … a constant awareness. Though not the center of the episode, their relationship was a subtle force throughout.
FAMILY. Families come first, and this one just got in way over its head in the spy world, in this CIA version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. The family scene was really perfect. It oozed tension without losing its humor, and the Doctors Woodcomb were blissfully unaware. If Timothy Dalton was funny as Tuttle, he’s hilarious as the world’s biggest psychopath trying to fit in with his “new family.” There’s always a mess to clean up after company leaves, but nothing on the level of the mess that Volkoff left behind. Devon knows Chuck is spying, and he’s plenty mad about it. Volkoff knows who everybody is and where they live. Until TeamB can clean it up MamaB is the only one keeping them safe.
MEB the MOTHER/SPY. Oh to be loved by Alexei Volkoff … not! No doubts linger about MEB’s loyalties or that she has never been in more danger than she is now. Linda Hamilton did a spectacular job as the Mother/Spy whose worlds just collided. She walks a tight rope throughout as a Mother determined to protect her children and the Spy trying to keep her cover. Only Alexei’s love blinds him to the truth about his top agent. The nuances of the characters and the story were sold by facial expressions, and on that point LH does not disappoint. Her reaction to Volkoff’s decking Chuck, to the phone call, her silent communication with C/S, and her distaste of having to cozy up to the likes of Alexei Volkoff. She was great at the dinner. Her telling of the last Bartowski Thanksgiving was poignant, a memory that haunts and holds her. Her connection with Ellie and Devon is genuine on one level and a deception on another. I continue to be intrigued by the layers of MEB.
SARAH. Sarah’s facial expressions tell a wordless story, from what she thinks of MEB, and of Volkoff, and of … everything. Watching Yvonne’s face was a treat, as always. How can an actress communicate such a broad range of expression with her face. So entirely different from last episode’s expressions, but no less revealing. Amazing.
I loved the connection between MEB and Sarah. MEB connects with Sarah as a spy. Sarah is the first to get her … to believe MEB and understand her predicament. Usually Chuck is the peacemaker. This time it’s Sarah who is keeping things in balance and maintaining perspective. I can’t help thinking that when MEB notices Chuck & Sarah holding hands on the elevator, another connection begins with Sarah. I don’t know if MEB noticed the almost-proposal, but Sarah now falls under MamaB’s protection as family.
ALEXEI VOLKOFF. TD is awesome, er, GENIUS. Psychopath indeed. What mood swings from his anger over the phone to his childlike glee over family. One minute he’s going to incinerate everyone, including his beloved Frost, b/c he’d rather she die than have to live without him. What a sweetheart. The next minute he’s all You didn’t think I could have a relationship with your family? Kids love me! I’ll bet. They’d be afraid not to. Kind of like Chuck. Hey whatever your in-law problems are, I bet they just got smaller.
ZL’s face was no less expressive in wordless communication than LH and YS. I don’t remember an episode in which so much was communicated by looks alone. It seemed appropriate, given the tension of the situation.
THE INTERSECT. This was an Intersect episode, with back references from the pilot with Chuck and Morgan getting their gloves on for a mission to Guys I know Kung Fu, again and Sarah’s Chuck? after the upload and his standard collapse. I love that Ellie fixed the Intersect … that she recognized the problem and knew it needed a neurological solution rather than an engineering one. I love that PapaB got them to solve the problem together (Subway back reference) with his series of passwords. And I loved the upload.
Chuck is not blind sided as in the Pilot, and it’s not a hasty decision of mixed motives like the Ring. He makes a deliberate, calculated decision to embrace his destiny once and for all. His team is with him this time, but it’s his decision, his right of passage. It’s also a couple thing … Sarah asking if he’s sure, letting him decide, supporting either way. Casey’s grunt and nod of approval. Then the upload … and the smiles. The team is back together. Sarah is happy for Chuck to be the hero and the spy. And Chuck is happy to be back to his new normal.
And not a minute too soon! With Volkoff’s knowledge of TeamB and Castle, they will need the whole team functioning on all cylinders to bring him down. Farther up and further in for all of TeamB. No going back.
I always end up going last (darn schedules!) so I don’t have too much to add. I think the story moved forward on many levels.
-We saw a very comfortable Sarah and Chuck, able to walk and talk and hold hands. Simple but profound, and it carried on in the elevator as they headed upstairs to face off with Volkoff.
-Morgan was solid this episode, choosing to save the BuyMorons.
-The non-verbal communication was awesome, which is to be expected by such an awesome cast. What a treat to gain insight from the looks and glances!
-I’m still not happy with the regression of Chuck. He has just been assured of his value to the team in Phase III, only to become hapless in the one area he doesn’t need the Intersect for (computers and hacking).
Don’t misunderstand me: I liked the episode and waited with anticipation at the commercial breaks for, well, something more than what I got. I hope that while MEB will return and further parallels will be drawn between her and Sarah, I hope MEB, and more importantly, Chuck, will see that Sarah would never make the same choices MEB made. I think that has been established in Subway/Ring II, but I thought we had lost some of Chuck’s neuroses with last weeks episode too. It will be a long few weeks between episodes!