March 14, 2011

Episode Review: CHUCK, "Chuck vs. The A-Team"

Once again I find myself being torn by an episode of Chuck, but at least it's in a good way. "Chuck vs. The A-Team" was one of Season 4's better episodes, but I couldn't help but ask what was the point.

We finally learned what Casey's secret mission was all about; he's been leading a team of Intersect powered super spies in the form of two of Gretas (Isaiah Mustafa as Captain Rick Noble and Stacy Keibler as Captain Victoria Dunwoody). It seems that this new super-team has been going out on missions while Chuck and Sarah were sidelined, and the remaining members of Team Bartowski found out what Casey was up to after following their former cohort and messing up one of his missions.

The two are upset that Casey's been going behind their backs, but also because they're starting to lose their status as the C.I.A.'s A-team which was confirmed by their next mission: picking up a baddie's dog to bring back to the States. Chuck and Sarah were determined to regain their top level ranking by going after yet another arms dealer. The catch was this bad guy was also the target of the A-Team's mission, but Casey convinced his superior (Director Bentley played by Robin Givens) to let them come along when they find out that he's smuggling a bomb. After the A-Team botches the mission due to their shoot-first mentalities and lack of patience, Chuck saved the day by defusing a nuclear bomb with apple juice. By episode's end the two superspies had their Intersects removed because they weren't Bartowskis.

I really liked the concept behind this episode because it created a new form of believable tension amongst the three leads, and it also allowed Casey to show some character growth which has been lacking this season since he's been on the fringes most of the time.

The idea of the Intersect finally being used for its original purpose, and Chuck becoming obsolete had some serious promise because it could help transition the show towards a natural conclusion: Chuck and Sarah leaving the spy world behind once and for all. Instead, the new Intersect Project was shut down after one episode, and the entire experiment was left in Chuck's hands (which could also provide some interesting stories). I couldn't help but feel "A-Team" was a wasted opportunity, and I wished that this episode was a part of a more prominent arc this season rather than Volkoff's daughter or even the Momma B storyline.

As for Casey, it was riveting watching him admit to Chuck what we've all been thinking: he's no longer an asset to the team because Chuck's matured as a spy and doesn't need back-up anymore. It's not easy for a hard-as-nails soldier like Casey to admit that he's not needed anymore, and seeing him share his feelings with the one person you wouldn't expect was bittersweet. Obviously, Casey was still needed because he was able to motivate Chuck to be the spy he knows he can be. The drama between him and Sarah was also great television because you could feel how upset she was because she was betrayed by someone she trusted more than even Chuck. I'm sure there's still some damage control that needs to be done, but I liked this new tension between Sarah and Casey. Heck, even Casey's continued relationship with his domestic partner, aka Morgan, was all sorts of awesome. "A-Team" was the Casey episode that we've been needing for a while now.

My only gripe about Casey's role was the fact that I thought he was going to tell Chuck that he created these new Intersects so he could leave the spy life behind. Sure, that moment would have been out of character, but it also would have been a sweet scene between the two of them.

The B-plot was very Ellie and Devon heavy, but it was also related to the main story which doesn't happen very often anymore. Fatherhood has Devon frazzled because Ellie's not handling her new stay-at-home mom role all that well, and she unleashed pent up conversations on Awesome after a long days work. She decided that she could remain sane by working on the laptop left to her by Orion, but she didn't know that it was in the possession of the C.I.A. Devon tried to have Chuck get it back, but he was hesitant about it getting back to Ellie because of the dangerous spy stuff that it more than likely contained. Awesome decided to blame the Buy Morons for the missing computer, but Director Bentley returned it to Ellie so she could work out the kinks and get the Intersect Project back online.

I really haven't been a big fan of the Family Awesome arc because it really hasn't added much to the overall season, but that all changed tonight. The thing is, I'm not sure that I like the idea of Ellie being an integral part of the Intersect Project (even unknowingly). She's always represented the real work within the Chuck universe because she hasn't had any ties to the spy world unlike everyone else in Chuck's life. So far his father, mother, girlfriend, best friend, and brother-in-law have all been sucked into the life, but Ellie's always been on the outside (besides being manipulated by the Ring in Season 2). It looks like this fact will no longer going to be the case, and my biggest fear is one step closer towards being realized. In the back of my mind, I always knew Ellie would be brought into the fold, but I've never been keen on the idea. I guess we'll just have to see how this new twist pans out.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Morgan was mostly on the sidelines tonight, but he really owned every scene he was given.
  • I'm glad that scene where Casey groped the picture of President Reagen led somewhere because it would've been creepy if it didn't.
  • Just when you that the Subway integration was overboard, it has nothing on the Sienna product placement. It was so blatant that it almost turned me off to the entire episode.
  • Am I the only one who thinks it's creepy that Ellie has been using her wiles to manipulate Jeff and Lester. That just feels icky.
  • Casey must have very important hands since it's the key to stolen gold and the new Castle annex. Plus, it got to caress Ronnie's face.
  • Sarah was pissy for most of the episode but she also brought the funny. We need to see this side of Sarah more often.
  • It was nice seeing Chuck show his nerdy side again.
  • They totally ruined The Hurt-Locker for me!
  • "If you think we're stir-crazy, think about how Casey feels. I mean he hasn't shot some one in two weeks." "That we know of..."
  • "It's like I'm using the Force."
  • "All we gotta do is get through four inches of solid steel." "Or we chop of Casey's hand."
  • "Clever girl"
  • "Blech, it sounds like a CBS show"
  • "It's your favorite: apple juice"
"A-Team" was a nice break from the Volkoff arc, and was a solid effort from start to finish, but it still felt like a giant tease. We were given a really interesting storyline at the tail-end of the season, and it's going to be hard to get excited about all of the Volkoff stuff now, but at least we had the chance to see this episode. Then again, maybe I'm not giving the writers enough credit and they'll be able to flawlessly blend the two narratives to finish out the season. Fingers crossed.


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