Contributor: Henry T.
Written by Phil Klemmer and Craig DiGregorio
Directed by Robert Duncan McNeill
After what seems like several epsiodes of sluggish plotting, “Chuck” does come back with a vengeance. The more I watch it, the more I enjoy it. The writers may have bit off more than they could chew with the revelation at the end of the episode and inadvertently complicated the internal logic of the show’s universe, but it seems like a good time had by all. Any episode that pays off a plot point that hasn’t been adequately resolved in the show’s four years deserves praise. With the exception of the minor subplot involving three of the show’s most minor of characters, I thought this was a strong episode that paved the way to the big wedding that will define the season finale that is soon coming.
I liked the initial variety of switcheroos that the episode pulled on us. I was afraid that we would have a “Chuck” version of “The Hangover” with the guys heading to Vegas for Chuck’s bachelor party (and it was subtly funny to me the little detail that Chuck has never been to Las Vegas). Thankfully, Captain Awesome takes all of the guys to Vecas, which is all too appropriate for Awesome’s outdoor appetites, but for none of the other guys.
Before the reveal of the mistaken location, the contrast between bachelor and bachelorette parties could not have been more stark. Ellie, fitting of a new mother, arranges for a relaxing party with just her and Sarah at a spa. The tables are hilariously turned, as the guys have the boring party while the ladies get the raucous party. The guys have the dud bachelor party until it’s discovered that Awesome took the wrong bag and Chuck has the Orion computer that everyone has been hunting for. The fact that it’s revealed how important the Agent X files are to Vivian Volkoff demonstrates the kind of danger all of the guys are in during the bachelor party.
This gives way to a really goofy sequence where Volkoff’s minions try to take the Orion computer, Jeff stumbles into a kinky (for him) interrogation, and Casey single-handedly takes out all of the bad guys in stealth mode while Morgan and Awesome fashion spears, all the while Lester and Big Mike are looking for alternatives closer to the Vegas they were hoping for. I must admit to enjoying the fact that Casey was the only one of the group who went with the flow of everything that was happening. He didn’t complain about the mistaken location and immediately came up with a simple plan to take out Volkoff’s men. Chuck did manage to destroy the Orion computer to prevent Volkoff from getting any more information on Agent X, but most everyone else sat around like buffoons. All the better, as Casey notes they would’ve gotten in the way and probably gotten hurt in the process.
Throughout most of this episode, I questioned what Ellie truly knew before Chuck did the eventual reveal to her. The episode’s middle section clarified everything completely and left nothing in the dark about Chuck’s abilities as a spy and all of the previously secret things he kept from his sister. Ellie also proved adept at putting together the puzzle even with the relative lack of information she had been given thus far.
This almost confirmed my earlier guess that Ellie was Agent X. Of course, that is proven moot by the great mission in England. Apparently, others had guessed that Agent X might be Alexei Volkoff and that was the correct answer here, but I never really considered Volkoff. Nevertheless, the revelation does provide some shading as to the activities of both Bartowski parents in the past 30 years. Perhaps Mary Bartowski volunteered to go into deep cover to correct the huge mistake that the CIA committed in accidentally making one of their scientists into the world’s most dangerous criminal. That task may have been what was passed to Ellie and Chuck to rectify. And there’s also the little problem of Vivian hunting for her own father. That will prove to rear its ugly head by the finale for sure.
I feel like I’m leaving some things out in this review. The mission in England was great, if simply for Mrs. Winterbottom. I knew there was something up with the woman, but I just didn’t expect her to be a machine gun-toting, C4-and-grenade-packing badass that even Casey admired!
I also didn’t particularly like the subplot involving Lester and Big Mike. The second time they did the mistaken location gag in Canada, it had lost some of its comedic luster. The series no longer knows what to do with these supporting characters since they are so separate from the spy game that’s always been the bread-and-butter of the show. They seem to be extra appendages that have become unnecessary to the narrative. The episode also gave too little for Ray Wise to do, which is a shame. Otherwise, this should be the start of some much-needed narrative momentum towards the big events of the finale.