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Chuck Versus the Daddy Issues: An Advance Review of Next Week's "Chuck Versus the Dream Job"

I arrived home yesterday to find a rather exciting parcel waiting for me from Warner Bros. Television.

Upset that I had nothing to watch last night (wasn't going to cave in and watch the three-hour ER series ending event), I was overjoyed to discover that the studio had in fact sent me next week's episode of Chuck ("Chuck Versus the Dream Job"), written by Phil Klemmer and Corey Nickerson.

"Chuck Versus the Dream Job," which airs on Monday night on NBC, is perhaps one of the more pivotal episodes that the series has seen so far. Without giving too much away, I'll say that it deals with the reunion between Chuck, Ellie, and their long-lost father Stephen Bartowski (Scott Bakula), whose location was discovered last week by Chuck's handler Sarah Walker.

But this episode isn't just about lovey-dovey family reunions. No, throw in a Steve Jobs-like software tycoon named Ted Roark (Chevy Chase), a Fulcrum plot, nicely taut emotional beats, some interesting reveals about the Intersect, and a fantastic payoff involving that "Ex Machina" comic and you have the makings of what promises to be a fantastic storyline. And, oh, Chuck actually landing a plum position that's as close to his dream job as possible.

But this is Chuck, after all, so don't look for anything good to come of his efforts to fulfill his true potential...

Scott Bakula is perfectly cast as Chuck and Ellie's absent father Stephen who took off one day after promising to make the kids pancakes for dinner. It's safe to say that his arrival back into their lives is fraught with complications. In fact, that old adage of being careful what you wish for definitely applies here. While it's Chuck that's searching his father out in order to fulfill Ellie's wish that he walk her down the aisle at her wedding to Devon, Ellie herself... well, let's just say that she doesn't react very favorably to seeing her father suddenly turn up after all of these years.

Bakula, for his part, manages to encapsulate so many of the same qualities that Zachary Levi brings to life in Chuck Bartowski: both are lanky, awkward, and prone to nervous rambling and fumbling. There's an innate sadness--along with heaps of paranoia--sewn into his Stephen Bartowski. The man reeks of misused potential and it's a dark reminder to Chuck of how he could end up down the road. So when that dream job materializes--working for Ted Roark's Roark Instruments--Chuck seizes it for everything that it's worth, hoping to make something of himself other than a Buy More Nerd Herder. (And, yes, Sarah gently reminds him that he IS more than just that.)

Once again, Levi brings an adept sense of physicality to the table. His job interview at Roark Instruments, perched atop of an exercise ball, is a master class in physical comedy. But this week Chuck does exhibit more than pratfalls and nervous banter; he suits up and handles a gun. Proficiently, no less. He shows more grit and determination in this episode than we've seen of him on the series to date. He's a man with a plan and no one is going to get in his way.

What else can I reveal about this week's installment? Besides for the fact that there are reveals aplenty, I'll say that it's positively overflowing with some ripe emotional moments between Chuck and Ellie, Chuck and Sarah, and Chuck and his father. And it perfectly sets up a taut storyline involving the Intersect, Fulcrum, and others that will ramp up to the "game-changing" season finale that creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak have promised.

At the end of the day, I can only hope that said season finale is just that (rather than an unintended series finale) and NBC comes to their senses and picks up Chuck for another season. The storyline hinted at in "Chuck Versus the Dream Job" points towards the fact that the writers have only just scratched the surface of the series' mythology and that the series, like Chuck Bartowski himself, has yet to reach its full potential, in every sense of the word.

I only hope that Schwartz, Fedak, and Co. get the opportunity to do just that before Chuck gets retired from the spy game... because this is one series that is unlike anything else on television right now and is just--let's all say it--awesome.

"Chuck Versus the Dream Job" airs Monday evening at 8 pm ET/PT on NBC.


OldDarth said…
Woot! Can't wait - likely to be the most emotional episode of the season!

Come on Monday!
Wes said…
I am always so jealous that you get to see these before the rest of us plebs. ;) Sounds like a great ep and I like that there are some emotional beats in the ep and it's not just action. Very intrigued by some of the hints you give here. Could there be some kind of resolution to Chuck/Sarah relationship? Or am I reading too much in to it?
Tempest said…
Jace, thanks for the preview. I appreciate how you walk the fine line of providing a preview without spoiling anything. This sounds like a great episode!

And NBC . . . seriously guys, "Chuck" makes me look forward to Mondays. Renew it already. (And "Life" too, please.)
Dio said…
This episode sounds like the perfect mix of drama, laugh and excitement! The usual Chuck cocktail! But this one sounds better then any Martini you can ever get! Can't wait!

If you want Chuck to be renew and want to help, you can go there!
Bella Spruce said…
Thanks for the great review! I've been looking forward to this episode for a long time (seeing Chuck and Ellie finally reunite with their father) and am happy to hear good things about it. I can't wait to see it tonight!
Andy said…
Thanks for the review. This sounds awesome. Can't wait for tonight! I really hope that Chuck's dad does end up being Orion. Would be a great twist.

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