Thursday, July 19, 2018

S3Ep4 Vs Operation Awesome -- The Chuck Series Companion

Covering Season Three Episode Four of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck Versus Operation Awesome - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe on iTunes!

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Chuck Versus Operation Awesome

Devon Woodcomb is missing and Chuck is freaking out. Devon has been taken by Sidney Prince a Ring Operative played by special guest villain Angie Harmon. The reason Devon has been taken by the Ring is because they think he's an Undercover Spy! And why wouldn't they? He's Captain Awesome after all. I'm thinking that he got the wrong kind of attention when he saved Goya's life in the previous episode, not only did he save him on the medical table twice but he also thwarted an assassin which also turned out to be John Casey the one and only Angel De La Muerte! The Poisoner who was so set on killing Goya must've been really annoyed he was foiled multiple times, He must've gone over it in his head and it all lead him back to Doctor Devon. Cut to the roof and Sidney has him dangling over the edge, she wants him to work for her -- for the Ring!

We know Chuck, he's frantic, he blames himself. How could this have happened. Most of all he can't get over the fact that he can't tell his Sister anything and it's killing him. This made me think about Ellie, and how throughout the series, she is the one person that never knows what the hell is going on. Chuck has to lie to her often but he doesn't know what to tell her at this point. I love when Chuck goes to the Buy More to take his mind off things and when he's emotional the Intersect is usually on the fritz. First he threatens a customer in her native language and then he kicks Lester in the face. It's all so hilarious. Just when Sarah arrives to tell Chuck about the Ring having Devon he actually shows up, Devon is alive and the Ring thinks he's Chuck! They think he's a Spy!

It makes sense, just look at him, even Casey thinks so. They have no choice but to let Devon work with Sidney and take her out. Chuck objects but there's really nothing he can do. Sidney won't just leave Devon alone -- they need him. Later when a mysterious package arrives it turns out to be a Ring Smartphone with a bluetooth explosive headset. Gulp. I love the whole bit with the friendly Security guy Julius, so understanding. I also love when Chuck tranq darts the bad guys to the tune of Got Nuffin by Spoon. I mean this is just what makes Chuck the show so great, the use of songs in this show is always spot on. How many times have you watched a TV show and the musical choices are just grating or distracting? Not on Chuck, they almost always heighten what you are seeing onscreen from action to even slow and quiet tender scenes. Another thing I love about this episode is the work of Ryan McPartlin, usually he gets to play Devon with this cocksure attitude a guy that is well, awesome but in this episode he gets to be scared, he gets to be nervous and most of all he gets to be completely unsure of what is going on and it's great.

Sidney wants Devon to go upstairs and kill a guy. A CIA Agent named Daniel Shaw played by Brandon Routh, he knows all about Chuck and he wants Chuck to kill him before Sidney gets to the room. We know our boy Chuck can't do that, he doesn't do guns so Shaw has to shoot himself but not before swallowing a pill. I love the bit with Devon freaking out over Shaw being dead, "Chuck, this isn't a tranq gun!" and Chuck protesting that he didn't do it. Sidney arrives and is pleased that Devon has killed Shaw and he's welcomed to the Ring and to stay near that Ring Smartphone, she'll be calling. Oh by the way, right before all of this happened Sarah and Casey were in the van on lock-down, Beckman ordered them to stand down much to their dismay. It turns out that Daniel Shaw is their new boss and he knows all about the Intersect. What?!?

After Devon gives him a shot of adrenaline to the heart Shaw explains that Sidney won't actually report Devon's identity to the Ring until she has officially recruited him. Chuck doesn't want to involve Awesome in anymore spy games but he has no choice that is unless he can think of any other ideas. It turns out he does have an idea but we'll get to that later. Morgan has been named the new Assistant Manager by Big Mike. That's right Morgan is the new Ass-Man. It turns out that after Chuck kicked Lester in the face Lester felt something he hadn't felt since his Bar Mitzvah. He felt like a man.

Jeff and Lester and the rest of the Buy Morons have got themselves a Fight Club and they won't listen to Morgan. I think it's hilarious how many times they have set up some ridiculous thing in the Buy More stockroom cage. Remember Thunderdome? Remember when Anna Wu fought Michael Strahan in there? I mean they've set off bombs in refrigerators back there! There have been shoot outs! And now there is a Fight Club. This is all silly but it's the Buy More, of course it's ridiculous and that's why we love it. This is all about Morgan getting some respect, for him to realize that they aren't just his friends anymore they are his employees and besides it's not okay to electrocute a fellow employee.

This Episode has some great songs, first as I mentioned before we have Got Nuffin by Spoon. This song plays during the Crystal Towers infiltration and later on when Chuck runs from Sidney's goons. I love when Chuck plays a song twice. If you pay attention this happens quite a bit in the run of the show. We'll get a song early and then later on we'll hear it again at an opportune time and the second time it has even more punch. During the Buy More Fight Club shenanigans we hear Space Moneys by the Dust Brothers and finally we hear Bears by Sam Isaac.

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This time I'll include three reviews of Operation Awesome, first we have Alan Sepinwall who just couldn't buy the fact that the Ring would believe Devon could be a Spy. Okay... Eric Goldman really liked the introduction of Brandon Routh and AV Club didn't like the scene where Devon had to lie to Ellie in what they called atrocious slapstick. Ouch! You can't please everyone. Let's talk about that scene. Devon can't lie it's not in his nature. It shouldn't be in Chuck's nature either because he's a good guy, he's a nice guy in fact but he's gotten good at it. He lies to Ellie on a regular basis. just watch how Devon fumbles through the lies, he's terrible at it. Chuck pick's up Devon's fumble and races it to the end zone. He says Casey is a drunk basically and it's hilarious but it's also something that needs to be re-visited later. Chuck's lying and he's lying to people he loves and it will have a cost.

Chuck decides to take matters into his own hands, he takes the Ring Smartphone from Devon and he reverse engineers it to see how it works (at least that's what I think he's doing). After a bit of helpful advice to Morgan he takes that very same advice and calls up Sidney and tells her he's the real spy, he killed Agent Shaw and he's in the Buy More. When Chuck tells Sarah that Sidney is there Shaw is not happy and he tells Chuck that he is on his own. Chuck's idea is to hide in the Nerd Herd booth but they find him quickly, when he can't flash he runs. Earlier when Sarah and Casey tried to help Chuck, Shaw pulled a gun on them and told them to stand down but Sarah isn't about to do that now. I love the call back to the Car Jumper cables in the Stock Room when Chuck uses them to shock a bad guy, Sarah's fight with Sidney is pretty bad ass too but Sarah gets knocked down for the count and Chuck gives chase with a gun. Sidney isn't scared though, she can tell just by looking at Chuck that he's not a killer.

Finally Daniel Shaw shoots Sidney, he doesn't like guns either but it pays to know how to use one. Chuck and Sarah and Casey still don't know how to take this guy. Chuck tells Shaw that there's nothing more important to him than friends and family. Shaw warns that caring about someone or something gives a spy a weakness. Sarah disagrees saying that it helps to know there's something worth fighting for. Big Mike tells Morgan that he can't be afraid to be the boss, to pull the trigger (I love the parallel here with Chuck as Chuck could not pull the trigger in a manner of speaking).  Morgan fires Lester and Lester immediately apologizes and begs for his job back. It seems he actually fears Morgan now but the battle for respect from the Buy More Employees isn't over just yet, we'll get to that in the next episode.

Back at Chuck and Morgan's Apartment Awesome and Ellie arrive and Chuck lets Devon in on the good news, he's in the clear. They caught Sidney, he has nothing to worry about. Notice how Chuck didn't bother to tell Devon that Sidney was actually dead. He doesn't need to know the graphic details I guess. Sarah and Casey arrive and we get one of those scenes that I absolutely love in an episode of Chuck -- a gathering. As the song Bears by Sam Issac plays in the background (remember what I said about the show perfectly punctuating a scene with a song?) we see Daniel Shaw watching them, he's on the outside looking in on what Chuck said earlier was most important to him. Family.

Thank you guys so much for your patience, I know it's taking me forever to do these episodes of the Chuck Series Companion but I do them when I can. I emphasized at the beginning of this podcast that no matter how long it takes me and no matter how long a gap there is between episodes I will be back with another episode until I finish the entire series. So I promise you, fear not for I shall return with an all-new Chuck Series Companion episode and until then watch some more Chuck as it's on Amazon Prime now!

The Jastrom

Thursday, January 18, 2018

S3Ep3 Vs The Angel De La Muerte -- The Chuck Series Companion

This Episode of the Chuck Series Companion covers Season Three Episode Three of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe on iTunes!

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Chuck Versus The Angel De La Muerte

In Season Two we had a string of episodes that began with flashbacks, we had Chuck at Stanford all the way back to when he'd have to stand up for Morgan in grade school. We had Sarah conning locals with her Dad and then her awkward stage while attending High School. We even got to see Jeff as a Missile Command Champ in the 80's. But now we get to visit UCLA in the year 2000 when Devon Woodcomb and Eleanor Bartowski first meet and it appears to have been love or is that lust at first sight?

Cut to 9 years later and Ellie is wondering where the excitement went. Now they are overworked doctors using what little time off they have to unpack their belongings in their new apartment. There's no time for fun and romance or even to watch their wedding video. Ellie's also annoyed with Chuck, he was supposed to help them unpack and hook up the television. I love that Chuck is frequently dropped off via chopper after spy missions and even Ellie has noticed lots of helicopter activity overhead recently. Chuck seems to be getting used to this whole spy gig. His attitude in this episode is like a veteran as it should be as he has been on many spy missions by now including those we've never gotten to see between episodes. Devon is jealous, sure he's into river rafting and exercise and he's also a surgeon but he craves some real excitement just like Chuck's spy missions. Be careful what you wish for there, Captain Awesome.

When the Dictator of Costa Gravas the Premier Allejandro Goya (Armand Assante) collapses at the embassy it's up to Devon to be awesome and save him. This is a big deal because John Casey spent years in the 80's trying to kill him. Not now though as it seems Goya has softened over the years and now he wants to allow a democratic election in his country. Beckman orders the team to protect the Premier because he was poisoned even though the Premier has no idea and they need to somehow make their way to the Embassy Gala to do so. Luckily for Awesome and Ellie who were just feeling stagnant and craving some excitement in their marriage have a visitor. It seems that the Premier was so impressed with Doctor Devon for saving his life that he has chosen to visit and personally invite them both to the Gala. Chuck is also invited after Goya meets him and admires his soft womanly features. I love that Assante seems to be having a blast in the role as Goya.

Before leaving for the mission Casey mentions that he can't be seen on Costa Gravan soil because he is known in that country as the Angel de la Muerte, the Angel of Death! He spent years trying to assassinate the Premier and has spilled a lot of blood in that country. I like to picture Casey like John Matrix, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character from the 80's action classic Commando. In the film Arnold's adversary is a small-time dictator of a fictional country where he proceeds to kill hundreds of his men trying to get to him. I picture Casey likewise killing hundreds of Goya's men trying to get to him. In fact he's killed so many that the men speak about him in hushed whispers as the angel of death that will one day come for them. Hilarious.

I love that Chuck laughs at this and takes none of it seriously. At the Gala Chuck and Devon are both really nervous about Ellie being so close to the Premier (or the Generalissimo as he asks for Sarah to address him) because he's got his hands all over Ellie and an assassin could be lurking anywhere. I love when Devon talks to Chuck about Sarah and Ellie talks to Sarah about Chuck at the same time. It seems as if the feelings between Chuck and Sarah are only complicated between themselves as Ellie sees things much simpler, they obviously belong together and Devon realizes what torture it is for Chuck pretending to be a couple especially the 'no sex' part which results in a priceless facial expression from Chuck in agreement. There's a great bit where Chuck flashes the Mambo and he and Sarah dance trying to get closer to a would-be assailant. After Awesome thwarts Casey's attempt to protect Goya from the real assassin Casey is captured! They finally have him -- the Angel de la Muerte! See Chuck, Casey wasn't paranoid he really does have quite the reputation in Costa Gravas!

This episode has very few songs compared to the past two Chuck episodes but the ones it does have are quite good. First we have Bohemian Like You by The Dandy Warhols, Songozon by the Latin Mambo Orchestra and Living a Lie by Daniel Zott. And a few more that played in the background of the gala here.

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Alan Sepinwall was happy to see that Devon learning Chuck's secret in season two finally paid off in his review and  Eric Goldman loved Casey's seething anger having to protect Goya after years of trying to kill him in his review and finally here's a recap by Samantha Swank.

When they arrive at the consulate with Devon who is there as Goya's personal physician Chuck and Sarah pose as doctor and nurse and split off to find Casey. I love that Devon gets to see Sarah kick some ass for the first time. You have no idea, Devon. Casey gets to meet the Poisoner, he works for the Ring and the Ring wants Goya dead! Not on Casey's watch. I love that Casey essentially saves himself until he's shot in the leg by a scared guard who proclaims as if he can't believe it himself, "The Angel de la Muerte!" at least Sarah's there to knock him out but Casey is losing blood fast. So we have Doctor Devon trying to save Goya and Doctor Chuck trying to remove the bullet from Casey's leg. In a wonderful scene Goya's man orders Chuck to save Casey and if he can't he's going to get shot. Chuck flashes and removes the bullet but Goya badly needs blood.

It just so happens that Casey knows Goya's blood type because he spent years studying his subject. And wouldn't you know it Casey has the same blood type! I love that Chuck basically takes Casey's blood against his will putting the anesthetic mask over his face. Casey getting loopy is hilarious and it reminds me of when Chuck tranq-darted him back in Season Two. Goya has been saved and Casey has a new fan and even has some very rare cigars to show for it. When Devon returns he tells Chuck there's no way he could be a spy, there is no way he could live a double life and lie to the one's he loves. Chuck knows exactly what he means. Chuck and Sarah agree that since they aren't a couple they need their cover to be as friends. Devon calls Ellie who is still beaming after their incredible night at the Gala. Devon tells Ellie he will be home soon after he finishes up with a patient but it turns out that the patient is the Poisoner -- Goya's would be assassin that got away! Sarah shows up to Chuck's apartment to tell him the bad news and it's heartbreaking when Ellie asks them both if they have seen her husband.

Wow, what a way to end an episode, when I originally watched the episode way back in January of 2010 I honestly thought that they had killed off Devon but only a second later the Promo for next week's episode aired and it showed that Devon would be very much alive. Oh okay, I guess they didn't want us to worry too much. Also, can you believe this was the first ever episode without the Buy More? Season Three of Chuck had a much lower budget than any of the other seasons and it seems they were cutting costs here and there. I mean just look at that Green Screen shot of the Costa Gravan Consulate! I don't like to nitpick anything on this show as it's my all-time favorite but that was pretty bad.

Once again, thank you for reading my recap and for listening to the Chuck Series Companion. I had a blast recording it and I can't wait to do more. That's now three episodes I've done in three weeks and I'm hoping I can keep the pace going before burn out. Unfortunately that's just something that happens but a good way to keep me going is feedback so if you enjoyed the past three episodes send me a word of encouragement or if you just want to talk Chuck drop me a line. So what are you waiting for? Go watch some more Chuck and I'll see you next time!

The Jastrom

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

S3Ep2 Vs The Three Words -- The Chuck Series Companion

Covering Season Three Episode Two of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck Versus the Three Words - Watch the Series, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe on iTunes!

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Chuck Versus The Three Words

DEA Agent Carina Miller (Mini Anden) is back and she's undercover as fiance to Karl Stromberg (Vinnie Jones) Weapons Dealer. Karl seems to have some sort of secret weapon in a locked gold case and no one seems to know exactly what it is. When Chuck innocently runs into Sarah and Carina at a nightclub they are pulled into Carina's Mission when Karl shows up and introduces himself. I love how Chuck is easily fooled by Carina's PDA with Karl and congratulates her. Sarah meanwhile is still trying to work her feelings out about Chuck. Carina immediately knows that Sarah has feelings for him and tells her it's the number one rule for being a spy. "Spies don't fall in love". I seem to remember one Roan Montgomery telling Chuck something very similar.

Meanwhile at the Buy More -- Big Mike is back! Now that Emmett has moved on. *Cough* Mike has a winning attitude about how to run the Buy More after attending the El Segundo School of Finance. Now that Morgan knows that Carina is back in town she's all that he can think about and he embellishes his relationship with her to Jeff and Lester and the rest of the Buy More. Of course Carina can't even get Morgan's name right and Jeff and Lester challenge Morgan to ask her out. They come up with the wild idea of having a courtyard housewarming party at Morgan's new place of residence which also happens to be where the Bartowskis live. Fortunately or Unfortunately it depends how you look at it, Awesome and Ellie are out of town.

When it's Mission time Chuck and Sarah pose as a happy couple but Chuck just finds himself wishing things could go back to normal with Sarah. She's aloof and concentrating on the mission. He wants to talk to her to make things comfortable between them. Carina tells Chuck the only reason she's acting like this is because she loves him and he needs to get his head into the game. Fat chance of that happening now that Chuck has heard those Three Words hence the title of the episode. There's a funny side bit with Casey being self-conscious about his age, playing Carina's young Uncle instead of her Dad. He gives an extra long speech as a delay tactic while Chuck and Sarah infiltrate Karl's vault to retrieve the weapon. I love when Chuck flashes and does all sorts of silly flips and splits like a bizarre homage to Catherine Zeta Jones from the film Entrapment. Everything goes fine until Chuck accidentally sets off the alarm and is trapped inside.

Sarah sets out to save him while Chuck unleashes all of his reasons and feelings for not going with Sarah on the train. We'll talk more about that later. Sarah saves Chuck and they happily retrieve the weapon. Sarah tells General Beckman that she thinks that she should be re-assigned because Chuck couldn't focus with her on the mission but Beckman tells her that she will just have to make it work. Sarah and Chuck have a Bo-Staff sparring session where he explains to her he can't flash because he doesn't want to hurt her, she says, "You can't hurt me Chuck." We know that she really means, he can't hurt her anymore because she's not going to let him in.

When Carina tries to turn in the weapon Karl has tracked her to the Buy More parking lot. She stashes the case with Martin, um I mean Morgan and he invites her to his awesome housewarming party. Karl finds Carina and takes her. She denies being a spy but he happens to have Chuck footage from the vault incriminating her fully. It's hilarious how exact Chuck's words are about Carina easily being able to lie and tell someone that she loves them for a mission. Karl swears he will kill Chuck too and he has Carina's party invite with the address now too. D'oh!

This episode has lots of music. First we have the song Sexy Bitch by David Guetta (Featuring Akon). Isn't this song a little sexist? I mean couldn't it have been called Attractive Female? Something like that? I mean C'mon David Guetta! Akon should have known better too *Whoever that is*. Then we have Just Like Paradise by David Lee Roth when Carina shows up to the Buy More with her hair blowing in slow motion. That Buy More Air Conditioner has some real power. Then we have a really cool song called Model Homes by In-Flight Safety during Chuck and Sarah's Bo-Staff scene. Then we have some songs that are no doubt on Jeff and Lester's playlist like That Kinda Booty by Dem Naughty Boys and Here Comes Trouble by Maino and also the song Oh My! by the Gray Kid which plays when Chuck and Morgan show up to the night club and run into Sarah.

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This week I decided to include a review by a different outlet since Alan Sepinwall reviewed Three Words in a combined review with Pink Slip on my last post. Here is a review by Den of Geek and the writer was pretty critical of all the Chuck and Sarah relationship stuff this early in the season. Then we have a nice review by Eric Goldman. Here's a recap by Samantha Swank too.

When Carina shows up to the party with Karl and his goons in tow Morgan can't believe it. Jeff and Lester call him a loser. Morgan has had it, he wants to tell Carina off right then and there but luckily he calls Chuck to get his opinion first. Luckily Chuck and Sarah and Casey are all looking for Carina. Chuck tells Morgan to play it cool. I love the bit where Jeff and Lester are afraid Karl and his henchmen are going to steal all of the women at the party so they decide to have a drink off with Jeff's Jail Juice (which is highly flammable by the way).

Their plan doesn't quite work out when Carina spikes Karl and his men's drinks with knock-out powder from her engagement ring and Jeff and Lester decide to chug it. I love all of the Jeff and Lester stuff in this episode. The strange muttering by Lester when he passes out is hilarious. Now it's Morgan's turn to tell off Carina for embarrassing him at his party. It's a great scene, he finally tells her his name is Morgan Guillermo Grimes and he also basically tells her "No." Something she's never heard before. I also love when he tells Karl's thugs to "Back up, bitches!" But unfortunately Morgan makes the same mistake as Jeff and Lester and drinks the knock-out punch but not before revealing the gold case to Karl.

Now it's a job for 'The Button' that would be one John Casey, he's the guy you call when all the odds are stacked against you. He comes out with a water hose and quickly gets rid of all of the party guests. Poor Fernando and his soggy corn dogs! First Chuck outsmarts the bad guys with a tiki torch by throwing it into the Jail Juice fountain (was that juice sanitary?). Then he talks Karl down from killing Carina by talking about bottled up feelings. It's awesome when Carina tells Karl she was falling for him and he says, "Really?" and then she kicks his ass and says, "Yeah right, stupid." Gotta love Carina. They have the case again which General Beckman tells them absolutely nothing about and we also get a nice tease of someone we will be introduced to very soon, Shaw (which will also make a nice trivia question: What is Shaw's first appearance?).

I love that Morgan wins the affection of Carina in the end. It's a hilarious scene and hopefully Morgan has enough class to never mention it to Jeff and Lester. Then finally Carina is about to leave but not before again inviting Sarah to leave with her. Sarah's good though, she's going to stay. Carina gives her something to watch, it's the Chuck footage from Karl's vault. Chuck wanted to run off with Sarah, he really did but he decided he needed to choose the greater good, he needed to choose to help people with his gift that is the new Intersect. It's a really great scene and it's a nice payoff and reason for Chuck's decision to not run off with Sarah. It's certainly one that I can understand.

Well guys, that's another Chuck Series Companion in the books and I hope that you enjoyed it. I can't wait to start on the next episode. Thank you for reading the blog and listening to the podcast. Now, time to go and watch some more Chuck and I'll see you next time!

The Jastrom

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

S3Ep1 Vs The Pink Slip - The Chuck Series Companion

This Episode of the Chuck Series Companion covers Season Three Episode One of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck Versus the Pink Slip - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe on iTunes!

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