The Wife:

I think I’ve found the one episode of Gossip Girl I really don’t like. And believe me, I desperately wanted to like the “backdoor pilot” of the Untitled Gossip Girl Spin-Off About Young Lily Rhodes, but I didn’t. I liked what they tried to do with it, but the execution just fell utterly short. For instance, it made sense that, as Lily leaves her daughter in jail to think about her actions, she reflects on her own relationship with her mother and the night she spent in jail as a teenager. Premise = solid. In fact, the cast = totally solid, too. I like Brittany Snow. I like Andrew McCarthy. I like Cynthia Watros. I like Ryan Hansen. I love Krysten Ritter. But there was something about the writing of these characters that just didn’t work. Part of the point is that Lily as a teenager was very different than the Lily we know now, the one who ultimately fulfilled her mother’s wishes for her by marrying up, marrying someone grand (or several someones, as the case may be), but it was hard to see a connecting point between teenage Lily and adult Lily, other than that their both blonde and like men who wear leather jackets more than men in Don Johnson suits.

So as Serena sits in jail (by choice, in fact, to prove to her mother that she can make adult decisions such as serving her time, which means she’ll miss prom), Lily reminisces on her past. About how she got kicked out of boarding school (Santa Barbara’s Thacher School, which is real and thus I must give unlimited props to the attention to detail there) because she wanted to live with her dad, a music producer. But Daddy Andrew McCarthy doesn’t have time for his daughter, other than to tell the good folks at the Thacher School that she was acting out because her parents divorce was adversely affecting her, effectively getting her back in after a brief suspension. (Sidenote: I miss Lipstick Jungle.) Her mother is callous and inattentive, and her sister had the wherewithal to remove herself from that life altogether years ago, which Lily feels was a worse form of abandonment. So Lily, sensing her life kind of sucks, disobeys her parents and goes to find her sister in L.A.

No Doubt, I have a date with you July 21. Be ready. I will be.

No Doubt, I have a date with you July 21. Be ready. I will be.

Lily finds one of Carol’s coworkers and he agrees to let her borrow her sister’s clothing from her locker (she changes at work a lot because she’s constantly going on auditions) and escorts her to a Snowed Out show where Carol and her boyfriend/not boyfriend Shep would be in attendance. First of all, Krysten Ritter was amazing. Adorable. Funny. Perfect casting choice for the artsy, free-spirited older sister. But an even better choice was casting Veronica Mars‘ Ryan Hansen as Carol’s sort-of boyfriend. Hansen is amazing at playing self-absorbed jerkmeats, and here he was a self-absorbed jerkmeat with a bad Billy Idol pompadour. Genius. Carol wants to help Lily and be a good big sister and everything, but she can’t at the moment because she and her friends are on their way to crash a music video director’s party so they can get back the tape he took from them, which they paid him a good $500 to shoot. That music video director, by the way, is a Van Der Woodsen, channeling James Spader as Stef in Pretty in Pink. And he really likes to do coke. And he fucked Lily’s sister, which I think, if that turns out to be the Van Der Woodsen that Lily eventually marries, IS SUPER FUCKING AWKWARD. Owen and Shep pick a fight with Van Der Woodsen and his cronies, which Lily gets into to defend her sister. Van Der Woodsen calls the cops, and Carol has to bail her little sister out of jail when their mother won’t, opening up the possibilities for a string of Rhodes sisters adventures in LaLaLand.

Other than Ryan Hansen being a dick and dancing around to “The Safety Dance,” not very exciting. And even less exciting was the modern-day prom storyline. Someone might be sabotaging Blair? Well, no, not really, because it’s just Chuck making her prom dream scrapbook come true by forcing her choices to lead her to the dress she’s always dreamed about (which is fab), the date she wanted to have (Nate), the mode of transport and the glittery princess Prom Queen tiara that Nelly Yuki almost stole from her had Chuck not taken the stuffed ballots. He even gives her the key to his suite at the Plaza, because that’s how she wanted her perfect prom night to end. But instead, she ends it by breaking up with Nate. (Hooray! Because we all know she should be with Chuck, the man who made her 12-year-old prom dream come true!) Serena even makes it out of jail in time to attend the dance because her former lover/almost step brother bails her out. I mean, why? Why even bother with the prom in this episode? It was so insignificant, and wholly, completely understated. While I liked the thru-line of the big band at the prom playing “Stand and Deliver,” I have a very difficult time believing that a prom for Constance and St. Jude’s would have looked like that prom looked. We know their winter formal looks a lot more stunning than this did. This was so cheeseball in its attempt to be elegant, adult and understated that I just didn’t know what to do with it. I hate to say it, but I think the 90210 prom is going to be a lot more believable.

If Blair designed that dress when she was 12, shes a better designed than Little J ever was.

If Blair designed that dress when she was 12, she's a better designed than Little J ever was.

There’s nothing technically wrong with the L.A. Lily storyline. And nothing wrong with the grainy film wipes they applied to her memory (which works for me because she’s a photographer). It just fell really flat. And even though there was a lovely resolution in which Serena, sitting with Blair outside prom, acknowledges that she knows her mother had her arrested out of love and concern while Lily apologizes for her entire tenuous relationship with her own mother, there were no real risks in telling either story, nothing to lose or gain, which means . . . no drama. And that means boring. I’d like to see the spin-off succeed, though, because I’m very curious about the timeline of Lily’s life, which was something my sister-in-law brought up last night. The music they chose last night put us pretty solidly in 1986, and we’re assuming that Lily was 16 or 17 then. And Serena was born in 1991 if she just turned 18 this year, so Lily was bearing Van Der Woodsen children by the time she was 20/21. Now, that’s perfectly plausible and all . . . but does that really give her enough time in L.A. to cultivate a career as a rock photographer and follow Lincoln Hawk and Nine Inch Nails around? I had assumed her wild years lasted much longer than this, at least until her mid-20s. If anything, I need to spin-off to help me flesh that out.

The Husband:

I do feel a definite disconnect between the present Lily and the 1980s Lily, and I definitely have a hard time believing that whatever Cynthia Watros was doing would ever lead to some of the horrific displays of behavior and evil that modern-day Celia is capable of (I point you toward the Debutante Ball episode from s1), but I also think I liked the backdoor pilot far more than my wife did. It shows a good deal of promise, and while they might be getting their years a little iffy as far as much is concerned, I think it could be a pretty wildly fun program. They just need to bridge the years a little bit better, because otherwise it’s barely even a spin-off so much as an entirely new show. (Like how Mork & Mindy is technically a spin-off of Happy Days. Say what?)

Or maybe it’s just because I really like 80s Los Angeles movies, like Less Than Zero and, as the title would suggest is an influence, Valley Girl. The city still feels dangerous and open in these narratives, not like the plastic, cultureless meh I lived in for five years.

And yes, I love Krysten Ritter too, but I’ve loved her for a few years now. And she is definitely one of the main reasons I thought Confessions of a Shopaholic was such a blindingly underrated film. (Yeah yeah, I am in fact male – don’t let my endorsement of that movie fool you.)

But other than Blair and Nate breaking up, nothing really vital happened to anybody in modern day GG land. Save that for next week.

The Wife:

I’m a fan of this episode, one of GG‘s better ones in terms of plot clusterfucks, but I still have one burning question about this whole Serena-Gabriel faux marriage thing: why? Apparently, that faux marriage has nothing at all to do with the Ponzi scheme Gabriel and Poppy were running, as he could have seduced her and earned her trust without fake marrying her. So why do that at all? That was a completely inane and unnecessary plot point, and this whole plot thread would have been better off without it.

So about that scheme! Realizing that Gabriel has run off with lots of people’s money, Serena tries to do the good thing and get everyone’s money back without them ever having known it was a scam. She lures Gabriel into meeting her by telling him she’s pregnant, but Dan overhears her post-call discussion with Chuck, Nate and Blair and immediately wants to tell his dad (in Happy Rufus mode because he thinks he’ll have a sudden windfall that will allow him to propose to Lily and send both his chilluns to the colleges of their choice), but Serena begs him to give her a chance to make things right. When Gabriel and Serena meet, she gives him a chance to give back all the money and walk away scot free, but he says he can’t, at which point Chuck and his goons step in to threaten him with being turned over to the authorities if he doesn’t come clean. Gabriel names Poppy as the mastermind in their plan, and so the gang has to form a new plan to entrap Poppy and get her arrested.

Good to know Gabriels the kind of guy who would show up to discuss an unplanned pregnancy, even if he steals all your money.

Good to know Gabriel's the kind of guy who would show up to discuss an unplanned pregnancy, even if he steals all your money.

But Dan can’t keep quiet and tells Lily about Gabriel’s investment scheme. Fearing for her reputation and her daughter’s, she instructs Dan never to bring it up again and that she will take care of it. With her financial advisor, she devises a plan to pay back everyone’s investments out of her own pocketbook, telling them all that the investment fell though – no harm, no foul. Except, of course, for Rufus. She doesn’t want to hurt his pride of denying him his expected windfall, so she sets up a mutual fund for him that will pay monthly dividends of $5,000. Then, only a short time after bestowing great grandma Rhodes’ diamond tennis bracelet on the Serena she’s starting to see as a responsible adult woman, Lily confronts her daughter and tells her to call off whatever scheme she has going to get back at Poppy or Gabriel. Lily plans to let Poppy quietly escape with everyone’s money so that no scandal arises regarding how Serena Van Der Woodsen helped her boyfriend scam her family and friends.

Blair, however, has already gone through the trouble of convincing newly-Christian Georgina to play the innocent pawn in order to entrap Poppy and get her talking about the investment on tape. It takes some wheedling from Blair to get good ol’ Georgie to realize that she’d by lying in God’s service if she helped get a bad person arrested. Georgina plays the role brilliantly, pretending to be the daughter of a Canadian oil baron trying to make her name as a socialite in the big city. Her new found Jesus freakiness plays well into the role of the wide-eyed innocent, but when pressured for a down payment in the wireless Internet service to Africa investment, Georgina has to give up her camp’s bible money (so that’s how she got out of the Catskills so easily . . .), only to see Poppy run off the investment when the waiting policemen arrest Serena outside of the Russian Tea Room instead of Poppy. You see, Serena’s mother had her arrested in order to stop her from getting Poppy in trouble and ruining all the good face Lily had been making – so she accused her daughter of stealing the heirloom bracelet! Le scandal! But Blair thinks Georgina had something to do with Serena’s arrest, and declares that she will never forgive her for this! Never!

Note to Georgina: do not give away your camps bible money to an uppity socialite scam artist.

Note to Georgina: do not give away your camp's bible money to an uppity socialite scam artist.

Meanwhile, Rufus has been busy trying to set up the perfect proposal for Lily, preparing all of her favorite foods and adorning her house with lilies (because her favorite flower . . . is her name . . .). But while Jenny stalls so he can get the table set up, he discovers the investment papers chillin’ in an open kitchen drawer and confronts Lily about why his payments are different than everyone else’s. When she says she was trying to do right by him, helping him get his kids to college, etc, he calls her patronizing and says that he doesn’t need her help. The police call to tell her about Serena’s arrest, and when Rufus questions why she isn’t running to her daughter’s aid, she tells him that she called it in to prevent Serena from causing a giant horrible scandal and ruining the Van Der Woodsen name. To which Rufus replies, “You’re starting to sound just like your mother.” Burn! No woman wants to hear that! Ever! Sufficient to say, proposal called off. And Lily sits around her apartment drinking wine, letting Serena get booked, while Rufus returns home and tells his children to return the ring they bought.

And, by way of tying up some lose ends, while waiting for Poppy’s un-arrest, Blair asks Chuck if he loves her and he chooses to let her go, but she still decides not to move in with Nate. Not because she doesn’t love him, but because it’s not right for them. Chuck does, of course, still love Blair, but he knows he can’t make her happy, and thus ends his bitter battle with Nate, at least for the time being. And as for Georgina, she decides to take Poppy’s punishment into her own hands, returning to the wild side with a call to Blair: “You can tell Jesus the bitch is back.”

This is the kind of Gossip Girl I’ve come to know and love – the kind with scandals and entrapment and the follies of the wealthy, not so much the getting-into-college-or-not drama. I hope every subsequent season ends with a Georgina arc, by the way. It should just be a thing.

The Husband:

Yes, this did have old school GG drama, “the kind with scandals and entrapment and the follies of the wealthy,” but I still think that it’s been missing some of the silliness that really got me hooked in the first place, as well as some of the teenage emotion that connected me to Dan last season. Now, we’re just kind of being told that people are in love with each other without actually feeling it for ourselves, while last year I truly believed that Lonely Boy pined after S over the years, and that his battle with Lily to prove himself as worthy of her family and her daughter held a great storybook quality.

But this is still a very proper plot to end the show’s second season, and while I agree that the fake marriage thing ultimately led nowhere, it’s fun watching Gabriel and Poppy bounce off of these characters, one-upping each other every moment they could get. I also appreciate the way the lives of the teenagers is making major waves in the “adult world” of the Humphreys and the Van Der Woodsens, even if I think the show works better when it’s teenagers vs. adults.

But, then again, The O.C. worked so well, when it did work, when the parents’ stories were completely reliant upon the stories of the youths, telling us that not only is it hard to distant yourself from your children’s problems no matter how hard you try, but it’s equally clear that the adults, in a lot of ways, never grew up in the first place. The final scene between Rufus and Lilly is a pretty perfect example of this, as they both make rash, unfortunate decisions.

You know what, adults of Gossip Girl? Just let Chuck handle it. He seems to have everything covered. As Joel McHale would say, he’s the most intense high school senior ever.

The Wife:

And so Poppy and Gabriel’s Serena-ruining scheme deepens. Serena is not pleased that her new beau works so much, as she’s grown up a socialite so she actually has no idea what work is. Blair suggests that they spy on him to see what he’s up to, but Serena doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Naturally, Blair does it anyway and catches him in Poppy’s embrace. When Serena confronts him with this information, he tells her that he’s only pretending to be with Poppy because she invested a grip of money in his company and he’ll lose all of his other investors if he loses her. For some reason, Serena is okay with this. Naturally, Blair isn’t, so she calls Chuck to help her hunt down and expose Gabriel once and for all. Blair and Chuck work on getting Poppy and Gabriel to the co-op party Serena’s mom is hosting and, when the love-triangle meets, Poppy forces Gabriel to choose between his investors and the girl he loves. He chooses Serena, and she instantly is so thrilled that he has done so that she helps him hustle her mother and her mother’s friends for investments in his internet company that wants to bring wireless access to Africa. Seriously, he’s this close to sounding like a Nigerian prince who needs them to wire money to his account so he can access his father’s trust fund and then he’ll repay their investment threefold, but, for some reason, this whole “bringing wireless Internet to Africa” thing sounds like a great idea to the rich and bored and Lily decides to invest. Rufus, too, after finding out that the gallery may not sell for what he thought it would (nor would his back up plan of selling the Lincoln Hawk catalog reach quite the sum he could have gotten last year when he was touring) decides to pony up for Gabriel’s investment, despite the smarmy tobacco heir’s protestations that Rufus should instead put his money in mutual funds and the like. (You see, Gabriel only wants to steal money from people who won’t be hurt by it, like the very, very idle rich, rather than the upper upper middle class represented by Rufus Humphrey. He’s a con man with a conscience.) But Rufus is insistent, and so Gabriel agrees to let him invest.

Meanwhile, Serena starts to turn to Blair’s suspicions when Gabriel tells her that they met at Butter, which was closed on the night he claimed because Blair had purchased their bartender for the Ruin Nelly Yuki’s Future scheme, and even more so when he claims he doesn’t remember Georgina’s flaming red hair. This whole time, Nate has been trying to secure Blair’s affections by purchasing them a swank apartment in Murray Hill so they could live together between Columbia and NYU, and, feeling that the time she spends with Chuck is a threat to their relationship, tries to bar Chuck from even speaking to Blair. But Blair cannot resist the need to help Serena by taking a limo ride with Bass up to the Jesus Camp Georgina Sparks has been hiding out in somewhere in Connecticut, and so she ditches Nate when he needs/wants/strangely tries to possess her most. But as Chuck heads into Jesus Camp alone, Blair realizes that he didn’t need her to come along at all, and he was just playing her in his war against Nate, and so she steals his limo and heads back to her boyfriend and her apartment, saddened by Nate’s admission that he only asked her to move in because of Chuck. Chuck gets the confirmation he needs that Gabriel is lying from Georgina and brings her back to the city to testify. That might not matter, at all, though, because by the time Serena shows up to confront Gabriel about his lies, he has already taken Rufus’s money and fled his hotel room, with Poppy popping in at just the right time to make herself look more innocent by also wondering where Gabriel has run off to with her half a million dollars.

I love that the Jesus Camp shirts read OMJC, as in, Oh My Jesus Christ.

I love that the Jesus Camp shirts read OMJC, as in, Oh My Jesus Christ.

I honestly don’t give a shit about Serena and her feelings and inability to read or understand people, but I feel so badly for Rufus to be caught up in this situation. Dude is just trying to send both his kids to college and maybe, just maybe, buy an antique ring for the love of his life. I really love that Dan and Jenny went ahead and bought Rufus the ring he wanted to give to Lily, because that’s probably one of the kindest, most selfless things anyone has ever done for anyone else on this show. The Humphrey clan really doesn’t need to lose everything in an investment scheme, so here’s hoping Gabriel’s conscience gets the best of him and he returns Rufus’ money or Rufus finds out in time to void that big ol’ check. I really don’t need Rufus to hang himself with that chunky orange cable knit scarf he was sporting. That would be très sad.

The Husband:

Really, Blair? You can’t deal with the 10.3 miles between New York University and Columbia? That you have such a pathetic concept of what one would be willing to do for the person they love that he would choose, instead, to buy an apartment halfway between the two universities? I lived 90 miles away from my wife when we were both in college and only engaged at the time, and that seemed to work out pretty well. But 10.3 miles? Nooooooooooo…too much time in traffic! And the subway is soooo grooooooooooooss…

Blargh. I’m fine with the rich mentality on this show, but that’s just ridiculous.

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:

You know, for someone whose mother has been married four times, you would think Serena would know the ins and outs of the marriage process, but in this episode, I learned that she’s really stupid. Too stupid to get into Yale on her own merits and certainly too stupid to get into Brown. As funny as this comedy of errors Seder was, it was never really dramatic because the tension upon which it was built was actually non-existent. And I knew it, and I can only hope that other viewers knew it, too. Just because you get drunk in a foreign country and wake up a priest and ask to be married doesn’t mean you’re married. You have to get a license for that, and the signed license makes it real and legal, not whatever some dude says in a church or synagogue or whatever. And because Serena is too dumb to figure out simple process analysis (having been at, like, at least one of her mom’s marriages), she ruins Cyrus and Eleanor’s first Seder though a series of lies and entanglements.

1. Thinking she’s married, she calls Cyrus for legal advice on a quickie annulment.

2. Dan, taking a catering job to help pay for college without his dad’s knowledge, overhears, as he is playing cater waiter at this very Seder.

3. When Lily and Rufus show up for Seder, Serena pretends she came because Blair invited her, which Eleanor thinks is really weird because Blair made it absolutely clear she’d be off doing her own Blair shit. (Which was an actual plot, and thus will be discussed later.)

4. Gabriel shows up unannounced at the Seder, and Serena pretends that Dan is her boyfriend and the reason she left Spain unexpectedly. She has really got to stop using Dan as a relationship crutch. It’s just confusing and, actually, kind of mean to Dan. Serena and Dan spend the rest of the dinner pretending their together, leading Eleanor to think that Dan is officially the worst cater waiter in the world, and also making Rufus and Lily question their children’s involvement. My favorite bit about this ridiculous detail was that Gossip Girl announced Gabriel’s arrival with a rallying cry of “Baruch ha ta ai dios mio!” If my husband ever decides to become more Jewish than he is and I ever have to host a Seder, I’m totally starting it by saying that. Best. Thing. Ever.

Dan! Look cool! I might be married to this guy, but am probably not.

Dan! Look cool! I might be married to this guy, but am probably not.

5. After much confusion at what was either the best or worst Seder ever, Serena tells everyone that she was pretending to be Dan’s girlfriend so that Rufus wouldn’t find out he was playing cater waiter.

6. Lily calls Serena on her shit for ruining the Seder: “You could have thrown in a couple of boys from the lacrosse team and it would have been the Constance mother-daughter luncheon all over again.” And then tells Serena she got into Brown. Surrrre she did.

7. Rufus makes an art sale during Seder dinner and then announces that he’s going to sell the gallery, thus Dan doesn’t have to be a cater waiter anymore. You know, unless Dan wants to work and earn his own money and have honest life experiences that he can write about. Because those totally aren’t useful, like, at all.

8. After dinner, Gabriel tells Serena they’re not married. Which was totally moot at this point because there was no way they could have been. Thus, nothing actually happened except Serena totally ruining Passover. (Although, gentile Eleanor helped, too, by continually seating guests in the empty chair left for Elijah, which is, for the record, inconceivable! Haha! Yes! Wallace Shawn is back and I can make Princess Bride jokes!)

In Blair Land, she’s continuing to have major anxieties and actual real problems by losing her spot at Yale. I love that these anxieties express themselves as dreams about Eliza Doolittle, because they’re supremely entertaining to me. She is instead spending all of her time fawning over Nate, who asks her to meet him at Cousin Tripp’s rehearsal dinner because he has a surprise for her. She believes that the surprise will be her admission to the Jr. Committee at the Whitney, as her new non-collegiate avenue of choice is to become a professional socialite, doing charity work and other such things that make the rich and bored feel good about themselves. But when she arrives, Nate’s surprise is his admission to Columbia, which is only made worse when Tripp’s bride-to-be tells Blair that she was rejected from the Whitney committee. Grandpa Vanderbildt sidles up to Blair and convinces her to get Nate’s ear by offering her a position on the Whitney committee, as well as a bridesmaid’s position in Tripp’s wedding if she can get him to stay Yale-bound.

That Gramps Vanderbildt is smoove!

That Gramps Vanderbildt is smoove!

But Blair ultimately fails at this endeavor, as Nate stands up to toast at Tripp’s rehearsal dinner to announce that Gramps Vanderbildt was the man who had the Captain investigated. Gramps Vanderbildt tells Nate after his outburst that he only turned the Captain in after personally confronting him and giving him a chance to change, in the interest of preserving Nate’s family. But the Captain refused, thus sealing his fate. Nate, however, is tired of lying, and he wonders aloud why Gramps never mentioned this before. Seeing how tired Nate is of lies, Gramps tells his prodigal grandson about what’s been going on with Blair. Nate then turns on her and refuses to hear any explanation she may have. This right here is probably Nate’s best line ever, so revel in it:

“You sold me out for a picture in the style section.”

Post confrontation, Blair finds her way back to Serena for some much-needed girl bonding time, while Nate makes his way back to his best friend Chuck, who was having a strange feud with Jenny during this episode as well as repeat sex with a Russian ballerina (and as Chuck Bass does not repeat sexual partners, this was a very disappointing revelation for him). Chuck tells Nate that he’s a fool to want Blair to be anything other than she is, and so he shows up at Chez Waldorf. Blair heads downstairs to apologize to Cyrus for missing the Seder and to accept his offer to help her get into NYU. How much do I love Wallace Shawn? This much:

Blair: Can you forgive me?
Cyrus: That’s why God invented Yom Kippur.

Word. From around the corner, Nate muses that it looks like he and Blair will both be in NYC next year, and the two share apologies for being dicks toward each other. Hugs and kisses all around. As usual, I’d much rather have Blair with Chuck, but that time will come. I know it will. And when it does, it will be glorious.

Also, Gabriel is still with Poppy and they may be playing some mean dirty trick on Serena. And I don’t care.

Other funny:

  • I may have hated the genesis (Husband Note: or “exodus,” nyuk nyuk nyuk…) for that comedy of errors at the Seder table, but I was pretty amused by it. I just really hate Serena and her problems that aren’t actually problems ever at all. (Remember when she killed that guy, but actually didn’t kill him at all? Yeah, like that.)
  • “Last night’s entertainment. She’s a synchronized swimmer. She can hold her breath for 5 minutes.” – Chuck
  • “No, I’m furious. First, you trash the apartment. Then you run away to Spain.” – Lily, who should be thankful that her daughter runs away to places with such culture! And not to some trashy model’s apartment like where Jenny ran away to!
  • “You’re the wife of the landed gentry and I’m a cater waiter at a Seder.” – Dan, who should become a children’s book author if all else fails, because although he clearly didn’t think about the obviously legality issue of Serena’s marriage, either, he sure can rhyme good! I am poetry!

The Husband:

To be fair, the show doesn’t expect us to know anything about how marriage is done in Spain, or if it’s done differently in different regions of the country. A tiny bit of research would show that, yes, you need to do a whole lot more than say “Si” to a priest, and it’s along the same lines as the marriage process in any Western first world country.

Hell, maybe she did, in fact, sign something, but was too drunk to remember. I can find no info in regards to marriage under-the-influence rules in Spain, but if my recent viewing of the film Donkey Punch is any indication, laws are kind of screwy in that thar España.

But since the show is pretending that we know nothing about Spanish marriage laws, it’s not a mean trick Gabriel and Poppy are playing on Serena – they are, as I proclaimed way before the final scene, trying to embezzle a fuckload of money out of Serena and her ridiculously rich divorcée/widow of a mother, which would indicate that Serena and Gabriel are, in fact, married. And as the season is coming to a close, and the creators were talking about doing a Anne Hathaway-inspired story about a boyfriend embezzling money for the end of the season, which would in turn bring back Michelle Trachtenberg’s Georgina to take care of the mess (after, you know, trying to ruin 17 Again), then I think we’re going to have to stay in the GG fantasy world of unlawful-but-lawful marriages. (Wife’s Note: By the way, embezzlement is definitely a mean trick in my book.)

Fuckin’ Armie Hammer.

The last few episodes have been a blast to watch as far as entertainment quotient is concerned, but I’m starting to drift away from these characters emotionally. Why? I think that, right now, the stakes aren’t high enough, and right now we’re mostly watching rich people having minor problems that could be easily fixed. The show works best, in my opinion, when it really backs its characters up against the wall until they do something either extremely cunning or terribly…terrible. Even Chuck is just kind of dicking around being all mopey and lovestruck. (And goddamn it, Jenny, don’t end your episode’s story by making googly-eyes at the man who tried to rape you when you were 14. I’m not sure if I’m interested in you and Blair competing for the same man.)

And yeah. What were Jenny and her lab partner doing at the Hump Der Woodsen home?

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.