The Wife:

Ah, the suburbs. I’m not entirely sure why Chuck decided to do its take on the “suburbs are the root of all evil” thread, considering all of the characters in the Chuck-verse live in Burbank, which isn’t exactly L.A. proper. Yes, I enjoyed watching Chuck and Sarah play house, and in fact there were a lot of great moments in this episode and I enjoyed it a great deal, but the fact remains: why should the suburbs be a scary place of homogeny when all the characters in this universe already live in a suburban area and work in a strip mall? There’s no opposition there. It’s not like “Arcadia” on The X-Files when Mulder and Scully, FBI agents who basically live in their offices in the federal building, head to the tract housing development of Arcadia where a garbage monster lurks under the carefully constructed conduct codes and regulations of the housing community. Certainly, both situations allow us to see what it would be like in a ‘shippers paradise, with Mulder insisting that he and Scully masquerade as Rob and Laurie Petrie, while Chuck and Sarah move into a beautiful house complete with well-photoshopped pictures of what their lives could be and a dog. Chuck’s arrival in his new tract home was probably my favorite part of this show, as it was a 2-minute sequence set to The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime.” Truly, an outstanding moment on this show, as Zachary Levi steps into the kind of life he always imagined he’d have, surrounded by images of a joyous, normal life, a friendly dog and a hot wife who whips up a mean potato salad.

But while there was no real opposition between the suburbs and Chuck’s world, there was still enough drama in Chuck and Sarah playing house to make the trope work for the episode. Instead of trading on the oppositional landscapes, Chuck used this opportunity to once again show us a life Chuck will never have, so long as the Intersect is in his brain. As Mr. and Mrs. Charles Carmichael, he and Sarah host a block party for their new neighbors to find out which of them might be the Fulcrum agent that destroyed the agent formerly assigned to the Meadow Branch suburb. My second favorite moment of this episode? The look of rapture on Chuck’s face when neighbor Andy Richter asks him who the blonde talking to his wife is, and Chuck answers, almost breathlessly: “That’s my wife. That’s Sarah.”

All of the neighbors seem to be squeaky clean, except for Jenny McCarthy, who tries to seduce Chuck. Casey, posing as the cable guy, finds a bug under a tray of brownies and Chuck realizes that the Fulcrum agent they’re looking for is actually ex-CIA . . . and married to cougaress Jenny McCarthy. In order to get close to the former agent’s computer and learn whatever he can about Fulcrum’s operations in Meadow Brach, Chuck must succumb to McCarthy’s wiles and “cheat” on his wife.

McCarthy, the crazy cougar lady, is more than willing to let Chuck into her house and handcuffs him to the bed, although Chuck is a little less willing to cheat on his fake wife, asking McCarthy to rustle up some liquid courage for him so that he can take some time to investigate the household computer. He manages to get the key to the cuffs off the nightstand with his feet, not wanting to follow Casey’s suggestion of breaking his thumbs to squeeze out of cuffs, and follows the incredibly large Internet cable to the computer. Once Chuck types in the password (he guesses “Salamander” because it was the word the previous agent in his position kept saying after he went mad, and there was a little salamander by the computer), he initiates a “test sequence” that appears to brainwash him the way the Intersect did when Bryce sent it to him. Only this series of subliminal images is red, so you know they’re evil. Unlike the prior agent on this job, the images do not make Chuck go mad, but instead the presence of McCarthy’s husband forces Chuck to sneak out of the house in the most embarrassing and conspicuous way possible: by sliding down the roof. In his underwear. Finding that Chuck is gone but that the “test sequence” on the computer is showing up as successful, McCarthy remarks to her husband that they may have found their subject.


Um! I thought I was auditioning for Singled Out! This is not what I signed up for!

Um! I thought I was auditioning for Singled Out! This is not what I signed up for!

Due to this embarrassment, the General throws Chuck off the case, announcing that because of his actions the Carmichaels are getting a divorce. As the neighbors come to Sarah’s side to comfort her in her time of need, Chuck realizes slightly too late that Meadow Branch is a front: the company that build the cul-de-sac is part of Fulcrum and all of the neighbors, including those women now holding Sarah at gunpoint, as terrorists. Wasting no time, Andy Richter tazes Chuck when he arrives at the house to talk to Sarah. They both wake up in an underground laboratory, with Casey cuffed in another room (Richter tazed him in his cable truck before Chuck even arrived), surrounded by their former neighbors in lab coats. Chuck is about to undergo a ludavigo technique version of the test sequence, and McCarthy announces that Fulcrum’s mission is to rebuild the Intersect computer in order to “fight evil.” Just as she tried to seduce him sexually, she now tries to seduce him to work for her. Chuck refuses, but they run the subliminal sequence anyway, donning shades so that their brains do not become fried. Meanwhile, Casey breaks his thumbs to escape from his cuffs. When Chuck is pulled out of the sequence, the Fulcrum agents as him if he wouldn’t mind if they perform the sequence on his wife next, to which he coolly and robotically replies that he doesn’t have a wife. The Fulcrum agents drag Sarah to the chair, and Chuck winks at Casey who has crawled into the control center and has started typing into the computer. Casey pulls some sunglasses down over his eyes, and Chuck tells the Fulcrum agents that before they proceed, he has something to say to Agent Walker. He leans in close, and tells her to close her eyes, cradling her head to his chest as Casey blasts the subliminal sequence that effectively fries the brains of all of the Fulcrum agents – none of whom kept their protective eyewear on between sequences. Dumbasses.

In the Buy More plot, Big Mike has turned into a total terror because his lady handed him divorce papers on Valentine’s Day. Displeased with Big Mike’s management-style now that he’s single, Morgan and the Nerd Herders convince him to put his profile up online to find love again. Emmit Milbarge, sporting a sweet new pompadour for his lady Henrietta, gets in on the action and helps Big Mike lie on his profile. At the end of the episode, Big Mike decides to come clean to his new paramour, wanting her to know that he isn’t a shipping magnate, but that he is, in fact, just the manager of the Buy More. She thinks, however, that he has called her to the store to talk to her about her son, who works there and is, of course, Morgan. So Big Mike is fucking Morgan’s mom. Please exploit this thread for all its worth.

Mommy?

Mommy?

Due to the disaster that was the Meadow Branch mission, the General orders Casey and Sarah to shut down their operation, and as she tells Chuck to give back his fake wedding ring, he realizes that he and Sarah will never move forward, especially now that she has to retreat from him even further. Ellie thought their “housesitting” experiment would be a great way for Chuck and Sarah to see how they’d work if they were on the marriage track like she and Awesome are, but Chuck sadly informs his sister that they’re just never going to get to that point, but that he’s okay with the way they are now. Sarah, however, isn’t, as she hesitates to remove her fake wedding ring when locking up their rented suburban home, even as she watches the dog go back in his crate and each of the photographs of a life where she and Chuck are happy get thrown in the trash — another beautiful moment in a really good episode.

The Husband:

Every once in a while, I turn to my wife and tell her how much I hate tract housing developments: the look, the idea, the shitty homogeny of American life and people’s bizarre acceptance of it. I don’t really want to get into all the specifics, since I’m sure many of you think I’m wrong and have plenty of examples of normal lives lived in such places, in addition to the fact that my opinion – as opinions are – is very subjective and based on my own obsessive need for individuality. To each his own, really.

But this episode of Chuck gives me new fodder. Tract housing developments are evil because they house villainous anti-government terrorist cells. I knew there was something wrong.

Not a great episode, but I like when the show gets all referential, so the final “red sequence” reference to the climax of Raiders Of The Lost Ark was especially awesome. I was hoping for some sweet face-melting, but I’ll take brainwashing in its place.

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