Chuck 3.12 "Chuck vs. The American Hero" Review

I don't get to say this too often in regards to Chuck, so I'm gonna savor it:


Color me genuinely impressed.


Last week was such a set up for change, I was honestly really afraid that Chuck would do as it always does and find six different ways to backtrack. I thought my fears were confirmed when, despite his D.C. trip actually going down, Chuck got a week off and headed right on back to Burbank, CA.


Oh me of little faith.


I can't say there was a whole lot to recommend the first half of the episode. Operation: Win Sarah Back? Not a whole lot of interesting. And only lukewarm in terms of funny. The stallion joke was sorta funny the first time, but it ended up over used. (Seriously, there's no way to top a casually delivered line like "Have you seen the stallion she's dating?" so it's best to just not try.) Sometimes filler can be entertaining. But this was...just filler.


The SECOND half of the episode, though...whoa baby. Jeff and Lester stalking Shaw on his way to the Ring Base was enjoyable, although it does beg the question "Will they also be inducted into The Spy World?" (we can only hope not). But really, the whole episode was just designed to framework the one moment in the whole of Chuck so far that has honest-to-god shocked/impressed me: Sarah killed Shaw's wife in her Red Test. HO-LY CRAAAAP. Perhaps someone could have seen that coming? I didn't. So I'm taking off my hat to the writers. Multiple times.


That Holy Grail of Chuck storytelling was almost covered up by the touchy-feely CHUCK-FINALLY-WENT-OUT-AND-SAID-IT-(and Casey confessed about the Red Test)ness of the very tail end of "Chuck vs. The American Hero" and it seemed for a moment that, despite this epic portion of progress, we were looking at a redo of That Whole Prague Thing.


But no. Instead, Shaw has basically kidnapped Sarah and is carrying her off to Locale Unknown...presumably for a revenge killing. Naysayerssaywhat? MORE actual new intensity?


I'm really hoping this will lead to at least a slight villainification of Shaw. Because the guy is just such a tool. Even during his "good" moments I just want to punch him in the face. Maybe evil will redeem him as a character? Or maybe he'll die, we'll finally be rid of him, and it will be time to turn around and focus on the newly revealed Director of The Ring, MARK FREAKIN' SHEPPARD.


...or, this next episode could be semi-exciting but ultimately end in establishing the status quo of LAME.


(Ohpleaseohpleasedon'tdisappointme.)


(This review also posted on my blog at http://meltedbrain.wordpress.com.)

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Woowooj
Mar 30, 2010 1:29AM EDT

Sterling is the director of the ring? Doe this guy love playing the bad guy or what?

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Mar 30, 2010 2:31AM EDT

This season has been unique. But it finally seems to be getting on track into a fun suspenseful cliff hanger area. Sarah now knows Chuck is still himself, for the better. What we're looking at now is the classic damsel in distress. With Chuck as the hero of course, most likely Casey as his sidekick!

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Mar 30, 2010 5:03AM EDT

It's not as if it's up to Mark, I think, it's really not the first time he's been playing the bad guy, not only in Leverage, i've seen him many more times (in at least 2 more TV shows) as the bad guybesides, remember the FULCRUM agent that was told he can use as kind of violence he wants on Chuck and Sarah when they ran away to save Orion? i've seen him as the bad guy a few times tooSome people just look like the bad guy
By the way, that thing where Sarah kills Shaw's wife was kinda obvious from the previous episodeexcept I didn't think we'll find that out so soon (since I saw somewhere that someone from the team is going to turn evil, I figured it wouldn't be anyone from the old team, cuz they're the most important in the show, so it had to be Shaw, and why would he turn? maybe cuz the government/Sarah betrayed him... and Sarah killing his wife is the best option)

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Mar 30, 2010 4:42PM EDT

Am I the only one who has a problem with the "Sarah killed shaws wife" angle. The timeline does not seem to line up at all. Sarah would of had to have taken the "Red Test" to become an agent, and since she wasn't a brand new agent in the first season of Chuck that means that red test would of had to of happend atleast 4,5, 6 years prior to when we are now in the Chuck universe. When shaw first showed up and they retreieved that case from his wife which had the wedding ring in it, they presented that all like it had just happend recently? Am I missing something, cause that seems like a giant continuity mistake.
This episode was pretty good, I liked the whole awesome, casey, morgan teaming up to help Chuck. That is the kind of thing they should be doing more of. I really question what next season is going to look like though. It seems like the show might change considerably. Awesome and Ellie moving to Africa would basically mean they would be off the show. Establishing chuck as an agent and moving him to rome is an interesting concept, but that would mean no more buy more, I dont see how he could bring morgan along. So I am guessing that really nothing is going to change, general beckman will find out chuck did not pass the red test so they will just leave him in burbank with sarah and casey and the buy more, which I don't know about either, it would seem like a regression in the story, so I dont really know how they are going to do this, I just hope they make the right choices to keep the essential fun elements of chuck alive.

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Mar 30, 2010 8:41PM EDT

@ ak10:
I don't know about your protest to the timeline. I always got the impression Shaw was at least 5 years past his wife's death.
I'm definitely with you on the worry about a potential Season 4. This show's always had a problem with story expansion/continuation. Especially keeping in mind the recent developments you mentioned, I'm also having a hard time imagining where Chuck could possibly go from here (once this whole Shaw-Ring storyline wraps up...which it had better by the end of the season). On the other hand, I had very similar worries about Season 3 and it has - at long last - turned out not half bad.
General note: I don't know that I've actually ever seen Mark Sheppard in an outright villain role. He usually tends more toward the grump-to-gray-area-antagonist(but-not-definitely-villainous) range. So I'm pretty excited to see how this turns out.

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