“I’ve never run so fast in so many layers before.” – Morgan
Chuck is the little show that could. After surviving a very real threat of cancellation, thanks to a loyal and clever fanbase (a fan campaign was launched to frequent Subway, a major sponsor of the show, in order to demonstrate that the advertising was working), the show was not only renewed for a third season, but was picked up for more episodes that season and eventually renewed for a fourth. Not bad for a goofy little show about a good-hearted and well-meaning nerd brought into an entirely implausible world of espionage.
When we last left our fine-feathered hero, he had just promised to give up the spy business to his sister, entered into a real relationship with the girl of his dreams, and suffered the tragic and sudden death of his father. With all loose ends practically wrapped up, we are given, of course, a game-changing twister by revealing to Chuck the fact that his estranged mother is still alive and somewhere out there, waiting to be found. I wasn’t all that crazy about this particular cliffhanger, as it struck me as merely being a twist for twist’s sake. Chuck’s mom had rarely ever been discussed during the series (the absent parent usually talked about was Chuck and Ellie’s estranged father), so it’s not like we had any real investment in finding out what happened to Chuck’s mom. It just seemed like they needed something to keep us guessing into the new season, and they took the easy way out.. “Well, we’ve completed the story arc with Chuck’s dad. So….Chuck’s mom now?” Nevertheless, the producers have been good at getting guest stars for the show, and the prospect of Linda Hamilton joining the show as Chuck’s mom is one that is too delicious to resist.
As for the actual episode, the season premiere was full of a lot of funny moments, particularly between Chuck and Morgan (the episode begins with a very purposely cheesy montage through Chuck and Morgan’s worldwide adventures trying to investigate the whereabouts of Chuck’s mom), but it also reminded me that this is not a good show to watch if you’re interested in a show about realistic spies and their adversaries. Through a series of events, Chuck manages to score a meeting with a sinister organization simply by using an encrypted phone, a disguised voice, and a false claim that he is a part of “New Ring,” a new offshoot of the evil organization from last season. I love Chuck, but even I had to laugh and shake my head at how hand-wavey the entire sequence was. They even literally show up at the front step of the evil organization and waltz through the door without nary a security check!
I also found myself missing Chuck and Sarah as a couple in this episode. After 2.5 seasons of will-they-won’t-they (through which, it was pretty damn obvious that they would), it was finally nice to watch the two of them try to actually make it through being in a bona-fide relationship for a few episodes. It brought a fresh new angle to the two main characters and I was really excited to see what would become of it. Sadly, they spend most of their time in the episode apart from each other (since she still remains a spy after he quit the game), spending what little time they have together discussing the possibility of sexting each other (thanks to some unflattering pictures taken and sent to Sarah’s phone by Morgan). It’s funny, and it does give us an excuse to watch Sarah go through some sexy poses as she flirts with the idea of sexting Chuck back, but I wish they had allowed them to have a mission together. Thankfully, by the end, we’ve already gotten the whole gang back together with Chuck returning to the spy business (and the business of hiding it from his sister), giving us no reason to have them apart like that again.
The bottom line is that while this still very much an enjoyable show, the premiere was a bit on the merely average side. However, the track record of the show gives me all the confidence that this will be another enjoyable season of Chuck. Welcome back!