Monday, 25 January 2010

Chuck vs Operation Awesome

When Chuck first returned to our screens a couple of weeks ago I wrote that something didn't feel right. The whole dynamics of the gang had changed and as I'm a creature of habit, I don't like change. Well this week's episode blew all of that right out of the water. It was, as far as I'm concerned, the best episode of Chuck yet.

Last week's episode left us on a major cliffhanger; a Ring agent had mistaken Awesome for a CIA spy with his fate left unknown, and this episode resumed where the last left off.

Immediately we were introduced to a new Ring operative, Sidney Prince who believed Devon to be a world class spy and wouldn't hear otherwise. So whilst Chuck's is freaking out about his brother-in-law's fate in the Castle, she's prepping Awesome about an upcoming mission that if he fails to complete, will result in death. I was initially worried that the episode would centre around team Bartowski's rescue mission but luckily less than 10 minutes Devon turns up the Buy More equipped with a phone for Sidney to contact him on, and the plan to aid Awesome was in action, the problem being the Ring think he's Chuck. Devon later arrives at Casey's with a box and receives instructions from Sidney to put on the headset for her to communicate with him and the GPS tracking watch. Oh and one small thing, act against orders or remove the headset and she will detonate the earpiece as it's rigged with explosives.

One of the best things about this episode is that it the transition of the characters felt natural. Awesome becomes all but a season 1 Chuck stand in. He's the nervy newcomer into the spy world and looks to Chuck for reassurance, therefore Chuck has to play Sarah's role. I thought it was great to see Chuck become more independent and more confident in his new career. Anyway the mission Devon was sent on left me reeling, I love it when a TV show makes me GOL (gasp out loud) and this week's episode was full of GOL moments. Devon (heavily aided by Chuck) had to follow Sidney's instructions and make his way to the 12th floor of the Crystal Towers. By the way how much did love Chuck's precautions to avoid Devon confusing both his GPS watches by labelling them 'Good Guys', 'Bad Guys' - brilliant! Anyway once they reach the 12th floor, (after an amazing tranq gun display by Chuck), Sidney's instructions become a lot more menacing and the storyline becomes a lot juicier. Sidney's instructions are to kill the man occupying the 12th floor, but just as they arrive Chuck observes that they are in a CIA office and loses contact with Casey and Sarah, who have remained in the car to capture Sidney.

Gasp no. 1: The mission is a set-up, and Sarah and Casey are in lock-down in the van. Chuck and Awesome are on their own, and Sidney's on her way to the 12th floor.

Gasp no. 2: the guy on the 12th floor is more than aware who Chuck and Awesome are, and instructs Chuck to shoot him after popping a pill. Chuck's aversion to guns poses as a problem though and he can't bring himself to do it. So the guy shoots himself and tells Chuck to put the gun in Devon's hand, hide, and read this note when it's all over. Who is this mystery man?!

So the plan goes smoothly and Sidney, believing Devon to have successfully completed the mission by himself, removes the ear piece, welcomes him to the Ring and informs him that she'll be in touch.

This is when Devon proves his worth again, the note reveals that mystery man took amiodarone which stopped his heart and that they are to save him. An injection of adrenaline does the trick and we find out that mystery man is actually CIA Agent Daniel Shaw, who is in charge of the operation to bring down the Ring. Next problem; as far as Sidney is concerned, Devon is still a world class spy and has now gained entrance into the Ring.

Back in the Castle we learn more info about Agent Shaw. The General reveals that he has global control over any mission involving the Ring and he knows everything there is to know about Operation Bartowski; including Chuck and Sarah's relationship. Shaw states that the next game plan is to use Devon as a mole in the Ring, this once again freaks Chuck out as he's reluctant to involve Awesome in anything else spy related. Shaw confronts Chuck to state a better plan and we see Chuck's Nerd Herd skills come to use. He manages to tap into the phone and call Sidney, revealing that Devon had been a proxy and he was the spy she was seeking, and arranges a meeting at...where else but the Buy More.

Sidney and back-up arrive, but would you believe it intersect fail. Chuck is left unarmed and helpless against the bad guys, who as a result don't believe his claim. Shaw orders Casey and Sarah to refrain from helping Chuck as he brought the situation on himself. But ignoring orders Casey and Sarah go and rescue their asset. It all once again comes down to Chuck's inability to use a gun. Casey takes out the back up and we have the weekly girl on girl fight. But when it comes down to Chuck to finish Sidney off he just can't pull the trigger. Luckily Agent Shaw can. He also doesn't like guns, but states it helps to know how to use one. So with that, Sidney is dead and Devon is officially free.

At the debriefing, Shaw reprimands Chuck for letting his emotions get in the way and cause him to disobey orders. He looks to Sarah to support him saying that his dedication to his family will make him vulnerable. She disagrees, giving hope to all us Chuck-Sarah fans, and looks at Chuck poignantly saying 'sometimes it helps to know you have something to lose.'

Intermittently there was a brilliant Buy More storyline. Chuck's emotional stress at the beginning of the episode meant that he was unable to control the intersect. He'd already offended a Japanese customer (in fluent Japanese) and when Lester began play fighting with him when asking who would win in a fight, Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal, the intersect went into full kung fu mode and floored Lester with a roundhouse kick. Unfortunately the adrenaline made Lester feel alive for the first time since his Bar Mitzvah and prompted him to create a Buy More fight club. Cue all the Buy More employees walking around with pretty impressive shiners and sunglasses, and a fabulous cage fighting scene. Big Mike, who had been impressed with Morgan's recent commanding of respect from his peers, promoted Morgan to Assistant Manager, so it was down to our favourite hairy one to close down the fight club, humiliating Lester in front of the store with the threat of a sacking.

So the episode ended on a high, but not without the weekly tease of a new mystery. Team Bartowski were joined by Morgan and the Awesomes at Chuck's bachelor pad for a nice meal of sushi (courtesy of Morgan) but were watched by Agent Shaw on CCTV fondling a wedding ring. What is this mystery? Has Shaw lost his wife? Does she look like Sarah? (He did seem to be looking at her oddly.) Luckily we have less than 24 hours from me writing this blog to find out.

Thank heaven for small mercies!

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