Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chuck: How do I work this?

I have mixed feelings about this latest installment of Chuck. On the one hand, much of what we learn about FULCRUM makes "Chuck vs. the Suburbs" a 'game changer' of sorts, but the sometimes confusing ongoing relationship drama between Chuck and Sarah felt like something was missing. Perhaps it's because this episode was aired out order, getting flip-flopped with next week's "Chuck vs. the Best Friend," and we're just missing some needed context for the extra layer of awkwardness between the two.

In any regard, having Andy Richter guest this week was apropos for NBC, as he's still best known for being the sidekick on the first few (struggling) years of Late Night with Conan O'Brien, making cross-promotion for Conan's farewell week hit that much more at home. While Richter isn't listed as a guest this week for the talk show he left in 2000, it's assumed that he'll turn up at some point. Similarly, while his FULCRUM character on Chuck is assumed to be dead, they've hinted that he'll turn up again at some point, with Casey's comment that he's coming with them for further extraction (ala Fringe?).

Having the seemingly perfect suburbs as a place with a dark secret is pretty well tread territory (see episodes of The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Alias, etc; and films The Stepford Wives, The Wicker Man, etc.,) but it was a nearly perfect setting for the both the theme of divorce and things not being what they seem. And provided the perfect opportunity to give Chuck a painful glimpse of the life that he and Sarah could never have. Just how perfect was it hearing Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" as Chuck takes in his assignment's setting? "This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful wife!"

The two game changing things that come out of this episode are:
1) Chuck has added a new wing to the Intersect mansion in his head. The FULCRUM-centric flashes will no doubt continue to come, and we'll know them by their devilish color.
2) FULCRUM, it appears, is just another top secret government cell working for the US. "We're working to fight tomorrow's wars," says Sylvia (Jenny McCarthy) at one point, in trying to recruit him to the cause. They lie and murder for their cause, so it's a hard sell, but the CIA is no peach either, and at one point was going to have Chuck killed. So, could our heroes pull an Alias, and end up working for the side their currently battling?
3) "Charles Charmichal always comes quickly." 'Nuff said.

Extra: Not that anyone is still watching, but did you notice the NBC Monday night Talking Heads connection? An hour after hearing the Heads on Chuck, Heroes used "Psycho Killer" for a tiny bit of humor on last night's episode as well.

Playlist: Chuck - Episode 2.13
1. "Once in a Lifetime" - Talking Heads
2. "Fever" - Peggy Lee
3. "I Can See Clearly Now" - Johnny Nash
4. "Freeze and Explode" - Cassettes Won't Listen

Previously: One 'D' Too Many (Episode 2.12, 'Chuck vs the Third Dimension')

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