February 8, 2011

Episode Review: CHUCK, "Chuck vs. The Seduction Impossible"

How do you continue a show that theoretically ended last week? You give the fans an old-school episode that reminds them why they fell in love with you in the first place. At least that's the direction the creators of Chuck went with, and thanks to them we got one of the best episodes of the season.

"Seduction Impossible" kicked off with veteran spy Roan Montgomery using his charms on a beautiful woman to get information on a counterfeiting scheme that's been producing "super notes". He quickly found out that she's a part of a fem fatale group of mercenaries led by Fatima Tazi. It was up to Team Bartowski, whose members were stifled by their domestic lives and needed a mission, to save Montgomery. Chuck, Sarah, and Casey headed off to Morocco to bring back Roan just to get caught up in his mission. While Chuck and Sarah got Montgomery back to the States, Casey stayed behind to finish the job, but even he ended up needing saving. The three remaining team members headed back to Marrakech to grab Casey and take down Tazi once and for all.

While the mission in Morocco was the main story, all of the characters had their own family-oriented subplots going on. Chuck and Sarah had to deal with the pressures of putting on a wedding, which led to a spat about whether they should have a big ceremony or elope. Casey was being pressured by Morgan to visit his ex-fiancée, but the plan was quickly aborted when the bearded one found out that Alex didn't want Casey back in her mom's life. Ellie, Devon, and Mary spent most of their time taking care of Baby Awesome, but Ellie and Mary had the chance to talk about the former's new role as grandma and how it would impact her spy life.

Usually, I'm not a huge fan of the standalone episodes of Chuck because I tend to like the ongoing, larger storyarcs, but I was won over by "Seduction Impossible". The mission-of-the-week was responsible for that old-school vibe I talked about earlier, and I found myself reminiscing about how great Season 2 was. While Seasons 3 and 4 were good, they paled in comparison to their predecessor, and this week's episode had that funny and sweet tone that won over most Chucksters. The baddie, her plan, and the mission had an almost James Bond feel, which just added to the enjoyment.

It can be hit or miss, when the writers want to add personal and/or relationship drama to the mix, but even these moments worked tonight. Early on in Season 4, the bickering between Chuck and Sarah mostly felt forced because the arguments were just roadblocks put in the way of their inevitable engagement. Unlike those earlier disagreements, tonight's tiff about the wedding felt organic and actually added to the characters. Sarah's reasoning for eloping had nothing to do with the stress of planning a wedding, but she was upset because she wouldn't have friends or family there to celebrate with her. It's these smaller, intimate moments that make make this show special. Plus, a new mini-arc about planning said wedding and rounding up Sarah's loved ones could easily fill up the last ten episodes.

Even the usually stoic Casey had a chance to show his softer side as he begrudgingly agreed to accompany Morgan and Alex to his ex-fiancée. In a bittersweet twist, he found out that the reason Alex didn't want him showing up to dinner was because her mother was happy with a new man. Instead of being upset about this development, Casey was happy for Kathleen. One of the best developments of Season 3 was the teaming up of Casey and Morgan, and seeing their partnership grow into this little family unit has been a delight to watch.

The only subplot that didn't add much to the episode was the one involving the Awesomes and Mary Bartowski. Ellie and Mary's time together was sweet, but it felt like it was just a reason to keep Frost around. I don't mind Momma B sticking around for a while, but I don't think their interactions added all that much to the overall episode.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Casey's reaction to a crying baby = "I'm outta here."
  • Mary Bartowski aka Super-Spy Granny.
  • Chuck really needs to stop taking relationship advice from Morgan.
  • Colonel Shoot 'Em Up. Ha!
  • It was sweet watching Roan and Beckman's past.
  • Working at the Buy More might be the best punishment ever.
  • Scorpions' "Wind of Change" takes me back, but that's a long story.
  • Dueling Seductions and Sarah as a belly-dancer. You can't beat that.
  • Once again we had a Jeffster-less episode and it was exponentially more enjoyable.
  • "We need a bad guy."
  • "By the way, for the record I will not at any point during this mission be dressing as a belly-dancer." "What if you need to do it for our country?"
  • "I hear the footsteps of two women...and a large man."
  • "You look a lot like your father right now."
  • "There's an actual ball and chain!"
  • "You're hearty."
While I sill prefer an overarching story to these mission-of-the-week episodes, "Seduction Impossible" revitalized this season. I still think there's a lot of serialized stories to tell like the return of Volkoff and the wedding, but I'm all for more of these kinds of stories down the line. Tonight's episode was definitely a great way to start off Season 4.2.


Kristal said...

100% agreed! Fantastic episode that's hopefully a good sign for the remainder of the season. :)

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