The Wife:

We don’t usually do news here, but since I’m trying to decide what shows I can and can’t watch next year (thus, can and can’t cover) because of grad school, I figured I’d help you all out by sharing my handy-dandy season schedules for the major networks here at Children of St. Clare.

I’ve listed everything by hour, as most networks are running hour-long shows these days, so two half-hour shows are listed in the same box with the time the latter show starts in between them. If a show runs longer than one hour, I’ve indicated the length and listed it in the hour in which it starts. Asterisks (*) indicate new shows, and I’ll have some snap judgments on those shows following these graphics:

falllineupMTWRF

And here’s the weekend schedule for the fall, which, as you can see, is largely blank:

FallineupSS

In January, the networks will change to their midseason schedules:

midseasonlineupMTWRF

And here’s the weekend midseason schedule

midseasonlineupSS

Now, on the midseason schedule, you may notice some funny little symbols after the network names. Here are those footnotes:

  • # ABC has not yet announced its midseason lineup. The have, however, three new shows on deck: V, Happy Town and The Deep End, as well as returning shows Lost, Wife Swap, True Beauty, The Bachelor, Better Off Ted and Scrubs. Timeslots all to be determined.
  • + CBS has not yet announced its midseason lineup, but has the following shows for midseason replacements: Miami Trauma*, The Bridge*, Undercover Boss*, Arranged Marriage*, Rules of Engagement, Flashpoint
  • = CW’s midseason debut is Parental Discretion Advised, timeslot to be determined.
  • Additionally, Fox has Hell’s Kitchen scheduled for Summer 2010, and has Kitchen Nightmares on deck to fill holes in the schedule.

Now, for my snap judgments . . .

NBC: While we all know by now how I feel about Jay Leno, I can honestly tell you that the only one of their new shows I will definitely watch is Joel McHale’s comedy pilot Community, joining the NBC Thursday comedy block in 30 Rock‘s spot until it returns at midseason. Community has a good premise (McHale finds his college degree is invalid and must go back to community college to make up the credits), and has both McHale and Chevy Chase, who turned in a good performance as the villain at the end of Chuck season 2. I am overjoyed that Chuck is returning at midseason, as I think a 13-episode run will give us only the most super-concentrated awesomeness Chuck has to offer. I do not need another medical show in my life, so I’m declining Trauma and Michelle Trachtenberg’s nursing show, Mercy. 100 Questions looks so much like Friends that it is entirely out of the question for me. But then there’s Day One, which has a nice pedigree of coming from the people who work on Lost, Heroes and Fringe. It could be awesome, or it could be hokey, but I think it’s the only other promising thing NBC has to offer us.

ABC: I am delighted that ABC has given a permanent slot to Castle, allowing Nathan Fillion to prove he is charming, rakish and shouldn’t be a showkiller! He and Adam Baldwin have broken their own curse! Other than that, though, I am extremely concerned at how unimpressive the new shows debuting for fall seem, compared to the stuff ABC has on deck for midseason. Not a single one of the Wednesday night comedy block shows looks palatable. Hank looks downright abysmal, The Middle looks, well, middling, Modern Family falls flat and Cougar Town is trying way too hard. I might DVR Eastwick because I like Rebecca Romjin and Lindsay Price, but I have no emotional ties to either the previous film or the novel upon which it’s based to grab my immediate attention. I watched a clip from The Forgotten and I can tell you right now that I think it’s going to be the most dour procedural on television, and I certainly don’t need that in my life. I am, however, intrigued by Flash Forward because I like both time travel and Joseph Fiennes. But what sounds really interesting are the midseason shows. The Deep End is about law students and, out of all the ABC clips I watched, it certainly has the most character, pizzazz and joy. It also has Tina Majorino, looking the prettiest she’s ever looked. I will give that a shot when it premeires. I will also give hardcore sci-fi reboot V a shot, as we certainly don’t have any shows on network TV currently dealing with alien invasion, and I’m really jazzed on the trailer for Happy Town, which seems like its going to be a slightly more normal Twin Peaks (in that its a small town mystery), only this time, with Amy Acker!

FOX: I’m wary of a fall edition of SYTYCD, but I do see the benefit of it giving FOX a consistent schedule so that things don’t get shitfucked when Idol rolls around at midseason. Perhaps, if this is a success, going forward we’ll have to find a new totally awesome summer reality competition . . . maybe one for actors? OR MAYBE WE CAN MAKE A TRIPLE THREAT SHOW BECAUSE I WOULD TOTALLY WATCH THAT????? (Please, FOX?!!!!) Fox is actually my favorite of the networks so far, actually. I’m happy to see they’ve renewed Dollhouse and paired Bones with Fringe, which makes for a really rockin’ Thursday. Also excited to see Sons of Tucson with Tyler Labine as it looks pretty funny from the promo.  Human Target looks pretty fun, too. And you best fucking bet I will be watching Glee. The only thing I think I’d really pass on, here, is Past Life, and that’s just because I’m not really interested in seeing a show that solves crimes using past life regression (although one of my favorite X-Files episodes has exactly that conceit). So, rock on, FOX. You are my winner for next season.

CBS: I will be skipping pretty much every new show on CBS this year as they continue to build their police procedural empire. However, I will give a try to the new Monday comedy Accidentally on Purpose, even though it’s based on the memoirs of a film critic I don’t like very much, the Contra Costa Times‘ Mary F. Pols, who can’t seem to see the good in anything at all. The show is set in San Francisco, though Pols lives somewhere in the Walnut Creek area in reality, I assume, and Jenna Elfman plays the fictional version of Pols’ film critic who accidentally gets pregnant by a younger, one-night stand and decides to keep the baby, and it’s daddy. I generally like Jenna Elfman and, of course, adore Grant Show, who will be playing her boss. I will also give Three Rivers a shot, because it stars Moonlight‘s Alex O’Laughlin and its about organ donation, so there’s a chance I could see him repeat at least part of his horrifying performance in Feed, a film in which he kidnaps obese women and feeds them their own fat until they die. (How he would repeat part of that performance, I don’t know, but I’d like to see CBS try.)

CW: Will I watch a show produced by Ashton Kutcher about teenage models called The Beautiful Life? Yes, I will. Will I watch a show about teenage vampires called The Vampire Diaries? Indeed, I would probably watch something like that, as long as it sucked in a good way and not a bad way. Melrose Place? I have even less of a connection to that show than to 90210, so I’m not inclined to watch the reboot — especially since Ashlee Simpson’s on it. But, hey, I might need some mind-numbing crap to counterbalance all my grad school reading, so perhaps. I’ll give Melrose Place a perhaps, a perhaps perhaps, even, if I choose to continue watching 90210, making my Tuesday nights just like 1992. I am, however, surprised that CW axed the Gossip Girl spin-off, as even though I didn’t like the backdoor pilot, I did think the show had potential. I’m also surprised they axed Jason Dohring and Minka Kelly’s legal show, Body Politic, if only because I was hoping both former Moonlight vampires would have jobs come fall, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for Josef Kostan nee Logan Echolls.

So, as the curtain on this TV season falls, you can look forward to me actually writing about Mad Men this summer, as well as many, many articles on SYTYCD. After that, I’m going to have to see what my fall schedule is like and compare it to the above fall schedules to see what I can really watch and what I can, in turn, cover.

I’ll make you guys a chart of all that later.

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The Wife:

The Dollhouse season/series finale (and I’m betting it’s the latter) was certainly some of the series’ finest work, confirming my Dr. Saunders-is-a-doll theory and engaging in some interesting cyberpunk conceits. As a finale, I think this episode admirably wrapped up the season and, since the central arc was essentially completed, could serve to wrap up the series, as well. But, as any good season finale-that-might-be-a-series-finale should be, there are open doors through which to proceed should FOX get Dollhouse a greenlight for 12 more episodes. (Or 13. Depending.)

When Alpha abducted Echo from the Dollhouse, he stole all of her former imprints, and destroyed the backup copy of her original “Caroline” personality. Topher struggles to find out which of her imprints he would have uploaded into her before absconding, and discovers that it was never one of Echo’s imprints at all, but one of Whiskey’s.

A tall glass of Whiskey.

A tall glass of Whiskey.

Three or so years ago, Whiskey and Alpha were sent out on a paired engagement, basically playing Mickey and Mallory from Natural Born Killers in some dude’s totally weird torture/porn fantasy. Alpha, programmed with a personality prone to paranoid delusions, started to take things too far, which in turn called in the handlers to break things up, but not, of course, until after the reveal that the silhouetted woman he was working with wasn’t Echo at all, but Whiskey . . . and after Whiskey and Alpha proceeded to have some totally hot foreplay with their captive. (This is, I guess, the only reason one should ever want to be kidnapped by Mickey and Mallory, because otherwise that’s a pretty fucking terrible idea!)

And here’s where I take a moment to thank Joss Whedon for giving us Amy Acker in stripper clothes. She’s so much more beautiful and has so much more range than Eliza Dushku that I’d rather watch a spin-off prequel about her character. I mean, really, Dushku has basically only been Faith for most of this series, whereas Acker has been someone completely different than Fred. And we already know she’s a great actress. Let’s all take a moment to shudder in remembrance of the Ilyria arc on Angel.

But as to the Mickey-and-Mallory imprints, it seems Alpha chose them in part because his Mickey personality was dominant at the time, and in part because it was the most convenient way to go on a kidnapping spree. He and Echo-as-Mallory, only minutes out of the Dollhouse, kidnap a young girl named Wendy and drag her back to Alpha’s lair. He was astute enough to call in a bomb threat to the building and lock everyone else inside the Dollhouse so they’d have greater difficulty finding him, and Paul Ballard (who also doesn’t have a whole lot of range or characterization, thanks to Tahmoh Penikett) puts himself in charge of reconstructing what happened on the day Alpha went rogue.

It seems Alpha was obsessed with Echo from the day Caroline strode into the Dollhouse for her pre-Activation tour. Caroline makes a comment about how the Dolls all seem like zombies waiting for tasty brains, which I thought was a pretty cute, sly nod to her Hulu commercial, as well as an accurate assessment of living without a personality. Per the Mickey-and-Mallory flashback, it seems Alpha was routinely paired with Whiskey on engagements, as she was, at the time, the Dollhouse’s most requested Active. And because of his fascination with Echo, he one day took a pair of scissors to Whiskey’s face during art class, eerily demanding, “Whiskey, let Echo be number one.” And so Whiskey was broken, and Alpha was to be given a full diagnostic, wiped and then sent to the Attic (despite his protestations that “I was making art”). During the diagnostic, though, he resists, creating that famous composite event where all of his former imprints uploaded into his brain, causing him to not have multiple personalities, but to be multiple personalities, as other brains shifted, randomly, into his own consciousness at any given moment. And so that killing spree occurred, in which he preserved the one person he thought was different and special: Echo.

At his power plant lair, Alpha uploads Caroline’s brain into poor unsuspecting Wendy with his own version of Topher’s chair, and forces “Caroline” to confront her own body. This was absolutely my favorite part of the series so far, as I felt it finally engaged in some commentary on theories of consciousness and embodiment rather than just bringing something up through a moral lense (such as the show’s constant dialogue about slavery and freedom, which also is brought up in the most eye-rolling way possible during this otherwise great scene). Alpha shows “Caroline” her body and chastises her for abandoning it, making a strange bid to privilege the corporeal and temporal over permanent, ethereal cyber-consciousness. I found this bid to punish Caroline’s mind for abandoning her body especially strange in light of Alpha’s next assertion that, if he makes Echo like him, they can be supreme beings, gods or supermen (or, literally, the Alpha and Omega), because they are not one person with multiple personalities, but one body comprised of many people, able to shift in and out of consciousnesses at any minute.

To make her into Omega, Alpha uploads all of Echo’s imprints into her, hoping that she will do as he did when he emerged from his composite event and destroy her original consciousness. In this case, to kill “Caroline.” But Echo as Omega seems to have a slightly better grip on reality and juggling multiple consciousnesses than Alpha does, and realizes it’s pretty insane to destroy one’s primary consciousness, so she instead swings at him. She disagrees with his theories on the übermensch, because even though they may be everybody, in the sense that they are many people, they still aren’t someone without their original personalities.

That notion of being “someone,” I think, is what Alpha’s addled brain is rallying against by destroying his own original brain and asking Echo to destroy hers. To Alpha, a body with just one brain in it, one consciousness, is to be “someone,” which is to be less than “everyone,” privileging a multiple consciousness, an ever-shifting collective over the singular, individual consciousness. I really like this conceit as it subverts the notion of what it means to be an “everyman” in narratives. This whole time, we’ve looked at the Dolls as “everymen,” capable of having attributes projected onto them, but now we’re asked to read Alpha and Omega’s composite personalities as “everymen” in a literal sense, which renders them godlike, in Alpha’s conception, and, therefore, utterly singular. Uniqueness here is achieved by subverting the traditional notion of an “everyman,” and that’s pretty clever.

Barring that reading, I would find it very odd for Alpha to spend time punishing Caroline’s brain for abandoning her body, when he went on to destroy his own. Especially when he utters the most cyperpunk line in the entire series as he uploads Caroline into Wendy: “A body’s just a body. They’re all pretty much the same.” And he’s right: bodies aren’t special, but consciousness is. This show’s entire conceit has privileged the consciousness over the corporeal, uploading new people into blanked out bodies and sending them off to do the extraordinary or the ordinary. A body is only meat and flesh and organs, something that can be marked, scarred, broken or destroyed while the consciousness, especially the kind that is downloaded or uploaded at will, that lives on. And I couldn’t be happier that Dollhouse finally made it to a point where it engaged in its own conceits. (Props to you, Tim Minear!)

Thus ends our brief, poorly-executed literary theory section of this post. I promise only summary/brief commentary from now on.

While Alpha, Wendy/Caroline and Echo/Omega are having theoretical fun in his lair of doom, Ballard manages to get the bomb threat called off so he and others can go hunt down Alpha and their missing Doll. Sierra and November are imprinted as thieves, for some reason, in the one plot thread that never actually goes anywhere, which I think was added just to make Ballard uncomfortable at seeing the woman he kind of cared for uploaded with a new personality. He also discovers that Alpha and some of the other original dolls were taken from a prison population, and that, as a convict, Carl Craft (later known as Alpha) was also prone to carving up people’s faces and kidnapping. (So perhaps one never leaves one’s original consciousness behind, even when erased?)

Meanwhile Dr. Saunders tends to Victor, whose lovely face will now be scarred worse than her own. She’s actually not very kind to him, reminding him that he will never, ever be able to be his best again, that he’ll basically suffer the fate she suffered: being uploaded with a new personality for the remainder of his contract with the Dollhouse and working on the inside, as a Doll with scars is a broken Doll. (I’ll spare you more theory/analysis on bodily marking, abjecta and the horrific powers of scars, even though I assure you I really, really, really want to say something about it.) You see, once Whiskey was broken by Alpha, and he killed the original Dr. Saunders (who was an old dude who liked lollipops), they made her useful by uploading his skillset and temperament into her body. I feel so badly for Victor, whose life will never be normal again. He won’t notice it now, but when his contract is up, he will. Maybe Topher can make one of the Dolls into a plastic surgeon and fix most of Victor’s scars. He’s almost too valuable to lose as a Doll.

Why couldn't she climb to the top of the ratings? She can do practically everything else.

Why couldn't she climb to the top of the ratings? She can do practically everything else.

Back in the power plant, Echo agrees that she won’t kill her own consciousness (after the world’s most eye-rollingly on-the-nose speech about how she has 37 different brains in her head and not a one of them thinks you can sign a contract to be a slave, especially when there’s a black president), Alpha threatens to break Wendy’s personality so that she can never have it back, revealing his plan to basically live out his days kidnapping people, and putting Echo’s consciousness into them so that she can repeatedly kill herself (and yet never kill herself . . . which is where his argument descends into crazyville). She chases him outside to save Wendy’s consciousness and literally goes out on a limb for the girl, crawling on a construction beam to get to the wedge. Conveniently, Boyd and Ballard have figured out where Alpha’s lair is by this point and Ballard manages to position himself right under Echo, catching the wedge as it falls and saving the girl. Alpha escapes (thus setting up the chase to continue should there be a next season).

Back at the Dollhouse, Ballard agrees to contract for DeWitt to help track down Alpha, but only if November’s contract is voided and she gets to return to her own life, which was pretty sweet and unexpected of Ballard to do, and proves that, in some small way, he did care about Mellie, even though she was never real. And Echo? She gets wiped clean, at least for the foreseeable future.

I’d be surprised if Fox gives Dollhouse a second season, but with such a strong sweep (save for “Haunted”) heading into the finale, they’d be remiss not to. It’s not the smartest show on TV, but it tries hard enough to be. And I’d rather watch something with which I can engage than something that doesn’t ask me to at all.

The Husband:

Hell, I can ignore about half of the Dollhouse episodes and still be confident enough with the other half, especially the last two and the Rashomon episode, to demand a second season. Just like Buffy and Angel, it took its time to get its intelligence and cleverness past the network and finally become a true Whedon show, one of big ideas, big laughs and big action. While I felt the first handful of episodes really talked down to its viewers (something that FOX surprisingly does not do very often with its dramas, and far less so than the #1 network, CBS), it finally started asking us to put the pieces together, and play along with the show as it progressed through its actual mytharc.

As I didn’t really give a crap about this show for a few weeks, I was surprised at how emotional I felt during this finale, especially during the Alpha flashbacks. This may have a great deal to do with how much I have grown to love Amy Acker over the last nine months while I watched Angel, but also my extreme amount of respect for Alan Tudyk as an actor ever since I saw him in A Knight’s Tale. (It took me another three years to discover that he wasn’t British.) The moment he slashed up Whiskey’s face was probably the series’ best moment, one of both great despair and, in a really fucked up way, love. I’m so glad I called the fact that Whiskey only became Dr. Saunders after she was slashed up, and that she wasn’t necessarily the second Doll, and that it in turn gave me a reason as to why Dr. Saunders would be afraid of Alpha, even if she wouldn’t have remembered him as an activated active and not as Whiskey.

While my wife geeks out on cyberpunk, I’m more interested in the broader concept of a soul, or in this case, how despite being a superpersonality, Alpha original form, Carl Craft, tends to dominate and thus fucks up the rest of the Dollhouse by basically being Jack the Ripper. It explains away some of the contradictions in Alpha’s “quest” versus his own killer instinct, the highbrow and lowbrow of what’s going down in that fried brizzain.

Ballard still sucks, though, but now that he’s in cahoots with the Dollhouse, maybe he can redeem himself as a character if the show gets renewed.

Which brings me to the renewal question. I wholeheartedly think that had FOX not dumped it on Friday nights, pairing it with the sinking second season of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, it would have definitely earned a second season. Can you imagine how Fringe would do on such a shitty night with such a shitty pairing? Why not put Dollhouse on Mondays after either House or Bones (the ever-shifting hits of different proportions)? I think going up against Heroes, which some might consider stupid, would actually be a great concept. Heroes is hemorrhaging viewers each week, viewers who’d do better with the similar-but-better Dollhouse, so FOX could easily snag those viewers away, viewers who’d perhaps prefer something a bit more rewarding. And at 9, it could basically take all of those viewers who love Chuck at 8 but ignore Heroes (…as I raise my hand…), because Chuck was designed for Whedonites, the smart nerdy crowd who’d follow Adam Baldwin anywhere. It’s a dirty tactic, sure, but it’s not a new concept.

Come on. Even if many great shows have failed ratings-wise this season, at least they were given a second chance after the WGA strike. Money is money, so wouldn’t you love to capture the intelligent 18-34 bracket who are smart enough to have a disposable income? Because those people are called Whedonites.

The Husband:

I’m kind of over Desperate Housewives for the rest of the season. Not that it’s bad or anything, but I’m exhausted. Same for Grey’s Anatomy. Private Practice and Chuck did the right thing in winding down last week so as not to overload television viewers with a straight barrage of finales all together in a short period of time. Seriously. I’m ready for Wipeout and So You Think You Can Dance and Big Brother to just kind of lull me through the summer. Enough with all the scripted drama.

Hell, DH is basically just going through the motions now, and it seems that the season’s high point was all the Scavo twins madness with the affair and the nightclub and the fire and Creepy Dave and whatnot, and the rest of the stories are just basically filler. Even Creepy Dave’s stuff petered out after we found out who he was after and why (which, of course, we all guessed), so right now all I’m really looking forward to is his final solution as to what he’s going to do to Susan and MJ, and who’s going to get caught in the crosshairs.

So with that, I’m just going to give you the bare minimum of what’s going on with our “housewives,” because they all just basically reiterate stuff we already know, with one exception.

Gaby: Gaby’s older daughter goes to school with makeup on, so Gaby agrees to show her that beauty comes from within by not wearing any makeup to Carlos’ award ceremony for Latino Businessman of the Year. But when she learns of a photo session at the ceremony for the local paper, she runs into the bathroom and steals makeup from an Asian woman. Gaby is vain. We already knew this. Lesson failed.

Bree: Reverting back to some of the more conniving ways we saw during DH‘s first two seasons, Bree gets Susan’s ex to represent her in her divorce with Orson (which he still doesn’t know about), and is willing to fight dirty to do it. We already know this.

Lynnette: She and Tom follow a book that says that, in order to rekindle their intimacy, they are to have sex every night for the entire month. This proves difficult, which leads to Tom restating that, now that he’s unemployed, he has no passion for anything other than Lynnette. We already knew this.

Kathryn: Using MJ to trick Mike into talking about marriage, she finds out that he’s just not that into getting hitched. Big surprise.

Susan, dont get the wrong idea here. Im gay, but I really, really need a green card . . . so . . . yeah. Marry me?

Susan, don't get the wrong idea here. I'm gay, but I really, really need a green card . . . so . . . yeah. Marry me?

Susan: Okay, here’s some good stuff. Jackson is finally back in town (I hope your head’s all healed up now after that motorcycle accident, Gale Harold), and he proposes marriage, but after Susan embarrasses herself by declaring how much she actually loves him, he lets her know that it’s simply for citizenship, and he’s Canadian and his visa expired six years earlier. (Or six months. I don’t really care all that much how long it’s been.) She agrees, but she’s pissed enough to say that there will be no romance and no sex. It’s strictly business. This, in turn, messes up Creepy Dave’s plan to take her and MJ out for a fishing trip, as she, you know, needs to get ready to get married for a third time and all.

Two more episodes. Just bring ’em on, regroup, and come back with a better season. Because it can be better. Season 1 was genius television, don’t forget, and there’s really no excuse at this point.

But hey, what’s doing down in the vastly preferable world of the Walkers on Brothers & Sisters?

Not a whole lot, actually. Justin gets into a pre-med program in Santa Barbara. (I haven’t done any research, but my wife, an alumnus of UC Santa Barbara and a former employee of a local business newspaper there, informs me that no college or university in Santa Barbara offers a pre-med program. Then again, this is a show where Kitty basically jumps back-and-forth between her home life with Robert in Santa Barbara and the Walkers in Pasadena as if that 90-mile drive were nothing, so it doesn’t bug me.) Nora gets some detective work done in order to find Tommy so as to have next week’s big season finale take place in Mexico. Holly once again emotionally implodes as Ryan The Missing Walker does his own bitch imploding when he learns that everybody is against him, which in turn gets him to quit from Ojai and presumably give up his shares. Kitty is still trying to decide between Alec the single father and her own husband. And Kevin…well…as aforementioned, not a whole lot, actually.

Oh! We did get some Tom Skerritt cameo work as Kitty flashes back on her radio career, which led her to confirm that, yes, William Walker may have driven Ryan’s mother to suicide. Kind of a waste of a cameo, if you ask me, but I guess William needs to make an in-the-past appearance every now and then.

Really, it’s just all set-up for next week, so I’m going to save my energy for that. Thanks for reading this half-assed post.

The Wife:

I could not have asked for a better season finale for Chuck than what we witnessed last night. It was moving, suspenseful, action-packed and funny – all of the things we’ve come to expect from this sophomore series which, I hope, gained enough viewers last night who also happen to enjoy $5 Footlongs from Subway to get NBC’s attention. Although last night’s finale would make a good end to the series as we know it, there’s so much more story to tell, heading in a fresh new direction. I’m trying not to get my hopes up that NBC will do right by Chuck and everyone who works on it and give it the greenlight for a third season, but I really believe that Chuck has the potential to have at least two more stellar seasons, maybe even three. And NBC needs to realize that. How could they not after “Chuck vs. the Ring?”

Finally, Ellie and Awesome’s wedding day has arrived, Chuck and Casey quit the Buy More and the team is about to split up to go their separate ways. Casey’s off to do some hardcore Marine shit somewhere in the Middle East, Sarah has been assigned to the new Intersect project acting as Bryce Larkin’s handler (as he will now carry the Intersect inside his head) and Chuck, well, all Chuck wants is to have a future with Sarah, turning down the opportunity to remain on the Intersect team as an analyst. Chuck barely has time to get a nice champagne buzz going over the news that his dream girl will be leaving with his old college rival/ex-bestie before Roark shows up at the wedding and demands that Chuck give him the Intersect cube within 30-40 minutes or he will kill Ellie.

Chuck heads off to steal the Intersect from the Castle and asks Morgan to stall the wedding by any means necessary. This, of course, means getting Jeffster to play a totally stirring rendition of “Mr. Roboto.” At the Castle, he finds Bryce, who offers to give himself to Roark and tells Chuck that Orion knew Bryce was a spy all along and sent him to be at Chuck’s side at Stanford to protect him. While Ellie’s guests are waiting in the church, Roark, Bryce, Chuck and Sarah have a reception ruining shoot-out in the dining room (scored by Jeffster, of course) and are almost toast, until Casey and his black ops soldiers crash through the skylight, killing Roark’s flunkies and arresting the software mogul. Even with her reception ruined, Ellie’s wedding could have gone on . . . had Jeffster not ended their performance by setting off some sparklers, which in turn set off the sprinklers, dousing the guests and the bride.

Ellie takes to getting trashed on champagne in her bathtub, still wearing her wedding dress, and Chuck tries his best to make her feel better by telling her that he was the one that screwed up her wedding and that he’ll make it up to her somehow. With Sarah, Bryce, Casey and the black ops’ help, they manage to pull together a second wedding for Ellie and Awesome (paid for by Chuck’s sizable government stipend for two years of spy work), more akin to the wedding she’d always wanted: small, on the beach, surrounded by friends and family, rather than the big fancy to-do cooked up by the Awesomes. Both weddings would have been beautiful, but the bridesmaids dresses were definitely better at the beach wedding. And, most importantly, Ellie looked better at her second wedding than she did at her first one. That silk halter with the deep v-neck was a total stunner.

Geek girl thought of the day: My dad was totally awesome at my wedding, but how cool would it have been to have Scott Bakula and Zachary Levi walk me down the aisle?

Geek girl thought of the day: My dad was totally awesome at my wedding, but how cool would it have been to have Scott Bakula and Zachary Levi walk me down the aisle?

But even though all is right for Ellie and Awesome, Sarah tells Bryce during the ceremony that she won’t be going with him on their new Intersect mission and, meanwhile, one of Casey’s men kills Roark in cold blood, as well as the three other Marines on his team. Bryce pops up at Ellie and Awesome’s reception to talk to Papa Bartowski before being hauled away by his new handler, on whom Papa B flashes (because, hey, he has an Intersect in his head, too). That man is not CIA. In fact, he’s not even supposed to be alive. Once Sarah and Chuck get this information, they take off to save Bryce, with Papa Bartowski’s wristral jackomater in tow. By the time Sarah, Chuck and Casey arrive at Bryce’s location, he has already bested several adversaries, but been mortally wounded. As he lays dying, he begs Chuck to destroy the new, more powerful Intersect so that no one, especially these new, non-Fulcrum baddies, gets their hands on the intelligence. But, knowing the value of the Intersect and his father’s work on it, Chuck uploads the data into his head, becoming the Intersect once again, before destroying the upload computer. Just how powerful is this new Intersect? Well, it seems to come with some special new skills, best summarized by Chuck’s newfound ability to take out, like, eight dudes by himself and this paraphrased line from The Matrix:


“Guys . . . I know kung fu.” – Chuck


An excellent episode, worthy of more like this to come. Cross your fingers, guys.

Rivaling Angel for cool sequences that take place in white rooms.

Rivaling Angel for cool sequences that take place in white rooms.

Some other funny:

  • “If you were a true patriot, you wouldn’t even cash it.” – Casey, on Chuck’s government check
  • “Why are you letting Sam Kinison and an Indian lesbian wreck your wedding?” – Awesome’s dad
  • “Hm. A real shotgun wedding. Just think: that terrible pun will be the last thing you ever hear.” – Roark

The Wife:

For those of you who aren’t entirely aware of the situation going on at the networks right now, Chuck is in danger of being canceled. And it’s not entirely because the show doesn’t have viewership. It’s because of Jay Leno. It took me a bit to come to anger about NBC’s decision to give Leno the 10 p.m. slot five nights a week. At first, I just thought it was sad that there would be five pilots that wouldn’t be seen, and that it really sucked for Conan O’Brien who would still be in Leno’s shadow. But then I realized that in addition to those five pilots that wouldn’t be seen (which, of course, means thousands of people who, because of Jay Leno, will not have jobs), the few shows that are currently succeeding in NBC’s desolate 10 p.m. hour would have to be shifted forward into the 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. timeslots. NBC has three editions of Law & Order, a very successful franchise that will most certainly be given 9 p.m. timeslots. Heroes has been renewed, even though I’m not watching it anymore, which will either keep its 9 p.m. slot or be shifted to 8 p.m. Medium and Southland are doing well enough that they might be shifted to 9 p.m. timeslots. What that basically means is that four shows that currently have a 9 p.m. to 8 p.m. timeslot will have to be canceled to shift the 10 p.m. shows into the schedule. Chuck is in severe danger as an “on the bubble” show of succumbing to this fate. (Technically, Medium and Southland are also “on the bubble,” but I have a feeling NBC will end up renewing those over Chuck. I’ve heard good buzz about Southland, and I think people watch Medium, although I have no idea who those people would be.) If Chuck gets canceled, it’s not because it isn’t a good show. It’s purely Jay Leno’s fault.

And, to reiterate, because of Jay Leno, five pilots will not air, which means that thousands of new jobs won’t be created. Because of Jay Leno, four shows will likely be canceled, which means thousands of jobs will also be lost. It’s a pretty bleak economy, and NBC has just made it worse for those who earn their bread and butter as PAs, grips, wardrobers, gaffers, makeup artists, writers and set dressers. This is not a good thing to happen to the television industry, after so many were out of work for months during last year’s pre-economic downturn writer’s strike. Just think about that before you contemplate catching Leno before Conan. Support NBC’s other programs. And, while it’s still here, support Chuck. Because the past two episodes have been totally fucking amazing.

The two-part search to find where Fulcrum has stashed Scott Bakula begins with Chuck’s earnest plea to do whatever it takes to find his dad, even if that means removing Jill from custody to get close to her uncle Bernie (whose nutsack you have seen in Borat, by the way). To do this, Chuck and Jill fake an engagement and, when gangster Bernie realizes something is very not right about the situation, he threatens to kill the couple in the attic (after an amazing chase scene set to Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf”) . . . until he has a heart attack and dies on the spot, earning Chuck his titular “first kill.”

Uh, is this where the GRE Subject test is being held?

Uh, is this where the GRE Subject test is being held?

Unfortunately, Bernie dies without giving over the information they’d need, so Sarah is ready to send Jill back to jail, but Chuck, on advice from Morgan to trust the person you trust the least, lobbies to keep his end of the deal he struck with her. This proves especially useful when Bernie’s cell phone rings and Chuck answers, finding out that Fulcrum has plans to move Orion. Jill says she recognizes the address and Sarah begrudgingly agrees to let her go with them. It’s Fulcrum’s recruitment center, so Chuck and Casey pose as potential Fulcrum agents and try to bypass security to get to the 8th floor where Orion is being held, but to no avail. They walk through Fulcrum’s propagandized halls and are forced to take the aptitude test, which Fulcrum uses to separate Chuck from Casey. Realizing this, Sarah and Jill break in and start raining hellfire down on the Fulcrum agents that surround them while Casey, dressed as a window washer, shoots through the windows of the high rise to save Chuck. Jill escapes in the ensuing melee and catches up with Chuck who, after accidentally pushing Fulcrum’s head of recruitment out the window is also dangling precariously in an attempt to save him. Jill pulls back Chuck, causing him to drop the Fulcrum agent, bringing his kill tally to a total of two.

Chuck learns that Fulcrum has moved his father to an outpost in Barstow, CA called the Black Rock (and yes, the potential for a time travel-induced Lost crossover did enter my mind), and he allows Jill to escape by letting her keep the very expensive engagement ring provided to her by the government so that she can get away and have money to live off of with no paper trail. Although Chuck wants to rescue his father, the General fears that because the asset has been exposed to Fulcrum for what it really is, the project has to be shut down, with Chuck kept in lockdown in Washington, D.C. until the storm passes. Sarah is sent to the Buy More to catch the unsuspecting Chuck, and in a moment where we’re sure that Sarah is going to betray our hero, she turns around and whispers to him that she was sent to take him to lockdown, but that they’re going to the Black Rock, as she casts off his watch.

I wrote at the end of my notes that this episode was a total game-changer, and with the subsequent episode, I can tell you that Chuck is riding so high right now that, if it does succumb to cancellation, it will at least go out on an excellent end-of-season/series arc because “Chuck vs. the Colonel” was even more game-changing than “Chuck vs. the First Kill.” With Sarah and Chuck gone AWOL, the General sends Casey after them with the enticement that, as this will be his last mission with the Intersect project, he will have his pick of missions thereafter and will be promoted to Colonel. (It’s pretty difficult to make Colonel. In fact, let me take a minute to be extremely impressed that General Beckman is a woman. Women almost never make General or Admiral. There are, I believe, only 57 women of that rank in the United States.) Casey starts his search by looking for clues at Chuck’s home, only to be confronted by Ellie and Awesome, at which time he panics and tells the fretting bride that her brother hasn’t shown up for work and he was just looking for clues to see where Chuck would be. And then very inauspiciously exits through Chuck’s window.

This raises Awesome’s suspicions about Casey, and he heads to the Buy More to ask Lester and Jeff what they know about Casey. Despite the store being in the throes of the takeover by Emmett Milbarge (who tricked Morgan into helping him usurp Big Mike’s position by pretending that the performance review was to get Emmett promoted to store manager at another store) Lester and Jeff are eager to break into Casey’s store locker and show Awesome the contents of Casey’s secret locker, which contains not only a photo of President Reagan, but also a Chuck diary, in which Casey has recorded Chuck’s every bathroom break in the two years he’s worked at the Buy More.

Sarah and Chuck find the Black Rock, which is sadly not an old slaver on a mysterious island, but a desolate drive-in, under which the base is located. They check in to a nearby motel and wake up cuddling, which quickly turns into something more, and would have turned into every Chuck and Sarah ‘shippers dream had Morgan not stolen Chuck’s only condom and replaced it with an IOU. (I appreciate that Chuck practices safe sex, but am surprised that someone smart enough to go to Stanford keeps a condom in his wallet.) As Chuck heads out to buy another condom, Casey catches up to him and is prepared to also capture Sarah, but she’s already set up a Casey trap in their room so they can escape. After knocking Casey out, she chains him to the radiator. As they’re about to takeoff, they realize that Fulcrum’s around, and Chuck insists on heading back for Casey . . . who has already torn the radiator off the wall and hopped in the car moments after Sarah leaves to get him. She is captured by Fulcrum and the two agents battle it out with the Fulcrum captors (Casey using his radiator as both a shield and an accessory), eventually landing Chuck and Sarah in Casey’s backseat as they make their way back to Burbank. The drive-in flashes a “12AMTRON” sign on their way out of the Black Rock – a message from Papa Bartowski – but Casey won’t turn back.

Youre out of ammo, Walker. And I could still beat you with a radiator.

You're out of ammo, Walker. And I could still beat you with a radiator.

Awesome breaks into Casey’s apartment and gets locked in by his absurdly secure security system, while Lester and Jeff stage an attempt to make Emmett look bad by shutting down the power at the Buy More with some explosives they found in Casey’s locker. They end up blowing out the power for a few large blocks of Burbank, shutting down the power in the Castle just long enough for Sarah and Chuck to escape their holding cell and get to Casey’s apartment in time to break up the brawl between two such awesome men. At a loss for words to explain the situation, Chuck tells Awesome he’s a spy and hands him his own spy mission to keep Ellie calm and not let her in on the situation until the wedding. As cool as Awesome thinks it is that Chuck is a spy, he has a really hard time not spilling the beans to Ellie. Man, it’s a lot of pressure to be that awesome, I guess.

Sarah and Chuck head out to the drive-in again to try and find the Black Rock at the site, but General Beckman wants to annihilate the site. Casey catches up to Sarah and Chuck and tells them about Beckman’s plan, as well as his own intention to follow through with his word to help save Chuck’s father.


“One more step it’ll be your last. No hugs!” – Casey


The trio pulls up to the drive-in to see dozens of sports cars robotically peeling back their convertible lids with besuited men inside them, all positioned for the midnight screening. Roark, happy that Papa Bartowski has completed his Intersect, stands atop the screen and announces his plan to create an army of human intersects in pretty much the fucking coolest use of an old drive-in ever. Chuck heads off to the projection room to stop the showing and walks right into Roark’s trap. He’s unable to stop the show, but demands that everyone in the room who doesn’t want to succumb to his fate close their eyes. Papa Bartowski tells Chuck that it’s okay for him to look because he made this Intersect for Chuck . . . to erase the one that’s already in his head. Roark is furious that Bartowski outwitted him but Beckman’s airstrike hits the drive-in before Roark can get his hands on either Bartowski. Scott Bakula grabs his Intersect-eraser and his son and piles into Casey’s car, where Chuck wakes and realizes that his life can finally be normal again – in every way possible. He is free.

Seriously, how creepy is this image? Never before has someone made me think a drive-in is creepy. Its usually where I go to watch terrible movies and eat Chinese take-out in my car.

Seriously, how creepy is this image? Never before has someone made me think a drive-in is creepy. It's usually where I go to watch terrible movies and eat Chinese take-out in my car.

Morgan also realizes he can be free of the life he’s been trapped in during the Emmett vs. Big Mike battle for control of the Buy More, and strips off his assman chains (as assistant manager) and declares that he will go to Hawaii to study the ancient art of hibachi and fulfill his dream of becoming a Benihana chef. And he’s taking Anna with him. Both Bartowski men make it home in time for Ellie’s rehearsal dinner, and she couldn’t be happier to have her brother and her father at her side. Even though Casey has no ties to Chuck anymore, Chuck invites him to Ellie’s rehearsal dinner as a friend, and he accepts, which just goes to show that even the heart of a cold-hearted killing machine can be warmed over by the prospect of an open bar. And Sarah is finally free to attend the event as Chuck’s real girlfriend. Even though it’s not said, the smile on her face as she takes his hand in the courtyard says it all. But I doubt this idyll will last long, as Roark has somehow survived the air strike and is hitching his way to Burbank to crash Ellie’s wedding as we speak. (Husband Note: He presumably had a safety bunker underneath the playground rocking horse he taps knowingly.)

These two episodes were filled with excellent spy work, humor and, in the case of “Chuck vs. the Colonel,” truly dizzying action sequences which, I think, were the strongest of the whole series. Although I truly hate the fact that Chuck might not come back next fall, I feel that if the series does end, it will feel like a complete story has been told, and I can be happy with that. Although, truthfully, I’d miss watching Adam Baldwin grunt. I’d miss that a lot.

The Husband:

It’s true. Chuck will very likely not be back next season, and it’s a goddamn shame. This shit’s really stepped up its game this season, and as I keep reiterating, it has found the perfect balance between goofy comedy and bomb action/adventure spy thrills. It has an incredible roster of recurring day players, most with stellar backstories and believable intentions (both good and bad), plus a geek’s encyclopedic love of mostly 80s-based pop culture. Why the fuck aren’t you watching?

Next week is promised to be a true gamechanger, which of course includes at least one wedding, and also the fact that a major character is going to die. I don’t have an answer for certain as to the identity of said dying character, but I do have slightly more information than just a random fan through a series of acquaintances, but I’ll hold onto that info until the series ends, as I’m not big on spoiling things for anybody. Especially me. Hell, maybe I just won’t say it at all. That’s how anti-spoiler I am.

The Wife:

And so the quest for Orion continues. Knowing that Orion can get the Intersect out of Chuck’s head, he worries that the General isn’t doing everything in her power to find the mystery man, and starts doing a little digging on his own. As it turns out, Orion is just as desperate to find Chuck and has been following Chuck’s every move and outsmarting Fulcrum while doing it. He contacts Chuck through a Buy More computer system and tells him that he’s going to send him a computer so they can talk on a secure connection . . . a computer that the Buy Morians mistake for the new computer model that they’ve been trying to get their hands on before their sweater-wearing rivals at the Beverly Hills store.

When Orion’s computer arrives at the Buy More, Jeff, Lester and Morgan get a hold of it and accidentally send a Predator attack drone to the store . . . until Morgan realizes that, if they’re going to send even a virtual attack drone somewhere, it should be the Beverly Hills store. Luckily, Chuck figures out what the guys are up to and calls off the attack drone before any damage occurs. Big Mike then locks up the computer and puts Emmit on night watch, so Sarah, Casey and Chuck have only one hope of getting the computer back and finding out why Orion would send an attack drone after Chuck: robbing the Buy More. Ah, but Jeff and Lester also want to rob the store to get the computer back. And so do some Fulcrum head honchos, who have finally realized that a suspicious number of their operatives turn up dead at the same retail store.

In the ensuing tripe-robbery melee, Chuck gets caught stealing the computer by the guy who played Imhotep in The Mummy and gets captured. Casey scares Jeff and Lester, who in turn frighten Emmit, who pepper sprays them, leaving Casey to punch out Emmit and shoot Chuck’s captor in one really bad-ass action sequence. By the way, seeing Casey in a ski mask really made me wish that Adam Baldwin would do a guest spot on Delocated.

With the computer in the right hands, Sarah hands it off to the NSA and the General rules that Chuck remain under strict house arrest in case he has been compromised. (This ruling is the first time The General has appeared as more than just a video feed, and, man, is Bonita Federicy a tiny, tiny woman.) While The General, Casey and Sarah discuss what to die, Orion calls Chuck while he’s sequestered in his room and tells our hero that he’s not with Fulcrum. He sends Chuck and image of the plans for the Intersect to prove that he is who he says he is. He warns Chuck not to trust his handlers, as the General reveals that she wants to keep Chuck from meeting Orion because she doesn’t want the Intersect to ever leave his brain.

Orion gives Chuck an escape plan to evade his handlers and computer-meet with him, where he asks to meet with Chuck as soon as possible. Meanwhile, that guy who played The Mummy crawls out of his body bag, and Sarah and Casey realize that Chuck has given them the slip, arriving just in time to keep their asset from being shot. Seeing that Chuck was close to capture, Orion sets the Predator drone on himself. Chuck tries to stop the attack drone, but Orion won’t let Chuck reprogram the drone’s trajectory. And so Chuck’s only hope of ever getting the Intersect out of his head goes up in flames . . . that is, save for the goodies about the Fulcrum Intersect that Orion slipped under Chuck’s pillow.

I really liked where this episode was going (and highly enjoyed the subplot where the Burbank Buy More totally destroys the BevHills Buy More when they think they’ve been robbed by them), so imagine how disappointing it was to see that the Orion arc stalled the next week to make way for a plot in which Sarah gets fired (briefly) and a new agent, Alex Forrest (Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer), is brought on to handle Chuck. This isn’t to say that “Chuck vs. the Broken Heart” wasn’t good in its own right . . . I simply would have preferred that it not stall an arc with such good momentum. So without Sarah, Chuck’s heart is broken, but so is Ellie’s, as Alex and Casey require the use of Captain Awesome’s hospital key card to plant a bug in a very special terrorist patient during surgery.

“You two are a match made in a very frightening part of heaven.” – Chuck, in re: Casey and Alex

And how do they get that keycard? Alex, who is exactly like a female version of Casey in every way right down to saying the same things at the same time, wants to tranq Awesome and steal it while he’s passed out. Chuck would rather that they simply lift it off of Awesome during his bachelor party, which, unfortunately, isn’t all that easy, because instead of keeping his key card in his wallet, he keeps it on a chain under his shirt. Alex takes this mission into her own hands by dressing as a sexy cop stripper and carting Awesome off for a private lap dance in the Buy More’s media room. When she tries to take his key card off, he expresses that he needs to keep it because he’ll lose his job without it and that he doesn’t want to do anything that could upset his Ellie. Alex reverts to Plan A and tranqs Awesome . . . and then allows everyone at the party to take pictures of him that make him look like he had passed out and done far worse things then he actually did, the discovery of which greatly disappoints Ellie.

Theyre even making Cylons in stripper form now . . .

They're even making Cylons in stripper form now . . .

On top of that, the terrorist guys discover the bug planted in their ailing comrade and go searching for the responsible surgeon so that the bug can be removed. When Chuck sees the baddies approaching his house, he spares Awesome by pretending to be him and ends up being forced to perform surgery in a bank vault . . . OR DIE! When Alex and Casey lose Chuck, Sarah joins back in (after using the government computer while her access code still works to find Chuck’s missing father so he can walk Ellie down the aisle) and helps crack a the locked vault while Chuck fends off his captor by filling the room with nitrous so that they’re both just super-stoned. And even then, he manages to find out the piece of information the CIA had wanted all along about where a certain terrorist was hiding, just by asking his stoned companion.


“Sarah . . . is it really you, or am I super-stoned?” – Chuck


Sarah is reinstated in her position as Chuck’s handler, and he confesses to her that he feels terrible for Captain Awesome’s involvement in the events of this mission and how they’ve affected his relationship with Ellie. All Chuck wants to do, he says, is tell his sister everything. Knowing that he can’t, Sarah offers him an alternative. She hands him his father’s address, asserting that it’s about damned time the US Government did something for Chuck Bartowski to repay him for holding so many secrets in his head.

And so the two head off to visit Chuck’s father’s lonely airstream trailer, where he sees Dr. Sam Beckett for the first time in ten years and asks his father to come to Ellie’s wedding. First of all, I somehow managed to not know that Scott Fucking Bakula was going to be on the show, and I have no idea how I avoided that news. I am a huge Quantum Leap fan and take great delight in “dooting” the theme song. I don’t think I was conscious of the fact that it was an NBC show, though, so hearing Bakula make an awkward QL joke during the NBC chimes promos between shows was not only very odd, but it makes me wonder how many Chuck fans even know about QL and how awesome it was. Further QL awkwardness occurred when Papa Bartowski laid eyes on Ellie for the first time in ten years, and she burst into tears over pancakes and walked away. “Oh boy,” Papa Bartowski says, recalling Sam’s catchphrase from the end of each QL episode where he jumps into a new body. I felt like Bakula was not comfortable saying it; that’s how awkwardly it filled that space. Wouldn’t it have been more relevant to make a joke about Enterprise? You know, keeping a Robert Duncan McNeill episode in the Trek family?

Preparing for the final leap home.

Preparing for the final leap home.

Two poorly-realized QL jokes aside, this episode brought Chuck back to the momentum it was building in “Chuck vs. the Predator,” and I think “Chuck vs. the Dream Job” is actually one of my favorite Chuck episodes ever. It had a great balance of action and humor and deftly handled the mytharc elements with Chuck’s emotional narrative – and it helps that, cult status aside, the casting directors made a good choice in having Scott Bakula play Zachary Levi’s father. They’ve both got that lean, skinny face, which is striking enough for me to believe that they’d be related.

After only having their father back in their lives for a short time, Ellie and Chuck realize that he’s a little bit off his rocker, rambling about plasma technology and touch screens and how his former business partner and computer mega-mogul Ted Roark. Chuck flashes on an ad for Roark’s upcoming NextExpo amongst his dad’s crazy papers. Roark will be releasing a new operating system, free for download to anyone with an internet connection at the expo – an operating system that may release a virus onto all the world’s computers, effectively destroying modern living. In order to stop this, Chuck has to get a job at Roark Industries – and he gets to do it as himself, with his name, his resume and his Stanford degree. And when Chuck makes it through that job interview and lands the position on his own merits, that’s one of my favorite moments in this episode, when he realizes that, maybe, even with the Intersect in his head, he can have a normal life and get the kind of tech job he’s always wanted to have but never had the ambition to get after his expulsion from Stanford.

Jeff and Lester find out about the expo and desperately want to go. They see Chuck accepting the RI job and rat him out to Morgan, who, in turn, blurts this out at the Bartowski family dinner, greatly disappointing Chuck’s father when he learns that his son has gone to work for the man that ruined him. (By the way, I love a world where Chevy Chase and Scott Bakula are mortal enemies.) At NextExpo, Chuck flashes on a Fulcrum computer terrorist and realizes that when Roark presses the button to release his operating system, shit is going to go down. Sarah and Casey try to stop the release by hacking the security system, but Roark has made his security system very snarky and unhackable (“Wrong again; should I call security?”). The only thing Chuck can do is throw himself onstage and try to reason with Roark, which fails, leading Chuck to steal the trigger from Roark’s hand and try to run away with it until he gets clotheslined by the very man who hired him. (Chuck’s attempted theft makes Scott Bakula very happy, as he watched the podcast on his Dell Netbook.)

Ellie accuses her father of putting Chuck up to executing a vendetta against Roark. When Awesome tries to apologize for Ellie, Papa Bartowski tells him that she’s only mad at him about the bachelor party because she doesn’t want the man she’s going to marry to turn into her father and desert her. He also goes to make amends with Chuck, telling his son that if he wants to work for Roark, he should, and not let his past ruin his son’s future. After this pep talk, Chuck takes out some plans he received from Orion about the Intersect and overlays them on a map of the RI campus. They’re a perfect match. What if, Chuck supposes, RI has an Intersect? And what if the Rios virus is really a Trojan Horse? What it if won’t destroy the world’s computers, but rather farm them for information to populate the new Intersect?

Sarah and Casey aren’t keen on Chuck’s plan, so he decides to go it alone, gearing up at the Castle and successfully tranquing Casey when he tries to impede Chuck’s progress. (Adam Baldwin’s tranq face is golden, by the way.) When Chuck breaks in, he sees his dad trying to bargain with Roark’s people to get Chuck’s job back. Tranq guns a-blazing, Chuck takes the opportunity to rescue his dad by incapacitating the entire security team that tries to remove him from the building. To Chuck’s surprise, his dad handles the next batch of security personnel that come at them and both Bartowski boys admit that they’re not who they say they are. Per my inclination, Papa B reveals himself to be Orion, the inventor of the Intersect, which he knows is now stored in his son’s head. He’s been living off the grid and playing crazy all these years so that Fulcrum wouldn’t find him and ask him to create a new Intersect. More importantly, he left to protect his children from the potential horrors his work could have brought upon them.

Dude, thats not Ziggy and Im not Al. Let it go.

Dude, that's not Ziggy and I'm not Al. Let it go.

Together, Chuck and his dad break into the room where Fulcrum’s unpopulated Intersect is being kept. Papa Bartowski tries to remove the Intersect from Chuck’s brain by essentially overwriting it, but Roark catches them in the process and shuts them down. (It doesn’t help that Intersect 2.0 doesn’t entirely work just yet.) Roark wants to have Chuck killed, but Papa Bartowski won’t stand for it and agrees to build whatever Roark wants in exchange for his son going free. So Sarah and Casey come for Chuck, and have to hold him back as his father once again is taken from him. He is, however, able to convince the General to approve his team for the Stephen Bartowski recovery mission, which I think sets us up for an excellent string of episodes leading up to the season finale.

The Husband:

Yeah, the last three episodes have been the best that Chuck has ever been. They are A-grade action/spy/comedy/adventure, some of the most exciting and pleasing hours of television of the year. “Chuck vs. the Predator,” especially, was I believe the show’s best mix of comedy, action and extremely dangerous circumstances ever, the most emotional the show has been while never losing sight of its surface-level fun.

But yes, “Chuck vs. the Dream Job” had the most powerful character work of the show’s entire run, and it really makes me wonder why the hell the show even bothers doing a mission-of-the-week format so often when it’s clear that their mytharcs are so aggressively planned out and treated with such intelligence and respect. I don’t know if it’s just a way for writers to lay back every once in a while or is just studio interference, but these episodes just make me depressed that the only episodes of Chuck my sister seems to watch whenever she’s over Monday night for some Gossip Girl/HIMYM sweetness are the stand-alone ones that really serve no actual purpose.

But honestly, did you think that, at the beginning of the first season, you’d care so much about such a simple thing as one character being held back from crossing through a set of sliding doors and all that action entailed? Judging from the show’s viewer dropoff between seasons, I would hazard a “no.” Pity. I’d hate for Chuck (and the incomparable Life) to be the two biggest casualties between this TV season and the next, thanks mostly to the Jay Leno debacle of 2009.


The Wife:

You know how The Devil keeps mentioning that he has scads of other children? Well, now we’ve finally met his favorite, Morgan, a preppy looking dude who seems as though he’s come from old money but has a knack for getting arrested a lot. This actor who plays Morgan is the unfortunately named Armie Hammer, who I apparently should know from this one episode of Veronica Mars “Witchita Linebacker,” in which Hammer and Beauty and the Geek‘s Sam Horrigan both played beefy football hunks. (I should note that I do not remember anything about this episode of VMars at all.) While I’m interested by the addition of Morgan and the sibling rivalry between him and Sam, I am not loving Armie Hammer in this role. He reminds me of what would happen if you crossed Chuck‘s Captain Awesome with a low-rent version of Gossip Girl‘s Nate Archibald. He’s bland at best, and somehow manages to adopt Ryan McPartlin’s cadence without any of McPartlin’s grace or depth of delivery. Either Hammer is not a good actor but just looked right for the part (and I can imagine a taller, leaner version of Ray Wise looking like Hammer back in the day), or he’s making a choice to come across with this level of falseness. I really think it’s the former. I guess I can compare when he shows up on Gossip Girl later this season as a love interest for Serena. Here’s hoping he turns out better than Aaron Rose did.

Seriously, this jacket is meant for a man twice his chest size. Its ridiculous.

Seriously, this jacket is meant for a man twice his chest size. It's ridiculous.

I’m also really perturbed by the fact that the wardrobe dept is unable to tailor Hammer’s suit jackets to fit him well. I know he’s 6’5″ and that it’s hard to buy pants for someone that tall without getting a large jacket (if you buy off the rack), but the wardrobe people get paid to tailor things. Seriously, kids. Get this guy a blazer that fits him well.

Sam’s introduction to his newfound half-brother comes when The Devil steals his $1000 winning scratcher to bail Morgan out of jail. Thinking that Sam will be a good influence on Morgan (whom The Devil loves because he’s bad, but is disappointed in because he has no focus or ambition, choosing to live like a reckless party boy instead of Hell’s Right Hand), The Devil sends Morgan to learn the ropes of bounty hunting from his better behaved son. The soul of the week is a greedy, miserly man named Edmund Fitzgerald, who’s spending his escape from hell recollecting all of the things taken from him after his death. To do so, he kills the new owners of those items by releasing some little golden buggits to crawl into their ears and eat their brains. The gang, with Morgan’s help, steals the next item the soul wants back, a self-portrait, and he sends golden buggits after them to retrieve it (which culminates in a funny bit where the guys all smack each other with pans to kill the bugs, and then hide from them huddled together in the shower). Without the portrait, they’ve lost their lead on finding the soul — until Andi suggests that the soul must have a warehouse somewhere in which he keeps all of his stuff.

They eventually track down the correct shipyard, and meet Morgan, who has already taken the initiative to find the soul’s shipping container. They find a nearly completed inventory of all of the soul’s things, the only unchecked item being “Mary Ann,” whom they assume is his beloved wife. Morgan, unable to control his impulses, steals a ring from the soul’s vault. While visiting Fitzgerald’s wife to warn her of his return, she informs them that Mary Ann, the thing he loved most in the world, is actually his boat. As Sam and Morgan head off to find the boat, Sam realizes that his half-brother has stolen the soul’s ring. Sam points to the ring as evidence of why The Devil is disappointed in Morgan, and Morgan kindly informs his brother that he’s only hanging out with Sam to get credit with Daddy and eventually rise to power alongside him. The soul, desiring the return of his ring like Gollum with his precious, sends an army of buggits after them. Sam urges Morgan to return the ring, but its stick on his fat greedy finger. Sam tells Morgan to jump into a nearby pool, which the buggits won’t enter, and Morgan tosses the ring back to Sam, who gets the soul to accept the ring and, as he swallows it, impales him on the nearby vessel. With the soul gone, the buggits turn back into gold coins, which Morgan wants to keep.

The Devil obliges, giving Morgan the coins to appease him, which Sam thinks is totally unfair. The Devil tells Sam that he thinks he’s wrong about Morgan, and that Sam might be the son he should groom as his favorite, but he still has to appease Morgan in the hopes that fatherly attention can set him on the right kind of evil path.

“Wow. I’m so conflicted now. I don’t know who to root for.” — The Devil

This was an okay plot, paired with two other okay plots. Nina was almost underused in this episode to make way for Morgan, but she still got some bright bits. Ben realizes that he may not be satisfying her sexually, a subject she avoids talking about by shoving burgers into her mouth. Not wanting to lose Nina, Ben goes to Gladys for Demon-Human Sex Advice, and she offers to give him a hands-on lesson in how to treat a demon woman, having hands-down one of the most amusing lines of the night:

“I like to make learning fun, so bring along lots of plastic garbage bags.” — Gladys

Ben may be a “Horn Hag” for Nina, but he’s really not into Gladys’ offer, so she suggests that, perhaps, Nina finds his human body sexually repulsive. Ben starts to think that, perhaps, Nina can’t be satisfied when she has sex in her human form, so he offers to have sex with her in her natural body, but only if he has a few drinks first and she doesn’t talk in her demon voice at all during the act. Dismayed, Nina transforms and asks Ben if this is what he wants. As he takes a swig from the bottle, she flies off.

Uh, seriously? Youre telling me you dont want this hotness?

Uh, seriously? You're telling me you don't want this hotness?

Later, Nina shows up at the Work Bench to tell Ben the truth about why she’s been avoiding discussing her sexual satisfaction with him. He’s not her first human. Back when she was an angel, she was part of a host sent to Earth to take human loves and bear human children. After the fall, angels of that host who were cast out of heaven also had their human families smote by God. Though Nina never had children by her human lover, she lost her human lover to God’s wrath and never took another. She hadn’t been fully involved with Ben because she wasn’t ready to completely fall in love with a human again, but she tells Ben that she’s ready now to love him fully.

I liked this storyline because I like Nina a lot, and it was great to see Jenny Wade balance the comedy of eating meat to avoid one’s problems with the sadness Nina feels for the innocent man who died for her sins when she was cast out of Heaven. There’s a great heaviness and sorrow in her monologue, which she delivers in such a way that makes it seem like she’s trying to breeze over it so it doesn’t hurt so much. It’s the kind of thing that almost doesn’t belong on a lighthearted show like Reaper, but I really dug this added insight into Nina. I hope it doesn’t stop here, though. The writers just opened up a whole world of potential by adding in these more arcane elements of Christian mythology to their theological cannon.

And then there’s another battle between Sock and Andi for supremacy at The Work Bench. Sock notices that Ted, unable to truly leave the place that was his home for so long, has been wandering around the parking lot, begging customers to let him carry their parcels to their cars for tips. Sock decides to take advantage of this and subcontract his job to Ted. It begins simply with Sock taking a cut of Ted’s parking lot tips, and then escalates into Sock asking for a ton of shifts, particularly ones that involve unloading deliveries and taking inventory, and farming them out to Ted for 40% of Sock’s pay while he naps and earns extra cash. It doesn’t take long for Andi to catch Ted in the store, and for Ted to subsequently out Sock as his boss. Not wanting to lose his new meal ticket, Sock offers to cut Andi in on 10% of Ted’s profits, but she won’t stand for it and demands that Sock fire Ted. Sock actually does something kind of selfless by appealing to Andi on Ted’s behalf, saying that while he was taking advantage of Ted for his own gain, he was also helping the poor dude, who feels lost without his job at The Work Bench. Andi decides to give both men what they want and calls corporate to hire Ted back on as a trainee for a 6-month trial basis . . . with Sock as his trainer. She’s clever, that Andi.

But clearly, the most important thing in this episode is the ending, which finally gets Reaper back on track to answering the questions posed in last season’s cliffhanger pertaining to the master plot. Sam’s mom orders a giant freezer from The Work Bench, with instructions to simply deliver it to the garage. Part of dating the boss is getting to go on delivery shifts all week, so Sam ends up being the fateful driver who meets his father’s reanimated corpse in the garage. Now he finally knows that his dad is alive, and we’ll all soon find out how that happened.

Now I await the return of Ken Marino!

The Husband:

Something about this season is making me truly love it, even if some of the plots aren’t always coming together as well as they can. It’s another instance of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, I think, because as they are beginning to lessen the importance of the Soul Of The Week in order to make room for some character development — something s1 struggled with sometimes in its pre-strike episodes — we’re getting a more fleshed-out show. For instance, Buffy, a show I didn’t necessarily love while watching the entire series 1.5 years ago, had plenty of bad Demons Of The Week episodes, but it got by on its better story arcs and its insistence that we try to love and respect each and every one of its major characters, and so I in return have respected the show more each time I think about it.

I also think, as aforementioned, that the action/danger scenes are being better-directed, I appreciate how Andi is a much smarter character this season, and, yes, the writers’ realization that Ben could be just as interesting as the goofy Sock is really upping the stakes for the show’s own Scooby Gang.

This is more than likely going to be Reaper‘s final season — I’m surprised it got this one — so I don’t know if I’m just trying to make everything this season seem better than it truly is, or that it really is better. Either way, though, it’s a great time to spend an hour on Tuesday nights. (Or Wednesday if it’s just that hard to schedule around American Idol.)