Chuck, "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z": an air duct battle royal

Quick Take: Chuck, "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z"
"Isn't spy sex great?" - Heather Chandler 

Chuck and Sarah

Review: Chuck, "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z"
(S0403) Yesterday, I did a double take when I saw that our fearless leader Eric categorized Chuck under the “Do We Care?” heading in the TVGA Field Report.  My immediate response was something along the lines of “What?!? WHAT?!? OF COURSE WE CARE, YOU MONSTER! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? Listing the beloved Chuck in the same breath as Two and a Half Men… despicable!”  Then I calmed down and realized the most rational response would be to dump a shipment of Subway footlongs on Eric’s house and write a review about my love of Chuck, to prove that at least one of these TV Geeks does, in fact, care.  Because while Chuck will never have great ratings, if word starts to spread that even Internet geeks have lost interest, it could be in trouble.

Of course, if I really wanted to pump up the crowd about Chuck, I probably should have reviewed last week’s episode, or even better, the premiere.  This week’s entry was not its strongest, but there was still plenty to get excited about.  Here’s a quick catch up on where things stand: Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovsky) are together, in a real relationship. The CIA now controls Buy More, but Morgan (Joshua Gomez) is the store manager and it’s running basically like the old Buy More.  Ellie (Sarah Lancaster) and Awesome (Ryan McPartlin) think Chuck has quit spying, but he hasn’t, and has begun trying to track down his mother (Linda Hamilton), who is involved in some shady dealings of her own.

This was basically a bottle episode, meaning that the action took place entirely within the confines of the Buy More and its secret underground spy base (“Castle”).  Previous guest stars “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Nicole Richie made return appearances as villains Hugo Panzer and a Heather Chandler, respectively.  They were being held at Castle for a night before they could be transferred to another facility. Austin is perfect as a grunting muscle-head, and Richie gives a passable though not very layered performance as a feisty mean girl who gets in Sarah’s head.

Naturally, nothing goes smoothly or we wouldn’t have a show.  Hugo breaks out of his cell, and Heather becomes temporary allies with Chuck and Sarah as they chase him through an extremely complex system of air ducts. Heather uses this time together as an opportunity to prod the lovebirds about the status of their unlikely relationship.  She makes note of Chuck’s nerdiness, saying, “I bet you have like a Tron poster in your room,” (he does).  Sarah herself has been a bit apprehensive ever since Chuck mentioned the possibility of kids at the end of last week’s episode.  This created some fun, well-acted exchanges between a skittish Sarah and paranoid Chuck. 

Meanwhile, in a return to its familiar format, we got a Buy More subplot that didn’t really connect with the main story.  I actually have no problem with this, as long as the Buy More story is funny, but this one was lacking in the humor department.  A mob of video game nerds has gathered for the midnight release of the latest big game, “Spy Attack,” but the store did not receive its full shipment of games.  What results is some completely unfunny stalling from Jeffster (who is very hit or miss) and a lot of panic and haplessness from store manager Morgan, though he’s helped out in the end by a returning Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence).  I don’t understand why Morgan didn’t use the extensive CIA resources available to him to help fast-track a shipment, or at least control the riot that ensued.

It all culminates in a couple of unique action sequences and a shootout on the roof.  Casey (Adam Baldwin) takes a bullet (he’ll be all right) and Hugo is apprehended, with some assistance from Big Mike.  The true climax comes when Sarah and Chuck finally sit down to have a chat about their relationship.  They both agree that they should take it slow, until an engagement ring falls from the ceiling.  This was Big Mike’s ring (he is going to propose to Morgan’s mother), but Morgan lost it during the Buy More riot.  As it falls in slow motion down the air shaft, it’s obvious what will happen, and yet it was still excellently directed and created a fantastic, tense moment.  The episode ends on a mini-cliffhanger as Chuck bends down to retrieve the ring and they both take an awkward moment to realize its implications.  

I’m not going to pretend this was the best hour of television ever, or even on Monday night.  I will contend that even a subpar episode of Chuck is better than most things out there. No show more consistently puts a smile on my face, and I feel blessed that it’s survived into a fourth season. The cast is utterly charming, the action is unique and fun, there’s a great mix of hilarious and emotional moments, and the soundtrack is always a highlight. The writers have done a great job with keeping the Chuck-Sarah relationship from becoming stale, and I look forward to the progression of the mother-seeking story arc.  So I encourage you to give Chuck a look. And buy a Subway sandwich while you’re at it. 

More thoughts:

  • Stacy Keibler guest starred as Greta, a CIA representative at the Buy More that is rotating to a different guest star each week.  It's cool to get guest stars on the show, but this role has been pretty pointless so far, and Keibler, while very attractive, did little to change that.
  • As someone who occasionally indulges in WWE wrestling, it was a minor geek out moment to see Keibler, a former WWE diva, interact briefly with Austin. If only we could have seen a Stunner.
  • Casey's daughter has been mentioned each week, but she's yet to appear this season. Hopefully his time off to heal his gunshot wound will allow them to progress that relationship onscreen.
  • I was beginning to quite like seeing Morgan in the spy world.  I hope he isn't just relegated to Buy More duties again going forward.
  • Does anyone else out there care about Chuck? What did you think of last night's episode? Sound off below, and as always you can follow me on Twitter @ACWatt.

    Video: Chuck, "Chuck Versus the Cubic Z"
    Check out the episode in full while available, from Hulu: 

    By Adam Wattenbarger

    About the author

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    2 Comments
    On: Tuesday, October 5, 2010
    Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader" said:

    First of all, it would take a surprisingly small quantity of Subway sandwiches to bury my house... :-) 

    Second, I'm glad that the TVGA field report prompted this level of passion and creative output, can only say that it's (captain) awesome! 

    And we may have to see a change in the "rankings" based on this entry. Great stuff Adam !

    On: Thursday, December 9, 2010
    MattHurst said:

    TV geeks saved Chuck once, and will save him again if needed.  Good season so far, and great review!

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