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.

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.

Listen to the Podcast Episode: S3Ep2 Vs The Three Words
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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.

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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Chuck Versus The Pink Slip

All Chuck ever wanted was Sarah and to have the Intersect out of his head but now that he has the opportunity to be a hero will it cost him everything? Which would you choose? When the premiere of Season Three begins we see that Chuck was asked to make such a decision. After the events of Chuck Versus the Ring, Chuck having just downloaded Intersect 2.0 was to be immediately shipped off for training to become a super spy. He was excited about this but Sarah was troubled. She knew what that really meant. The government was going to turn Chuck into something that he isn't. A trained killer perhaps? Chuck though now had the opportunity to be the Hero and save lives, that's the line they sold him anyway. So Sarah has decided she wants to run away from the spy life and she wants to go on the run with Chuck. She wants to save Chuck because they will change him and that's not who he is.

So as the episode begins we see Chuck on a mission and it's a pretty great opening. Chuck exudes confidence right up until the moment comes when he has to shoot the bad guy. He can't, he doesn't want to because we all know, that's not who Chuck is! He flashes the new 2.0 flash which includes cool Kung Fu moves. He immediately begins to kick butt and gets out of there with the briefcase he was sent there to retrieve but when it comes time for him to zip-line down a power-line he lacks the confidence he had only moments ago. He is in a word, freaking out. He can't flash. Simulation ends. General Beckman has had enough, she fires Chuck, giving him his Pink Slip and he's shipped home tranquilized.

Chuck has been haunted by his choice, he chose being a hero and the spy life over Sarah, the woman he loves and now he has failed at that decision. He comes home a wreck. Ellie tells him to just call Sarah but she isn't answering the phone, she'd rather throw it in the pool. And thus begins Chuck's new life of Cheese-balls and Couch naps. I love this montage which is accompanied with the tune Just Dropped in by The First Edition which in itself is a nod to The Big Lebowski. Chuck is in his Dude uniform. I love Chuck's groans in protest as Ellie tries to get him up off the couch. We even learn that Morgan who left Burbank to live in Hawaii with Anna as a Benihana Chef has failed. I love when Emmett Milbarge says, there was no way Morgan would make it in Asian business culture.

When Chuck returns to the Buy More because he's running low on Cheese Balls. We see that it's now a Totalitarian Regime run by Emmett from his office viewing everything from his monitors. He spots Chuck thinking he's a homeless man, possibly the one stealing all the store's toilet paper (it turns out that's Morgan). It's painful and hilarious when Emmett confronts Chuck in front of all of the poor beaten down employees that once looked up to him. I love the sequence when Chuck flashes and he has to fight the urge to beat Emmett to a pulp. Chuck learns that Sarah is indeed in Burbank and has never looked better according to Jeff and Lester. Chuck runs into Casey at Castle looking for Sarah and learns of their mission. She is at a club called El Bucho (no doubt a nod to El Mariachi/Desperado).

In another great montage this time accompanied by Tim Jones' great score Chuck cleans up his act, he even shaves and marches down to El Bucho to talk to Sarah and prove to them all that he's not a Lemon as Casey enjoys calling him. Not enough can be said of Zachary Levi's incredible physical acting. Getting slapped by Sarah, throwing his body at a locked door and playing Mariachi on stage (Bueno Bueno Bueno), he's fantastic and hilarious. Chuck accidentally kicks the very Javier Cruz that they are all waiting for, he inadvertently thwarts him but not before Javier finds out where Chuck works. Only Chuck doesn't work there anymore but Morgan does sleep there. I love that Morgan has been living in the Buy More under Emmett's nose. Speaking of Emmett, let's have a moment of silence for the little weasel.

Tony Hale was so good as the rotten butt-kissing jerk. I loved how Emmett secretly took over the Buy More in Season Two but alas his reign was short, he pissed off the wrong assassin and died to the music of Wilson Phillips. Farewell Emmett. When Chuck and Sarah are captured and taken to Mexico we finally get to see what happened between them. Chuck was to meet Sarah at a train station and escape the spy life with her. But Chuck chose to stay to become a spy and rejected Sarah's offer. When Chuck wakes up in the cell he can't flash to fight and Javier beats him, Sarah in the next cell tells Chuck to stop freaking out, he can do it. He flashes and they get out of there. I love the foreshadowing earlier in the episode when Casey is disappointed he never got to use the mini-gun. Well folks we get to see it in action and I'm happy to report Casey seems to love it. Chuck and Sarah zip-line and Javier is dead. The day is saved!

This episode is just jam-packed with lots of great music. I have really fallen in love with Imogen Heap's song Wait it Out. It's used so effectively reflecting the pain and angst of Chuck and Sarah's relationship. Then there's the cool tempo of Sam Sparro's Black and Gold during Chuck's training mission. Just Dropped In by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition during Chuck's slump. Hold On by Wilson Phillips when Emmet meets his fate. Young Adult Friction by The Pains of Being Pure of Heart when Chuck and Morgan get their jobs back. And last but not least The Eye of the Tiger by Survivor during Chuck and Casey's boxing session and love letter to Rocky III.

Listen to the Podcast Episode: S3Ep1 Vs The Pink Slip
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With the return of Chuck I have some reviews to share. Everyone was excited about Chuck with the new Intersect and how it would effect the show. First we have Alan Sepinwall who reviewed the first two episodes because they aired back to back on premiere night. Eric Goldman was excited about Chuck's new abilities and heck why not throw in AV Club's thoughts as well there's a great line in the review where writer Steve Heisler says this about Chuck, "...Chuck fails despite his best efforts, and succeeds in spite of his shortcomings." Yep, that's Chuck in a Nutshell.

General Beckman is pleased when the team has eliminated the threat of Javier Cruz and they even got a hold of his Ring Smart-phone to boot. She puts Team Bartowski back in action and Chuck couldn't be more happy. Chuck is excited to find out his new cover and it turns out there's nothing new about it. Chuck, Casey and even Morgan get their jobs back, it was easy to push through with no manager. I like how Chuck is happy for Emmett and his new job at the Large Mart in Anchorage Alaska. If he only really knew. But that's not it folks, Ellie and Devon are moving into a new apartment across the courtyard so that means Chuck needs a new roomie! Much to Ellie's chagrin that roommate will be one Morgan Grimes! Sarah and Chuck get to talk, Chuck explains why he did what he did, Sarah understands but she's mostly mad at herself for getting emotional. Things aren't really worked out between them, that will wait for another day but at least the team is back together. And finally Casey is ready to train Chuck and he has boxing in mind. We get an awesome training sequence that is a reference as I said before to the film Rocky III, it's a lot of fun. The kind of fun we can always expect in an episode of Chuck. Chuck is back baby and he's got new abilities and I love it!

So I'm back everybody with season three of Chuck! I'm sorry for the long delay between seasons, I never meant to be gone this long but I have always intended to return to the world of Chuck and continue my mission to cover every single episode. If anyone is still out there reading and listening I thank you and I would like to apologize for the long wait. I love Season three of Chuck and I can't wait to dive into it and I hope that you follow me on this journey. Again, thank you so much for reading and listening to the show as I share my love for Chuck. It's such a great show and whenever I return it gives me nothing but happiness and laughter.

Well what are you guy's waiting for? Get out there and watch some more Chuck and I'll see you next time...

The Jastrom