Friday, August 31, 2018

S3Ep5 Vs First Class -- The Chuck Series Companion


This Episode of The Chuck Series Companion covers Season Three Episode Five of the Television Series Chuck, Chuck Versus First Class - Watch the Episode, Listen to the Show! - Subscribe on iTunes!

Download this episode (right click and save)

Chuck Versus First Class


Daniel Shaw thinks he's seen enough and now he thinks it's time for Chuck Bartowski to go on his first solo mission! Indeed, he's certainly been on enough missions this being the fortieth episode of Chuck but let's not forget to count the few episodes where Chuck and the gang were just getting home after some long difficult and messy mission so it could be the forty first or forty second mission -- but I digress. In Shaw's eyes Chuck's been on more missions than most other operatives and it's now time for him to get out there on his own without Casey and Sarah's help.


Naturally Sarah hates this idea, it's her job to keep Chuck in line and also keep him safe. We've also seen Casey warm up to Chuck over these several seasons. Shaw blames Casey and Sarah for not getting Chuck out there sooner. I think we'd all agree that Chuck is better with his team but this was a fun exercise seeing Chuck all on his own. Chuck is all for it, he thinks that if a bad ass Agent like Shaw thinks he's ready then he must really be ready. Sarah thinks that Chuck just wants to impress him.


I love the use of Stone Cold Steve Austin in the episode as Ring Operative Hugo Panzer. Zachary Levi's scenes with him were a lot of fun. I especially love when Chuck has to squirt the knock-out drug right into Hugo's mouth. Too funny. This episode also had special guest Kristin Kreuk as the kind-hearted Hannah. What's interesting about Hannah and Chuck's dynamic is that she can tell that Chuck is new to this First Class travel but Chuck keeps fibbing to her, she's kind enough to assume he has a good reason. Chuck is also able to seem reasonably charming even though he's completely distracted when it turns out his mission isn't actually in Paris but ON THE PLANE! That was a good reveal.


Chuck's mission is to retrieve a key from Hugo, sounds simple enough (they need it to open a doohickey). Sarah is furious that Shaw is putting Chuck into so much danger and without any back-up. Shaw blames Sarah for holding Chuck back -- is that because she cares for him or because she's a Ring spy? You see he knows she went to Lisbon when Chuck was there and he wants to know why. Meanwhile at the Buy More now that Morgan is the assistant manager he's been the target of constant pranks. Not only that but Lester refuses to even say a word to him after Morgan fired and re-hired him in the last episode. Morgan complains that he hasn't had untainted coffee in days and he needs his coffee dude. In this episode since Chuck is on a solo mission Casey gets some more Buy More time and when an unconscious Morgan is placed inside a Claw Machine, Morgan witnesses how frightened the rest of the Buy More crew is of him. Morgan says, Casey commands respect and I love when Casey says that no, he essentially, 'Takes their respect.'


In the belly of the plane Chuck finds the key but Hugo Panzer is actually awake thanks to an electric shock from his spy watch. I absolutely love the bit where Chuck hides in a casket with the dead body of an old man. My favorite part though would have to be when a panicked Chuck calls Casey and he recommends that Chuck screams like a Banshee so he could seem harmless. That scream. Hilarious. Hugo is ready to make Chuck bleed but Chuck flashes and we get a nice fencing match. I love when Chuck outsmarts the bad guys and here he dumps a load of baggage on Panzer's head. Nice. Sarah and Casey were worried about Chuck but he's seemed to have pulled off the mission. Don't you just love when you watch a show and you think it's all wrapped up nicely but then you realize that it's only half way over? Well folks, this episode ain't over yet. You see, Chuck didn't take into account that there was another Ring Operative on board. I remember thinking that it could possibly be Hannah, I mean she is being played by Smallville's Lana Lang. They didn't just hire her to play a pretty and kind flirtation for Chuck did they? Did they? Okay, maybe they did.


I love when Hannah calls Chuck out on his obvious lies and he admits that no he's never been to Paris and we also learn that it's a place that Chuck has always wanted to visit, he knows a lot about the place, his Dad even gave him a tiny Eiffel statue when he was a kid. He tells her he's there on a Buy More job which is sweet but it's also another lie. It's one thing that I think is an underlying theme in Season Three. Chucks lies, he lies constantly, he has to because of his cover but it's also going to take it's toll on him and it's interesting to see it playing out slowly.


This episode had quite a few songs, first we have Respect by Otis Redding, Dream Come True by Alen Ett, Ready, Aim, Fire by Unknown and we even get a repeat song in Wake Up by Mackintosh Braun, we last heard this song in Chuck Versus the Beefcake and finally we hear L'amoureuse by Carla Bruni.


Listen to the Podcast Episode: S3Ep5 Vs First Class
Download this episode (right click and save)


For this episode I'm going to include three reviews, the first one Alan Sepinwall thought that this was the best episode of Season Three so far! Eric Goldman loved seeing Stone Cold on the show and AV Club loved seeing the Chuck plot formula turned on it's head. If you take the opportunity to read these old reviews be sure and check out the comment sections it's hilarious to see what viewers thought of the episode and how many still aren't sure of Hannah's agenda. This show has messed with viewers so many times it keeps the audience on guard.


It's so wrong and hilarious when John Casey agrees to help out Morgan and he essentially programs Lester Manchurian Candidate style, "Morgan is your boss, Morgan is a good boss..." It's so bizarre but at the same time it seems like something that Casey would not only know how to do but actually pull off. The best part though is the horror on Jeff's face when he asks Lester about how they are going to get Morgan. On the Plane Chuck has accidentally ingested some poison! That's because Hugo is loose and he's out to get him. Chuck runs off to the bathroom to call for help when it turns out that the Flight Attendant is also a Ring Agent! She wants the key and so does Hugo. It's funny how quickly that she assesses that this is Chuck's first solo mission. Chuck calls for help and somehow Shaw knows that the Flight Attendant is actually Serena, Ring Operative. Earlier Shaw reveals to Sarah that they can easily take control of Chuck's flight with a device and so they do, when he is sure that Chuck is about to be killed he gives Sarah the signal and she tilts the plane and all hell breaks loose. I think that it's safe to say that I absolutely love the whole Nunchuck bit, I mean c'mon of course Chuck is going to have Nunchucks! Too bad he didn't really get to use them and now that the day is won he doesn't get to go to Paris either. Hannah is bummed that she doesn't get to take him sight-seeing but Chuck gives her his Buy More card and says that if she's ever in the Burbank area to look him up.


Now that Morgan has seen that Lester now respects him he gives Casey a much deserved raise. I love the line about 'Plausible deniability' Morgan just let's that go over his head. Down in Castle Shaw uses the key to open the secret box doohickey and Sarah wants to know what was inside. Shaw shows her that it was his Wife's wedding ring. She died on the job and Shaw blames himself. Sarah confesses to Shaw that the reason she was in Lisbon was to spread Bryce's ashes. He believes her.  He then tells her that they have a lot in common, they've both fallen in love with spies. Now did he mean Chuck or Bryce Larkin when he said that?


Just when you think the episode is over Hannah arrives at the Buy More to greet Chuck, he seems to have made quite the impression on her. Well folks that's it until next time. Did you enjoy Chuck Versus First Class? I thought it was quite a fun episode and it was great seeing Chuck on his own. Zachary Levi is so great at playing scared and nervous Chuck and then he completely charms us in other scenes he really is a great physical actor. Thank you so much for reading my Chuck blog and listening to the Chuck Series Companion. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and watch some more Chuck and I'll see you next time!


The Jastrom


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!

Download this episode (right click and save)

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.


Listen to the Podcast Episode: S3Ep4 Vs Operation Awesome
Download this episode (right click and save)


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!

Download this episode (right click and save)

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.


Listen to the Podcast Episode: S3Ep3 Vs The Angel De La Muerte
Download this episode (right click and save)


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