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"Words Taste Like Peaches": To Love and Die in LA on "Chuck"

Many of you expressed dismay yesterday that there would be no post on this week's episode of Chuck, during this blog's (and about 20 others) one-day blackout in support of the WGA strike. It's not that I didn't want to rush to discuss Chuck but I figured when the time came around that I lifted the posting ban, you guys would still be just as eager to discuss an episode that was extremely appealing.

This week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Truth") did some interesting things: it took that old spy trope--truth serum--and reinvented the truth serum spy story in an unexpected way, altering the compound into an odorless, colorless gas and soon drove its victims into madness and eventually death; it finally placed Chuck's loving sis Ellie in danger, literally with her life hanging in the balance as Chuck had to pull a Sophie's Choice-type decision as to whether to save himself or his sis; and it gave former Alias cast member Kevin Weisman (who will always be Marshall to me) something to finally do. No longer was Weisman resigned to being the geeky sidekick, working feverishly to decrypt some files; instead he was literally kicking ass and taking names. Seriously, that jump-kick was a sight to be seen.

I was happy to see that the plot this week served to advance the characters in considerable ways. Chuck and Sarah's "relationship" was forced to undergo several tests, most notably the arrival on the scene of a new love interest, Lou (Rachel Bilson), a quirky sandwich-maker best suited for Chuck. At the same time, Sarah decides that she and Chuck have to have sex as part of their cover... or at least make everyone else think that they've reached that next level of their relationship. It's a double-edged sword, of course, as it only makes Chuck feel more distant from handler Sarah when he learns--after lighting candles and putting on some mood music--that they won't actually be doing it. Thus, Chuck finds himself in a bind: he's supposedly dating this gorgeous woman who doesn't actually seem to care for him while another gorgeous girl is pining after him and he's unable to do anything about it.

Thus, the truth serum. I'm glad that it wasn't only just Ellie who fell victim to the truth serum, but that all of them--Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and, hell, the villain--breathed in the sodium pentothal. I would have been badly disappointed in this series if Chuck didn't ask Sarah whether she had feelings for him while under the drug's influence. Fortunately, my curiosity and Chuck's was noticeably piqued and then crushed when Sarah answered that she didn't in fact have any feelings for him whatsoever, an epiphany that allows Chuck to "break up" with Sarah and go to see the charming Lou. Cut to Sarah admitting that, as a CIA agent, she had been well-trained in withstanding soldium pentothal.

Ooooooh.... so does that mean that Sarah does have feelings for our little Chuck? Or is she just being overprotective in the face of an unknown adversary? After all, Sarah pulled the meet-cute of bringing in her "broken" mobile into Buy More for Chuck to fix the first time they met as well. Coincidence? Or is Lou not really who she appears to be? Hmmm.

Captain Awesome. I just love Devon, who brings humor and charm to the series, without being overbearing. Simply put, he's awesome.

While the episode was fast-paced and advanced the characterizations (a criticism I've had of the series recently), there were a few problems I had with the episode: (1) that Casey would have been surprised by Chuck's decision to lure the baddie to the hospital with a bait-and-switch that should have been the well-trained NSA agent's first thought, (2) Sarah and Casey were ready to simply down an alleged antidote without forcing the villain to sample the goods, even though they could have simply asked him, under the influence of the truth serum, whether the antidote was real. (Besides for the fact that it was red and the antidote Chuck gave Sarah was green.) These are supposed to be spies here, so let's give them some modicum of intelligence.

But those are minor quibbles of lazy writing among a jewel of an episode that I'm willing to brush aside. Personally, I'm worried about the future of this series, not from a creative standpoint (recent episodes have proven that they can weave a mythology into the series), but simply because Chuck still hasn't received a back nine order and the writers strike will prolong the possible pick-up as much as possible. (Nets have until December to decide whether to grant freshman series additional episode orders.)

Fingers crossed that this series isn't a casualty of the strike as I would miss the spies of Chuck far too much on Monday nights to consider a gruesome alternative of, say, American Gladiators. No truth serum needed for me to reveal my thoughts on that development.

Next week on Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami"), Sarah experiences pangs of jealousy when she sees Chuck's new romance with Lou is going well, until Lou is unmasked as the member of a smuggling ring; Morgan begins a relationship with an unlikely woman.


Yeah, it really irked me that Sarah and Casey almost downed the "antidote" without checking if it was real.

Otherwise, I liked the episode and thought that Rachel Bilson was a fun addition. I didn't believe that this girl would own a deli but she just looked so darn cute and little standing next to the tall Chuck and Sarah that I was happy to overlook it.
Kristin said…
I agree with a lot of what you said. I also really hope that is picked up, it's a fantastic show.
Synd-e said…
I really think this show is hitting its stride, and it is so unfortunately (OK, it sucks), that the back 9 may not get greenlighted, or that it may not get picked up at all for next year due to the strike (which I fully support). If NBC kills it, it might fit in nicely on USA among "Burn Notice" and "Psych".

Best line of the night: "I own a deli. I often think about meats and cheeses." Hee!
The CineManiac said…
Why Jace? Why?
You kinda ruined the suspense of the Lou/Chuck/Sarah triangle with your preview of next weeks episode!
Other than that I agree this entire episode was Awesome! (and by that I don't mean Mediocre)
Although I agree that the fake antidote was dumb, considering it was a different color, that really bugged me.
rockauteur said…
thanks for ruining next week's episode with the Lou/smuggling twist.
Shawn Anderson said…
I've always thought Chuck owed at least part of it's genesis to the comedic turns in Alias when Marshall (Weisman) was forced into the field... a geeky fish-out-of-water like Chuck. So perhaps it's a knowing wink from Schwartz/Fedak to have Weisman guest as a baddie.

The Chuck sandwich is a shout-out to "Matt's Special" sandwich at LA's Canter's Deli, which is named after Chuck producer Matt Miller. Rachel Bilson is apparently a big fan of the sandwich, which makes the reference twice as much fun.
Unknown said…
Is Lou who she appears to be? I guess not. Thanks for answering your own question, Jace. I expect that kind of spoilage from TV Guide; you should know better.

I loved Chuck asking Casey who was better at picking locks. "She is. Damn!"

I didn't care about the color of the truth serum as much as the color of Sarah's lingerie. If she's determined--even under truth serum--to keep her feelings secret, why did she get sexy with Chuck. Or could she just not stand that he was attracted to Lou? Selfish much, Sarah?
Jace Lacob said…
Guys, this is Chuck we're talking about. I figure the only thing she's guilty of smuggling is imported salami for her deli rather than, say, nuclear explosives. Let's wait and see what happens, shall we?
Anonymous said…
I am digging CHUCK. We need to make sure this strike doesn't last! If the studios were willing to make some very minor concessions on new media, it would all be back to normal!

I urge anyone willing to help end the strike to check out:

The site is intended to publicize a letter writing campaign that will really target the offending CEOs who refuse to address new media.

It contains all the addresses of the CEOs who REALLY call the shots, has a sample letter and breaks down WHICH CEO is responsible for almost every show, so fans can make the letters specific to their favorite shows.

Please consider helping us spread the word!
Unknown said…
Jace, if your comment was based only on next week's teasers, no harm done. We spoiler-free folk tend to overreact to even a breath of spoilage. Sorry about that.
Anonymous said…
Well, after a Chuck marathon this weekend (3 eps), I am finally all caught up. And while I still can't say I am totally hooked, I thought the last two eps (Stanford and this one) were the best so far. Solid eps, both.

Though, I was totally irked that they would start to drink an antidote that was clearly not the same color as the one that saved Ellie.
Anonymous said…
It's probably a bit late to be commenting on this, but the persnicketiness inside compels me to say a few things.
First of all, Casey would, could, and indeed should have been surprised at Chuck's idea. Sure, CIA and NSA agents would have known that tactic, but Chuck the "moron" (Casey's words, not mine) would not have come up with such an ingenious and risky idea.
And...there are no problems with the fake antidote problem. It is kinda...not smart to drink something a bad guy gave you.
Boy, words taste like peaches.

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