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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Tic Tac"

Illustration for article titled Chuck: "Chuck Vs. The Tic Tac"
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If there's some rule etched down on the 15th level of The A.V. Club's subterranean headquarters against giving out two A's in a row,  I haven't read it, nor do I have the security clearance to get down there anyways. (Maybe someday, guys?) But here I go, with no feelings or emotions or fear of the consequences. Because while last week's epitomized just how much fun you can have on TV, this week's stellar episode was about as drama-filled and spy-centric as we've gotten in Chuck's entire run.

The spy angle is more than welcome. The show often talks about being a "real spy," and we catch glimpses of it here-and-there (a flash, a punch, a file on a perp). But tonight was the first episode in a long while where I felt completely enveloped into the spy world. There were the small details, like the team being tasked to break in-proof the base and Chuck flipping past walls of sharp darts, and Casey leaving five matches in a book as a signal to Sarah. There was the double crossing: Casey, it turns out, had been recruited by a Ring operative long ago who calls on favors every so often, so tonight he steals something out from the CIA's nose in front of Chuck; later, Chuck thinks what he saw was part of a training simulation on turning in your friends, so he exposes Casey in front of Sarah and General Beckman in a scene I'd modestly call "pretty intense." There was the epic Chuck Vs. Everybody fight sequence, featuring an emotionless Chuck (thanks to a new wonderdrug developed by the military) slowly turning into the brute Casey has always been—and Sarah looking on in horror.

Was it a little hokey that Chuck needed to suppress his "feelings" that were "getting in the way" of being a "real spy"? Yes. Do I see where this is going: Chuck becomes a merciless killing machine and then at the last minute remembers his Chuck-ness and decides to hold off? You know, for the first time, I'm not too sure. I'm guessing they can't stray too far away from the good-natured Chuck we've all known since season one, but I'm beginning to wonder just how dark the show is going to get. We saw tonight what Casey would do when someone he loves is put on the line—Casey, of all people, Mr. Stoic; and we're talking about Chuck here, who actually does have feeling that make him do crazy things. He now has the abilities to back up what he'd like to do, and it's becoming clear that Ellie, Awesome, and Morgan can be just at stake as Sarah. Chuck got merely a taste of his raw power tonight, and I'm curious as hell to see how far into darkness the show is going to let him fall.

This episode also demonstrated that bringing Awesome and Morgan into the fold was probably a good idea. Obviously, Morgan proves to be a huge help tonight—his fooling around spying on Casey leads Chuck to the Robert Patrick character, and Morgan's loyalty to Chuck allows for the safe intersection of the pill. Plus, any decisions he and/or Awesome make now have a sense of urgency behind them. Awesome, focused on getting Ellie to safety, staunchly defends his decision to enlist in Doctors Without Borders, and even though he's shattering Ellie's dreams, we can all forgive him. His decision to fall back on what Ellie really wants to do—stay in So. Cal. for another job—is that much more touching given he knows the dangers he's putting her through. I'm not looking forward to more Buy More segments, which will probably feel that much more removed from what's going on around them, but for the time being, there's some real stakes on this show.

Stray observations:

  • "Condor Ladyfingers" is the name of my new improv group.
  • Does Frightened Rabbit have some deal with Chuck? Even more Scottish rock tonight, off its new album.
  • Casey's decision not to even attempt to get to know his daughter is a heartbreaking one, but I guess he's John-Freakin'-Casey.