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Governor Race: Family Affairs, Last Wills and Testaments on Chuck

"This is everything about me. And if something should happen to me, the only person I want to have it is you."

With the potential threat of Daniel Shaw hanging over their heads, everyone seemed to be thinking about their own mortality, with Team Bartowski uncovering Shaw's "spy will" and Chuck and Sarah drafting their own. Given the dangerous line of work that they're involved in, it's more than likely than not that having such a document will be a good thing, a chance to say goodbye to a loved one, to make a confession, to offer up their true selves.

On this week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Living Dead"), written by Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, Chuck once again found himself attempting to live a double life when his father Stephen (guest star Scott Bakula) arrived in Los Angeles after receiving a coded message from Ellie in the paper (itself part of a Ring plot to lure him out into the open and recover The Governor) and Chuck had to pretend that he was no longer an intelligence asset but had left the spy life behind.

Needless to say, Stephen's no fool and saw through Chuck's ruse straightaway, even turning up during a mission to offer his son a literal helping hand (as Chuck was dangling off a building ledge several stories off the ground). I'm happy to see Stephen back in the mix again as I felt as though he disappeared way too quickly at the end of last season and we didn't see the fallout from his knowledge that Chuck had defied him and downloaded the Intersect 2.0 into his brain.

Whereas prior to his Season Two appearance, Stephen had been portrayed as irresponsible, it's now clear that everything Stephen has done in his life as been to protect his children and to keep them as far away as possible from the world of espionage. While Chuck might want to save the world, it's not the life that Stephen had originally envisioned for him, a world of safety and security and where you could go to sleep at night with the knowledge that someone else was shouldering the burden of keeping the world safe.

But that's not how life turns out. Life is a series of adjustments and unexpected paths. In looking to prevent Chuck from entering a profession that all but destroyed his life, Stephen's actions have lead both Chuck and Ellie into it. (That's irony for you, huh?) But Stephen also recognizes that Chuck is doing this for altruistic reasons: "You downloaded the 2.0 for the same reason I invented it: to help people. If you want to be a spy, I'm going to do everything I can to help you be the man you want to be."


To that end, Stephen agrees to construct a Governor for his son. Like a pacemaker, a Governor works on the neural network of the person with an Intersect inside his head, controlling the neural responses and protecting the user from serious harm, such as the effects that Chuck has been experiencing of late.

Of course, The Ring is after The Governor for their own purposes and they're using Ellie to get to Stephen. Unfortunately for her, she believes that Justin is looking to protect Stephen and he's already managed to turn her against Casey (using her shifty attitude towards him against her). The look of horror when Justin instructs her to unlock the stereo speaker and pull out a gun truly expressed just how far over her head Ellie is right now.

While she opts instead to take Casey out with a heavy skillet instead, she ends up running right into the true enemy: Justin, who takes the opportunity to bring her to a Ring facility and locks her in his office. Which is really not good. While Stephen may have been able to outwit The Ring at the cabin, The Ring now has Ellie in their grasp... and likely they are going to offer a trade: her life for that of Stephen Bartowski. Knowing the selfless Stephen, he'd be likely to accept that trade.

Meanwhile, the mystery of whether or not Daniel Shaw is alive continues. Despite Chuck's semi-prophetic dreams (or subconscious Intersect flashes), it does appear that Shaw died in the Seine that day. Or does it? We see someone accessing an Intersect mainframe using Shaw's login. Does it mean that Shaw is in fact alive? Or is someone using his identity? Could it be a little Gaslight at work?

Regardless, Chuck is taking no chances and drafts a "spy will" of his own. It's another major step into adulthood for Chuck, coming as it does with the realization of his own mortality and possible death, thanks to a profession that does have quite a high body count. It's interesting to see just how much Chuck Bartowski has matured since we first met him in the pilot episode. Now with his dream job and dream girl by his side, Chuck is poised to take a running leap out of adolescence just in time for the fourth season. When you look at the arc that the writers have carried out for him, it's been a gradual transformation from boy to man, from victim to hero.

Elsewhere, Big Mike attempted to reunite Jeffster after the group split up thanks to some differences of opinion between Jeff and Lester (a battle between art versus commercialism, enacted in front of the Buy More entrance), and we learned that Mike himself was once a member of Earth, Wind, and Fire (he was Rain). While it didn't quite connect (or at all, really) to the main plot, it was a fun subplot that brought us more Jeffster, here performing "Love Hurts."

What else did I like about this episode? Chuck catching the knife flung at his face by Stephen as a test; when that same moment was echoed as Sarah uses an axe to deflect a knife headed for Chuck; Morgan's efforts to find bulletproof pants among Castle's equipment; Stephen asking Chuck if Sarah also has an Intersect ("That's all her"); the family dinner between the three Bartowskis; and the fight scene between Ellie and Casey, as it seems Ellie is about to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into Chuck's spy world.

What did you think of this week's episode? Do you want Ellie in on Chuck's secret? Is Shaw really dead? What does The Ring have planned? Head to the comments section to discuss.

Next week on the two-hour season finale of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Subway/Chuck Versus the Ring Part II"), The Ring is closing in on Chuck and Operation Bartowski. Fortunately, Chuck's dad Stephen is working hard to save his son. Meanwhile, Casey must secretly protect his daughter from the Ring, and Big Mike receives some serious news about the Buy More.


kat said…
I loved this episode for all the items you highlighted. I am so glad it was picked up for next fall. Go Chuck!
Tonya Ricucci said…
I enjoyed the episode but didn't love it. parts WERE great like Jeffster and the knife at the face and all of Morgan's scenes. I will be unhappy if it really is Shaw alive - such a dull bland character ( or is that just the actor?). The only thing that would be good about it is proving Morgan right - life IS a John Carpenter movie.
Sianne said…
I agree that some parts were great while others felt ho-hum. It was great to see Chuck's dad back in the mix, though, and I'm very interested to see what happens to Ellie and if she'll end up discovering Chuck's secret once and for all.
CJ said…
I hated the Shaw character as a love interest for Sarah and a source of relationship angst, but I LOVE him as true archnemesis.

Chuck has never had an enemy like this. Most of the show's foes have been throw-aways or just mysterious groups of people. Now we have someone who the heroes know very well, and vice versa. And Shaw will be hell-bent on revenge, and he won't think twice about targeting Chuck's friends and family, since he knows that will affect the Intersect's ability to work properly.

I would not be at all surprised if Season 3 ends with Chuck wounded and captured by the Ring, prophesied by the dream he had last week. Can you imagine how much hell Sarah would raise?
gretchen e. said…
My appreciation for Quantum Leap aside, I think Scott Bakula is doing a great acting job with his character. The dad is totally neurotic, but lovable. We can really see that he loves his kids and I'm sad Ellie has to live not knowing the real reason he has to stay away. (That doesn't mean I want her knowing his/Chuck's secrets, though.)

This episode was above average. Not too strong, but a good set up for the season finale.
rex0136 said…
I really think it is ironic that Shaw is turning out to be Chuck's Lex Luthor.
Unknown said…
I agree with CJ that I prefer Shaw as a villain rather than Sarah's love interest. But, I don't know that it's really him. They went to a lot of trouble not to use Routh in this episode. And we've already seen that who we thought was Shaw was really a different Ring operative.

Very glad to see Sarah come to the rescue. That's one woman who shouldn't be waiting in the car!

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