Blame it on travel, blame it on all sorts of behind the scenes problems and technical issues — yet no matter how I spin this, the fact remains that I have neglected the Chuck beat for the past two weeks. I should be — nay, am — ashamed that I have not been here to recap for you two of the best shows we’ve seen from the Chuck team. I shall take my lashings, should you decide to deliver them in the comment area below, but I would like to make up for it in a small way by providing my thoughts on the past two episodes in one big recap. Also, we can tie these two episodes into some important news for the future of the series — a future that is still somewhat uncertain.
If there is one thing that we’ve loved about Chuck the character in the past, it is that he isn’t very good at all of this spy stuff. In fact, more often than not it is Chuck who is putting the mission in jeopardy by not staying in the car. But whether it is his geeky curiosity or his love for Sarah, Chuck has always gotten out of the car, into the way and ultimately into the hero’s seat. It is a formula that has worked wonders for show creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, succeeding on the shoulders of Zachary Levi’s lovable performances, Adam Baldwin’s quick wit and Yvonne Strahovski’s low-cut shirts.
In season two, however, fans have had mixed reactions to Chuck’s ever-growing aptitude for the spy game. We were led to believe that Superspy Charles Charmichael, as he likes to be called, was actually a decent spy rather than a tech supporter with an exciting night life. This might have been frustrating for some, but if you’ve been reading my recaps then you know that I was handling it quite well. The push-pull nature of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship was enough to keep my simple mind entertained.
For the rest of you, it has taken eight episodes of season two to get it right — and get it right they did. In episode 7, “Chuck vs. The Fat Lady,” we saw the emergence of Jill, played by Jordana Brewster, a love triangle wrinkle even more dangerous than when Bryce Larkin (Matthew Bomer) showed up earlier in the season. And of course, as we could have expected, Jill turns out to be a bad girl. Didn’t Chuck every watch D.E.B.S? Jordana Brewster is obviously going to turn out to be part of some secret scheme — and she’s going to look good doing it. And even though the episode did involve some Agent Walker as a call-girl moments — which I can’t complain about — it felt really lackluster, at least until the final moments. The show did shine, however, in the glory of one of its most entertaining side stories, brought to life courtesy of Arrested Development’s Tony Hale. My only hope is that Emmett Milbarge sticks around, at least for a few episodes.
And of course the final moments of episode 7 left us with what we had been hoping for all along — on one hand, it was apparent that Chuck was finally going to get laid. And on the other, he once again proves his lack of spy skills by falling right into the arms of a FULCRUM agent. And in this past week’s episode, “Chuck vs. The Gravitron” we were given a Thanksgiving treat — finally, Chuck goes back to using his geek brain to outwit an enemy, rather than doing all of that silly spy stuff. That, and the scene in which Chuck escapes from Leader (Patrick Killpatrick) by using The Gravitron at the carnival was pretty damn funny. Also, side note, we so often overlook the brilliance that is Mark Christopher Lawrence as Big Mike — he is just one of those characters that makes Chuck such a special show.
As a Chuck fan from the beginning, I am very happy with the way “Chuck vs. The Gravitron” ends. On one hand, it would have been fun to see Sarah get to take out Jill, as Yvonne on Jordana action would be much more interesting to watch than the Yvonne on Nicole Richie we’ve seen in the past. But ultimately the writers are able to close the book on Jill’s storyline and leave enough room for her to make a return at a later date. More importantly, the final moments of episode eight show us that Chuck’s relationship with Sarah is still strong — something that will cause serious problems in the final five episodes of the season. If anything, these past two episodes have done well to inject some life into a show that was bordering on becoming a little stale, at least for some fans.
And as we look ahead, we see some exciting things on the horizon. For one, it was announced this week that Battlestar Galactica hottie Tricia Helfer will make a one episode guest spot as a potential replacement for Sarah. She will play a sexy, by the book Agent who tries — much to the delight of Casey — to get Chuck in line and keep his relationship with Sarah from getting out of hand. This is exciting because, well, who doesn’t like a little Tricia Helfer every once in a while? I know I do.
But will the great cameos and continued geekiry of Chuck translate into a 2009 extension? That is a question that has been plaguing fans all week, ever since NBC’s post-holiday schedule announcement was curiously Chuck-less. Fans can find a little comfort though, as sources inside NBC are saying that Chuck will return in February. This is good, as the loss of both Pushing Daisies and Chuck in one season could be enough to drive me mad. Personally, I am still very much on the Chuck bandwagon — it is still filled with as much geek-infused fun and sexiness as ever, and it should continue on the same path as the second season draws to a close. We can only hope, though, that some of these future cameos can help drive those ratings up — because it is undenyable that Chuck is one of those poor, unfortunate shows on the edge.
One final thought — if any of you think that Chuck has lost its geek-cred, this season’s tenth episode is titled “Chuck vs. The Delorean” and it guest stars Gary Cole. Here’s a teaser picture from that episode:
In a word, “Yes!”
Read More: Chuck Recaps
How do you feel about season two of Chuck so far? Are you digging the cameos and the love triangles, or do you think they should go another direction?