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It's a New Dawn, A New Day: An Advance Review of Next Week's Chuck

Time to crank up the Nina Simone: Chuck returns on Monday and it's all about feeling good.

When we last saw Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker, they had finally gotten the chance to achieve the happiness they've been denied for so long, winding up in bed together and focusing on themselves and their burgeoning relationship rather than getting sucked back into the spy life by another mission from General Beckman.

That ending was meant to serve originally as the finale for Chuck's third season but, fortunately for us, that's not quite how things turned out as Chuck got another six episodes and we got six more weeks to spend with our favorite spies.

Monday night brings a brand-new Chuck episode ("Chuck Versus the Honeymooners"), written by Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins (with a story by Ali Adler) and directed by Robert Duncan McNeill, which I had the chance to watch ahead of time and which I'll say is a thing of beauty.

So, what did I think of Monday's episode of Chuck? Let's discuss. (Though beware there are minor spoilers ahead. And, as always, please do not reproduce this post in full on message boards, forums, or other web sites.)

I don't want to give too much away about this utterly fun and magical episode. There's a winning sense of joy and lightness to this episode that has been missing from the series for a bit, given some of the darkness that crept in during the last few installments. "Chuck Versus the Honeymooners" provides just the right mix of comedy, romance, action, and intrigue as well as several new character dynamics to explore.

Given that the previous episode had finally brought together Chuck and Sarah in a real and meaningful way, I was curious to see just how their relationship would be handled here, whether they would be taking tentative first steps into the dating world or whether we'd find them as a full-blown couple.

Let's just say: the honeymoon isn't over. Not by a long shot.

Monday's installment finds Chuck and Sarah attempting to hold onto what they've fought to have for three seasons: an actual relationship that's uncomplicated by professional responsibilities, flashes, or espionage, to focus on each other in the most, uh, intimate way possible. (Or as Casey memorably puts it in this episode, Chuck "is going to need a walker when Walker is finished with him.")

But fate has a way of throwing a spanner into the most careful of plans and Chuck and Sarah find their romantic European interlude intruded into by some serious complications in the form of a Basque terrorist on their train. Just when you think you're out...

But, let's be honest, there never was any real possibility that Chuck and Sarah could be out of the spy game, at least not permanently. Despite their desire to start over with a normal life somewhere, regular jobs and housework, espionage is in their blood. They can't turn off those instincts or their abilities, no matter how much they might want to. Which forces Chuck and Sarah to make a monumental decision about their future together--and the either/or dynamic that has colored their romance--before the episode ends...

I don't want to spoil too much because this is one episode that will make Chuck fans very, very happy. There are hair-raising stunts, one of the very best fight sequences on the series to date (hint: it involves handcuffs and swing dancing), familiar faces, bittersweet departures, unlikely partnerships, Morgan doing what Morgan does best (which might just surprise you), and a shout-out to our neighbors to the North.

(Plus, did I mention a deliciously absurd performance by Jeffster?)

Ultimately, I have to say that I enjoyed this fantastic episode even more than "Chuck Versus the Other Guy", as it offered the perfect balance of tone, genre-busting action, and an emphasis on the core relationships, highlighting just what makes this series so unique and unforgettable. If Monday's blissful installment represents the quality of the next six episodes, I'd have to say that Chuck fans are in for quite a ride.

So buckle your seatbelt, order some room service, lock and load, and pucker up.

Chuck returns Monday evening at 8 pm ET/PT on NBC.


tadeu said…
hi there!
i love it the way you write about this episode.
i love to found critics who also love the show.
very kind words to tell some news about "chuck", by far, my favorite show ever.
congrats, excelent article!
hug´s from portugal :)
Diane D. said…
Diane asks...

You mention Nina Simone. Do they use any of her music in the episode?

I love Nina Simone's music and there are so many good songs to pick from.
James said…
Great preview!!!
Now, i'm way too excited for next week. Thanks for that :/ :P
One question, would you say the handcuff fight in this episode is better than the Sarah/Bryce in season 1??
Unknown said…
Hey James, what episode was the fight scene between Sarah and Bryce?
Amanda Mason said…
As always, great review! I'm warming up my smile muscles. Sounds like I'll be using them a lot on Monday night.

Thanks for the tidbits.
Anonymous said…
Casey says Chuck's gonna need a walker by the time Walker's done with him. Maybe the best Casey line ever :) just fuels the fires of my love for the big guy even more. Man, I love Adam Baldwin. Can't wait for monday.
Anonymous said…
So can't wait for Monday! Three weeks is way too long to go without Chuck - hopefully we'll only have to go through summer without it, though once this season is over. (Please NBC?) Sounds like this is going to be an awesome episode! I think that the Casey and Morgan dynamic will be hilarious but I would like to see Casey, Sarah and Chuck work together also like old times. These are going to be an exciting 6 episodes!
jd said…
Jace, thanks for the awesome overview of next week's "Chuck" episode! Reading your spoiler-lite review, along with watching a sneak peek clip on E!Online's Watch with Kristin page, just has my face hurtin' from all the smiling. Yay! And Casey's comment about Chuck needing a walker...priceless!
jd said…
Jace, thanks so much for your spoiler-lite overview of next Monday's "Chuck"! Between reading your article and watching a sneak peek clip on E!Online's Watch with Kristin page, my face hurts from all of the smiling!

And Casey's comment about Chuck needing a walker? Absolutely priceless!
Anonymous said…
To Anonymous #2:

Unfortunately, I don't think we'll see much of Casey working with Chuck and Sarah anymore. It seems like his main job from now on will be training Morgan. This is yet another reason why I no longer care if the show is renewed or not.
Kristie said…
Wow! I have to say, you did an amazing job in intensifying my anticipation for Monday's episode. Thanks for this well-written review. Chuck's writers and producers-even music directors are amazingly talented! I can not wait for more episodes! I really do not know how I will stand not having any new episodes in the summer!
Lynn said…
Thanks so much for the great preview/review--CHUCK is my favorite show for so many reasons, one being that it seems every episode gets better & better--so many twists & turns, you never know what will happen next. It's total escapism, and a joy to watch! I love it.

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