Monday, June 21, 2010

Chuck 3.16: "Chuck Versus the Tooth"

“No! What if the seat is dangerous? I could be attacked!”


“Chuck Versus the Tooth” had the potential to be quite the psychological thriller, although I don’t think it dug down quite deep enough to make that happen. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing- the episode retained the essential “Chuck” heart and wit- I just think there was some untapped potential. Between Chuck’s dreams and spending some time in a CIA mental institution, this episode could have really brought the creepy. Ah well, I suppose I’ve got “Fringe” and “Doctor Who” for that, right? Although I do wish this episode would have exploited the creepiness a bit more, one thing it did well was continue to provide good, meaty character moments for all our favorite spies, doctors, and big box store employees.

Chuck is having really scary, really vivid nightmares. They seem to involve warnings about future events and visions of Shaw, still with a bullet hole in his chest. One thing that I found interesting in a tragic sort of way is that Chuck starts suspecting it’s a dream when Sarah tells him she loves him. Chuck wakes up with a start, and Sarah is concerned, but not overly so. Sarah and the rest of the team do become concerned, however, when Chuck becomes insistent that the leader of Zamibia is going to be killed at an upcoming symphony concert. General Beckman orders chuck to see a therapist, and that therapist is played by none other than comedic legend Christopher Lloyd. His performance as the therapist is rather understated when compared to some of Lloyd’s other memorable roles, such as Reverend Jim in “Taxi” and Doc Brown in “Back to the Future,” but it still manages to be quite powerful and somewhat menacing. Seeing the therapist makes things go from bad to worse for chuck- he’s been suspended from field duty because the therapist thinks that his brain is deteriorating due to the Intersect.

Even though he’s not officially on duty anymore, Chuck feels very strongly that he can’t ignore the dream, and he enlists Morgan’s help. The two of them are going to go to the concert and try to foil the assassination plot without any help from Sarah or Casey. Morgan’s first job is to get the two of them tuxedos so they can look the part. Complicating Morgan’s mission is the fact that Anna has returned to Burbank from Hawaii. She talks to Jeff and Lester first, and she doesn’t believe their stories about how Morgan has matured since he returned from Hawaii himself. Then Morgan, wearing his tux, gets an entrance the likes of which is usually reserved for Yvonne Strahovski- wind machine and all. Although Joshua Gomez isn’t really conventionally attractive, I appreciated the scene because for once it wasn’t a woman being objectified in that way. Oh, and I also appreciated that Morgan ended up turning down Anna’s offer to reconcile at the end of the episode. He’s starting to have some more self-respect, and I like that a lot.

Chuck’s impromptu concert “mission” does not at all go as planned. Which isn’t really surprising considering this is television and we’re still really only in the first half of the episode. Casey and Sarah show up at the concert just as Chuck is trying to make his move to save the Zamibian leader. Chuck had a dream when he fell asleep listening to the music and realized that a Zamibian doctor who was part of the leader’s entourage was the man who was going to try to harm him. Chuck’s suspicions are confirmed as he flashes on the doctor and realizes that Ring intelligence is being stored inside one of the doctor’s teeth. Chuck starts to use his kung-fu skills and has just enough time to knock out one of the doctor’s teeth before being hauled off by Casey and Sarah. Next thing we know, Chuck is in a CIA mental institution.

Meanwhile, Ellie has her own issues to deal with (she doesn’t even know her brother’s in trouble). She and Awesome are back home so Awesome can recover from his bout with malaria. Justin, the creepy guy from the Doctors Without Borders camp, conveniently runs into Ellie at the Buy More. At a later rendezvous, Justin convinces Ellie that he’s CIA and that Casey of all people is a traitorous double agent. Justin’s story seems to be confirmed when Ellie pays a visit to Casey’s apartment under the pretense of getting some herbs to help with Awesome’s malaria (Casey had offered to help earlier in the episode). As Casey goes to get the herbs, a door swings open and Ellie sees his gun locker. Now she’s convinced that Casey really is very dangerous.

There’s an interesting parallel between Chuck and Ellie in the middle of the episode. Ellie tells Awesome her suspicions about Casey, and Awesome tries to make Ellie think that she’s just imagining things. I’m not sure if he’s just trying to cover for Casey since he knows about spy world or what, but Ellie is very upset. It ends up drawing her closer to Justin and his nefarious Ring plans. The Ring wants to contact Chuck and Ellie’s dad. To contrast, Sarah and Casey pay Chuck a visit at the institution. Chuck hands them the tooth he knocked out of the doctor and asks them to analyze it for Ring tech. Sarah, unlike Awesome, is supportive of her partner. Casey is a little skeptical, but Sarah agrees to run the tests.

One thing that made me happy about the whole Chuck in the mental institution plot is that there was a scene where he was playing Connect Four with another patient. It immediately made me think of “Lost” and how Hurley first heard the Numbers from a fellow mental institution patient who played Connect Four. Chuck’s predicament goes from vaguely menacing and slightly creepy to all out dangerous when the Zamibian doctor and two of his goons show up at the institution to pay Chuck a visit. Chuck’s Connect Four pal tries to rally the other burnt out spies to help Chuck (Chuck made a valiant, but failed effort to save himself before that), but the reaction of the doctor and his goons is one of the cruelest things I’ve seen on “Chuck.” They kill the burnt out spies. It was just wrong, really. In better news, it’s pretty obvious chuck wasn’t wrong about the Zamibian plot. The doctor does have Ring tech in one of his teeth, just not the tooth Chuck knocked out.

Luckily, Chuck’s got more than just burnt out spies on his side. Both Casey and Sarah arrive with Chuck’s therapist in tow. I especially loved the scene before this where Sarah shows up at the therapist’s door and begs him to take her to see Chuck, only to find out that Casey got there first to ask the exact same thing. Casey really is a softie, even if he’d never, ever, ever admit it.

With reinforcements, the day is finally saved, and Chuck is vindicated, for the most part. Later, while seeing Chuck in his office, the therapist says that the dreams are still a sign that the Intersect might be too much for his brain. For now, though, Chuck can function, so he’s back on active duty. The therapist suggests that Chuck should tell Sarah the whole truth of what’s going on. Chuck is about to take that advice when Sarah surprises him with an “I love you,” and I think Chuck doesn’t want to ruin the mood with health issues. Bad choice, although I get where he’s coming from. The end of the episode brings more bad news for Chuck. He’s still having the strange dreams that involve Shaw, but this time Shaw says he’s alive again.

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