09 December, 2011

CHUCK Vs. the Hack Off: 5.05 - It's Naked Time!

"I don't run from the law. I am the law!" -- John Casey

Let's just kick it. Kick it with a tasty groove.

As the show winds down toward its 27 January. 2012 series conclusion, its 83rd episode takes us down an interesting road of exploration. Mostly body exploration. Not to mention, the exploration of the Jeff and Lester, and Casey and Gertrude relationships. Oh and it is directed by the star of the show, Zachary Levi, in his best job at the helm so far.

But first, Casey is in jail with his bested bud in the whole wide world, Lester. Casey is super happy about it. Especially since he has to deal with thugs who want to hurt him. Luckily for him, his girlfriend is a super spy and is able to get into the jail to provide him with a conjugal visit. After Casey delivers the goods, he convinces Gertrude to fill in for him with Carmichael Industries. Try as she might, she can't resist his manly ways and does his bidding.

Decker drugs Chuck and Sarah just so he can give them a mission. Success means all Casey's charges will be dropped. Failure? Not an option.

Inside Castle, Chuck is hunting down a lead to satisfy Decker's twisted needs. Morgan tells Sarah about Chuck's super hacker skills as the boss man sips Chardonnay right from the bottle. Eventually, Chuck identifies their hacker mark as a dude named Colin Davis.

When Gertrude shows up, she declares her intentions to help the crew. Chuck and Sarah reluctantly accept. The mission takes the three to a nudist colony where TV history has to have been made with pixelization of private parts on network television.

At the Buy More, Jeff and Morgan discuss the jailed Lester and the lesson he needs to learn about not poisoning your friends, something he is hesitant to promise.

Jeff: I didn't think it would be this hard without Lester around. I'm starting to forget him. I can't even picture what Lester looks like anymore.
Morgan: Close your eyes. Imagine David Beckham. Lester is a shorter feminine version of his wife.
Jeff: Right. I can see him now.

Chuck and Sarah infiltrate the nudist colony and find Davis but are soon discovered to be spies and have to fight their way to capturing their target. When Davis swallows the chip with the information necessary, Chuck tries to Heimlich it out of him but Gertrude shoots Davis with a dart, knocking him out.

Gertrude: Where's the chip?
Chuck: I hid it. (dropping the unconscious Davis) Inside of him.
Gertrude: So he swallowed it.
Chuck: Yes he did.

The team carries Davis off to probably do things you can't show on network television.

At the jail, Casey is assaulted by a number of evil doers but is saved by Lester, who has become the jail godfather via his tech knowledge.

Casey: What the hell?
Lester: I told you, I figured out a way to become the shot-caller in here. Now any of these people get out of line, and I will pull their plugs. Literally, I'll pull their plugs. I've been using my Buy More skills to set up cable and Internet for the inmates.
Casey: Of course you have.

Meanwhile, at the home base, Colin warns Chuck that the information on the chip currently making its way toward his poop shoot is so dangerous it could wipe out everything, or something. It is apparently a virus so powerful that the entire world could be in super duper danger. Gosh, I'm totally worried. At least more worried than I ever get watching BURN NOTICE, which isn't much since that show is total white noise. Anyway, so Chuck has to get a secondary element of the hack thingy and so there is another part to this mission.

Chuck, being the nice guy he is, offers to make his newest friend something to eat. Gertrude is not amused.

Gertrude: A snack?! Casey is in lock-down and this jerk wants jellybeans?! We should just cut him open and get that chip out right now.

I love this character!

Sarah and Ms. Verbanski have a discussion about relationships where Mrs. Bartowski seems to have fun pushing the buttons of a trained super killer.

In button pushing world, Jeff and Morgan Skype it up with Lester and reveal that they have hired Abed from COMMUNITY as his replacement. Their attempt to get Lester to see the error of his ways works very well as Abed, who is actually just a hired model/actor, is so impressive that Lester feels completely threatened. This is one of the better cameos the show has ever done, UNTIL... shocker, Shirley from COMMUNITY is revealed to be a green shirt! WHAAAAAT?!

That... was.... awesome.

Anyway, so Chuck goes to evil hack camp to engage in an old fashioned hack off for his life and the mission. There is something cool about seeing Chuck be a total nerd and to see that his hacker persona, of Piranha, carries weight with his peers. Though, like with many shows, it is kind of sprung on us out of nowhere. But I can believe it since we always knew Chuck was super smart and techie.

It is actually surprising that it took five seasons for us to get this kind of sequence on the show. And when Chuck expresses excitement over it, I find myself with a big smile.

Chuck: I forgot something. I'm really good at this!

I'm already missing this show.

Sarah and Gertrude go in, do some talking about relationships, and do something to get the mission thing and then Chuck runs away and the ladies save him. No surprise there. It's all fun, mostly because Chuck isn't able to use anything other than his natural talents to get out of it.

When next we find ourselves in the Buy More, the issue I had with the whole Lester trying to murder his friends plot from 5.04 does exactly what I knew it would. Mainly, sweep the fact that a guy nearly killed his friends under the rug because he apologized and promised to not do it again. Awesome lesson! A teachable moment! It is OK to try to murder your friends as long as you promise not to do it again. Also, somehow you can drop charges against someone who is charged with manslaughter/murder and the DA doesn't bat an eye.

At the drop-off, Chuck discusses quitting the spy biz for like the 400th time in the show's history. Which is funny since the show only has 82 episodes at this point. But that's what this show's been doing forever so why change things now? Before we get too much of that, Decker arrives to pick up the virus and reveals that it was all a setup to frame Carmichael Industries for the release of the virus. Gertrude threatens his life but Decker isn't worried.

Decker: So I suggest you get your hands off of me and get a little head start. Because soon people will be hunting Chuck, the way they hunted Bin Laden.

But Gertrude has other plans and blows Decker into tiny little bits to save the man she loves. Before she goes on the run, she and Morgan help break Casey out of jail, while Chuck and Sarah prepare for the repercussions.

If I had to rate this episode, I would give it:

92 out of 100

A fun episode with some cool tech stuff and spy elements, plus a lot of Gertrude, and Decker's death. Outside of a few nagging problems, I couldn't find much to dislike. The setup is of course that Chuck and Sarah will eventually begin to think of a way out of the spy life. Whether they achieve that or not will be told over the next 8 episodes. For now, they will have to fight for their lives, and the lives of their friends and families. It is about to get interesting.


  1. I pretty much agree with everything here. Completely. I think I already typed that up at Chuckgasmic.

    Gertrude was fantastic and perfectly integrated. Shirley as a greenshirt was the best surprise cameo and Decker being blown to pieces was surprising and somehow elevated the threat, even if he is taken out.

    I also really like that Chuck and Sarah are actually thinking about alternatives to the spy life instead of just longing for vague normalcy. And they are talking about it.

    How they dealt with Lester was really the only weak point, but I didn´t expect anything else either. Dropping charges for attempted manslaughter wouldn´t be possible here. The DA charges for that, not the intended victim. And even if that were possible Big Mike would have also been a victim.

    Anyway apart from that the episode worked really really well. And I definitely think it was Zac´s best work as a director as well.

  2. Gertrude is such a great character. The actor has truly won me over. She is just fantastic. Great inflections on her lines. She elevates every scene she is in. I will miss her.

  3. I truly hadn´t considered, that Gertrude could be gone for good. Say it ain´t so. I really want her back at some point. She is a marvellous addition.

  4. I just meant she is gone for now. I don't think you would introduce a character like her and not bring her back for at least one episode.

  5. It was a great episode but all the usual idiots want to cry about on their bullshit forums is the promo. Yet again you warned them and they still act surprised. What the fuck is wrong with these crazies? It never ends even after Chuck and Sarah are fuckin MARRIED!

    So I loved the episode and your review. Expected more quotes from you but maybe next week. I love when you do lots of quotes.


  6. There were lots of quotes I could have included but I am actually getting a bit tired of doing them. They take up a ton of time to do, since I like to get them right, and the return on that time investment doesn't always seem to be worth it.

  7. I also love the quotes, but I understand that reserve. It is time intensive work. Maybe you could just make quick individual posts with quotes you liked a lot, whenever you feel like it.

    But maybe that´s more a twitter thing.

  8. Hmmmm. Well, I will think about doing more with other episodes. Understand, I wrote A LOT today. I am a little pooped. :)

  9. Well, thanks for having written what you did. It is very much appreciated. :I

  10. Said some positives already at Chuckgasmic. But, I didn't say that I thought the pacing was really good.

    It's a shame we have to say goodbye to Verbanski. If Casey actually lives to the end, it would be cool to see a reunion between the two.

    I felt that this episode marked the real beginning of the season in terms of the true arc. The first few episodes felt like they just needed to undo the poor decision to give Morgan the Intersect. Last week was a filler and now we really begin.

    By emphasizing Chuck's other skills, the episode also seemed to quiet down the pining for Chuck to get the Intersect back.

    I agree it kinda came out of nowhere, but I'm not complaining.

  11. One of my favorite parts of this season is the fact that Chuck has nothing but his innate or learned skills to fall back on. I actually think they should have spent most of season 4 with him minus the Intersect.

    But yeah, this is really the kick-off point of the rest of the season. And as my sources have told me, there are a good five episodes out of the final nine that could become all-time fan favorites. This was one of them.

    I will need to sit on it for a while before I can judge that fairly.

  12. Chuck relying on his innate skillset AND pondering what he really wants to do with that is really a treat for the last season. It seems that he finally accomplished enough to feel free to do that without the pressure to have to prove himself a hero for Sarah or anyone else. I like that.

    And I love that Sarah may get to do the same. This setup is really promising. And it´s kind of what I already liked about the last episode. I know that wasn´t that well received here and it was clunky at times, but I felt it already went in the same direction, even if it got there in a less organic way.

  13. I am pretending that 5.04 never happened.

  14. Fair enough. ;)

    And I guess it´s a good thing that that is possible and the ep or its consequences couldn´t ruin the rest of the season/series for you. :)

  15. Chuck relying on his innate skills is way more interesting than anything they did with the Intersect in Season 4. Because of "Chuck Fu" the writers seemed like they had to force themselves to put Chuck in some situation where he had to use it. Bad guys attack Chuck. Chuck kung fus bad guys. The end.

    It's far more interesting to see him have to hack his way out and then run like hell.

    BTW--Sepinwall usually has the song list for episodes and he didn't get one. If anyone knows any of the songs from the episode, I'd appreciate it.

  16. He is back!!!!!!!!!!!!Check out the promo for the coming episodes and out favourite guest actor in the world is back!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. I told you... over on the other site. But you thought I was kidding. ;)

  18. Agree with much of what you said on this show... But calling "Burn Notice" white noise?! We Muct Battle! Those are fighting words!!

  19. BURN NOTICE is a show I rarely, if ever, find compelling on any level. And I've felt that way since season 2. It tries so hard to be something it isn't. And I think most of it comes from the over actors.

  20. For me this was the best episode of the season so far
    I don't know if it was the writing or Zac's directing but everything felt right this episode:

    The pace was great! not too fast,rushing through things like "Frosted Tips" or "Zoom" and not to stale like a filler episode

    Unlike some episodes of this season this time the actors where used in scenes where they could perform at their best(comedy actors doing comedy,actors with physical abilities doing the action scenes and actors with good on screen couple chemistry doing the romantic scenes)

    Overall i give this episode a 95/100

  21. How could anyone get freaked out by Shaw at this stage. Who gives a fuck. It seems the writers would really have been struggling for fresh and original storylines if they had ever got a season 6. Just as well this s the final 13.

  22. TVBTN says the preliminary ratings are a 1.0, which is a slight bump from last episode. But, the proof is in the finals, which don't come in until Monday afternoon and in what the rating actually was behind that 1.0 rounding.

    Last rating was a .91. A .96 rounds up to 1.0, but so does a 1.04.

  23. For fuck's sake. Of COURSE Shaw's going to break up Chuck and Sarah's marriage. It's so obvious. It's not like Chuck and Sarah are married now and Shaw tried to kill her or anything, right?

    Putting aside five seconds of a promo in favor of an awesome episode...loved this one. I really wish we'd had a couple weeks off after this one rather than 5x04 because a.) it feels like a more natural pause point in terms of plot arc and b.) it didn't suck.

    Sarah seriously considering her role and ability to make it in a non-spy life felt a lot more natural progression of the idea than her chirpy "I wanna be a real girl!" turn in 5x04.

    I honestly think that's about the most emotional they've let Casey be in any episode. The last four episodes have had some great stuff for him in terms of character range. Nice to see him let his guard down around Gertrude, but not go completely soft. Also, conjugal visit. Meow. (Between that and the tango-fight, I can sense people complaining that Casey gets the sexy scenes this season instead of Chuck and Sarah...)

    Chuck being awesome and tech geeky to save the day makes me wish they'd done more of that earlier rather than leaning on Chuck Fu so constantly as a crutch.

    All in all, great episode. And I really, really hope we get to see Gertrude at least once more before it's all said and done. She's beaten out Cole Barker for my top "temporary Team B member" spot.


  24. Well, had the show started when it was supposed to, 5.05 WOULD have been the break point.

  25. True that. I'm still shocked the Christmas episode this year will actually air before the holiday in question. This is madness!


  26. Don't holiday episodes always air before the... oh, you mean because last year the V-Day episode aired a week later?

  27. There was that, 5x02 getting shuffled back to a week after Halloween, "Leftovers" last year aired the week after Thanksgiving, and if I remember right, they shuffled the order of "Best Friend" and "Suburbs" in s2 because of a presidential speech...and "Suburbs", when I check, still aired after Valentine's Day.

    It's apparently a fine tradition for Chuck holiday episodes to occur after the holiday in question, especially when they get bumped around the schedule. So getting "Santa Suit" before Christmas is going to be unusual!


  28. And 5.07 was suppose to air after as well.

  29. "Between that and the tango-fight, I can sense people complaining that Casey gets the sexy scenes this season instead of Chuck and Sarah"

    Cor,anyone who complains about that must have serious brain damage
    Adam Baldwin and Carrie Ann-Moss are a pleasure to watch
    also its not like we are missing out on something special since the usual Chuck and Sarah sexy scenes are mostly "Disney Channel material"
    If something Baldwin/Moss deserve a KUDOS for their great chemistry and the show runners deserve one for creating more sexy scenes for the actors who can perform quality romantic scenes together

  30. I posted my thoughts over on Chuckgasmic, but since this review was light on quotes I had to throw out one of my faves:

    Gertrude: "Right, I'm gonna take orders from Ward and June Cleaver."

    Oh and I want Chuck's wine sock monkey!

  31. Magnus, ha on 5x07. That somehow doesn't surprise me.

    AdriaN, when does sense ever stop the crazy shippers from bitching about stuff on Chuck? ;)

    OPD, I want that wine sock money too. It's awesome.

  32. Maybe the NBC store should wring a few more dollars out of us Chuck fans before it's over because I want the wine sock monkey too.

  33. You guys think what Baldwin/Moss got was sexytime? I mean yes they did, but it was also the Disney rated version of "sexytime" they barely showed a kiss and panned away. LOL.

    I loved the episode. Was it me or was their some telling looks Sarah gave during some scenes where she discusses relationships (with Gertrude) and a part where secrets was mentioned? Just me?

    Anyways, this felt like old school Chuck, with the action, comedy and romance and the Buy More plot was good (even if the set up of Lester trying to kill his friends and it being presented as no big deal was well bad).

  34. Based on the preliminary ratings, this was the most watched episode of the season for Persons 2+ watching. The Adults 18-49 rating didn't top the premiere, but was 10% above last episode. But, the rating for people 50 or older went up 17% compared to last episode and was 14% above the season premiere.

    Go figure.

    Look for details here at Geekfurious when the final ratings come in on Monday.

    It could be that older-skewing CBS ran kiddie shows instead of A Gifted Man and the 50+ viewers went scrambling for other scripted fare and landed on Chuck.

  35. If only those ratings had been like a 1.6! Five weeks ago...

  36. sigh...yes.

    But, I'd still rather the show steadily get low 1's than what it was getting if only because I like the idea that these wonderful actors are getting watched regardless how old the viewers are that are watching.

    I have another secret ratings hope, but maybe I'll save that for after the Xmas episode.