Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chuck 3.17: "Chuck Versus the Living Dead"

“Reviewing pictures of people you killed? I do that myself from time to time.”

“Chuck Versus the Living Dead” continued to provide the entertainment value I expect of an episode of “Chuck,” even though there was a little more drama than I usually like from the show. If you couldn’t tell, I don’t love the “Chuck’s lying about the effects of the Intersect” plot. Chuck’s dad returned, and really the only good thing about that (considering Scott Bakula’s performance was not especially memorable) was that it promises an end to this drama surrounding Chuck’s health that I just don’t like at all. I find plots that revolve around misunderstanding to be incredibly frustrating, so I didn’t like that Ellie continues to be played by Justin the Ring agent posing as CIA. Wait, did I start this paragraph off with something positive? Well, despite these gripes about the ongoing story, this episode did have its share of entertaining moments.

As she told Justin she would do in the last episode, Ellie contacts her dad, Steve. The way they secretly communicate to each other is kind of amusing. They place encoded messages in the classified section of the newspaper. I liked how this shows Ellie has the brains for spywork, too. Sure, the show never implied she was stupid, she is a doctor after all, but I like that she’s clever when it comes to puzzles and such too. At the other end of the spectrum of things I did and didn’t like, Chuck is still lying to Sarah about the effect the Intersect could possibly have on his brain. He’s lying about something more immediate, too. He has neglected to tell her about his dream where Shaw was alive again. Chuck does, however, tell Morgan about the dream. Morgan, understandably, freaks out and asks to hide in Castle for a little while. That would be where Sarah finds Morgan, and in a very funny scene, she makes him tell her everything that’s going on.

Chuck ends up having to lie on several fronts all at the same time while working at the Buy More. Is it just me, or does “the consequences of lying” seem to be a very popular episode theme in television this year? Anyway, Casey sees Chuck looking at a picture of Shaw as Steve arrives at the Buy More. Steve got Ellie’s message and wants to know if everything is okay. When he sees Casey still around, Steve is rightfully suspicious that Chuck didn’t keep his promise to cut all ties with the CIA. Chuck adamantly denies that he’s still CIA just as Sarah arrives to confront him with what she learned from Morgan. Sarah plays along while in front of Steve, but when she and Chuck are back in Castle, it’s clear she’s not happy. It doesn’t help that Chuck’s dream has led Casey to decide he needs to scrutinize every detail of everything Sarah and Shaw ever did together (he was hoping a detail would provide a clue to where to find Shaw). Chuck getting increasingly uncomfortable as he learns more and more about Sarah and Shaw’s relationship was pretty funny, though.

While all of this is going on, Ellie continues to contact Justin. Chuck has asked Casey to keep an eye on Ellie, which causes some problems considering Justin has told Ellie that Casey is a double agent. Ellie is upset that her dad showed up instead of just giving her his address (which is the information Justin wanted), and Casey sees her run off to a nearby park and leave a message for Justin about how Awesome thinks she’s at the hospital and she really needs to see Justin. Casey asks Morgan if he thinks there’s any possibility Ellie and Awesome’s marriage might be in trouble. Morgan goes to talk to Awesome, acting like he’s a therapist. It turns out that Awesome is so ridiculously completely devoted to Ellie that Morgan believes if anything is wrong with their marriage, it is, surprisingly, on Ellie’s side. Justin and Ellie do eventually meet up, and Justin gives Ellie a new plan. Steve and Chuck have been fighting over Chuck’s continued involvement with the CIA, and as Steve decides to leave Burbank, Ellie plants a tracking device on him.

Before that big argument, though, Sarah, Casey, and Chuck went on a mission to Shaw’s old penthouse. Chuck had a flash that revealed Shaw had a super secure safe installed there, and the team wants to know what’s inside. While they’re inside the penthouse, somebody else shows up, and they all assume it’s Shaw. During the ensuing chase sequence, however, they see they were wrong. It’s Justin, although they don’t know the significance of Justin, of course, since Ellie hasn’t said anything about him. Chuck winds up hanging precariously from a ledge only to be saved by none other than his father (the big argument comes after this). The team also manages to uncover what was in Shaw’s vault, because Justin had taken it and then dropped it in the chase. It’s Shaw’s “spy will,” essentially a compilation of everything he has learned in his years as a spy.

During all this time, there’s a C story going on at the Buy More involving Jeff, Lester, and Big Mike. It’s not really at all connected to either of the spy stories, and it seems like just an excuse to make sure all the actors are involved in these last few episodes of the season. Big Mike offers to manage Jeffster, but Lester sees hiring a manager as selling out. The band breaks up, with Big Mike trying to briefly manage Jeff’s solo career. That doesn’t go so well, and Big Mike manages to convince Lester to rejoin the band and agree to the management contract. Big Mike accomplishes this feat by telling Lester he was once a member of “Earth Wind and Fire.” At the time, of course, according to Big Mike, it was called “Earth Wind Fire and Rain.” And Big Mike was Rain. This was a light, silly character-focused plot, but now it’s back to our regularly scheduled spy-ish intrigue.

Once Justin is back at his (fake, presumably) office, he uses Ellie’s tracking device to send a squad of goons after Steve. Steve is frantically doing something to a device in his watch when the goons arrive. Luckily for Steve, Sarah and Chuck happen to be on their way to his cabin, too, because Chuck wants to make things right with his dad. Sarah swiped his ID, so she had his address. Which I thought was kind of awesome. Yay Sarah for coming through in a difficult situation! When Steve sees Chuck go all kung-fu on the goons, he figures out that Chuck did indeed download the Intersect 2.0 into his brain. One of my favorite moments of the episode is after the fight, when Steve asks Chuck if Sarah downloaded the Intersect 2.0 as well, and Chuck proudly states that Sarah’s fighting skills are all her.

After the fight, Casey’s investigation into Ellie continues. Casey goes to snoop around Ellie and Awesome’s apartment while he thinks Ellie is at work, but Ellie comes home early, most likely for another secret conversation with Justin. Ellie hears Casey in the house, and since she thinks he’s a double agent, she gets scared. The fact that Justin is on the phone prodding this fear doesn’t help. He tells her to open up a speaker he gave her, and Ellie finds a gun inside it. Justin wants Ellie to shoot Casey. Ellie can’t bring herself to do that, but she does hit Casey over the head with a frying pan. She then runs out of the house and starts crying in Justin’s arms (he just happens to be waiting outside, of course). Justin takes her to his “office” and locks her in.

Elsewhere, Chuck and his dad talk about the Intersect and the effect it can have on the brain. Steve has known for a long time that the Intersect can overload the brain, and he’s done something about it. He has created a device called a Governor for his own use, and that’s what was inside his watch. When the goons were approaching his cabin, he was frantically running tests to see if it would work with the Intersect 2.0 as well. Good news is that it does, and he promises Chuck that he’ll make one for him. Things seems to be going better for Chuck for now. Chuck now realizes the gravity of the lifestyle he’s chosen, and after Sarah gives him her spy will to hold on to, he starts to write his own. It turns out that Chuck has a very good reason to be concerned. In the final scene of the episode, we see that Shaw really is alive again, and he’s downloading the Intersect.

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