'Chuck' return countdown: Zachary Levi on keeping secrets (again)

chuck-vs-the-leftovers2.jpgBecause "Chuck" didn't learn of its full-season pickup until well into the production of its initial 13 this fall, you're going to see a lot of big developments in this season's storyline very soon.

Soon, like starting Monday (Jan. 17), when the show returns to NBC after a seven-week break. "You'll see a lot of storylines coming to fruition" in the next three episodes, star Zachary Levi tells Zap2it. "The back 11 pickup was so late that there wasn't really a way to massage that in."

That's not all bad: As "Chuck" did last season, it will wrap up a major story -- in this case, Chuck (Levi) coming to grips with the fact that his mom Mary ( Linda Hamilton) is not only alive, but also either deep undercover with or working for the bad guys -- by the 13th episode. Hamilton and fellow guest star Timothy Dalton, as Mary's arms-dealing lover Alexei Volkoff, are slated to return in the Jan. 24 episode, and their reappearance will make Chuck's already delicate family situation even trickier to navigate.

At the end of the last episode, "Chuck vs. the Leftovers," Capt. Awesome ( Ryan McPartlin) told Chuck in no uncertain terms to keep the spy world away from Ellie ( Sarah Lancaster), Chuck's sister and Awesome's pregnant wife. "Although I doubt that will hold for very long," Levi tells us.

"Certainly Chuck never intended to involve any of his family or his close friends in it, but everyone has been," he continues. "And then he specifically told Ellie he wouldn't do it anymore. So he doesn't want to tell them anything. But god knows, I'm sure they'll get involved in some way, shape or form."

Levi says he isn't sure whether the show will be able to bring Hamilton or Dalton back after the 13th episode, but he's hopeful.

"I know they're trying. I know there's been talk to do that," he says. "I don't know how it's going to work out, but I really hope so. Timothy Dalton is one of the most talented people I've ever worked with, and Linda is amazing as well, so loving. I really had a good time with both of them, so it would be cool."

"Chuck" returns to NBC at 8 p.m. ET Monday.
Photo/Video credit: NBC