Chuck vs. The Sensei
Well folks, it’s the origin story no one asked for: what minions of the Antichrist spawned Captain Awesome, perhaps the stupidest television construction in human history. And the answer is: Bruce Boxleitner and Morgan Fairchild…actually pretty appropriate. Guess they needed the paycheck. After all, plastic surgery don’t come cheap.
On the other hand, the episode takes a major step in the right direction by providing a Casey-centric plotline. Seems the anger management-challenged steely spy’s mentor/sensei/voodoo chief has gone rogue and is recruiting his former students to do…bad things. Sure, the mentor/pupil showdown is a trope as familiar as apple pie, but it still works, and let’s face it: originality has never been a strength of Chuck.
First the general lady assigns Casey to the case because of his inside knowledge of the evil dude, and then she pulls him off because of it. Makes sense. At least she doesn’t ask for his badge and gun. But seriously, this show was set up the way Chuck initially was, with Chuck bouncing off Sarah and Casey, providing character-driven comic relief to supplement serious action. It was a formula that worked, but the writers slowly screwed the pooch by getting lost in melodramatic relationship struggles and touchy-feely crap, culminating in the ridiculously forced Jill arc of the last several episodes.
They really get it right this time though, so maybe redemption is within grasp. There’s fun action peppered throughout, Adam Baldwin hits all the right notes with his character, and Chuck comes off as likable and genuinely funny for the first time in ages. There’s a plethora of successful, well-constructed jokes that really play. Even this week’s Buy More antics — consisting of Morgan, Jeff, and Lester committing to throwing the newly-reinstated employee of the month contest — are rather funny. That’s really all I have to say. No real complaints this time around.
Season 2, Episode 9: Chuck vs. The Sensei (originally aired December 1, 2008)
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Mondays at 8/7C on NBC
Photographs courtesy of NBC