I’d complained that recently Chuck had hit a creative wall of sorts, where they’d fully explored the ideas they’d originally presented. But since then they’ve started to mess with the Chuck formula, and after this latest outing, I felt much more positively about the series and where it might be going next.
In Chuck Versus The Predator the majority of the action takes place in the Buy More, avoiding some of the dual track plotting they’ve been stuck with recently. Previously they’ve talked about the Beverly Hill’s Buy More store, but we discover the rivalry goes deep when, at the start of the story, the green shirts turn up to find their shop has been decorated with toilet paper.
The leader of the Beverly Hill’s Buy More turns up to gloat, played by Matt Winston, who I remember best when he was Temporal Agent Daniels in Enterprise. A source of tension between the stores is who’ll get stock of the latest gaming laptop, with each of them wanting the kudos for getting it first. This wouldn’t be important, but simultaneous to these events, Chuck is contacted by the mysterious ‘Orion’, creator of the computerised intersect. He sends Chuck one of his special computers, which is obviously confused for the new gaming system, and typical chaos ensues.
What works so well in this story is that it managed so effectively to combine some hilarious comedy elements with some genuine drama. When Orion’s computer arrives, it’s intercepted by Lester who takes it to ‘Jeff’s office’, otherwise known as the disabled cubical in the men’s restroom. They power the computer up and in the confusion that follows, they task an unmanned Predator attack drone to attack the Beverly Hills Buy More. Luckily, Chuck manages to get to them before the Predator launches its missiles, but it’s an exciting sequence, well supported with some really slick CGI of the drone.
However, Chuck doesn’t get the computer for long, as Big Mike takes possession of it and puts it in his safe. Chuck, Sarah and Casey plan to rob the store after hours to steal it. Except they’re not the only ones who want to get their hands on it. Into the mix you can add Lester and Jeff who want his wonderful PC, Emmett Milbarge who volunteered to protect it, and a top Fulcrum agent played by no less than the Mummy himself, Arnold Vosloo. With the exception of Emmett, they’re all dressed in black and are wearing ski masks with predictable but very funny consequences. Yes, it’s the same base humour as Abbott And Costello Meet the Mummy, but I chuckled throughout.
Emmett pepper sprays Lester and Jeff before being knocked out by Casey, and Fulcrum agent Vincent takes poison after he’s cornered. They get Orion’s computer, which is where things start to become more serious.
Chuck’s had a hint that it’s not the NSA or CIA’s priority for him to have the Intersect removed, and now it’s made plain by General Diane Beckman, who actually comes to visit. Chuck must get to Orion before Fulcrum, or wave goodbye to any chance of normality. To cut a long story very short, he doesn’t and Orion is killed, presumably. But he does give him information about the Fulcrum version of the Intersect that might help him remove it.
The situation that they’ve now developed is that Chuck is working for himself, but playing along with his spymasters. They, in turn, have decided that he’s too valuable to be allowed to remove the Intersect, and he’s going to have to be trained as a real spy – which, I’d suggested a couple of weeks ago was a direction where the show must go, so it’s nice that I wasn’t alone in this thinking.
This was a very enjoyable story that again moved the bigger story arc on in a positive way, and they managed to get their usual high quota of geek references in that I personally appreciate. This week we get quite a few Trek related comments, but also as a salute to Galactica, which ended this week, they put a good number in that related to that show. My favourites were the sweeping eye on the attack drone, and the Fulcrum council talking to Vosloo’s character in a darkened room with a single spotlight on him, like Baltar in the original series. I’m sure there are more, and I might watch it again later to catch some more.
Chuck is an excellent series, but based on viewers, I’m not sure it will get a third season. So I do hope they make season two go out with a significant bang. In the meanwhile, Chuck must contend with a Broken Heart next week, whatever that actually means?
Check out Billy’s review of episode 16 here.