The Wife:

Last season, we left Chuck dangling on the precipice. And that’s how this season began, both literally and figuratively. Literally, Michael Clarke Duncan had Chuck’s ass out a window. Figuratively, with the new Intersect coming online in a matter of hours, Chuck’s purpose in the spy world seemed to be potentially at an end, allowing him to return to a normal life . . . at the Buy More.

Knowing that it may no longer be necessary for Chuck Bartowski to moonlight as Charles Carmichael, Super Spy, Chuck begins to contemplate exactly what he wants out of life. Should he take the assistant manager job he’s been offered at the Buy More, potentially committing himself to retail hell for the rest of his days? Or should he follow Ellie’s advice and pick up where he left off: finally finishing college and beginning a more adult career, with some potential road trips to Europe included? Should he turn his fake relationship with Sarah into a real relationship?

Oh, yes, I see. There are a lot of irregular plurals on this menu. Im fine with some rice. I really have no need for rices.

Oh, yes, I see. There are a lot of irregular plurals on this menu. I'm fine with some rice. I really have no need for rices.

However, the NSA and the CIA seem to have other plans for the newly retired Chuck. As his brain is still filled with government secrets, he cannot be let free to live life as he chooses. Instead, Casey has to kill him. This is not an easy assignment for Casey, who despite his harsh exterior seems to have warmed to Chuck and doesn’t really want to kill the guy. This doesn’t stop him, however, from preparing to follow orders to doing a little target practice with a silencer in his apartment, shooting a row of ducks that include Hitler, his beloved President Reagan (it was a test, he didn’t shoot Reagan) and Chuck . . . the only target Casey can’t quite hit.

Chuck, riding the high of potential freedom, turns down the assistant manager job at the Buy More and, as punishment, must conduct interviews for the other candidates, which basically consist of the rest of the Nerd Herd. Morgan, ever Chuck’s personal assistant, helps facilitate the interviews and also comes up with an amazing video game attack plan to launch on the Buy More’s sworn enemy, Large Mart. Chuck heads over to Sarah’s new place of business, Orange Orange, which is Pinkberry, but orange, to ask her on a real, live date. We got a huge kick out of the music that they play over this scene in our new Weinerlicious upgrade: Flight of the Conchords’s “Foux Le Fa Fa,” which we posted in an ANTM write-up the other week.

On Chuck’s ill-fated date with Sarah, Casey, who nearly died when the Intersect was stolen by Fulcrum agents, comes to drag them both out of harm’s way when Michael Clarke Duncan comes to capture them. Casey and Sarah embark on a venture to retrieve the stolen Intersect, thinking that Chuck will be safer if he stays home. Unfortunately, Michael Clarke Duncan lures Chuck to his warehouse by calling the Buy More for Nerd Herd assistance. Good move, criminals.

Chuck outwits MCD and crew by putting on his Charles Carmichael act and employing the specifics of Morgan’s Large Mart assassination plan to trick them into thinking that they’re surrounded on all sides. I’m glad Morgan has time to confirm such details while he presides over the Assistant Manager Cagematch. With the bad guys thoroughly distracted, Chuck manages to escape with the Intersect . . . until Michael Clarke Duncan catches him and defenestrates him.

Luckily, Casey was there to catch Chuck’s fall, proving that Adam Baldwin will always, always be the best bodyguard ever.

The trio escape with their lives and the Intersect, and arrest MCD and his cronies. Chuck, thinking that the new Intersect is safe, tries to have a second date with Sarah as Agent Casey lurks in the shadows of Chuck’s house, waiting to complete his mission. Unfortunately for Chuck, Sarah arrives at the house bearing bad news: their date has been cancelled because the Intersect was a bomb planted by Fulcrum, killing everyone in the room the minute it went online. Casey is relieved that he doesn’t have to kill Chuck, and Chuck returns to the Buy More under the watchful gaze of the new assistant manager, Lester.

I think we all knew that the show’s central conceit could not be destroyed in this episode, but regardless, this was a really interesting look at Chuck’s emotional response to his work, skillfully punctuated by the hip sounds of Huey Lewis and the News not once, but twice.

The Husband:

I forget which online TV critic pointed this out, but Josh Schwartz has done something very special juggling two shows at once. Between Gossip Girl and Chuck (as well as his earlier series The O.C.), he has made completely different shows with their own unique fingerprints. Whereas Seth MacFarlane’s shows all seem like Seth MacFarlane shows, and all Shonda Rhimes shows seem like Shonda Rhimes shows, Schwartz does what is best for the respective show instead of merely serving his ego.

Chuck is a very special case, a comedy-action hybrid that finds a great balance – there’s that word that I use again, “balance” – between its many different inspirations and makes its own unique fingerprint, a savvy and witty mixture of big-budget thrillers and goofy pop culture-heavy references. I love pretty much every aspect of it from the cast to the production design – L.A. has never looked cooler on TV in my opinion – and while the show isn’t worthy of an “A” rating, it skirts dangerously close every once in a while.

The glue that holds it all together is Zachary Levi, a tall, lanky, entertaining self-proclaimed nerd who seems like the coolest guy ever. (Last week on Conan he demonstrated his iPod’s special Star Wars lightsaber feature, then proceeded to fake cut Conan’s head off with said device.) Adam Baldwin, too, is very comfortable in this world, and I am very glad to say that Chuck breaks his vicious showkilling streak. (Seriously, three cancelled TV shows in a row? That’s rough.)

Last night we finally saw Chuck become comfortable as a secret agent, for once not merely relying on the Intersect in his brain and then letting his handlers do all the grunt work, but actually getting right in on the action and using his own geek knowledge to outwit Michael Clarke Duncan (who seems to have lost a great deal of weight since The Green Mile but still looks like he can tear your head off with ease). This is a good direction for the show, now that Chuck more fully understands the responsibility of his position with the CIA and the NSA, as the action elements of the show – which can sometimes flag in some of the worse episodes – can now be more fully realized.

But nerd humor is where I get the most kick out of the show. The Assistant Manager Cagematch was a big take-off on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, complete with the fighters bounding on bungee cords from the ceiling. They didn’t go all the way to saying which employee was Master Blaster, but I guess in the end Master Blaster was Jeff, since Lester was victorious and thus making him Mel Gibson.