November 29, 2010

Episode Review: CHUCK, "Chuck vs. the Leftovers"

After a quick detour to the underbelly of Thailand, this week we were back in California for "Chuck vs. the Leftovers", and boy was it a crazy homecoming. While there was a lot going on during this episode, it never got bogged down although a lot of the plot points used tonight were rehashed, which led a slightly above average episode of Chuck.

"Leftovers" started off with Chuck and Morgan prepping for some combat training, which ended up being a pole dancing class. Seeing these two swinging around on stripper poles was too funny for words, and a great way to kick off the episode. From there we learned that Volkoff sent three assassins to take Chuck out, and of course Mary stepped in to save her son. This is when "Leftovers" became "Chuck vs. the Mommy Issues, Pt. 4" because the rest of the episode focused on his inability to trust Mary.

Once Mary was back in Castle, we were in for yet another interrogation which was first interrupted by Chuck, but then Volkoff decided to take over the Buy More. Apparently, Volkoff's been in love with Mary for sometime, and he's come to rescue her from the CIA, which led a tense showdown between him and Team Bartowski. Said tension was broken when Ellie called the Buy More to make sure Chuck was coming over for a post-Thanksgiving dinner. Next we know they're all off to the Awesomes where the family played charades before yet another standoff, but Frost was able to convince Volkoff to spare them.

Initially, I was hesitant about the Momma B arc because so much time would be spent on figuring out which side she was on and how Chuck felt about her. On paper this plot sounds interesting...unless it gets repetitive, and unfortunately the Frost storyline is heading in that direction. It just feels like Chuck's changed his mind about whether he trusts his mother or not about a hundred times, and it's starting to wear thin.

The best aspect of the Bartowski Family Thanksgiving A-plot was Timothy Dalton's triumphant return to the show. Last time, Dalton played the bumbling Gregory Tuttle to perfection before revealing that he was in fact Volkoff. This time around, Dalton played the bad guy just as well, if not better, and he also had the chance to play different notes. Dalton's Valkoff was menacing, funny, and even a little vulnerable all at once. Not many actors could pull off that kind of range within a 40+ minute performance.

Back at the Buy More, Morgan pulled out his best John McClane impression in order to save his friends. You see, Jeff and Lester were duped into letting a pretty lady in to the store after hours, and of course she ended up being one of Volkoff's lackeys. The Buy Morons were used as bargaining chips, and Volkoff threatened to kill them unless he got what he wanted. Even Casey was captured by the baddies, so it was up to Morgan to be the hero, and the Die Hard references started flying all over the place. In the end, it was all for nothing because Volkoff ended up calling off his dogs, so we didn't even get any payoff. Like most Buy Moron plotlines, I just didn't care for what was going on with the characters, and benching Casey yet again was a disappointment.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Chuck and Morgan pole dancing will always be funny.
  • While I was OK with Awesome being brought into the spy world, I'm still afraid that Ellie will end up being an official member of Team Bartowski sooner or later.
  • Speaking of Awesome, the talking to he gave Chuck was a great character moment.
  • Enough with the Subway!
Don't get wrong, "Chuck vs. the Leftovers" wasn't a bad episode because it had some good moments, and Timothy Dalton was fantastic. It just felt like we've seen all of these tricks before, so I wasn't blown away. I was hoping that the return to the Frost arc would push things forward, but I couldn't help but feel like the show was spinning its wheels. Hopefully, Chuck will find its groove after its upcoming hiatus.


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