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

Chuck: "Chuck Versus The Fear Of Death"

Illustration for article titled Chuck: "Chuck Versus The Fear Of Death"
TV ReviewsAll of our TV reviews in one convenient place.

Last night's Chuck was pretty great if I don't think about it too much. The CIA, in an attempt to restart the Intersect in Chuck's mind, brings in Jim Rye (Rob Riggle) to make that happen. Rye's theory is that Chuck needs to feel legitimately afraid for his life, without a safety net, in order to access the database that's all been scrubbed. So Rye sneaks into Chuck's house, accompanies him to Switzerland for a solo mission, and forces Sarah to stay away even when she's direly needed.

A couple of important points come out of these tests. Sarah, who has always been Chuck's biggest champion, doesn't have faith in Chuck as a spy. It turns out all this time, when she was telling Chuck that he didn't need the Intersect to be a spy … that was a lie. She knows he needs the Intersect. Seriously, I guess every single thing she's said about what makes Chuck different has been a lie, and the show's backtrack is only masked by her genuine fear for Chuck's safety. But we also see that Chuck can somewhat fend for himself. He doesn't have the ass-kicking and narrow-escaping skills at his beck and call, but he has instincts garnered from years of missions (though strangely what impresses Rye the most is Chuck's ability to remember to bring the diamond magnifying glass-thing on a mission involving looking at diamonds). He's not just a "guy with a spy girlfriend," though many people in this episode say as much.

There was a lot to like about "The Fear Of Death." The show continued its streak of real, honest-to-goodness stakes started by the last two episodes. Chuck's life is in danger, and his friends are reacting accordingly. In addition, the episode fights the urge to wrap things up come closing credits, making this the third episode in a row with a genuine cliffhanger. (Why the show had all those filler episodes at the beginning of season four, I'll never know.) Rob Riggle fits the show well, infusing his signature genial goofiness into the role, which worked as a natural counterpart to his intense spy scenes. The episode also took characters to places they haven't yet been on the show. Casey is anxious from having not done a mission in over a month, and his frustration comes out in lines like "I've got an itchy trigger finger. Literally."

Over at the Buy More, Lester and Jeff become suspicious of the new Greta, played by Summer Glau. This segment was a mixed bag. On the one hand, Summer Glau. On the other, the show gave her precious little to do. Jeffster creep her out, and she talks to Morgan about how she has a way of taking care of those sorts of people, producing a knife with a menacing look in her eyes. This repeats itself, and in the end, there's not much of a confrontation (though there is a mini-Firefly reunion when Casey comes in). Jeff and Lester get some good lines in and otherwise distract from the great Chuck stuff happening over in Switzerland. The show smartly folded the spy world with the Buy More world as much as it could. It just may not have been enough to get me to care about it.

The rest of my complaints come in the form of pipe-dream nit-pickiness. Like, for example, those special effects in the lift were terrible. Same with Sarah driving in the car, which was a scene that existed only to get Sarah in Switzerland … then immediately back to Burbank? And it's a bit annoying that the show is already giving too much away about the next episode. Just before he dies, Rye says to Chuck, "Give in to the fear." Wanna bet Chuck'll fix the Intersect by giving in to the good instead? Or was this all an elaborate test, and Rye's not really dead?

And why did Chuck's mom do this to him anyways?

Stray observations:

  • "Sounds like candor."
  • "The Belgian … bet I know how he likes his waffles."
  • Richard Chamberlain played the Belgian and also Dr. Kildare.