After a brief break to make way for the return of ‘The Event‘, NBC brought ‘Chuck’ back to the Monday night schedule last week. Thank you, network heads. Even though the episode wasn’t one of the show’s best, any episode of ‘Chuck’ is by definition better than anything else that NBC has on the air these days.
This back half of this season has been pretty erratic in quality for ‘Chuck’. It feels like the show’s writers were caught by surprise at their episode extension order. The first part of the season was very focused and drew to a strong conclusion for the Volkoff story arc. Since then, it seems like everyone is playing the show by ear. Consequently, episodes have been hit-or-miss.
‘Chuck vs. the A-Team’ isn’t a “miss,” per se. There’s just something about it that doesn’t quite click. This is at least the second recent episode based around the premise that Sarah and Chuck are bored, and I really don’t think that’s the way to go right now.
The reason for their ennui is that Casey and his new secret team have been taking all the good missions. Snooping around to find out why there’s suddenly nothing for them to do, Chuck and Sarah discover that Casey is working with two of the best Buy More Gretas, played by Stacy Keibler (former wrestling diva and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ vixen) and Isaiah Mustafa (the Old Spice guy). This trio of hyper-competent agents (bossed around by Robin Givens) are the government’s new “A-Team.” That makes Chuck and Sarah the B-Team. When they finally get a mission to make a retrieval in Russia, they’re depressed to find out that their target is the yipping ankle-biter dog of a prisoner that Casey’s team brought in. This is what they’re being relegated to these days.
Annoyed by this, Chuck and Sarah decide to break into the new team’s section of the base, where Chuck remarks that “Their Castle is so much cooler than ours.” There, they find the laptop that Chuck’s dad left Ellie (which was supposed to be locked away in a deep, dark CIA vault), and quickly deduce that the two Gretas have been turned into Intersects. Not just that, they’re new and improved Intersect models that basically make Chuck irrelevant.
Of course, that doesn’t quite turn out to be the case. The two teams are eventually assigned to work together when word comes that a Russian terrorist is bringing a suitcase nuke into the country. Keibler’s Greta rashly shoots the man holding the bomb, which triggers its countdown timer. Despite their Intersect programming, neither of the Gretas is able to disarm the bomb in time. This is where Chuck proves his worth. He uses not just his Intersect knowledge, but also his Nerd Herd training and his deductive reasoning to MacGyver a solution to disarm the bomb with a juice box.
Having saved the day, Chuck and Sarah are promoted back to A-Team status by Gen. Beckman. She also orders that the two Gretas be de-Intersected, because they proved that they weren’t quite ready for the responsibility. (Both are actually relieved, and marvel that Chuck is able to handle the pressure.)
The side story this week is pretty thin. Stay-at-home-mom Ellie is going stir crazy and decides that she wants her dad’s laptop back, hoping that deciphering it will give her something interesting to do. Awesome tries to cover up the fact that he gave the laptop to the CIA by claiming that he left it with the Nerd Herd for repair. This leads to Ellie trying to seduce Jeff and Lester again (which is becoming a very uncomfortable running gag). When they can’t find it, she eventually just gives up. However, in the final scene, Given’s character shows up at her door and delivers the laptop – mostly out of spite for being demoted. Obviously, she has some sort of secret plan that will result in Ellie being Intersected, probably in the next episode.
Honestly, I can’t point to anything specific that I didn’t like about the episode. The return of the two Gretas is kind of fun (and I’d very much support Keibler being made a permanent part of the cast). The episode just feels thrown together and falls a little flat. Hopefully, things will pick up again before the finale.
[Banner image screen cap from Strahotski.]