Chuck season 3 episode 17 review

Billy wonders when SD-6 will turn up in Chuck, as he checks out the latest episode...

3.17 Chuck Versus The Living Dead

With this show now the proud owner of a shiny thirteen-episode season four, and an option on a back nine, those working on Chuck must be walking tall.

But that good news does also bring with it the whole question of where the show goes next? I mean, the concept must develop or die, I’d suggest.

If Chuck Versus The Living Dead is anything to go by, there appear to be those in the Chuck writing team who’d like the show to entirely morph into a serious spy drama. Because some bits of this week’s show were so Alias in places I wondered if Sydney Bristow herself would come gliding into view wearing an implausibly tight rubber dress and an outrageously red wig.

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What underlined this to me was that the plot of the show is reworking the same idea as the first season of Alias, namely it’s not just being a spy that’s tough, it’s the impact on those around you that’s even harder. If this seems all a bit serious for Chuck, and it is borderline in some places, before it gets too out of hand they have Morgan Grimes and Jeffster on hand to remind us that this show was/is/can be a hilarious comedy.

The headline event this week is the reappearance of Scott Bakula as Mr. Bartowski Senior, lured back by The Ring’s manipulation of Ellie. With her planting bugs and telling lies, that makes Big Mike and Jeffster the only non-spies in the show!

I remember joking in an early review that, by the end of Chuck, everyone would be a spy, and by a quirk of weirdness that seems exactly where we’ve gone.

It’s the BuyMore characters that are the very spine of Chuck, though, and their often manic contributions are the highlight of most episodes. The bits they contributed this week made me genuinely laugh out loud, rather than the mumbled snigger that most allegedly funny TV can draw from me. The whole idea of Jeff and Lester breaking up their act and then Big Mike coming to manage their reunion was a masterstroke. But the scene where Mike explained that he was the missing ‘Rain’ from ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’ had me in hysterics.

They capped that piece beautifully when Mike handed Lester the gold stage costume, because, as he saw it, Lester has the ‘hips of a six-year-old girl’. This was pure Chuck magic, and I’m still chuckling now, hours later.

I suppose the strength of this show is that it can be intense, crazy and thoughtful, all within the space of 90 seconds, which makes it very entertaining. Where they’ll take this eventually, I’m not sure, but I’m glad they invited us along for the ride.

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What it also demonstrates is the confidence everyone in front of and behind the cameras has in their product, and that they can still deliver strong entertainment going into a fourth season.

I’ve kept this review spoiler-free in most respects, but I do want to mention the appearance of a previously dead person at the end of the show. It will either be the catalyst for a suitably insane finale, or we’ll all regret that particular actor’s involvement in this show. Time will tell.

With only two episodes left in this season, I anticipate probably more drama than laughs, but the I’m confident we won’t be disappointed on either front.

Check out our review of episode 15 here.