Chuck season 3 episode 5 review

Chuck flies first class, and Morgan has problems at the Buy More. Season three continues to improve in the process...

Chuck Versus First Class

Last week I joked that the NBC backlot might get some use when Chuck is deployed on his first solo mission to Paris, and I was almost right. Chuck never manages to escape from one location set, namely the same 747 interior that’s been in a million different movies and TV shows over the years.

This was the second episode that Brandon Routh appears as Daniel Shaw, and in this one he’s actually much better than his first outing on Chuck, even if his character does seem not entirely rational at times.

Having reviewed all the ‘Team Bartowski’ missions, Daniel decides that Sarah and Casey are actually holding Chuck back, and so, despite the protests of Sarah, he sends him off on his own to retrieve a special key.

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Chuck thinks the mission is in Paris, but once on the flight he realises that the mission is an airborne one and will be completed before they reach Charles de Gaulle Airport. However, travelling first class isn’t without it’s ‘perks’, and one of these is the stunningly gorgeous Kristin Kreuk as fellow traveller Hannah, with whom Chuck quickly establishes a rapport. The whole plot from this point pivots on how charming Chuck can be, even given his substantial nerd herd baggage.

But just when he’s getting on with Hannah like a house on fire, he flashes on a Ring agent, and the spy insanity ensues. As a counterpoint to this, back at the Buy More Morgan is having an exceptionally tough time establishing his authority over Lester and Jeff, and calls in Casey to help him. This was an amusing aside, the pinnacle of which was the point where Casey kidnaps Lester and brainwashes him The Ipcress File-style.

Perhaps, in retrospect, it wasn’t quite as entertaining as pervious Buy More sequences, but it kept the pace of the show on track. No Awesome, Ellie or Big Mike this week, but I’m sure they’ll be back soon.

The positive parts of this Chuck story were small, but significant. They avoided using the Intersect as the get out of jail card it was becoming, and there was more of an unpredictable comedy element. They also hint at a growing confidence that Chuck is developing, and Daniel seems to see in him the spy that’s truly inside him. This is an interesting divergence, and I’m curious to see where it takes him.

The other dash of spice they threw into the wok here was the appearance of Hannah in the closing sequence at the Buy More. Has Sarah got some competition? And is Hannah a spy, or is Chuck really that charming?

This might be a pivotal Chuck story, something I can better assess later in the season.

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What’s entirely surreal for me about Chuck Versus First Class is that I had an almost identical experience flying first class on a transatlantic flight once, to the point where it’s like the writers of the show had access to my personal memories… I was returning to New York and ended up sitting alongside a very attractive buyer for a major retail operation who then invited me to dinner in Manhattan. The only bits I’m a little hazy on are the fighting agents on the plane, but then getting through arrivals at JFK is not an entirely dissimilar experience to mortal combat against hired assassins.

Next week Chuck is going up against the Nacho Sampler, which, if it’s another memory plucked from my brain, might not be suitable viewing for mainstream TV.

Here’s me hoping it isn’t.

Check out our review of episode 4 here.