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Angels and Demons: Doctors Without Borders on "Chuck"

Another night, another great episode of Chuck.

The two-night third season launch of Chuck continued last night with another brand-new installment ("Chuck vs. the Angel de la Muerte"), written by Phil Klemmer and directed by Jeremiah Chechik, which found the action-comedy returning to its regular Mondays at 8 pm ET/PT timeslot. (And I couldn't be happier with that: Mondays just haven't been the same without Chuck.)

Last night's episode dealt head-on with the season's new status quo... then seemingly inverted it by the end of the installment, which featured a cliffhanger that was then quickly spoiled by the promo for next week's episode. (Way to contain any suspense, NBC.)

So what happened and what did I think of last night's episode? Let's discuss. (Note: while I've seen the first five episodes of Chuck's third season, I'm keeping the discussion limited strictly to the first two installments.)

Since Devon found out about Chuck's secret identity in Season Two, I've been waiting for this subplot to pay off and last night's episode definitely put the focus onto the relationship between Chuck and his brother-in-law. From the opening flashback sequence that showed the first, er, meeting between Devon and Ellie (a hospital supply closet played a rather significant role) to the episode's final moments, Captain Awesome was front and center in a way that he hasn't been in the first two seasons: out in the field with Chuck and the spy team.

Devon and Ellie have represented something very specific in the world of Chuck: they're the domestic sphere that our Mr. Bartowski aspires to on the one hand, representing the comfortable stability of marital bliss. (It's a state of being that one can help but think Chuck would like to engage in with Sarah.) But despite the rosiness of Chuck's glasses, Devon and Ellie have hit a bit of a rut in their relationship, with Ellie moaning about the lack of passion since their wedding and Devon expressing the need for some adrenaline in his life. Despite that both are top notch doctors, each is looking for excitement in their own way.

Which bring us to Chuck then. For Devon, Chuck represents something unknown and dangerous, the literal embodiment of being a spy. He engages in world-spanning missions, deals with bad guys, and is on the front lines saving the world. Despite being Captain Awesome, Devon wants to be a real-life superhero. But in this episode, he quickly learns that having a double-life means giving up part of your real one. There was a nice parallel between the conversation between Chuck and Awesome and that of Ellie and Sarah at the embassy ball. The truth is harder to deal with than the illusion and there's more than a hint of sadness when Chuck tells Devon, "It's our job to fool people," about his cover relationship with Sarah.

I quite liked the change of pace with Chuck being engaged as Devon's handler as it were in this mission. Chuck has been a fish-out-of-water in the spy world for the last two seasons so it's nice to see him explain the intricacies of the spy game to someone with even less experience than he has... And it was just nice to see Devon brought into the central storyline and exist in Chuck's world.

And Chuck's world is hellishly complex. Putting aside the actual Intersect-flashing, ability-stealing, duck-and-cover aspect of being a superspy, there are unsettling emotions to deal with as well. The discussion between Chuck and Sarah was nicely done as they agree to remain "friends" (for now, anyway) rather than use a romantic relationship as their cover.

It's a life that also puts you in constant danger as Devon discovers at the very end of the episode. Just as we put the episode to bet, the Ring poisoner who had attempted to assassinate the Generalissimo (Armand Assante), turns up with a gunshot wound at the hospital... and Devon walks right into his clutches. While that would have been suspenseful enough, the fact that Sarah then whispers something into Chuck's ear (as Ellie hovers anxiously before asking if they've seen her husband) amps up the tension. Is Devon alive? Dead? Missing? I only wish that the NBC promo department had let the cliffhanger sit for the next week rather than spoil the outcome with a revealing promo for next week. (Grr.)

What did I like about this episode? Casey's Angel of Death storyline, in which we learned that he had attempted--and failed--three times to kill Goya, only to have to provide a blood transfusion to save the life of the reformed communist leader; the potential assassin montage at the party; Goya's mention of Chuck's "delicate features" and how they look better on a woman; Chuck and Sarah's Intersect-assisted dance; that Costa Gravan cigars are "rolled on the thighs of virgins"; "You stole my blood!"; and the general camaraderie between our superspy troika and Devon.

All in all, "Chuck Versus the Angel de la Muerte" was a fun installment that effectively sets up next week's superlative installment and provided a nice change of pace for the action-comedy, switching up Chuck's role within the group and raising the stakes for the civilians in Chuck's life.

What did you think of this week's episode? How did it compare to the two-hour season premiere? Just what happened to Devon? Discuss.

Next week on Chuck ("Chuck Versus Operation Awesome"), Chuck becomes Awesome's handler and shows him how to be a real spy; Morgan is forced to deal with Jeff and Lester's latest pranks after getting promoted to assistant manager.


Anonymous said…
Eh, I miss the whole Chuck as a fish out of water thing. He seems TOO settled into this spy thing now and it's lost some of what made the show so funny for the first two seasons. I don't think I laughed once throughout the whole episode. I hope this gets better.

Samantha Hunter said…
Haven't seen it yet, but you give me something to look forward to, as I thought the Sunday 2 hr epis were pretty disappointing. So I'm looking forward to this third hour.

Bella Spruce said…
Wow! I'm surprised to see negative comments. I thought the 2 hour season opener was fantastic and loved last night's episode too. I think Chuck, even with his fancy new intersect moves, is still very much a fish out of water. He may have many new skills but he is completely befuddled by them and has very little control over them. I think that, if they'd kept things the way they were, it would get old very quickly and I appreciate the new direction they're taking the characters in!
kat said…
I love Chuck and agree with Bella. It is fun to see the new direction and I had several laugh out loud moments.
The CineManiac said…
I loved the first three episodes, as well as episodes 4 and 5, but I"m super disappointed with NBC for ruining the cliffhanger!

I only had to wait like 5 min between episodes 3 and 4, but I was freaking out for those 5 min wondering about Devon. It's disappointing that NBC gave it all away in their preview.

As for the negative comments, I'm surprised too, because I thought that although it's changed the show in some aspects, it's not that different. Chuck is still the awkward guy we've loved for 2 season, and half the time he still can't save himself as his "powers" don't always work.

And look at how he saves the day at the end of episode 2, he just uses his feelings, which is classic Chuck.

One last thing I was happy that Morgan got to have his night with Carina, even if its not going to last.
Chris said…
I can't express how much I'm loving this season!

On top of that, I just heard that the ratings were holding strong. Something like 7.3 mil. Haven't confirmed it yet, but I trust the source. CAN I GET AN 'AMEN'?!
Tempest said…

Chuck just makes my Monday. And yes, lovin' his on-the-fritz Kung Fu powers. And how great is Adam Baldwin?? And Captain Awesome speaks Spanish!
Finn said…
Loved all three, Chuck is back and better than ever. Yes, the promos were spoilers, but did anyone really believe Awesome would be killed?
Unknown said…
This episode was awesome. I liked seeing Devon more and looking to Chuck for help. I like Chuck not being quite the klutz he was in seasons 1 and 2. He can't/shouldn't be perfect, but there's no reason he shouldn't have learned something along the way.

NBC. Sigh. This isn't the first time a network has spoiled a great ending. Sheesh. I had about three seconds to say, "Wow. I can't believe they killed Devon." and then the helpful trailer told me they didn't. Ah well, the "cliffhanger" was too contrived. (Is it really a cliffhanger if they're deliberately misleading the viewer?) I hate being jerked around like that anyway.

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