Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chuck 3.18: "Chuck Versus the Subway"

“Your courage makes me very proud. But there's some battles you have to walk away from.”
-Steve Bartowski

With the name “Chuck Versus the Subway,” I expected this episode of “Chuck” to be the ultimate homage to the fact that “Chuck” was saved last season thanks in part to fans buying foot-long Subway sandwiches every Monday to show their support of the show. The “subway” referred to by the title, however, turned out to be much more literal. Overall, I thought this episode was very effective. There were emotional moments and surprising twists and turns to set up the wild ride that will be the season finale. It was everything that the penultimate episode of a season should be. There was one big reveal that made me happy just because the secret that was revealed had been going on for so long, although the reveal has the potential to fundamentally alter the show.

The episode opens with Chuck hovering over his dad as Steve puts finishing touches on the Governor. As he works, Steve warns Chuck that there may come a time when Chuck will have to abandon the people he loves for their own protection. Chuck doesn’t really want to think of this as a possibility. This is a very interesting arc to watch throughout the episode. Steve has to come to terms with his guilt for what he did to his family, and Chuck has to decide whether or not following in his father’s footsteps is the right thing to do. For the time being, Chuck decides to cling to his Burbank life. Sarah decides he needs a bit of a breather, and they go to a farmer’s market. Chuck’s trying to enjoy the moment, but he’s distracted when he thinks he hears the voice of Shaw. He follows a shadowy figure down into the subway, and when the subway car doors close while Chuck is still on the platform, Chuck can see that he was indeed following Shaw, who has somehow mysteriously risen from the dead (not a first in the universe of “Chuck”…Bryce Larkin, anybody?).

Back at Castle, the rest of Team Bartowski is skeptical about what Chuck said he saw until Steve checks the security footage. It’s undeniable that the person Chuck followed into the subway was Shaw. Sarah and Casey are ready to go after Shaw, but Steve doesn’t want Chuck to join them. Steve is convinces that the whole thing is a Ring trap. Chuck is still determined to stick with those he loves. Since we’re still pretty early in the first episode of a two-parter, it’s not surprising that the mission goes horribly, horribly wrong. The building the team infiltrates is an actual, legitimate CIA office, and General Beckman happens to be there defending the Intersect mission to a tribunal.

Casey and Sarah realize pretty quickly that their target is a real CIA office, but at that point, the group has decided to split up, and they can’t get the information to Chuck in time. Ellie is being held at the office by Justin for her “safety,” and she sees Chuck beat up Justin. She doesn’t know what to think. She’s convinced Justin is good and is wondering how the heck her little brother could be evil. Chuck, Casey, and Sarah all end up in the tribunal room, and Chuck doesn’t really do much to give the higher-ups confidence that he’s not a liability as the Intersect. Things go from bad to worse when the star witness at the hearing is none other than Shaw. Shaw says Chuck is a hero, but the Intersect has made him unstable. He tries to play off the Paris situation as different than it appeared due to Chuck’s delusions. Chuck notices a mannerism of Shaw’s that makes it obvious Shaw has downloaded an Intersect into himself, too. Chuck tries to take down Shaw, but it just gets everyone into deeper trouble. Chuck goes into a holding cell, Casey goes on the run, and Sarah is determined to help Chuck. Sarah sticking with Chuck is pleasantly surprising, considering she just learned that Chuck lied to her about his condition.

After saying goodbye to Sarah (where he actually calls her by her first name…the good Colonel is a bit of a softie after all!), we next see Casey in a diner, where a girl takes his order for pie. It’s obvious he’s a regular customer here, and it’s also obvious that the server is Casey’s daughter, Alex. She doesn’t know she’s his daughter yet, though. Which means she’s really not pleased, to say the least, when Casey forcibly abducts her from the diner. Casey does have a good reason for abducting Alex, though. Justin has appeared in the diner. It’s obvious that the Ring wants to take out the family members of Team Bartowski. Casey takes out Justin with a napkin dispenser as he’s dragging Alex out of the diner. Casey drives Alex to a deserted location and tells her that he’s her father and that everything he owns belongs to her. He gives her a key to his Buy More locker. Alex doesn’t believe him, though, and she’s still understandably freaked out. She proves she’s Casey’s daughter, though. She convinces Casey she’d feel more comfortable talking outside of the car, then she uses some mad self defense skills to get away just as the CIA is closing in.

Elsewhere in Burbank, Ellie and Awesome meet up at their apartment. When Ellie starts to frantically tell Awesome what is going on with Chuck, his first reaction is to be elated that Ellie now knows the truth and he doesn’t have to lie anymore. Needless to say, Ellie is pissed that Awesome has been keeping Chuck’s CIA affiliation a secret from her, but she puts that aside in an effort to help her brother. She wants to know everything Awesome knows about what Chuck has been up to. Awesome realizes that he only knows about a few select missions Chuck’s been on, so he decides to take Ellie to see Morgan, who will almost certainly know everything Ellie wants to know. Morgan and Awesome go down to Castle to find out what’s going on, and what they see on the video screen is kind of disturbing. General Beckman is shredding documents with a vengeance.

Part of what has the General so spooked is that Chuck has managed to escape from CIA custody, mostly thanks to Steve’s computer wizardry. Sarah catches up to Chuck just as he’s about to complete his escape by jumping into Steve’s car. Sarah makes Chuck hesitate a bit, but he ultimately makes the same decision that his father did long ago. He wants to run away to protect the people he loves. After they drive for a little while, though, Chuck changes his mind. Steve had just given him the Governor, and Chuck was visibly more relaxed. Then he gets a call from Morgan, who had just been informed by General Beckman of how bad things had gotten. Chuck can’t just leave Sarah, his friends, and the rest of his family. Steve at first really doesn’t want Chuck to go back, but eventually he sees that his son is right and turns the car around.

To try and fix the situation, Chuck and Steve need help from Ellie. They need her to tell everything she can about her encounters with Justin. Ellie is reluctant at first because she’s angry about all the lies, but Chuck and Steve promise to catch her up once everything has calmed down. When they get to the park bench were Ellie had her rendez-vous with Justin, Chuck and Steve realize the nearby subway stop is probably important. Steve promises Ellie that after this mission, he will never leave her again. And we’ve all watched enough television to know that can’t possibly end well. Inside the subway station, Chuck and Steve find a full-blown Ring lair. Shaw is alerted to intruders in the ring base, and he and his goons catch up to Chuck and Steve quickly. Ellie watches in horror (while hiding) as Shaw kills Steve in an attempt to get Chuck’s emotions to prevent him from using the Intersect.

Alex shows up at the Buy More to use her key, and Morgan saves her from being hit on by Jeff and Lester. Morgan reassures her that Casey is a good guy, and if he said he’s Alex’s dad, it must be true. Morgan and Alex go check out Casey’s locker, and in a secret compartment, they find quite a bit of money. There isn’t much time to be happy, though. Awesome stops by to break the news about what happened to Steve and Chuck. Chuck, Casey, and Sarah are all now in Ring custody, and Shaw is taking them to a secret location where he believes they will never be heard from again. Chuck is utterly defeated and feels like there’s no way they’ll possibly get out of this situation. Despite what he may think, though, there are potential rescuers. Awesome, Ellie, and Morgan aren’t far behind.

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