Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Tooth"
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Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Tooth"

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Chuck

"Chuck Vs. The Tooth"

Season 3, Episode 16

Hi guys, I’m covering for Steve this week. I’m a big Chuck fan, been watching from the beginning, so I was excited to review the show, but “Chuck Vs. The Tooth” was sadly a little disappointing, in that it mostly kept the madcap, zany tone the show’s been enjoying for this six-episode mini-arc, but at the same time tried to tackle way heavier storylines, and just ended up being very tonally confusing.

I didn’t have a problem with season three’s darker tone but I enjoyed the last two weeks’ episodes and their concentration on Chuck and Sarah working the kinks out of their new relationship. “Chuck Vs. The Tooth” got off to a seemingly similar start by showing us Chuck and Sarah watching Spies Like Us on the couch and making kissy faces at each other. They’ve evolved the nerdy TV-watching, plus frequent sex, relationship that we all dream of!

But things quickly got intense as Chuck starts having bizarre dreams (which were quite well-staged, with General Beckman clashing cymbals together and Shaw getting repeatedly and bloodily shot over and over again, I presume to appease the Shaw haters) and he becomes convinced that the President of Zamibia (which did not seem to be a real country, but that is a common way of spelling Zambia, but the flag was wrong, so I was confused) is going to be assassinated. Beckman sends him to a psychiatrist played by Christopher Lloyd, who informs him that the Intersect may be placing too much pressure on Chuck’s brain and driving him slowly insane.

As a premise, I don’t have a problem with that. Makes perfect sense that having a CIA computer in your brain probably wouldn’t be good for the ol’ synapses in the long run. But Chuck’s dreams, and this insanity diagnosis, are sprung on the audience mighty quickly. And not even halfway into the episode, after Chuck punches out a Zamibian scientist in an effort to get data from his false tooth, he gets chucked into a CIA sanitarium for being bonkers.

The episode decided to play most of these developments lightly, which was pretty much all it could do, because the pace they came at us was pretty manic. But I think that exploring Chuck’s mental degradation and confinement in a psych ward with other crazy spies could have been played a little darker. Sure, we were supposed to believe that Chuck was despondent, and that Sarah and Casey thought he might be gone for good, but because everything had moved so quickly, we knew he wasn’t, and that it’d all get wrapped up soon.

Still, Sarah and (slightly more surprisingly, but not really) Casey’s fidelity for Chuck, and their showing up at Christopher Lloyd’s house to argue on his behalf, was very sweet. Sarah eventually coming around to tell Chuck she loved him was fine (I wasn’t aware this was a problem for them, as they’ve already moved in together, but it worked). And at the end of the episode, Chuck is told that just because he isn’t crazy now, doesn’t mean he won’t be in the future, so I’m glad they’re not dropping this plot for good after one week. But an episode that has several jokes about a psych patient called “Merlin” while giving Christopher Lloyd absolutely nothing to do just feels a little off.

This week’s B-plots were hit-and-miss, too. Ring agent Justin comes to Burbank and tells Ellie that John Casey is an NSA double-agent, leading her to finally start picking up on all the weird shit about her neighbor, which will eventually, one assumes, bring her into the loop on the spy stuff (she’s the only major character who isn’t at this point). Big stuff, but the story mostly got short shrift this week – most likely we’ll get a lot more of that as the show races to the season finale.

Julia Ling’s return as Anna sadly didn’t give her much at all to do, but that was always her problem on this show, and why, although I was sad to see her go, the show hasn’t really missed her this year. She’s impressed with Morgan’s new suaveness and asks him to take her back, but he turns her down, for no real reason other than the show just can’t afford to have her around anymore. I hope that isn’t the last we ever see of her, though, because getting turned down by Morgan Grimes isn’t really much of a sendoff.

And finally, Shaw, who’d been cropping up in Chuck’s dreams, comes back for one final nightmare in which he announces he’s still alive. Fine by me, especially if he’s now just a steely death machine, but I’m sure some Chuck fans were groaning at that one.

Stray observations:

I liked Beckman’s bedhair, and sleepwalking husband, on the video feed.

“Full of lumpy housewives. My favorite.” Jeff’s eyes light up at being assigned to housewares.

More interaction between Ellie and Casey than usual this week. I like it. He gives her wacky medicine for Awesome’s malaria and cautions, “make sure he takes them with some nice, warm goat milk.”

Ellie also sees Casey’s closest-o-guns. “Is that creepy, yes! Is that illegal, sadly no!” Awesome wanders into second amendment rights issue.

Chuck summarizes being interrogated by the Zamibians quite well. “That’s a giant needle, bad, bad, colored liquid even worse.”

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