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Daddy Issues, Tranquilizer Darts, and Pancakes: Chuck Lands His Dream Job on "Chuck"

Be careful what you wish for.

On this week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Dream Job"), written by Phil Klemmer and Corey Nickerson, Chuck finally came face to face with his long-lost father (guest star Scott Bakula), landed the job of his dreams working for Steve Jobs-esque Ted Roark (guest star Chevy Chase), and had to throw everything away in a desperate, last-ditch effort to have the Intersect removed from his brain.

You read my advance review of this episode of Chuck but, now that it's aired, I'm curious to see what you thought of this week's installment and talk specifically about some of the plot twists as we begin the countdown to the season finale.

So let's put down that copy of "Ex Machina," grab some fresh pancakes, and discuss "Chuck Versus the Dream Job."

Orion. The biggest reveal in this week's episode is, of course, that Chuck's dad is in fact Orion, who didn't really die in that helicopter explosion after all. (Did we really think he did?) The way that Orion made sure that Chuck ran rather than focus on saving himself pointed to some sort of link or bond between the two and I am glad that the writers did such a nice job of planting that and then paying it off here.

While it was pretty obvious from the start that Stephen was Orion (handing Chuck the training manual for Roark Instruments, slipping him the RIOS flier, and his use of some familiar cards all pretty much clinched it), I'm glad that the writers are delving so heavily into the series' overarching mythology. Is it a coincidence that Stephen had a hand in developing the Intersect and that Chuck was the one who ended up with it inside his head? And, even more tantalizingly, could Bryce Larkin be working with Orion all along? After all, we still don't know how Bryce was able to give Chuck the Intersect upgrade in "Chuck Versus the Break Up." Hmmm...

I have to give some kudos to Scott Bakula for imbuing Stephen Bartowski with the same sort of bumbling doofus/genius mojo that Zachary Levi has in abundance. It was totally believable that these two were father and son and their scenes at the house and Stephen's trailer cemented their similarities. Stephen Bartowski represents a possible future for our own Chuck: one in which his life amounts to nothing, his ideas stolen, his family broken. Orion is another: that Chuck will have to flee even his carefully ordered cover life in order to protect those that he loves.

Chuck. I'm also glad that Chuck was spurred on by his dad--in the guide of Orion--to break into Roark Instruments and go after the faux-Intersect. Aided by those nifty schematics secreted into a copy of Brian K. Vaughan's "Ex Machina," Chuck was able to engineer a way into the facility... after getting appropriately outfitted in the Castle and tranquilizing Casey, oh, about four times.

It's good to see a proactive Chuck who's not afraid to get his hands dirty in the field and it shows some major character development: the Chuck we knew back in Season One couldn't have taken out all of Roark's goons with a tranquilizer gun. (Yes, he seemed to be aiming blindly but still.) And not only was Chuck more proactive in the spy world but coming face to face with his absent father also brought out a more forceful Chuck Bartowski, as when he tells his father "I don't want to hear what you can't do. I've seen what you can't do."

(And, as I mentioned in my original review of the episode, the deft physical comedy that Levi employs in his interview scene with the exercise balls is a thing of genius.)

I loved the fact that Chuck went into Roark Industries not as Charles Carmichael but as Chuck Bartowski himself and nailed the interview and got the job not because of some CIA shenanigans but because of his actual qualifications (even if was Sarah who finagled that Stanford diploma in the end). And that his proactive streak extended to his flashing too as Stephen forces him to flash on the security panel outside of Roark Instruments/Fulcrum's Intersect 2.0. Who knew Chuck could do that? Daddy, of course. He designed the Intersect not just for passive intelligence gathering and collation of data but for real-time retrieval on demand. Could this be one slight change in the cards for Chuck in the future?

Sarah and Casey. It's clear that, no matter what Stephen/Orion might have told Chuck back in "Chuck Versus the Predator," these two do care about Chuck and have his back, following him to Roark Instruments and extracting him from a pretty dangerous situation. Even Major Casey, typically so eager to drop-kick Chuck into the next county, seems to have developed some affection--and even a little (dare I say it?) respect--for Chuck Bartowski after Chuck shot him in this installment. He even stands up to General Beckman when she wants to assign the search for Orion to another team and Chuck says that they are her best team. Could Casey have feelings after all?

And did I mention these two dressing up like nerds in one of the most hilariously unrealistic disguises ever seen on this series? That's true camaraderie. ("Either this is a mission or you guys are very good at hiding your hobbies.") While Sarah and Chuck's relationship may not have been the focus of this installment, there were some nice Chuck/Sarah moments throughout, such as the scene in the trailer. It's abundantly clear that these two have formed a strong bond and Yvonne Strahovski once again encapsulates her feelings towards the asset in the smallest glance or brightest smile. (Just look at the way she beams when Stephen says, "He was always a genius, this one," of Chuck.)

Ellie and Devon. I'm glad that Devon's allegedly inappropriate behavior at his bachelor party in last week's episode wasn't entirely swept under the rug as Ellie's still not forgiven him completely for... whatever she thinks he did with Tricia Helfer's Alex Forrest. I loved the scene between Devon and Stephen as they talk about what he should do about Ellie... and that Devon made Ellie pancakes in order to gently break it to her that Stephen had taken his stuff and left her again. That Stephen would--twice--take off to protect his family from harm is what makes this story even more heartbreaking. Another fantastic, if small, scene? The one between Chuck and Ellie in her bedroom when they talk about hate versus forgiveness.

Best line of the evening: "You don't gave the common courtesy to threaten me with an actual firearm?" - Casey (Tied with: "Ooooooh" - Casey, upon getting stabbed in the neck with said tranquilizer dart.)

And, oh, that plaintive song playing over the final scenes of this week's episode? It's Scottish band Glasvegas' "Daddy's Gone."

All in all, another fantastic installment of Chuck that perfectly set the stage for what promises to be a killer road to the season finale. And, for my part, I'm hoping that it is a season finale and that NBC sees just what Chuck's viewers do: that there's no series that manages to as effortlessly combine genres and offer a fast, furious, and above all else fun experience on television.

What did you think of this week's episode? Will the team be able to rescue Stephen/Orion? Will Fulcrum's Intersect 2.0 make Chuck obsolete? Does Orion have any other tricks (literally) up his sleeve? And just what does the "game-changing" season finale of Chuck have in store for our favorite spy trio? Discuss.

Next week on Chuck ("Chuck Versus the First Kill"), when Chuck's father (guest star Scott Bakula) is kidnapped by Fulcrum, Chuck learns the only chance he has to find him is by placing his trust into the hands of the person he trusts the least: his ex-girlfriend Jill Roberts (guest star Jordana Brewster). Meanwhile, the Buy More team tries to sabotage Emmett's corporate evaluation.


Annie said…
Great episode that definitely didn't disappoint. I was worried after reading your early review of the ep that it wouldn't live up to the hype. But it did and then some. I always love to read your cryptic clues and then try to puzzle out what happens and I am usually wrong but that's what makes it fun! Thanks for a great review and a great post-show wrap up!
Blake said…
Great episode! It was nice seeing Chuck take action (and even take down Casey)! I think that Chuck and his dad make a good team and I also enjoyed Chevy Chase as Ted Roark. He was fantastically despicable!
Mike said…
I am surprised that you didn't say more about Chevy Chase as Roark. Thought he was awesome and this ep set him up as one of the show's best villains. Not sure how Roark will be around now that the government knows that he's evil and launching a data retrieval virus thru his new OS but I am sure the writers will come up with something convincing.
Anonymous said…
An excellent episode for all the reasons listed above and a good review BTW.

For the life of me I don't know how this show gets lower ratings than a re-run of the Big Bang Theory. Chuck is awesome TV. If you don't, you should check it out.
Tempest said…
And how great was it to hear Bakula's "oh boy"?

What else did I love? All the things noted above . . . Casey's nerd look (but then, I love all things Casey), the continuing awesomeness of Awesome, Chuck's goofy excitement -- "this place is so cool" -- when being shown the lobby, etc. (I could completely identify.) This show just brings it.
Unknown said…
Chuck played it a bit too googly-eyed during the tour. "What's that?!" "The bathroom." C'mon.

I think I enjoyed the scene with Sarah and Chuck in the trailer the most. I'm impressed, as Jace is, by Ms. Strahovski's ability to express complex emotions with a twitch of her lip or tip of her head.

I'd imagined it was Ellie's dad who made the pancakes. That'd be better than Devon making them.

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