Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The American Hero"

Illustration for article titled Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The American Hero"

Other critics have discussed the many holes in the spy world Chuck inhabits, and they've all come to the same conclusion: Sometimes it's best not to think about this show too much, and just go along for the ride. It's like a video game spy world, not a real one, and the show is all the more entertaining for it.

I'm fine with that—have been the entire run—but sometimes there are episodes where I can't help but see the flimsy wires holding the show up. How is it possible that Ring guy got into the heavily guarded facility to steal back the data disk, the government gets footage of it, but he's not stopped? Why would Shaw, a presumably very experienced agent, come up with a plan to infiltrate the Ring that involves him voluntarily giving himself up and them trusting that he's not going to try any funny stuff? Wouldn't they see that a mile away? (True, they do scan him for homing devices, but they fail to notice the giant van with the two creepy dudes, one of whom is the self-proclaimed "Picasso of creepiness"?) Why was Sarah assigned to kill Shaw's wife for her Red Test—didn't the government know who she was? When breaking into the Ring headquarters, how did Chuck know the code on the Dr. Jibb (heh) machine if, in theory, no government official could possibly know it existed? He's a database, not a computer hacker with his mind.

The main thrust of tonight's episode was similarly shoddy; it all felt so contrived. Chuck is brought to DC and assigned a kick-ass mission in Italy, with the only catch being he has to leave right away. Wait, scratch that, now he has one week to make things right with Sarah so he can recruit her for the mission. Cue arbitrary time constraint. Casey, Morgan, and Awesome go out of their way to help Chuck get some time alone with Sarah (the three of them working together was pretty satisfying after all the time they spent apart), and he says everything he wants to say. That's never been a problem for him.

Well, wait, he can't say "I love you," apparently the only thing he has trouble articulating, even though he's done it in the past over and over. Cue arbitrary road block. And the whole problem with Sarah forgiving Chuck is that he killed a guy to become a spy, and she's scared he's not the same guy he was before. But she's always encouraged him to become a spy, and she had to know the Red Test was coming, which would mean killing  a guy. Surprise.

These were the things rattling around my mind during "Chuck Vs. The American Hero," but thankfully they passed. I still got a kick out of the rest of the episode, playing to the show's propensity for nerdiness. We finally get a glimpse into the Ring headquarters, and it's as empty and creepy as I imagined. We also finally see one of the men behind it all, and it's freakin' Romo Lampkin from Battlestar Galactica (Mark Sheppard). Awesome. And no matter how cool Chuck becomes, I love that his friends continue to see him as the loser he was years ago, unable to "fill out a pair of slacks" like Shaw. There's also something satisfying about seeing Shaw, the man known for selfless tough calls, breaking down at the end and letting emotion totally wash over him—and Chuck, the emotional one, channeling it all to hopefully save the day. Because he's a Bartowski, and it's time to start acting like one.

Stray observations:

  • "Freakish bubble of handsomeness."
  • "Make it work." Heh.
  • "Possible homosexual encounter. Both men are fit. Should be lively."
  • Not sure what to make of Casey's last scene with Sarah. Is he planning to leave the show or something?