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TV Review: Chuck – “Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner”

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Although last night was NBC’s Chuck‘s 21st episode this season, three more outings remain: Chuck’s longest season to date. Not many shows get 24 episodes anymore. In last night’s, “Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner,” Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) are swindled out of over $20,000 by their wedding planner. On advice from Sarah’s con man father, Jack (Gary Cole), they use CIA resources to track down the woman, earning them both a suspension. But when Chuck flashes while looking at the planner’s client list, General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) doesn’t believe him. So Chuck, Sarah, and Jack stage their own con to save the world and restore the two spies to duty.

It is an absolute delight to get Gary Cole on screen in any capacity. Since it doesn’t look like he will be returning for Chuck and Sarah’s upcoming nuptials, it is awfully kind of the writers to build him into such a nice story, and provide a sweet moment for he and Sarah on the dance floor during a wedding reception. A con man with a heart of gold is still a con man, so he’s just not that reliable. Plus, despite the fact that he so obviously loves his daughter, no one ever said Jack has a heart of gold.

In flashback, we see Sarah’s childhood. Her grandmother tells her father to stay away, and he reluctantly agrees. Young Sarah is heartbroken, and gives her daddy all the money she saved from the schemes they pulled together, hoping he will take her with him. He does end up disappearing, with the money, and without Sarah. While these bits are not particularly important to the overall series plot, as we already know the type of relationship the two have, but they are so well put together, it’s easy to just enjoy them and not worry if they are necessary. And the actress playing young Sarah is adorable! Also, Jack leaving Sarah her money, of which he spent not a dime over the years, is a nice bookend, and solves the problem of Sarah and Chuck being hoodwinked.

Of course, last time Jack showed up on Chuck, it is revealed that he has money stashed away for Sarah. Is that what his purpose is going to be? Every time Jack is on screen he is bringing money? Is this some sort of commentary on absentee dads?

Parents are an important element on Chuck. Not one of Sarah or Chuck’s parents are in the picture when the series begins. Chuck has tracked down both of his by this point, who happen to be spies, like him, although his father is now dead. Sarah’s father has popped up a couple of times, but her mother has not been shown. Is it too much to hope for, that with three episodes left in the season, a suitably recognizable actress puts in an appearance? Or if not before the wedding, then next season? That may just be wishful thinking, and admittedly, I’m still hoping for a miracle resurrection of Scott Bakula.

While Beckman’s anger at Chuck and Sarah for misusing agency resources is certainly understandable, it stinks that she doesn’t at least let them recover their missing money. After all they do in the line of duty, they should have just asked Beckman for help with the con woman, and she should have granted it. What good is having a job with such resources, and not getting to use them?

This is not the first time Chuck or Sarah have crossed the line of professionalism. Both have used the tools of their job to hunt for Chuck’s family, which ends up tying into their missions. While blind luck is probably partially to blame, Chuck must be given credit for good instincts. Not only did his hunt for mother and father help bring down bigger criminals, but the arrest of the wedding planner once again led to another mission. If we are to suspend disbelief and assume these are not coincidences, which is viable given the massive computer in Chuck’s head, and its effects not completely all known or understood, Beckman needs to start learning to trust Chuck’s actions, even when he himself doesn’t realize a bigger motive.

It is nice that Morgan (Joshua Gomez) and Casey (Adam Baldwin) assist in the faux wedding that Jack helps Sarah and Chuck throw. Morgan is, of course, Chuck’s best friend, so he will willingly get involved in anything illegal if Chuck thinks it’s best. Casey has been an obstacle before, but he has softened so much, and warmed up to the others, to the point where he barely questions them before lending a hand. It’s a tight knit team built on trust, and they all realize they have something special here.

Just because there are so many relationship movements in the episode doesn’t mean that Chuck disappoints those looking for action. The wedding showdown, where the team has to stage an elaborate event, and then subtley take out not one, not two, not even three, but four bad guys is very cool! Comedy is mixed in with the action, such as Morgan rushing frantically into the backroom so that someone else can take down his mark. But fans who care more about the spy stuff than feelings should not be let down.

No funny side plots with the Buy More this week. Due to a limited budget, Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence), Lester (Vik Sahay), and Jeff (Scott Krinsky) only do certain episodes. (Sarah Lancaster’s Ellie also sits this one out.) While it is a hallmark of the show to keep the CIA agents grounded with retail jobs, and also keep the more light hearted plots in for comic relief, it doesn’t need to be every week. Buy More is not missed at all in this episode. Should it be missing for the next few, too, now that would be a problem.

Devon (Ryan McPartlin) is the lone “side” main character that shows up, when he ends up catching Jack breaking into Chuck and Sarah’s apartment. Did anyone else believe him when he said he could chase Jack down, even though he has a baby strapped to his chest? Classic Awesome! Devon ends up entertaining Jack for awhile, and while, like the flashbacks, not strictly needed, other than to let out to Jack know that his daughter is getting married, the two provide some of the most enjoyable moments in the hour.

It is finally time for Casey to come clean to Kathleen (Clare Carey). This arc took a huge leap forward this week when Kathleen catches a glimpse of the supposedly dead father of her child at the Buy More. Following him, at first she thinks he’s just lying to their daughter, Alex (Mekenna Melvin), about being a hero spy. Then she sees him in action. Baldwin insists in a recent interview that Kathleen and Casey will not be picking up their romance where it left off, at least not this season, but that seems a shame. These two have wonderful chemistry.

Now that Casey is out of the bag, does that mean he can be more actively involved in Alex’s life? No more sneaking around? That would be a breath of fresh air, as Casey has become very important to Alex, and it’s visibly wearing on her that she has to keep two sides of her life separate. Casey is a good father who realizes that, which is why he tells her in the previous episode not to lie to her mom. While there may be some resistance on Kathleen’s part to Casey being around, he did leave her and lie to her after all, Casey is a genuinely good man. The sooner Kathleen sees that, the better for the show.

Chuck airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • H. D.

    This is a great review of one of the best episodes in the series in my mind. Too many bloggers/reviewers focus on the lack of reality or how this show is going down in the ratings, but I think this article did a great job of pointing out highlights.

    I loved Sarah doing the flash face. ;D

    I like that Sarah got conned because it shows that she is coming into Chuck’s realm of a normal person with a non-normal job. To me, it is a great bit of writing to show how Sarah is changing from her background and it shows Chuck and Jack as her spectrum ends. It also shows that there is not necessarily a right or wrong.

    I love this episode and it’s episodes like this that make this show great. Hopefully we will have more seasons of the show to grow closer to the characters.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I wrote a letter to NBC hoping that they could see a fan’s viewpoint of the show.

    Great article!

  • http://sceneontv.tumblr.com darci

    The whole party planning scene when Sarah pretended to be Daphne was great…I was cracking up as soon as I heard her accent/speech mannerisms (you can watch the scene here).

    Also props to them for using Pigeon John’s “The Bomb” during the scene, too. Chuck’s music has always been awesome, but a little bit short on the hip hop and heavy on indie rock, so that was cool to see, too.