'Chuck' season premiere: Who's zoomin' who?

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chuck-vs-zoom-preview.jpg "Chuck" co-creator Chris Fedak said in our interview this week that one of the things he likes about having Morgan accidentally become the Intersect at the end of last season was the chance it gave the show to look back at its beginnings.

Now that we've watched the season premiere -- those of you who taped it in favor of Game 7 of the World Series might want to stop here -- Fedak's comment about calling back to "Season 1 or Season 2 land" seems about right, doesn't it? We know (or at least can make a pretty good guess) that Morgan having the Intersect is unlikely to be a permanent situation, because, well, the show is called "Chuck" and not "Morgan."

But Chuck no longer having powers beyond his own Bartowski brain turns out to be a pretty good place to start this final season. "Chuck vs. the Zoom" allowed Joshua Gomez to play some great comedy as Intersect-Morgan, but it also let us see how good Chuck has become at being a spy in the past four years, even without a supercomputer in his head.

While Morgan is using his newfound powers to take out a phalanx of bad guys, scope out where a Ponzi-scheming d-bag ( Craig Kilborn, well-cast) is hiding his money and performing a saucy dance with Sarah -- in addition to coming up with his own term for flashing, "zooming" -- Chuck has plenty else to do. He must use the not-inconsiderable skills he's acquired to help keep the newly launched Carmichael Industries afloat, keep the mission on track and secretly work with Morgan to find Sarah her dream house.

The "secret" part of the house-hunting quest doesn't go so well -- for all his other talents, Chuck's still really bad at keeping things from Sarah. Carmichael Industries is also on shaky ground, having spent most of the Volkoff money on start-up costs (and extravagances like a private jet). That's the "Chuck" Plot Hole of the Week -- did they really blow through more than $800 million in between seasons? -- but it does create some stakes for the company. And even if they still did have more money, by episode's end evil CIA man Decker has frozen the assets they used to run their con on Kilborn's character, so they're stuck regardless.

But despite the frozen assets (and the previous broken vase, and apparently a couple of unseen past jobs that didn't pan out), Chuck still proves that he can save a mission on nothing other than his own innate Chuck-ness, and that's pretty cool. It also speaks to why more seasoned spies like Sarah and Casey would be willing to follow him. It's all but a given that there will be tension down the line -- we can see Casey in particular chafing a bit at taking orders from a relative newbie -- but it illustrates how much he and Sarah both value Chuck as a colleague now.

Some other thoughts on "Chuck vs. the Zoom":

  • Morgan's various antics were a lot of fun, but for me the comic highlight of the episode is Casey's approach to client relations. Maybe it's best not to have him work the front of the house, so to speak.
  • Fedak said in our interview that Decker and his cabal will be a running thread through the season. I'm very curious to find out who "our superior" is -- could it be recently cast bad guy Angus Macfadyen? Someone else? Or, heaven forbid, Sarah's mom?
  • The comfort level Chuck and Sarah (and Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski) have with one another now makes them, outlandish circumstances of their work aside, one of the more believable in-love couples on TV right now. Her sharing of what her dream house actually looks like was one of the sweetest moments we've ever seen from Sarah.
  • There was much excitement over the casting of Mark Hamill back at Comic-Con, but he turned out not to have much of a role, appearing just in the opening sequence. It was a rare foul ball on the "Chuck" guest-star front.

What did you think of "Chuck's" final season premiere? What are you hoping to see the rest of the season?
Photo/Video credit: NBC