Monday, March 8, 2010

Review - Chuck Season 3 Episode 9 Chuck Versus the Beard

"Because the only thing I hate more than hippie and neo-liberal fascists and anarchists are the hypocrite fat cat suits they eventually grow up to be." John Casey, you are a gentleman and a scholar. The quote pretty much summarizes just how damn awesome the episode was.

In a sea of relationship melodrama this season, it was refreshing to see an episode which was all about fun. I haven't been a fan of this Chuck/Sarah/Shaw/Hannah business (read my explanation in previous reviews), so I thoroughly enjoyed the episode with on a slight hint of relationship stuff. The condensed 13-episode order forced the writers to shorten up the arc, and have important episode after important episode--mostly pertaining to relationships. Although "Chuck Versus the Beard" was, without a doubt, a gamechanger which will have a lasting impact on the show, the significance, at least for this week, was lost in the sheer awesomeness of the episode.

At the first, the episode seemed like it would be ending again with Chuck in the dumps. Morgan calls Chuck into his tiny office and fires him as a best friend. Already, things look rocky for Chuck. Then, Sarah, Shaw, and Casey leave without him because he hasn't flashed for weeks. As good as Chuck is, he's still nothing minus the Intersect. The mission is to find a CIA agent who the Ring is trying to turn. The agent is Captain Awesome, but Casey soon discovers it is a setup to lure the agents away from the Castle.

Back at the Buy More, there are buyers for the store who are interviewing everyone, but they are actually Ring agents out to find Agent Carmichael. They scour the store, and find the entrance to the Castle behind the lockers. While they do that, Morgan is hidden atop a vending machine, and follows them into the Castle. By now, there's no turning back. Morgan finds Chuck, and they plan on being proactive. Of course, they are caught immediately and tied up. The Ring agents confront them, and Chuck tries to talk his way out of it. The agent threatens to torture Morgan unless Chuck tells the truth. He does, spilling the beans on everything, shocking Morgan in the process, and signing their death warrant. While The Ring agents are off dancing in a field of flowers with unicorns, (Seriously, where were they?) Chuck retells his story from the very beginning, starting with Bryce sending the email.

Luckily, we didn't have to sit through Chuck telling everything to Morgan--a tale that probably took an hour to tell--so in the meantime, there was a lot going on above ground in the Buy More. Lester had heard through a planted microphone that the buyers were planning on keeping Chuck and Morgan and terminating the rest. Big Mike gives a rousing speech, and the BuyMorians take up arms (nerf guns). Nothing really comes of it, but Jeffster made their triumphant return with Credence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son."

Chuck's reconnection with Morgan opens up his Intersect power, and he bashes the Ring agents to the ground. I'm not a big fan of Morgan, but he was great in the second-half of the episode. Bashing the Ring agent who is about to square off with Chuck was icing on the cake.

Sarah and Shaw have a minor disagreement about when to self-destruct the Castle. I thought that angle could have been played up more since didn't have as much tension as expected though that was probably because Chuck and Morgan were the focus of the episode.

At the end of the episode, Awesome recognizes the extreme danger he puts himself and Ellie in. He wants to go to Africa with Ellie to join Doctors Without Borders and get away from everyone. I haven't heard anything about them getting written out, but it would sure seem like that.

There's a cliffhanger in the end, and for those who read the synopsis for the next episode, it's clear who was calling. I don't want to spoil anyone who hasn't read it, so if you want to know more, go look it up elsewhere online.

It would be neglectful of me if I didn't point out the plot holes, which were out in full force. The Ring once again strikes at the heart of Operation Bartowski, infiltrating the Castle and discovering who Agent Carmichael is. The result? Absolutely nothing. Since they blocked ALL communication, the agents couldn't get word out to Ring headquarters. It looks like The Ring is as stupid as Fulcrum. Their priorities lie in waiting around rather than informing superiors about their prime target. The writers are content to keep going on like this, and the rest of the show is strong enough not to be too annoyed. Considering how low the ratings are compared to what they should be, I wonder if more people would watch if the show had less plot holes. It's not like the writers even try hard to make up an excuse. The randomly inserted explanation was extremely thin.

The show has taken a different route this season with Chuck maturing as a spy in a way Sarah doesn't like. I love the direction the show is going in with regards to Chuck's character, but the episode. which had none of that, hearkened back to the earlier season when so many things weren't going on, and the comedy and action were off the hook. There was still a touch of the third season as Chuck does struggle with his secret, and reiterates his love for Sarah even though he tries to keep his feelings under wraps. This was the last episode for Scott Rosenbaum who departed for V, so it was nice seeing him go out on top.

Score: 9.6/10

Passing Thoughts:

One of the big news stories that came out of the renewal last year was the support of Subway. After all the fans went out and bought footlongs from the franchise (I can proudly say I actually did something this time.). there was news of product integration. The initial thought was that the Orange Orange would be replaced with a Subway, but until now, there wasn't a peek of Subway. Chuck and Morgan eat meatball subs while playing Duck Hunt, and the subs are showing.

The spy world seems very fond of using Creative products for their hacking needs. The Ring agent uses a Creative Zen X-Fi to get into the Castle behind the lockers, and later, Casey uses a Creative Zen Vision W to try to get in.

What kind of revolt happened at BuyMoria? The juxtaposition of revolution and WWII didn't really make sense to me. I'd think invoking left-wing revolutionaries would make more sense than raising the flag on Iwo Jima or the kiss in Time Squares. There was also a bit of counter-culture infused with "Fortunate Son." I guess the weird mixture of ideas is the Buy More.
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