Chuck: Chuck versus the Aisle of Terror

Casey: “Chuck, how’d you get here?”
Chuck: “My mom dropped me off.”

Chuck has officially left the will-they-or-won’t-they problem behind. Now we’ve got a bigger problem: is she or isn’t she? (Before your mind goes to a dirty place, I’m talking about whether or not Chuck’s mom is a good spy or a bad spy.) All of that pales in comparison, though, to the real point of tonight’s episode: How To Get Along With Prospective And Actual In-Laws.

Morgan and His Girlfriend’s Dad (aka Casey)

These two are hilarious together, and that’s why they get first billing in tonight’s in-law lineup. Now that Casey has decided to permit Morgan to be with 100 yards of his daughter, he’s taken him under his wing, too. Sure, you could argue that using Morgan as bait (or “the magnet”) isn’t really helping him learn anything at all. But I like to think that Casey believes in the tough-love school of spydom. Besides, Morgan has started conversing in grunts just like Casey!

Morgan and His Mother’s Lover (aka Big Mike)

Okay, so this is a bit of a stretch: we only got one Morgan/Big Mike scene. But I don’t want to neglect El Segundo’s School of Finance’s most prestigious alumnus.

Ellie and Awesome’s Mom (aka Honey)

So this is how you make an Awesome cardiac surgeon: no to bears, yes to dictionaries. You also work in snarky comments about the cleanliness of kitchen cabinets. Despite Honey’s flaws, though, Ellie has a great attitude: one part amusement, one part rage, and one part gratitude. No matter what happens with Mama B, Ellie does have a great resource to help her learn the ins-and-outs of motherhood—you just know that Honey would love a frantic 4am phone call about ear infections and colic. There’s something to be said for that, all things considered.

Sarah, Mama B, and Chuck

One of my favorite things about Chuck is that there are very few surprises. Chuck gets shot? Yeah, he’ll be fine. His mom shot him? Oh, she didn’t mean it. This show is incredibly averse to messing up the status quo (it did take them three years to get Chuck and Sarah together), and I really doubted they’d sideline the eponymous hero. I expected this episode to have a few double- and triple-twists, but wind up with everyone coming together, even if it was just for a moment.

But I didn’t count on Casey’s and Sarah’s tenacity. They’re not just good at their jobs—they’re looking out for their friend. The revelation that Mama B really might be evil shocked me, especially since it meant that Chuck had to reveal more of the story to poor Ellie, who must be horrified by the world she keeps getting glimpses of. Sarah said she was looking out for Chuck’s blind spot, and that’s exactly what she’s doing. That won’t make it hurt any less if she’s right, though. And it might throw a real wrench into the works if she’s wrong and Chuck is forced to choose between his mother and his girlfriend.

Nothing To Do With In-Laws…

A constant tension on Chuck is how our hero can reconcile his inherently good, trusting nature with the deviousness and deception required of his lifestyle. Last week, we got hints that Chuck might be getting a bit more pragmatic. Tonight, Chuck explained his mother’s betrayal by telling Ellie that mom is a spy—on the face of it, that’s an obvious explanation. But is Chuck commenting on the nature of spy life? Does he see all spies as doomed to deception and double-crosses? Will his childhood abandonment issues cause him to deceive his “family” at Castle and the BuyMore, and Ellie?

…Although In-Laws Are Scary

I can’t believe that I’ve gotten this far without mentioning this episode’s main conceit: Robert Englund and the neurotoxin of terror. I’m not much of a horror fan, and I thought the nightmare sequences were a bit cheesy, especially since I assumed an antidote would emerge in due time. But I was amused by the aisle of terror. I also really liked that Wheelwright was just as horrified as Jeffster wanted everyone to be.

Bites:

• Morgan: “Not bad scary, like war, and bears.”

• Morgan: “Morgan Grimes, not just for the ladies any more.”

• Big Mike: “There’s even a catchy phrase: ‘Get it off your plate; give it to other people.’”
Morgan: “Don’t you mean, ‘Get it off your plate. Delegate’?”
Big Mike: “No, I do not. You are not a rhyming monkey.”

• Casey: “Two fugitives and a dangerous weapon on the loose. Go team.” This was sort of a weird line, coming from Casey.

• Honey: “Devin was amazing, right from the start. Amazing genes, I guess. Don’t you worry, this little wonder is half-way there.” What a great sneaky insult.

• Honey: “Babies love dictionaries.”

• Jeff: “Is it a baby, or a snail?”

And Pieces:

• In case you didn’t know, Robert Englund played Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

• I loved Sarah’s glasses when she was playing the maitre d’ at the restaurant.

• Did anyone else want Mama B to say “Come with me if you want to live” when she pulled up to Chuck behind the BuyMore?

This was a solid episode. After last week’s awesomeness, Chuck had a lot to live up to. This episode’s main conceit wasn’t the best ever (at least for me), but did a great job with character development and setting up tensions that will be, I assume, gradually resolved over the course of the season. There wasn't too much BuyMore, but just enough. And all the plot threads did tie together, which was a neat trick. Or maybe a neat treat?

Three out of four rhyming monkeys.

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

6 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

I kind of wanted her to say "Truth takes time" because the direction they are taking the Mama B story is giving me serious Alias flashbacks. Unfortunately, this story just can't live up to that standard.

But, I did rather enjoy last night's episode. The resolution with Wheelwright and the Aisle of Terror was ludicrous, but it still made me laugh pretty hard. Especially when Chuck started squealing, "Old people! Black licorice! Man feet! Otters!" The over-the-top terror in his voice about the otters was just hilarious.

And Casey and Morgan together is always good stuff.

Billie Doux said...

I enjoyed this episode a lot. Some of it was the over the top Robert Englund, some of it was the Aisle of Terror, which really was funny. And some of it was Mom versus Sarah. Apparently, Chuck has fallen for a woman who is just like his mother. It would be a great twist if Mom turned out to be evil, but I'm not expecting it.

Poor Ellie.

Tom L said...

Great episode. The "scary" stuff was too silly, as were Jeffster! But it didn't hurt the episode overall.

I think Mama B is telling the truth, and I'm actually rooting for it. Having her be an evil spy would make the storyline too similar to Alias'. Besides, she seemed so carefree right before the CIA apprehended her. Would she care enough to risk herself to see her daughter if she were evil?

BTW, wouldn't it be cool if Lena Olin made a guest appearance? Both Spy Moms in one show?! It's something Chuck's writers could totally pull off.

The drums of evil are back! I hate them! Please, score guy, let it go.

Patrick said...

It just wouldn't be right if there wasn't a "Come with me if you want to live" before Mama B's arc is done. :)

Anonymous said...

Just to add to the homages in this ep - the neurotoxin plot was borrowed very closely from Batman Begins. Same effects and same shaky-cam even (I can't believe Chuck or Morgan didn't mention it, they just lost geek points!)

ChrisB said...

Chuck introducing his girlfriend to his mother, while both held guns on the other, has to be one of the highlights of the entire series. I laughed out loud and then rewound to watch it again. Hilarious.