Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Suburbs"
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Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Suburbs"

All right! I'm happy to say that the last Chuck episode, the one after the Super Bowl, was a fluke—a relatively safe/boring one meant to initiate new viewers. But forget those people, because tonight's was a treat for those who've been sticking with the show for so long.

A lot happened over in the suburbs with Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and that guy who was in Andy Richter Controls The Universe, but first, a word about the Buy More—those precious Buy More segments that often disappoint. They're usually too distracting from the main story line—and not funny enough to justify it—and always have zero bearing on future episodes. But tonight's worked right up until the end, and set the stage for a lot of wonderful tension.

See, it's Valentine's Day in Chuck town (I see now why they had to stick with this screening schedule due to the Obama conference; last week's episode will air next week), and it turns out the loneliest man of them all is Big Mike. He just got served with divorce papers, on the holiest of love days, no less. As a result, he focuses way too much on work, which is driving the employees bat shit. So Lester, Morgan, and Jeff join forced with the hated, newly wigged Emmitt, and convince Mike to visit cupidain'tstupid.com in the hopes of finding a V-Day hook-up. He succeeds—mostly by lying through his teeth—and decides to come clean to his new lover. Who, you know, just so happens to be Morgan's mom.

Whee! Great ending.

Well, not really the last scene; that honor goes to Sarah, who putters around an empty suburban house, looking all kinds of dejected. I should explain: she and Chuck went deep under cover to the Los Angeles suburbs (the way they were marketing this episode, you'd think they went to Mars or something), in the hopes of capturing an undercover Fulcrum meanie. They even stage a barbecue, complete with eleventy thousand pounds of potato salad and plenty o burning weiners. Later, following a lead, Chuck ventures across the street to super-cougar Jenny McCarthy's house—her husband is the suspected bad dude, and, wouldn't you know it, he's never in town, leaving an empty house for… you know… just about anything. Aaaaaanything. (Sex.)

But makin' bouncy (which is a euphemism my friend Cookie made up in college) is the last thing on McCarthy's mind, or anyone in the neighborhood. In one of the better reveals in Chuck's history, it turns out that the entire cul-de-sac is, in fact, a Fulcrum plant—a fact Chuck learns from the fake Virtua Boy–like Intersect he sees at the McCarthy residence. They capture the crew and force Chuck to undergo a gigantic download of red data, an undertaking only someone like him could survive. Actually, literally no one else can; to get free, Chuck lures the rest of the team into the room, while Casey activates the Intersect, thus melting the brains of Andy Richter and the other people too unknown for this blog post.

This episode has a lot of fun with the perceived lameness of suburban life, and gives those Fulcrum day players a chance to show off their happy and bad-guy sides. (Acting resume: Beefed.) My only complaint is the backbone of that side of the story. Due to the nature of Chuck and Sarah's professional relationship, they always find themselves playing the part of significant others, and wind up in extremely heated scenarios (ahem, sexnarios). All par for the course, sure. And the way these things usually go down, Chuck realizes that his true feelings for Sarah are coming to the surface, and sees some of the normal life he wants in their fake relationship. I'm sure it will continue to happen for a while, but it feels tired happening again tonight. It was wholly expected that Chuck would see this marriage, start longing for a real marriage to Sarah, and take the whole thing a bit too seriously—which is exactly what goes down. It wasn't dreadful, but I'm starting to wonder where they can go with this lingering tension. What's next: Chuck and Sarah go undercover as retired grandparents? Actually, that'd be pretty hilarious.

Grade: A-

Stray observations:

  • Buster Bluth doesn't look so bad with hair, I gotta say.
  • Jeff may be the most awkward man alive; witness his terrible fist pound–instead-of–high five.
  • "Where do you meet people where you don't have to pay for sex?"

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