Chuck season 4 episode 9 review: Chuck Versus Phase Three

Chuck bounces back from a rather limp previous instalment with a far superior episode 9. Here's Billy's review of Chuck Versus Phase Three...

Chuck

This review may contain spoilers.

4.9 Chuck Versus Phase Three

Chuck Versus Phase Three is the second part of a double episode, which started last week with the rather limp Chuck Versus The Fear of Death.

Having watched and reviewed this show from the outset, I’ve noticed that it goes through creative cycles where the writers try to breathe new life into it. If last week was a jarring pothole on the road of entertainment, then this one saw a welcoming stretch of freshly laid asphalt.

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I’m not going to talk about the plot as such, because it’s not a major component in what makes Chuck enjoyable generally, and the one here was more about resolving the abduction of our hero from the clutches of the titular Richard ‘The Belgian’ Chamberlain.

No, I’d like to talk about two things. The first of which is the Intersect.

Early in the last season, it became obvious that the Intersect was just too useful, because it could get Chuck out of almost any bind. So a decision was made at some point to muck it up and take it away. What I’m glad to report is that, against what I expected, the Intersect doesn’t come back in this story. That was a brave choice from the creative team, because it does leave Chuck somewhat pathetic as spies come.

Logically, the path they’ve chosen is for Chuck to become a great spy without the Intersect, if that’s possible. So we’ll get to see how that pans out, or if they eventually accept that’s not plausible and the Intersect returns. Then again, it might be back sooner if the laptop Papa Bartowski left Elle gives it to her and Devon! That would be very funny, so I hope it does.

The other point about this story I want to cover is the acting of Yvonne Strahovski, the delectable Agent Sarah Walker. This was a very good episode for her, because she carries much of what happens, and she was great.

But there was a moment where I wondered what show it was that I was watching, and it was the pivotal point where she finally tells Chuck (after 3.5 seasons!) how she feels about him. The scary bit about this scene was that she emotes so effectively and convincingly, I wasn’t sure if I’d accidentally hit the remote and changed channel.

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When actors are given light roles to continually perform, it’s often hard to remember that they can do much wider things, and seeing what Yvonne can really do was more than a little bit shocking. In my heart I can’t really see Chuck progressing to season five, so I’m glad that they’re letting some of the performers in here the chance to show their skills more.

I can’t see that Yvonne Strahovski will have much trouble finding a job after Chuck, but maybe she’ll want something with more cerebral content next time around.

Overall, this wasn’t classic Chuck, but it was entertaining. They also managed to get a small cameo in here for Big Mike which, along with the other Buy More employees, was a very welcome diversion. What it lacked perhaps was the out-and-out crazy stuff that only Chuck brings us, but I’ve got a strange feeling that they’ve saved the best hallucinogenic cranberry sauce for the Thanksgiving episode next Monday.

Let’s hope that Chuck can now take some momentum into the second half of the season, and deliver the conclusion to this show it truly deserves.

Read our review of episode 8, Chuck Versus The Fear Of Death, here.

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