Review: Chuck vs. The Pink Slip (Episode 3.1)

Considering how anticipated the season three premiere was for Chuck fans, seeing their hero in less than an ideal light had to come as a shock.

Certainly recent events would warrant that things would be pretty rosy for our intrepid nerd cum spy. Having an upgrade in downloadable data that includes self-defense, weapons training, and suaveness out of the James Bond playbook would pretty much make you a kick-ass asset like never before, but you have to hand it to Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak. Nothing comes easy for Chuck. Not even the stuff that endears Chuck to his fans.

So with all this potential for spy and espionage success we get failure and dejection. Chuck wallowing in a ratty bath robe developing a concerning addiction for cheese balls as he finds himself kicked out of spy school. As an aforementioned fan, it was uncomfortable at the very least seeing Chuck floundering adrift in loser land.

That’s not the half of it, though. Getting kicked out of training is one thing. Sacrificing the love of your life to be all you can be is something else. Through flashback, we discover why things are chilly now between Chuck and his lady fair of fisticuffs, Sarah Walker. Apparently Sarah already had a future in mind for Chuck away from the spy world, but with the upgrade Chuck can’t pass up the opportunity to become someone who matters. If you got the chance to be a super spy–or hero–most people probably wouldn’t pass that up either. And while the scene itself may have rubbed some fans the wrong way, it made sense to me. After all how often in real life can we eloquently explain why we do what we do? But the bottom line is that Chuck done broke Sarah’s heart.

The chill has even expanded into the show itself. A shocking death gives indication that for Chuck and for the show the kid gloves are off. There’s danger out there, and while Chuck may have the Force he cannot control it. His erratic emotions cause the intersect to fail at the worst times. Like William Katt in The Greatest American Hero, he‘s discovering his new abilities on the job and it leads to awkwardly funny moments . It’s painful to see Chuck blow a sting operation so badly and to see his staunchest allies, Sarah and Casey, angrily dismiss him.

But in a nice parallel, Chuck is faced with the same scenario that got him handed the pink slip in the first place with one significant difference–Sarah. And that turns out to be the key for Chuck to get the intersect under control. When his lady love’s life is threatened, that’s when our boy buckles down and kicks butt. Guy’s so in the zone he even uses a zip line flawlessly.

So Chuck is back with the gang, both the real gang and his cover gang with the Buy More. Even Morgan returns from his aborted attempt to be a Benihana chef. The episode does its job at getting the audience back to square one. And perhaps something to look at with a mini-theme that might bear riper fruit as the season goes along. As remarkable as Chuck can be with the enhancement of the intersect, he truly needs his friends and family to function at his potential. Kind of seems a bit foreboding if he somehow ends up isolated. But to speculate on such things seems kind of silly with one episode having aired.

Chuck is back, friends. That’s good enough for now.

Review: * * *


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