This episode of “Chuck” was called “Chuck vs. the A-Team,” but it could have been called “Chuck vs. the A-Story.”
As it’s been doing frequently and well of late, the show had lots of fun with Sarah’s discomfort with non-spy life, mined some good comedy from Morgan and Casey as housemates and hinted at something bigger for Ellie and Awesome. But the main story — featuring the return of two “Gretas” from the start of the season as members of Casey’s new team — fell a little bit flat.
Once it was revealed that the Gretas (Isaiah Mustafa as Capt. Richard Noble and Stacy Keibler as Capt. Victoria Dunwoody) would be back and teased that they were Casey’s new team, it wasn’t hard to see where the story was going to go: Casey, who was feeling irrelevant on Team Chuck, in turn makes Chuck and Sarah feel irrelevant with his new team, who are also Intersect-equipped and seemingly infallible — until Chuck proves that just putting a computer inside your head doesn’t make you a great agent.
(Also, we get that Director Bentley is really ambitious and kinda mean, but why was she so fired up to put Chuck in harm’s way as the bomb disposal expert? Seems to me that costing another agent his life in order to advance your agenda would be counterproductive.)
We have to admit, though, that Chuck’s apple-juice method of actually defusing the bomb after the trigger-happy Vicky armed it was pretty great. Between that and the porn virus in the pilot, he’s really got a way with outside-the-box bomb disarming.
So that’s what the Greta program was: a field test for prospective Intersect candidates. It’s a nice bit of back-filling from the “Chuck” writers, made possible by the extension of the season, but it felt like the notes of Chuck having his value as an agent come into question have been played before. What I didn’t exactly see coming, though, was Chuck being put in charge of the Intersect program going forward — and inasmuch as that plays into the Ellie-Awesome subplot that formed this week’s B-story, it helped redeem the pat main plot some.
Given the way “Chuck” works, it seemed inevitable that Ellie would get her hands on her dad’s computer again — but I wasn’t figuring on it happening until closer to the end of the season. But her having it now gives the show a chance to explore a lot about what being a Bartowski means for her, on top of Bentley’s agenda and Awesome’s apprehension at knowing it could put his family in danger. And purely from a character standpoint, it alleviates the fear that Ellie would be even further removed from the meat of the show’s ongoing story now that baby Clara is around.
(And by the way, Sarah Lancaster had maybe her funniest moment of the entire series with the “12 hours of adult conversation in 12 minutes” scene. Very well done by her and writer Phil Klemmer.)
We’re very curious to see how Bentley draws Ellie into her little project, and how tormented Awesome will be as he weighs telling Ellie what the computer’s real purpose is, and all the other spy-world stuff that goes with it. “Chuck vs. the A-Team” wasn’t the show’s strongest episode this season, but we’d love to see how the plan it sets up comes together.
Other notes from “A-Team”:
- Sarah’s impatience and only occasional willingness to embrace the nerdier side of Chuck’s non-spy life continues to be a source of good comedy for the show. The look of dread on her face as Chuck tried to introduce her to Final Fantasy II was priceless.
- Also? Morgan and Casey: Never not funny. Morgan playing with the voice modulator and later trying to give the big guy a hug brought two of the bigger laughs in the episode.
- Casey on Bentley: “She’s our Beckman, except not as warm and cuddly.” Given what we saw of her at the end of the episode, that might be an understatement.
- As they’re looking for a Casey handprint to infiltrate New Castle (the thing under the Buy More, not the town in Indiana), Sarah explains that their goggles can help them see bio-residue. Chuck: “Blech. That sounds like a CBS show.” (If only “Chuck” had the ratings of some of those CBS shows.)
- Unconventional “aww” of the evening goes to Awesome, bucking Ellie up when she’s in down: “You’re the brainiest, sexiest, kick-assiest woman I’ve ever known. You’re not just anything, Ellie — you’re Mrs. Awesome.”
What did you think of “Chuck vs. the A-Team”?