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Broken Hearts and Coronets: Chuck Gets a New Handler on "Chuck"

Have I mentioned lately how much I love Tricia Helfer?

The Battlestar beauty turned up on last night's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Broken Heart"), written by Allison Adler, where she played the deadly Agent Alex Forrest, a ruthless NSA agent assigned to conduct a 49B appraisal of whether Chuck and Sarah's feelings for one another had impacted their ability to successfully perform their jobs.

Whereas Chuck and Sarah often take a more, uh, thoughtful approach to their work, Alex is all blazing guns, tranquilizer darts (hell, she even takes out an elderly nurse at the hospital), and stripper moves. She would argue she gets the job done and is proactive rather than reactive (and she makes a quick admirer in Casey); she's stealthy, effective, and, well, rather heartless.

Which makes things far worse when General Beckman removes Sarah Walker from her assignment as Chuck's handler and replaces her rather quickly with Alex herself. She won't be holding hands with Chuck (literally or figuratively) and they certainly won't be talking about feelings or anything remotely not related to national security.

Helfer was so fantastic as Alex Forrest in this week's installment that I wished she would have stuck around on Chuck for longer than one episode. In this single episode, she managed to test our heroes' allegiances and relationships with one another in a compelling and meaningful way; it was great to see Chuck saddled with a handler who wasn't going to baby him or care about whether he was okay and I loved the simpatico interplay between Alex and Casey. Two peas in a pod, those two, as they clean their guns, take a no-nonsense approach, and remain hilariously unflappable.

I'm glad, however, that Alex and Sarah didn't have a smackdown over Chuck but the tension between them remained just under boiling throughout the episode. And for her part, Sarah didn't take her dismissal lying down. Instead, she went out of her way to offer Chuck a proper goodbye, breaking into his apartment to leave him a note, and using government resources to track down Chuck's missing father. If that's not the definition of friendship--or of love--I don't know what is. She's proven time and time again that she does care for Chuck in her own way and that their relationship isn't a liability at all, as Alex indicated, but a strength. It's Alex who's easily fooled by Chuck's tracker watch in the courtyard fountain, Alex who wants to blow up the bank vault where Chuck and Zamir are holed up (getting high off of nitrous fumes, I might add), Alex who seduces Captain Awesome and drugs him, and Alex who's quick with her gun but less quick to let down her formidable defenses.

And I'm glad that Casey supported Sarah in this episode. Not in a "I've got my gun drawn and I've got your back" sort of way (which he does, unfailingly every week) but he proved he really did have her back in front of General Beckman, making it clear that Chuck is right about Sarah: she is resourceful, efficient, and, yes, she does care about her assignment. She also happens to be the best damn partner he's ever had. (Sniffle.) Could it be that Major John Casey has a heart, after all? This episode proved just that.

What else did I love? The bait-and-switch with Alex at the Orange Orange at the beginning; Jeff and Lester possibly destroying Ellie's belief in her fiance from some totally inappropriate pictures (even if it was 100 percent clear that Devon was passed out in all of them); Alex's stripper routine and her strip search of Devon; the scene at the trailer with Chuck and Sarah (was that an almost-kiss there?); Morgan describing Ellie's scent as "sugar cookies"; Devon calling Morgan "General Beckman" and Morgan's bewildered reaction; the video conference software in Chuck's television triggered several times by Devon; the return of the "Ex Machina" comic; the use of "Harry Lime" as a pseudonym (Third Man shoutout!); Jeff's sister and the, uh, less-than-appealing strippers; the kidnapping dry-run at the beginning; Devon denying Alex's advances because of his love for Ellie; the weapon-cleaning scene; Chuck cutting himself with the scapel and his fight in the vault with Mohammed Zamir... and his nitrous-induced camaraderie. Which did allow him to learn the location of an Osama bin Laden-type.

All in all, this was another fantastic episode that built on the tension and provided yet another link in the increasingly rewarding overarching mythology of the series. (Also, Adler is quickly becoming one of my favorite Chuck writers and her writing once again shone this week.) While Alex Forrest might be out the picture, Chuck and Sarah aren't out of the woods yet and I imagine that what the creators have in store for this duo will truly put the would-be couple to the test.

My only wish? Please, NBC, do us a favor and pick up this winning series for another season. Or do I need to send Alex Forrest after you?

Next week on Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Dream Job"), Chuck's dreams seemingly come true: his father (guest star Scott Bakula) returns to his life and he lands a dream gig at the computer company run by genius Ted Roarke (guest star Chevy Chase), which naturally means everything is going to come crashing down around poor Chuck.

Comments

Great episode! (Even if things did wrap up a little too easily at the end with Sarah being reinstated.) I loved Tricia Helfer as Alex Forrest and wished that she'd stuck around for another episode or two. The friction that she created between Chuck, Sarah, and Casey was interesting as was the way all three stood up for each other.

The scene with Chuck and the nitrous gas was hilarious! Well played, Agent Carmichael!
Aubrey29 said…
I definitely think that Chuck and Sarah were about to kiss at the end. They really did a nice job with that tension (not too cheesy).

Loved Tricia Helfer and was happy that this episode featured Awesome and Ellie too!
Jeff C. said…
Alex Forrest was too much the bull in the china shop for me, but I loved Casey's obvious lust for her.

NBC had better renew.
CL said…
Really hated Alex Forest - it's too bad she has to go so soon. I've always thought that Chuck needs a character that you just love to hate. When the series started, it was Harry Tang. And when he left, I thought maybe Emmet Milbarge might take his place, but I just can't bring myself to hate him. Especially after Chuck vs. The Predator.
Anonymous said…
Who didn't love the Spies like Us reference with Chuck and Lime's personal physician continually addressing eachother as "Doctor"? I've been waiting for some kind of acknowledgment of that movie since Emmett Milbarge came on the scene!
Anonymous said…
As much as I'm enjoying the Fulcrum storyline, it was nice to have an episode that was somewhat self-contained but still served the purpose of deepening character development (Casey's loyalty to Team Bartowski; Sarah proving to the General [and herself?] that her feelings are an "asset to the asset" rather than a liability). Can't wait for the rest of the season's eps! Please renew "Chuck" for next season, NBC!

By the way, does anyone know the song title or the performer of the song that played while Sarah was leaving Chuck and L.A.? I checked the NBC/Chuck website, and none of the song samples seemed to match that song.
Dio said…
"By the way, does anyone know the song title or the performer of the song that played while Sarah was leaving Chuck and L.A.? I checked the NBC/Chuck website, and none of the song samples seemed to match that song."

Bite Hard - Franz Ferdinand. It's the song playing when she's in her Car.
OldDarth said…
Good episode but a step down from the previous two installments - Predator remains the high point of the season so far.

Great character moments for TeamB especially Sarah and Casey. Sarah's plea to Forrest to take care of Chuck was her most vulnerable moment. Loved that everything she did after being terminated as Chuck's handler was motivated by her feelings for him. Sarah still largely expresses her feelings through acts carried out in the professional realm. Her support moment with Chuck at the end was an important step in her emotional opening up.

Casey was probably the best of TeamB - the way he stood up for Chuck and Sarah was awesome.

As for the episode itself, the mission was frivolous and lacked import without any tie ins to Fulcrum and/or the Orion/Intersect arc. Overall the suspension of disbelief factor on this episode really pushed the limit, even for Chuck, with logic lapses and story contrivances. This is the area which brings the episode down from the level of the previous two the most for me.

Agree that Beckman's capitulation at the end was too convenient a story contrivance.

The vault scene was hilarious.
Time Waster said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said…
Ha, yes, I liked the Spies Like Us Doctor...Doctor...Doctor reference, too.

I wish they'd written Alex Forrest as less of a caricature. She could've been warmer and not such an obvious Enemy of Team Chuck. I think that would've increased the tension. As written, Forrest was so obvious the villain, there wasn't any tension at all. Still, she should totally have stayed for one more episode. I don't need everything wrapped up in a cute little bow in the 42d minute.

Of course, having said that, I hope Ellie/Devon make up soon. It's sad when Ellie's upset. <snif>

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