Chuck (S02E01): “Chuck Versus the First Date”

Grade: A

I casually caught a few episodes from Chuck’s shortened first season and enoyed what I saw, but after hearing internet rumblings that the new season was amazing, even being compared to my favorite current show Pushing Daisies, I had to give it a look for myself. And the buzz was right, because Chuck’s season premiere is what all those comic spy movies wish they could be.

If, like me, you weren’t a religious follower of the show thus far, don’t worry. The recap near the beginning was more than enough to set me straight with who was who and what was going on, and after that brief recap the series glides into a new arc, that seemingly sets the stage for some big changes to come.

Zachary Levi is that kind of guy that’s a little geeky, but can easily get any hot chick he wants, and I sort of envy, admire, and hate him for that at the same time. If I were to list my TV man crushes (and there is no shame in having a couple of ’em), I’d say he might be number two on the list, right after Lee Pace. Not all shows these days have great lead characters, and often times I find myself drawn more to the supporting cast, but Chuck is the name of this show for good reason, because Levi delivers in every scene. Also, his faux/real flame, CIA agent Sarah Walker, played by the beautiful, but hard to pronounce Yvonne Strahovski, makes for nice eye candy throughout, whether she’s filling up your screen wearing only bra and panties or scissor kicking the crap out of evil villains. And the rest of the cast is charming as well, though I can only stand so much of Chuck’s long time pal and co-worker, Morgan.

The story for season wastes very little time kicking off the parking break after a writer’s strike induced hiatus, and details of the episode can be found below.

Bad guys apparently enjoy dangling Chuck over ledges, because that’s exactly the position we find him in in the opening. His CIA pals, smoking hot Sarah and slightly less hot John, come to his rescue and they manage to get their hands on the cipher, a device that holds all the governments secrets. Chuck absorbed the original version of this thing, called the Intersect, and became the government’s living, breathing well of secrets. Now, with the new model ready, Chuck can go back to being a normal computer tech guy. Of course, there wouldn’t be a show if that happened, now would there?

The NSA (I think) orders John to eliminate Chuck, since he is too much of a liability. John seems hesitant, but doesn’t protest. Meanwhile, Chuck is waking up on a world that seems normal once again, and he can’t help but tap into his inner child and have a good jump on his bed. He’s in super high spirits until he walks into the bathroom and sees his sister, Captain Awesome, and Captain Awesome’s Junk in the shower. This makes for a very awkward breakfast. But once they move past that, Chuck professes his desire to quit his job at Buy More and to make something of his life, and this news makes his Sister positively Giddy.

On a roll, Chuck finds the courage to ask Sarah out on a real date and seems surprised when she pretty quickly says yes. They decide to meet that night and a montage ensues of Chuck trying to find a good shirt, Sarah in some bite-your-fist undergarments, and John putting on a suit, tie and his handy pistol, carrying a bullet with Chuck’s name on it.

As Chuck and Sarah have a moving conversation where they tell each other how hot they both are and how smart they both are and etc etc (Really, it was touching), John is playing target practice with revolving pictures of Bin Laden, Hitler and Chuck, but his bullet misses Chuck for some puzzling reason. Uh-oh, do I suspect he might…like him? A messenger arrives at John’s house to pick up the cipher, but turns out to be in cahoots with the bad guys. He steals the cipher and sprays John with a face full of some deadly powdered sugar, leaving him writhing on the floor looking like a reject Joker from Batman. About that time, Chuck is going in for a kiss with Sarah when his abilities as the Intersect kick in. He realizes everyone in the restaurant is there to capture them, and seconds later they’re surrounding by a mob of goons with guns and knives, and one very scary black man (guest star Michael Clark Duncan). John saves the lovebirds from their bloody Dim Sum by crashing a car through the wall and delivering the cheesiest line of his life (“Did anyone order takeout?”, or something along those lines), but not before getting a good punch in the face courtesy of Duncan and his ruby ring of wrath.

The next day starts the same way the previous one did, except this time there’s no impromptu bed jumping party for Chuck. He’s no longer a free man and back to being the Intersect. He trudges into work, still wanting to quit and move on–travel the world, go back to school–when his boss calls him in and offer shim a promotion to assistant manager. In a move that surprises all his coworkers, especially Morgan, he turns it down. His punishment, however, is to choose the next asst. manager himself. He holds some interviews where we learn some disturbing things about the strange crew he works with, until he eventually hands off the duty of picking someone to Morgan. He trusts Morgan will make a wise decision. Morgan’s “wisdom” comes in the form of a cage match between employees. To the victor goes the position!

Chuck gets a computer tech call and heads out, only to find himself at a warehouse with Duncan and his goons, who have the cipher. Using some quick thinking and his nerdtastic knowledge of online gaming, he bluffs that there are a whole host of agents surrounding the place. He calls Morgan, still busy with his cage match of promotion, who repeats the exact number of troops stationed outside, though he of course thinks they’re talking about his extremely complicated strategy for the online game Call of Duty. Duncan finally gets freaked, which gives Chuck enough time to snatch the Cipher and run. He’s caught and, wouldn’t you know it, dangled over another building. And as if they have a “Chuck’s dangling over a building” sensor built into their brains, Agent Sarah and John show up to save the day. Then Duncan’s goons show up to ruin the day again. Then Chuck (who was dropped over the ledge, but caught by John), shows up with a whole team of decked out CIA peeps to save the day once more. Whew.

Once again, they have the cipher in hand and Chuck can go back to being normal. Once again, we all know this show would end if he goes back to being normal, so something is going to happen. And it does.

John’s orders to whack chuck or reinstated, though he does argue it this time, but to no avail. He sneaks into Chuck’s place while he’s trying his damndest to prepare a nice dinner for Sarah. As the pieces are falling into place for tragedy (gasp!), the cipher is being booted up and a bunch of the Men in Black are standing around in anticipation (Can you spot Will Smith?). But as soon as it loads up, the agents realize it’s not the real cipher–it’s a trojan horse. The whole facility blows up, and Sarah shows up at Chuck’s place to cancel the date, relaying the bad news. John overhears this from his hiding spot and leaves, Chuck’s life once again spared.

With Chuck still the Intersect, he settles back into the life he’s slowly become accustomed to (Buy More employee by day, secret agent by night). The new assistant manager, crazy Lester who made his own Wikipedia page, is already being a douche and Morgan is going on about someone eating 90 twinkies, but Chuck seems oddly enough content about it all, even getting pumped about the possibly deadly twinkie eating extravaganza. The. End.

(Note: This episode is airing a week early on Hulu.com as part of an advanced sneak peek, so if you don’t want to wait until it premieres on NBC you can check it out over there. The quality is surprisingly good, even when blown up to full screen, and it’s 100% legal, in case you were wondering).

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7 Responses to “Chuck (S02E01): “Chuck Versus the First Date””

  1. Having seen the premiere (although I’m waiting to review it until it airs through normal channels), I completely agree – it’s a sharply constructed episode to reintroduce the characters, back themselves out of their corner of sorts that they set up at the end of the shortened first season, and also to display how much fun the show can have with humour, romance, antics, etc.

    I’ve got to think there’s a reason that NBC, with only six episdes in the can, upped the series to a 22-episode order: creatively speaking, the show seems to be running on all cylinders.

  2. scenescreen Says:

    Yeah. And I was thoroughly impressed on how easy it was to get into this show without having seen everything beforehand, while over on Heroes I had a hard time swallowing everything even after being around since day one.

    I didn’t even know that NBC had already upped the series order, so that’s great news. This show wasn’t even on my radar several weeks ago, but I’m now planning on sticking with it for the season and beyond.

  3. […] aired an episode. And when the first episode streamed on Hulu.com, iTunes and Amazon a week ago, reviews were simple: this is a show that knows where it’s […]

  4. Who the fuk is John…It’s Casey.

  5. scenescreen Says:

    Well, Jax, that’s his full name. So I used that. Sorry if it, umn, upset you?

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