Tuesday, October 23, 2007

“A girl that beautiful with a colon that spastic”: Chuck

Last week I noted that the episode’s final scene, in which Chuck appealed in vain for Sarah to tell him something about her that’s true, was affecting enough to make me hopeful for the show’s long-term future. This week, my optimism was rewarded with ‘Chuck versus the Sizzling Shrimp’, the best episode Chuck has produced so far. It was fun, lively, sharply written, but most of all it was sweet, and that a show primarily about secret agents and government secrets can be called sweet is an achievement in itself.

This sweetness came mainly from the scenes between Chuck and Ellie. As I’ve said, Ellie is the most stable figure in the show and in Chuck’s life, and the one who should always bring him back down to earth whenever he gets too caught up in his new life. While Chuck’s irritating duty to his country meant she often didn’t get the chance to do that this week, by the end Chuck was able to appreciate the important things and spend some quality time hanging out with his sis. Writer Scott Rosenbaum brings a deft human touch to this story, to the point where I felt like shouting at Chuck ‘screw national security and go home already!’ Also, Sarah Lancaster is insanely likeable, not to mention pretty.

The spy plot concerned a Chinese intelligence agent trying to rescue her kidnapped brother. It did everything right: plenty of Levi, Baldwin and Strahovski messing around, well-choreographed action sequences, Casey at his funniest and the hilarious bit with Chuck eating shrimp at the stakeout. Every previous episode has lagged at some point or another, but this one sped along nicely and I wasn’t bored for a second.

Most impressive was Morgan’s storyline, because he was much less annoying (thank god). Big Mike starts a sales competition between the Best Buy employees, proclaiming that whoever does the worst will be fired. Unsurprisingly, thanks to his terrible social skills, Morgan is an awful salesman. I actually really felt sorry for the guy. Gomez played Morgan’s ever mounting desperation exactly right, and him and Ellie bonding over their frustration with Chuck was a nice moment. I also enjoyed the complete absence of comradery between the Best Buy co-workers – the rest of the gang not only don’t help Morgan, but scare off the first girl to be legitimately interested in him.

Finally, we got another touching conclusion. Chuck tells Sarah about his and Ellie’s parents – a father who walked out on them, and a mother who they were glad to be rid of. This backstory gives Chuck and Ellie a whole other layer, specifically as a brother-sister unit. With just a few choice lines, Schwartz and co. have depended our understanding of these characters and increased our empathy for them. Suddenly, I feel like I know and like Chuck and Ellie that much better. Geeky as this may sound, it's a nice feeling.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

This was not my favorite episode. I still enjoyed it, but I think I liked last week's a bit more. The Morgan storyline didn't work all that well for me, I found it boring. But I sort of hate Morgan anyway. Just like I hate Sock on Reaper! Quippy, clingy sidekicks, go away!