“Chuck” is in the midst of mapping out the second half of its season — but there’s still a lot of business to handle before the first half is over.
As was the case last season, NBC ordered 13 episodes of the show at the outset, which led co-creators Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz and their fellow writers to structure a story arc that ends with episode 13. Then a few weeks ago, the network ordered 11 more episodes (the extra order was six last season) — which led to some reconsideration in the writers room.
“There’s a definite structure for the first 13 episodes that in some ways is one big story,” Fedak tells Zap2it. “But like last year, the next 11 episodes … will also continue with things we bring up in the first 13. So essentially the first 13 become a launching pad for the back 11. … Not everything that’s set up in the first 13 will pay off. Some of that is now in the back 11.
Fedak also talked more about the arc, the reveal of Alexei Volkoff, Ellie’s (Sarah Lancaster) increased presence in the story this season and more. Some highlights of our conversation are below.
Zap2it: Can I assume the “one big story” you mentioned in the first 13 is Chuck’s [Zachary Levi] mom?
Chris Fedak: Absolutely. The search for mom is at the heart of the first 13 episodes. And now that Mom [Linda Hamilton] has returned, what it means to Chuck, how it affects his relationship with Sarah [Yvonne Strahovski] and Ellie. … We go through some really epic and dramatic spy and real-life stories for Chuck, so that’s definitely the big mythology part of the first 13. And [part of] that is Timothy Dalton’s Alexei Volkoff, who’s a great nemesis.
I thought you handled the reveal of Volkoff really well.
Thanks. The great thing about Tim is not only is he a great James Bond-slash-action hero, but he’s also a really great comic actor. We found that when we came up with the Tuttle character [Dalton’s alter ego in “Chuck vs. the First Fight”] — there’s a certain part of us that loved Tuttle so much that we wish we could go back to it. He’s so wonderful in the part that you love Tuttle. The fact that he’s also such a great Volkoff — we thought we hid our hand pretty well on that one. And Tim killed it.
How much more will we see Linda Hamilton and Timothy Dalton?
They’re both in multi-episode arcs, so you will be seeing more of them [starting with “Chuck vs. the Leftovers” on Nov. 29]. They’re wonderful together.
Any other guest stars you can talk about?
Not yet. We’re just in the midst of sorting out the next couple of episodes [15 and 16]. Hopefully we’ll have some exciting news coming soon, but right now we’re still in the dream phase of figuring out who should play what.
A lot of fans are eager to see more of Sarah’s backstory. Is that in the works?
We’re really excited to do more with the Sarah backstory, because it’s very interesting. We have plans there, yes.
Ellie has come to the forefront a little more this year, and I’m guessing what’s in her dad’s car will pull her a little deeper into Chuck-world, right?
She’s realizing that her absentee parents were absent for a reason, and the family business in a way is espionage. It’s definitely something she’s resistant to. Sarah Lancaster really taps into that regular person, the good person who’s been drawn into this world — much like Chuck in Season 1. We’re working on some exciting places for Ellie to go, because she’s not just any other person. She’s a Bartowski. And as we’ve seen over the past four years … they’re a special bunch. So we have some fun places and some big changes coming up for Ellie.
How pregnant is Ellie at this point?
She’s about midway to two-thirds through her pregnancy.
So we’ll definitely see a baby Awesome before the season’s over.
There will be a baby. I promise a baby — spoiler! [Laughs] Hold me to it.
Another big change has been the integration of Morgan into the spy world. It’s been great comedy-wise, but have you found some other things to work with as well?
It’s been great. What we’ve found in the episodes we’ve made so far this season and the ones you haven’t seen yet is that Josh Gomez is just simply fantastic. The episode we’re working on now, episode 10 — the one Zac directed — and there’s a scene at the end of that episode, a very specific reference back to “Die Hard,” that may be the funniest thing we’ve ever done. And Josh is just so freaking funny in it that it’s hard to watch without doubling over. Then the other side of it is Josh not only brings the funny, but he also brings such great emotion to the part. His relationship with Alex [Mekenna Melvin] this year has been great for us to watch. We’re seeing him change and become not just the man-boy, but the man-boy spy and the man-boy spy with a girlfriend he really has feelings for. That’s been a lot of fun.
“Chuck’s” next episode, “Chuck vs. Phase Three,” airs at 8 p.m. ET Monday on NBC.
Photo credit: NBC