The subtitle for this review should be: Chuck = WIN!
Within the first half of the episode, it had vaulted to my top 5 favorite Chuck episodes. By the end, it was in the top 3. Remember the lightheartedness and the chemistry (between all of the leads) that first hooked you on Chuck? It’s back, but deeper and richer thanks to the past 3 seasons. In fact, the entire episode feels richer and deeper; it’s confident and ambitious and intimate all at once. There are some moments that made me shout with laughter and a couple of incredibly poignant moments as well. Gosh, I hope I’m not overselling this!
NBC only sent out the season premiere for review, so these comments are only for “Chuck vs. the Anniversary.” First things first, Chuck and Sarah are indeed together. Very much so. Yes, there are some lies of omission, but it looks like TPTB heard the fan complaints about lies between these two and chose to address those complaints head on. It’s another “teaching moment” that serves as a transition for Chuck and Sarah.
Speaking of lies, we get just one small scene with Ellie, but his sister is on Chuck’s mind throughout. He is trying to make the best of his circumstances, carrying out his father’s wishes and honoring his commitments to others. He does end up back on the government’s payroll by the end of the episode, but he’s not thrilled about it because he takes his promise to Ellie very seriously. I’m not sure I like how he left things with her, but that’s the only part of this episode that was less than a 10 (or an 11 out of 10) for me.
The Chuck/Morgan bromance returns in full force and is a joy to watch. Their mission to search the globe for Mama B yields an amusing montage, some pretty funny inside jokes, and a surprisingly mature attitude from Morgan who is doing his best to be Alfred to Chuck’s Batman. This is also where guest star Harry Dean Stanton appears. I recently began watching Big Love, in which Stanton plays Morman-in-Charge Roman Grant, and got a kick out of his role here.
We can’t forget Casey. He grunts his annoyance about Chuck & Sarah’s coupleness, but when push comes to shove, he cares deeply for these two. He lets fly a few well-placed quips, gets to play with guns, and even has a terrific dramatic moment that I won’t soon forget.
The story arc provides Sarah with some non-Chuck action (not THAT kind of action) that I appreciated. As much as I love her and Chuck together, it’s wonderful to see Sarah outside of that relationship on occasion. Her partnership with Casey has always been a favorite of mine, and we’re treated to plenty of it here. She has some fun in this episode, as well. In fact, in everything she does, she seems to be having more fun. There is a lightness about her character that has been a long time coming. Instead of confused, hurt, miserable Sarah, we have confident, secure, happy Sarah.
The search for Mama B is complicated, as it should be. I suspect that following this episode, our forum will light up with fans finding clues and putting together speculations. There is a wealth of mythology being drawn on and being built. Also, Linda Hamilton IS Mary Elizabeth Bartowski. It’s casting genius again.
- Composer Tim Jones has outdone himself with the music here. A couple of music cues had me chortling with glee.
- The new Buy More has Morgan drooling. So does Greta.
- The only change in the opening credits is the addition of Bonita Friedericy as a regular, and her appearance here (which has been pretty much revealed in sneak peeks) has me chomping at the bit for more.
- The anniversary is one several fans guessed a while ago.
- Pay attention when Chuck is getting dressed in his room.
- Sexting proves to be both hilarious and an important plot device. Man, I love this show.
- I think Volkoff Industries is going to be an actual threat this season. Dolph Lundgren was perfect as our introduction to the organization: menacing but still within the context of the show.
- Devon, Big Mike, Jeff & Lester do not appear in the premiere.
Chuck returns Monday, September 20 at 8/7c on NBC.