The timing of Chuck coming available on iTunes was fortuitous for me. Chuck is in that small number of shows I can enjoy frequent repeat viewings of. Not surprisingly, zipping through commercials gets really old on your 5+ viewing of something.
On a separate issue, I had decided a couple weeks ago I would re-watch Chuck season 4 while home on medical leave this week. I had a minor surgical procedure that mainly meant I would be loaded on Vicodin and not driving anywhere for a few days. So I was very pleased when S4 came up on iTunes the very day I had the surgery. I actually learned about it while I was sitting in the hospital waiting room. Dang, if I wasn’t eager to get this over with and home before, now I sure was!
I am one of those chosen few who owns a first generation AppleTV. That means it has a hard drive (unlike the current model) and I can buy and keep the show in commercial free HD (well, 720p anyway). Current models only allow one to rent the episodes on a pay-per-view basis; which given the way I watch Chuck is not an appealing option. [I’ve been informed this is somewhat incorrect. Because you can play material from and associated computer with a hard drive, sorry!]
So I thought it would be fun to put down a few comments from Chuck viewing in a drug induced haze. Speaking of which, apologies if I’ve been more loopy or stupid than normal this week. My wife says she doesn’t notice a big difference, I’m not sure how to take that…
Starting from Anniversary I enjoyed every episode. Although I still think Anniversary itself may be the weakest of the season. The whole Chuck and Morgan on a secret/separate mission looking for mamaB just rubs me wrong. Now I think it was supposed to. Certainly Chuck and Sarah running off in opposite directions while Chuck is playing the secrets game was resolved quickly and decisively. It bothers me a little that Chuck has never really expressed any sort of “mission statement” after rejoining the agency. I guess we can take Fear of Death as Chuck’s realization that he needs to be with Sarah and not letting her run off on missions without him; at least that’s why I assume he is so desperate to get back in the game. And of course he actually said all of that in Balcony. So although in Anniversary he rejoins the agency with the excuse of furthering his pursuit for mom, his main motivation seems to be to work with Sarah. I would like to see him clearly give his own reasons (since rejoining; he did to his father back in 3.17) for wanting to do spy work; but if wanting to work with Sarah didn’t figure into it I’d be seriously worried about our boy.
Suitcase remains my favorite of the early season episodes. Its fun in just about every way. The “suitcase” issue itself still strikes me as contrived, but I love the episode. And the Chuck/Sarah scene in the hotel closet (“no really, say it.”) is one of my favorite comic moments Sarah has ever had. Cubic Z and Coup d’Etat kind of blur together for me. Both are fun, with a few very good moments, but neither is extraordinary. Couch Lock completes the early episodes. It stands out in a few ways; just being Casey centered is uncommon enough, Jeffster are very funny in a smaller part (the best kind for them!), and Chuck and Sarah work as the sort of team I most want to see. They are comfortable and confident together; and ready for things to get rough.
I love Aisle of Terror. A strong episode on several levels, and Linda Hamilton’s performance is dynamite. We still get a smoothly functioning Chuck/Sarah (and who can forget, “I’ll eat your desert and blame it on Morgan”!?) The ending was the first burst of fan angst we’ve seen this season, and of course accusations of Sarah violating the “no secrets” rule. Well I loved the end, I thought it was a completely legitimate use of the sort of angst that would come from the conflicted loyalties of spy world. While insecure Chuck naturally felt disrespected; protective Sarah dutifully had her partner’s blind spot. I might not have been so cheerful about this if it had drawn out longer. But the resolution we got the following week was wonderful! Timothy Dalton was a perfect pick up for Chuck; and I honestly still miss Tuttle, he was very funny. I also enjoyed the resolution of Chuck and Sarah’s “First Fight”; I’m glad they’ve played these things light this season, and Sarah’s decision to trust Chuck in the end made everything feel right (very similar feel to Crown Victoria, but with a more entertaining build up).
Fear of Death seems to be the most disliked of S4 episodes. But not by me. It isn’t quite a favorite, but I have little against it either. Agent Rye made me laugh, hard. He was stupid and yet impressed with himself, comic gold. I believe Sarah’s ill-advised words caused the most dislike here; but I felt her frustration with Chuck, Rye, and a foolish mission with no “safety net”. And it led to Phase 3. Wow! Is there anything else to say? Emmy4Yvonne may be a long shot, but she is clearly deserving and can play anything she is tasked with. Leftovers was sort of ho-hum by comparison. Another great performance by a psychotic Dalton (“Children love me!”) and a few good moments, but otherwise merely average.
The next big arc starts with Balcony. A very romantically themed episode, that gets Chuck and Sarah engaged in all but fact. Sarah taking over the sub-mission; and Morgan calming her nerves before the big non-moment being the defining moments. Gobbler was not a favorite of mine; and an interesting thing on this re-watch, my initial feelings were largely strengthened. Although there are some good moments here, and it certainly was no disaster of S3 proportions; the ending was too contrived and manipulative, and felt like the stupid miscommunication tricks the TPTB had completely overused in earlier seasons. It might have been easier to overlook if we’d really gotten a good resolution, but the worst of it was Sarah taking advice from Frost, who still strikes me as the worst possible person to listen to; and not realizing her own error in the following episode. Now I get that they wanted to highlight Mary’s good qualities, but it was partly at the expense of Sarah. I would have preferred if Sarah had seen the importance of finishing up and getting out on her own; Mary’s later defense of her husband was really all the redemption needed for a secondary character. So I guess my main complaint with Gobbler is its inadequate resolution in Push Mix. Ironic since I really consider Push Mix a strong episode. I loved getting to see hero Chuck, and Volkoff going down in flames (have I mentioned that he ate ice cream in front of his men without sharing? The man is a special sort of evil. Diabolical all the way through. I mean, it looked like the cone even had sprinkles on it. I think Dante spent an entire chapter on the level of hell he will go to!). We were finally treated to one of the best Jeffster performances ever, and something about a ring…
Two stand alone episodes bring us up to date. Seduction Impossible featuring the return of our favorite seduction master. Very funny episode, I would be quite happy with more like this. Although Schwedak said the episode had a Honeymooners feel to it; I think they might want to go back and watch Honeymooners again. But Seduction Impossible was a very strong episode. Ditto for Cat squad. Maybe not quite as good as the previous episode, but lots of fun regardless; and we finally have Sarah and Ellie talking together.
I really enjoyed the season in review. I don’t believe I’ve changed my mind on much; but certain things have become more set in my mind. I’m really looking forward to how the rest of this season plays out. Even if we don’t get a season 5 I’m content with how the show is ending up; but oh boy do I hope it isn’t ending!