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Chuck: Chuck versus the Three Words

“I know it felt like I chose being a spy over you, but that’s not what happened.”

Aha! I’d forgotten something very, very important as I watched the previous episode—and I don’t think you’ll blame me. Chuck enjoys the spy life, but his real motivation for being the Intersect, not running away with Sarah, and trying to be the best spy he can be is…goodwill towards mankind? While fun, the spy vs. spy stuff on Chuck feels divorced from reality, at least for me. But for Chuck, the stakes are high, and that motivated his decision to choose intrigue over intimacy.

This time around, we got more of Sarah’s perspective. She’s broken the “cardinal rule of spying” and fallen in love, but she—like me—didn’t know that Chuck chose saving the world over her. She just thought he didn’t love her. Props to Carina for being a friend and showing Sarah Chuck’s speech.

That speech in the vault was both amusing (the henchmen’s reactions were great) and touching. The three words that he struggled to say were, on the face of it, ‘I love you,’ but those words are one big ‘yes,’ aren’t they? A more important ‘yes’ than the 730 Japanese words that lead to BuyMore sales records.

This episode, despite charm of Chuck’s speech, felt like a gigantic in-joke. Josh Schwartz’s other hit show, Gossip Girl, featured a plot last year about a different Chuck unable to say the same three words. The girls-in-lingerie scene was such a blatant ratings ploy that for a second I thought I was watching Fox, which made it funny. The laser-acrobatics felt like Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment, as well as something else I’m not putting my finger on. And the restoration of Big Mike, Chuck and Morgan to the BuyMore (sans Anna), as well as the non-effects of Casey’s promotion to colonel, felt like a gigantic re-set to take us back to the same conflicts of the previous two seasons.

I really like this show, but I think it might be time to set an end-date. Will they or won’t they? What will get in the way now? Can anything change? These questions were approaching resolution at the end of last season, but the CIA has effectively turned back the clock so we can re-tread the same emotional ground that we know so well. (Wow: that is an impressively mixed metaphor.)

Then again, Chuck is still a pleasure to watch. Adam Baldwin knocks it out of the park every time, the dialogue is great, and the new sight-gags that center on Chuck’s powers are hilarious. The writers still need to find their footing for some of the more emotional stuff (the pole fight between Sarah and Chuck was awkward), but overall this was fun to watch, even if it did feel really, really long.


• Adam Baldwin’s obsession with being young.

• Adam Baldwin’s gleeful hosing of the nerdy party-goers, and the sign describing him. He’s the button, for sure.

• Those poor henchmen: all the spies around them were gaga for beautiful ladies.

• Big Mike is a good step-father.

• Chuck and Morgan (and the absent Ellie and Awesome) live in Los Feliz. Did we know this?

• Morgan and Carina. Way to go, buddy!

And Pieces:

• Carina: “Los Angeles has all the cultural panache of a port-a-potty.”

• Morgan: “There’s gotta be—what—two million ladies in Los Angeles? They can’t all say no to us.”

• Carina: “He keeps the access key in a secured area of his pants.”

• Evil Brit: “May our first child be a masculine child.”

Two and a half out of four highly flammable cups of jail juice.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Hi, Josie

    I feel cheated. I thought all those series-changing events that happened at the end of last season would... well, chage the series. Instead we got a reset. Humpf!

    Anyway, the laser scene reminded me of Ocean's Twelve, which, coincidentally, featured Zeta-Jones as well.

  2. Gustavo, Ocean's Twelve! Thank you!

    I feel cheated, too. But I'm trying to take Chuck for what it is (a cute, family-friendly show that wants to stay on the air), not what I want it to be (an emotionally honest and gripping drama about the difficult life choices of people in the mid-twenties, with cool spy stuff). It's a definite struggle, especially as I really, really don't believe that Chuck feels a burning desire to save the world.

  3. I think I disagree about Chuck's burning desires. If memory serves, he wasn't terribly happy living the life of the hum drum Nerd Herder. He just didn't think he could pursue what he really wanted because he got kicked out of Stanford. Ending up with the intersect in his head changed the way he saw himself, his abilities, and his role in the world. I think once he got a taste of saving the world (and a lot of exposure to Casey and Sarah, who had been doing that for years), it changed him. I believe that he does want to keep saving the world (in part because he loves Sarah).

    Now, this isn't something I thought a whole lot about while watching the first two episodes, but in retrospect, I buy the premise and didn't mind the semi-reboot.

    Overall, I enjoyed the first two episodes, but liked the second episode better than the first. Except for wanting to seriously beat Chuck for whining so much *during a mission* about needing to talk to Sarah. Get your head in the game, dude!

    On second thought, maybe this is support for Josie's theory that Chuck really doesn't having a burning desire to save the world. :)

  4. Kudos to the writers for all the great comedy. I laughed heartily several times during these first four episodes (that I ended up watching all in one day). I laughed the hardest and the longest at the sight of Morgan and Carina on Morgan's Star Wars bed sheets... just priceless.

    I will however agree with Jess Lynde and give a big thumbs down to Chuck's constant whining to Sarah in mission about his feelings. A time and a place dude!

  5. Yeah, I have to agree. Every time Chuck said to Sarah, "We need to talk," I thought, Jeez, Chuck! Time and place, buddy! Save the freaking world *first*.

    But I'm definitely enjoying the changes in Chuck. Even his hair is more serious this season.

    And Adam Baldwin is a treasure. It's almost like having Jayne around, but not quite.

  6. I was surprised at the level of the reset here, but I am willing to go along with it and see where we go. I'm growing a bit tired of the fractured romance. Get them together already and let's move on.

    Agree with many of the rest of you that Adam Baldwin is the great character in this series.


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