Chuck 4.8 Review (spoilers)

Well played, Chuck, well played.

I was expecting a self-contained episode.  I was expecting Chuck to figure out why he wasn't able to access the Intersect and to be back in form by the end of the hour.  But that's not at all what I got.  What I got was enjoyable and opened the doors for a lot of different paths for them to take going forward.

Picking Up the Pieces

The theoretical story I concocted for last season involved Chuck slowly going insane because of the Intersect, to the point where it was controlling his actions (he would eventually kill someone because of it, then completely shut down and end up in a coma).  They tapped into this a bit last season, but I always like it got the short end of the stick, that there was much more they could do with the mental implications of the Intersect.  Part of that, I assumed, was due to the fact that they introduced this angle during the extra 6 episodes NBC gave them last season, so most of what they covered then had to be brief.

It would appear that the writers were just as eager to dig into Chuck's head as I was.

I particularly liked how they tied this into Chuck's dependence on Sarah, as well as Sarah's view of Chuck as a spy.  While the details might be extraordinary, the issues themselves are very true to most relationships.  Even better is the fact that these problems stem from the very core of what Chuck and Sarah are looking for in each other.  Chuck has always relied on Sarah for strength, as she is a focused, together person, which Chuck has never really been.  On the other hand, Chuck has a relatively normal life, one that Sarah has always wanted, at least in theory.  Chuck being a spy undercuts that part of her attraction to him and, in many ways, it seems like she considers his actions to be more like playing a spy than actually being a spy.  Sarah holds on to this idea, as if the fact that's only playing keeps him from becoming something she doesn't want him to be.

So how do they fix this?  Clearly, Chuck has to stand on his own two feet, like Agent Rye said, and Sarah needs to accept that Chuck really is a spy, and that he's doing it for the right reasons.  But that's only how they fix their relationship.  How do they fix the Intersect?

About halfway through this episode I kind of mumbled my theory to my wife: Chuck has to save Sarah.  We have seen Sarah save Chuck repeatedly over the last four years and it looks like, from the preview for next week, that we are going to see Sarah do it again.  But I think the rock that Chuck needs to life will only be moved if he sees Sarah in real danger and has to act to save her.  He might have done it once before in Season Three, but he probably considers it something of a fluke, particularly compared to all the times she's saved him.

Also, there's something to be said for their emotional attachment making them better spies, a lesson that Chuck, at least, is trying to figure out.

Agent Rye

Rob Riggle was great.  It's not often a one episode guest star gives the show so much, but he was just fantastic.  He was just so sincere and enthusiastic about each decision.  Every time he came up with a way to up the stakes, I laughed.  Heck, his introduction alone was great, and a nice nod towards the fact that Chuck, even without the Intersect, has learned a few things (and has guts).

Operation: Geta Greta

Speaking of guest stars, Summer Glau took on the role of Greta during a week which saw easily the most substantially part of the rotating CIA agent.  Glau's come a long way since being a ballet dancer in an episode of Angel.  This was a good story for the Buy Morons and those of us who watched Firefly appreciated the tiny shout out the writers threw in (when Casey tells Greta he doesn't know what kind of crew she used to work with).

The Loose Ends

While this episode was sufficiently packed, Ellie and Awesome were noticeably absent.  I realize that a show like this can't have all the secondary characters in every episode, but given the events of the last episode, it's something of a hole.  What does Ellie know?  Does she think her mom is still in CIA custody?  Does she know she betrayed Chuck and blew up their old house?

I have a feeling we're not going to get any of those answers next week, but episode 4.10 is supposed to be a Thanksgiving episode...

What Will They Do?

Digging into Chuck's brain gives the writers a lot of room to play with.  I've ever heard it suggested by some that Chuck will get some kind of amnesia and/or forget who Sarah is.  I find all of that kind of a stretch, but it would be interesting to see a substantial change to Chuck.  Then again, we should be able to assume that we'll get a twist with this, if for not other reason than...

We still don't know his mom was talking about.

Remember, Frost used the device on Chuck and said "Your father never wanted you to see this."  Burying the Intersect isn't really something his father would have had a problem with, so it stands to reason that Frost did something else to Chuck, something that has become the metaphorical rock Rye was talking about.  But what is it?

We're 1/3 of the way through the season and things are starting to pick up -- it will be interesting to see if they've changed the structure of the season because of the additional episodes.