Chuck: Mommie Dearest

Last night’s solid episode of Chuck brought the Mama Bartowski arc to a satisfying, if not open-ended, conclusion. It was entertaining—a standout in a season of ups and downs—but far from the best the show can do. Am I grading too harshly? Read on to see where “Chuck vs. The Leftovers” lost points.

Agent Bartowski: Chuck decided that without the Intersect, he’d need to learn some tricks on his own. This inspired my favorite scene of the episode, in which Chuck and Morgan learned “strip kicking” (basically what it sounds like) while accompanied by Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” Otherwise, it was more of Chuck trusting, then not trusting, then trusting his mom. While I understand the complicated emotions involved, I’m a bit worn out by the back-and-forth. And then he got the Intersect back—which made me wonder why he needed to lose it in the first place. What purpose did it really serve?
Grade: B

Agents Walker and Casey: Sarah and Chuck, on the other hand, were at the top of their game. After a Sarah-heavy week, it was nice to see the spies working as a team. I thought Sarah did a good job of balancing Sarah the spy with Sarah the girlfriend: She let Chuck work out his issues with Mama Bartowski, but she also kept her eye on the goal. And Casey got to do cool computer-y things, so a few extra points there. (Look, I don’t work at the Buy More. I can’t be expected to understand technology.)
Grade: A

Morgan: Poor Morgan. Sometimes he’s essential to the mission, sometimes he’s a punching bag. This week, Morgan’s fears regarding Black Friday madness turned into far more legitimate fears about, you know, dying. I thought he handled himself fairly well, insofar as he didn’t get killed, but he was mostly helpless throughout the episode. I suppose that’s realistic: He can’t always be the savior or the voice of reason or the studly leading man (okay, he never really gets to be that last one). And because of the awesome strip kicking scene (still not over it) and his refusal to be seduced when he already has a girlfriend, his grade gets bumped up.
Grade: B+

The Romance: Not much romance to speak of. I take it everything is going smoothly? Super. I did think the reveal that Volkoff is in love with Frost was a bit silly, only because that seemed obvious from the get-go. I also have a hard time believing anyone that evil and powerful would cave so easily over mushy feelings. But what do I know? I’ve never been a spy in love.
Grade: B

Awesome and Ellie: You guys, Awesome and Ellie were integral to the mission. Integral! Things mostly had to do with Awesome, but that’s okay because I find Devon’s spying ineptitude to be an endless source of amusement. I love that the suave, charming doctor can’t manage to tell a simple lie to save his sweetie’s life. And Ellie held her own as well, cracking the code that gave Chuck the Intersect back. I wonder how she’s going to feel when she finds out—it’s inevitable—that she’s somewhat responsible for pushing Chuck back into more active spying. How long do you think Devon can keep his brother-in-law’s secret?
Grade: A

The Buy More: I’m over it. Sorry. Most everything about the Buy More rubbed me the wrong way in this episode, particularly Big Mike’s Subway ad (enough already!) and Jeff asking Volkoff’s sexy infiltrator to shave his back. Jeff’s weirdness isn’t creepy-funny anymore—it’s really just shrug-worthy. What I did like is that we saw more of how the Buy More can operate as a C.I.A. facility.
Grade: C-

The Guest Stars: Linda Hamilton gave her best performance yet as Mary Elizabeth Bartowski. She sounded a little uncomfortable when she made that forced nod to the Terminator series: “Come with me if you want to live.” Other than that, she was good and, most importantly, believable. She was, however, upstaged by the brilliant Timothy Dalton, whose Volkoff is the best villain Chuck has given us since Chevy Chase as Ted Roark. Discuss.
Grade: A

Overall Grade: B

Comments (31)
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WOW, all this whining about SUBWAY!!Wake up people!! Why is the show back this season? SUBWAY! Get it?? Support the advertiser get your (sub)way!!

Take the lesson to heart. If you want better television STOP complaining to worthless chit chat boards or networks who don't care if you are breathing aslong as your TV is tuned in, and take your COLLECTIVE voice directly to the advertisers. When a network decides to re-insert a show like Chuck after announcing it's demise......THAT'S HUGE. That's your voice making the right noise. It doesn't take 1.5 million walking on Washington for better programming, Simply LEARN from what has made a difference!! Want less trash on yoour networks?? Contact every advertiser sponsoring the trash and let them know you WON'T buy there any longer. After a while, the Nits at the network might actually FIRE the neilson's and start listening more closely to want actually counts.......YOUR VOICE!!!
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Wow... zero mention on the fact that this episode was an awesome "Die-Hard" spoof... once again, you dropped the ball, Peitzman.
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@exavier1cmf, Well they did take the ring leaders at the end so i don't see why this organization would still be around. Now if you say Fulcrum, i'd much would like to know about them.
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I agree with you entirely. It felt like the whole "losing the intersect" subplot was just filler for what could have been an amazing season. The only way this can be redeemed is if Morgan takes his newfound skill of strip-kicking and is able to save the day with his swift foot of justice, thus redeeming all of his screw-ups this season.
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The Subway product placement IS ridiculous, but I've learned to ignore it by reminding myself that it's one of the major reasons the show is still even on.
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Yeah i agree with the Timothy Dalton character comment-- he IS the best character the show has given us since Ted Roark, however i liked the villian-esk that Brandon Routh gave us as Shaw, his character was probably the most dangerous because he knew all of Chuck's secrets and had an Intersect. Timothy Dalton is a DIFFERENT kind of evil, and he has endless resources at his disposal. Volkoff has connections in almost every organization in the world... he can potentially be everywhere at once, without actually being there.

On that note, can anyone answer to me what happened to The Ring?? i mean... an organization that has as many connections as The Ring doesn't just disappear like they did. Thoughts?
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Honestly, you should add a "Subway Ad" catagory and rate them aswell. those are getting really ridiculous..



I thought this episode was kind of a mess, but still enjoyable overall. its too bad chuck got the intersect back so soon, taking it away was a move in the right direction. ever since chuck learned Kung Fu the show has been going downhill.. its still one of my favorites, but it lost alot of the goofy elements that made it great in the first 2 seasons..
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If I remember correctly the problem Ellie solved was about how the brain accessed memories. So maybe from now Chuck wont have that stupid look on his face every time he flashes. Maybe from now on he will just know stuff as if he is just remembering it. Though I get the feeling nothing will be different.
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Well, there's one big problem with The Intersect 2.0 - Chuck forgets the abilities he flashes on (he can only keep his kung-fu knowledge for a short time before he has to flash on it again). Maybe Orion couldn't keep the information there longer because of how he looked at the brain, which Ellie just fixed. But I guess we'll have to wait and see.
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Anyways, I liked this episode a lot, I agree with you on almost every point as usual, except the buy more stuff, (as usual) and the Morgan stuff. I actually find the extremely forced Subway stuff to be absolutely hilarious, because they make it such a tiny part, but still put so much impact in whatever tiny moments where they promote it. I do kind of get tired of the jeffster stuff, but at least they used the Buy More in the right way for once, actually making it a integral part of the episode, they should have shown more of the civilian Buy More employees than Jeff, Lester, and Big Mike. What I liked about Morgan in this episode was that he had no problem trying to save the civilians when he first figured out there was a problem, of course, it all has to be turned into a joke, but I still think Morgan has grown quite a bit as a character since he found out Chuck is a spy.
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My theory on what happened with the intersect stuff in this episode is that Chuck's mom was telling the truth, that she in fact disabled her son's powers so that he couldn't get into more trouble with Volkoff, and that, coincidentally,Orion wanted Ellie to fix an issue in the intersect 2.0, he then knew Ellie would have to give it to Chuck to answer the last code, and then he'd upgrade the intersect that Orion didn't know was supressed in any way. So now we have the intersect 2.1, or 3, depending on if there are any important new features.
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I refuse to hate the Subway placement in the episodes because they company was so important in bringing the show back. I just laugh at how camp they have made the promos! Agree with the whole intersect thing, and it was not explained. Just a filler plot perhaps?
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Yeap, as usual to the point...
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While I like the episode it really made Chucks mother using that little gizmo on him make even less sense. Right before using it she said his father never wanted him to see it. Yet Chucks father never wanted him to have to the Intersect let alone use it. So if he had a device that could have simply supressed the Intersect, wouldnt he have just used it? I figured it was some sort of update...like it uploaded all the intel and data his father had collected over the years into the Intersect and the reason Chuck could nott flash was because it was busy integrating the new data. But the device just being an Intersect-supressor just does not make any sense in connection with what Chucks mother said...
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Yeah, what was the point of taking the intersect away and then getting it back in the end....I thought maybe, the intersect would be upgraded again like last time, but it somehow looks exactly the same. They could have at least changed something to make it more interesting.....right?
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Agree that the episode was top notch, but the Subway complaints are something i have to argue with, if 1 blatant appearance per episode even slightly helps Chuck get a 5th Season, then im all for it.
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GeorgeKofos: It was. Don't you remember Yippee-ki-yay?
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Loved this episode from beginning to end. Morgan's shout-out to Die hard at the end with the taped gun on his back and the hurt foot was so freakin hilarious. Also, the "strip-kicking" had me rolling! Unlike you, I thought it was funny when Jeff asked that woman to shave his back as a "thank you" because its right out of his ultra-weird playbook. Kudos to Linda Hamilton and Timothy Dalton, too. That had to be the funniest, but most uncomfortable post-Thanksgiving dinnner I've ever seen. I think Chuck losing the intersect served as a test for Sarah's love for him. Could she REALLY love him (or marry him, shocker!) without intersect, just being average joe Bartowski?!
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Loved Grimes in this episode.
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I absolutely loved this. Mostly for that one moment-short as it may have been- where they gave a nod to Daddy B (whom I miss every day). I loved his little saying, and bringing it back made me so happy. Aces, Charles.
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And a psychopath, You forgot that. He's evil, powerful and a psychopath. His attitude may appear sometimes like he wants to be funny but honestly i think the guy is simply crazy. It's obvious that he's obsessed with momma B so i can understand why he caved in to those mushy feelings of what you're talking about. Ah, Poor woman!!
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Oh yeah and how could I forget, the Morgan-John Mclain parallels were hilarious!
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The purpose served by Chuck losing the Intersect was to show that Sarah loved Chuck Intersect or not. Also, that she does indeed want to marry him (shocker!! I know...) and I totally agree with you about the Subway ads, jesus man we get it, Subway sponsors the freakin' show. We're one step away from a sandwich saving a mission.
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Nah, sorry, Timothy Dalton as the sappy villain is not believable. I believe a villain can make poor decisions for a woman, just not the way he played it. Broke my suspension of disbelief. Not a good villain at all. Perhaps to the point of ruining the episode.
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@GeorgeKofos Duh!. Didn't you get "Yippie Ki Yay" and trying to reach the gun taped to his back? All the things Morgan did were Die Hard references :P

Agree with the review, but Morgan was freaking awesome
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I loved how Devon laid down the law about protecting Ellie. Very sweet. Still trying to figure out how Morgan taped the gun to his back in the first place. Dalton is terrific as Volkoff.
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I did find it funny when Volkof found out that Frost had a son and a daugher and was more upset that she did not think he could have a relationship with them since he loves kids. Never mind the fact that she has let an enemy agent live, that does not mean that he is not capable of being part of the family.
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Absolutely agree with Timothy Dalton being an exceptionally funny villain and both he and Hammilton put in great performances. Enjoyed the episode and I am deeply looking forward to the back half of this season when it comes along to see how they develop
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In addition to my previous message, I figured all along that the car and what we knew was in the car was left for Ellie to give to Chuck or for Chuck to find and help him somewhere down the road. I figured the laptop was for exactly what it was for but I just feared somehow Ellie would wind up accidentally screwing things up.
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Is it me or was Morgan's crawlin through the vent, dressed as he was, an alusion to Die Hard???
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There were pluses and minuses to this episode but for now I will list the huge enormous plus for me. At the end of the previous episode we had Ellie and Awesome screwing around with the laptop. I feared that they'd wind up with an intersect and we'd have a insanely long drawn out arc with Chuck lacking his abilities and Ellie having them. If that had happened I honestly would have walked away from the show to take a break.
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