Last week Chuck had a diversion into the third dimension that didn’t really make the grade for me, and I’m a big fan of the show. But it’s a signature of this series that, on the odd occasion they’ve slipped, the very next week they come back harder, better, faster, stronger. And if anything, Chuck Versus The Suburbs is one of the stand-out episodes this year, as Chuck and Sarah go undercover to unravel Fulcrum nastiness in the sunny hinterland.
Each Chuck story has a pivotal theme, and the one in this story is Valentine’s Day and the finding of love associated with it. I knew this was a classic when Chuck first arrives at his undercover suburban home, and waves at all the neighbours while Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads plays. The words “not my beautiful house” and “not my beautiful wife” get a whole extra dimension, when he walks into the home to find photoshoped images of his marriage to Sarah, her making potato salad, and even a dog!
Soon they’re both schmoozing with the neighbours, trying to work out which is the Fulcrum agent, while pretending to be newly married. Chuck soon realises that suburbia isn’t just about burned hot dogs and lite beer, when Sylvia (Jenny McCarthy) gives him a sharp hint that she’s willing to entertain him when her husband is out of town. This would be fine, if Casey (who’s pretending to be the cable guy) didn’t notice that her house has the fattest internet connection, and therefore they send him over to investigate further. Soon he’s been connected to a bed by fur-lined handcuffs, and Casey’s advice to break a bone in his thumb to escape doesn’t seem practical. Jenny McCarthy looks good; Chuck needs to learn how to roll with the punches, I say.
Unfortunately, he gets the keys, gets loose and powers up the PC nearest the net connection. After entering a password he guesses (so much for ‘security’) an intersect-style data blast is projected at him and Chuck passes out.
Coming around, he makes it out of the house, although he’s seen by all his neighbours in a state of undress before being slapped by Sarah on the front door for effect. So far this was an OK story, but two extra elements send the plot off like a rocket.
What I haven’t mentioned so far is the Buy More side of this Chuck, which is about Big Mike getting served divorce papers on Valentine’s Day, and making life hell for all the Nerds. Desperate to get him distracted, Morgan, Emmett (with a toupee on?), Jeff and Lester set about helping Big Mike get a hot date, with ultimately hilarious consequences. But I’ll call that one later.
Chuck comes back to the Buy More and then flashes on a real estate brochure for the development he’s been living in, which, with the extra information he’s been given, tells him everyone in that close is a Fulcrum agent. He rushes back to save Sarah and Casey only to be captured.
Fulcrum want to build a new intersect, but they also want to use the technology Bryce unleashed on Chuck with their own agents, so they’d like to experiment with him. There is a very The Ipcress File scene where they all put dark glasses on while Chuck is bombarded with reprogramming images. While they’re doing this Casey is escaping his handcuffs by, you guessed it, breaking his thumb!
Chuck survives this further upload to his brain, and they then decide to experiment on Sarah, but Casey activates the system while Sarah and Chuck have their eyes closed, disabling all the Fulcrum agents.
What I’ve left out here is the underlying emotional story about how Chuck really feels about Sarah, and vice versa, and how the house in the suburbs is where they really want to be – even if they can’t admit it to each other. It looks like their fake relationship is going to hit some more bumps, as Chuck accepts the reality of the situation. It’s sad, but we all know that Chuck will be happy one day, when the show ends presumably.
I can also see a springboard for what happened in this story, as Bryce obviously chose Chuck for a reason when he sent him the intersect. Perhaps there is something special about Chuck, that even he doesn’t know.
Okay. I left it till the end, because it made me laugh out loud, something I don’t normally do at TV. Big Mike goes on his ‘hot date’ and is successful, although he does tell the women he’s a shipping magnate. The next day, he’s unhappy with the deceit and invites the woman to the Buy More to tell her the truth. She’s okay with the fact that he’s not a ‘boat captain’, but she wondered if he knew she had a 26-year-old son, that works at the Buy More. Hello, Mrs Morgan!
Next week Chuck is up against his Best Friend, which knowing his luck recently, is Sarah!
Check out Billy’s review of episode 12 here.