Chuck: Chuck versus the Couch Lock

“Big, gun-loving, commie-hating, forgiveness.”

I can’t say enough great things about Adam Baldwin. He manages to load more emotion into a grunt or a hairy eyeball than any other actor I can think of, but this episode gave us another glimpse of another side of his actorly repertoire: physical comedy. Watching him lurch around like Frankenstein’s monster, switching from near-catatonia to dangling Morgan like a... dangly thing, just doesn’t stop being funny. And his history of being betrayed, and the way those betrayals have made him into the curmudgeon he is today, is nothing but touching.

Back in 1999 Iran, Casey’s team betrayed him, and the mission, and the country—but by the end of this episode, Casey has found a new team that he knows won’t betray him. Watching him gradually trust even someone like Morgan, and start to connect with people who might actually show up at his funeral, was a really nice miniature character arc. Using Morgan’s tiny antics to highlight Casey’s foibles was just icing on the cake.

As Casey learned (or re-learned) to trust his friends, Chuck nearly went dark. Last season, the show hammered home the threat of Chuck losing his humanity, so I was really impressed by the subtlety of Chuck’s emotional arc in this episode. General Beckman told Chuck: “You’ve put duty above emotion. Using Colonel Casey as bait? Usually it takes an agent years to put his teammates in harms way.” Chuck made that leap without even realizing it—perhaps it was a momentary glimpse of his pragmatism, but I think it was also evidence that he trusts the team so much, he assumed no harm would come to anyone. After all, with friends all things are possible.

By the end of the episode, Chuck realized (again) the risks of his job, not just to himself but to his extended family. For that reason, he decided to ignore Ellie’s desire to see their mom, and put everyone’s safety above her maternal urges. I definitely see where Chuck is coming from, but I felt bad for Ellie, too: Chuck always seems to do exactly what she doesn’t want him to do. Luckily, Mama B’s phone call has brought Chuck back to the quest. I wonder if she’s evil, or undercover, or something else. I wonder if her arc parallels Chuck’s: is she working for Volkoff to protect her family?

The BuyMore plot... well, there wasn’t really a BuyMore-specific plot, and I think that’s for the best. Jeff and Lester’s dumpster-sleeping habits are funny, but they didn’t drag down the pacing. And it was a nice bit of character-continuity. Jeff’s willingness to rescue Casey, and not over-think the fact that he was dressed in military garb in a downtown dumpster, unconscious (and that he called work instead of someone else), fit perfectly in with his world view.

One last great thing: Chuck and Sarah getting along without talking about their relationship.

Bytes:

• Casey on President Clinton: “Not that I like him or his mouthy wife.”

• Jeff: “If you have the mana to battle the others plainswalkers.” Indeed.

• Morgan’s entire eulogy, which he delivered fabulously.

• Chuck: “They put a tracker on a what? No, god no, don’t shoot it!”
Cat: “Meow!”

• Jeff: “Don’t worry Casey. I know that dumpster.”

• Awesome: “Ah, couch-lock. He over-medicated…Just get his heart rate up.” This is terrible, terrible medical advice.

• Morgan: “Ow! It’s like slapping a car!”

• There were so many hilarious lines, but they’re less funny written down.

And Pieces:

• Awesome and Ellie are having a girl.

• Casey trying to wake up was very Uma Thurman in Kill Bill.

• The gold-heist plot was very Three Kings. That’s a great movie, by the way, that you should rent immediately.

• Alex seems to have inherited her father’s sass. “Have fun playing Halo for the rest of your life.” Zing!

• I’m very impressed that Chuck has managed to get so many guest stars this season. I’m not quite sure I understand why they made that a priority, though.

Four out of four downtown dumpsters.

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

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Under the risk of revealing my inner geek (which is why I'll remain anonymous), Jeff didn't say Mata... he said Mana, which is a Magic: The Gathering reference.

Great review, and I really did enjoy this episode. It does feel like they are pushing the guest stars on us a little thickly, but that is probably so they'll get ratings. Which seems to have worked because they already ordered a full season of episodes!

Keep up the great work!

Mark Greig said...

This was the best episode of the season so far. Loved the evil choir music as Casey snapped out of his paralysis to throttle Morgan.

So happy we’re getting eleven more episodes. Nice one, NBC. Is it too much to hope yet that we’ll get a fifth season as well.

Billie Doux said...

Adam Baldwin rocks. I must confess that I didn't like Morgan when I started watching Chuck. But now, his scenes with Casey often make an episode for me. It's also interesting and somewhat disturbing, as you pointed out, Josie, that Casey is becoming more and more human while Chuck is going in the other direction. I wonder how far it will go?

Gustavo Brunett said...

None of the reviews I've read mentioned the obvious homage to Charade, the 1963 Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant movie. The entrance of the thugs one by one, and each checking if Casey was alive, was a hoot if you saw the movie.

This episode was awesome, really. Loved it. It's proof that it's good to focus on a character other than the main one once in a while.

Jess Lynde said...

Loved this episode! It was exactly what I want from an hour of Chuck. And I loved, loved, loved that Chuck and Sarah checked their relationship drama at the door this week.

Jeff and Lester intercepting Casey's distress call was hilarious. I laughed so hard at that "rescue" sequence!

Billie Doux said...

Charade! That's what it was. I knew it was an homage to a movie I'd seen, but I couldn't remember which one. Thanks, Gustavo.

Josie Kafka said...

Anonymous, thank you for the magical correction. I've fixed it!

Gustavo, I haven't seen that film.

Mark, I'm not sure I want a fifth season--I worry the emotional arcs will stagnate. At some point, Chuck and Ellie will run out of parents, and Chuck and Sarah will run out of issues.