Sunday, 8 January 2012

CHUCK, 5.9 – "Chuck Versus the Kept Man"

Sunday, 8 January 2012

The great thing about final seasons is that things rapidly progress and are noticeably reaching crescendos, hopefully with the emotional weight that years of storytelling brings with it. In fact, as a TV show, Chuck's probably been helped by the fact it's threatened with cancellation so often, because the writers have been forced to tinker with the show in creative ways. Would Chuck and Sarah be an item now if the mainstream US audience had really taken to them? Anyway, because this is almost definitely the last season, the writers don't have to rush the ending with a flurry of game-changing ideas to encourage another season, they can implement them in a satisfying way throughout the year. In "Chuck Versus The Kept Man", Casey (Adam Baldwin) admitted his feelings for Gertrud (Carrie-Anne Moss), Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) had a pregnancy scare (surely a precursor to a happier result in the finale), and Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay) finally discovered their Buy More colleagues are secret spies.

The latter is a particular big moment for Chuck, really, as those characters are the only remaining ones who don't realise Chuck has a secret life, with the exception of Big Mike. The way they uncovered the truth even made some sense to me, given that Jeff's no longer mentally incapable and is intelligent enough to have noticed the strange comings and goings. (Although I have no idea how he could have known about the Intersect, according to his board of clues and connections.) But allowing for the usual silliness, this subplot was great fun, as Morgan (Joshua Gomez) realised his employees are getting close to blowing their cover and put them off the scent by getting Devon (Ryan McPartlin) to pose as "the spy" in their midst. (It seems to be a running theme that Devon gets to play a James Bond role this year!) Unfortunately, Morgan's plan didn't quite work, meaning Jeff and Lester have clapped eyes on Castle for themselves, so some explaining needs to be done. Maybe Chuck will manage to convince them they were hallucinating due to paint fumes, now they've been K.O'd by a tranq dart after peering through a fake wall, but I hope not. It could be huge fun to see how these characters will need to be coddled into not sabotaging Carmichael Industries, or wanting to go on missions like eager pups.

The main storyline this week wasn't very interesting, being just another variation on the evil arms dealer who needs to be stopped idea the show's done numerous times before. It was just a template to hang a lot of good character stuff from; particularly the idea that spies can be caring people, which becomes Chuck's new mantra for their business, and fed directly into Casey's story because he's the hard-faced ex-CIA agent who doesn't usually have time for affairs of the heart. But here he came to see that Gretchen's his dream woman (sexy, capable, like-minded), and even mellowed enough to wear a soft cashmere sweater and watch Downton Abbey with his daughter Alex (Mekenna Melvin)... instead of go on a dangerous two-month trip to Dresden.

And while Chuck's already a more emotionally open person, we learned he's not quite as synced to Sarah as he believes himself to be, because he never picked up on the obvious signals that Sarah believes she might be pregnant. Interesting to see this this pregnancy idea raised at last (I've been expecting it for awhile), and even though the test was negative I'm willing to bet the next one won't be. It's just a tricky thing because the writers can't tackle Sarah's pregnancy as realistically, time-wise, as they did for Ellie a few seasons ago. My guess is the show will announce her pregnancy in the next few weeks, and we'll have some kind of jump forward in time during the series finale... to Chuck, Sarah and their baby living together in a beautiful home.

Second of Strahotness: cool at the pool
It was also fun to see some nods to the show's tongue-in-cheek treatment of women on the show, with Casey being the one asked to wear a sexy bathing suit by Gertrude (although we never saw it), and the hilarious sight of Lester undercover as a woman with black wig and high heels. Sarah even vocalised her disdain about always being the one asked to wear saucy costumes on missions, which was a neat touch. But still, it's a shame the episode didn't go further with what it was raising here, because "... Versus The Kept Man" was still an episode where Yvonne Strahovski appeared in a slow-motion pool side sequence, and the boys got away with wearing gowns. Not that I'm complaining, but I do worry the show's less keen to give its female fans some eye-candy moments.

Overall, this was yet another very enjoyable episode that overcame a dull plot with great character development and many amusing sequences focusing on the cast. Carrie-Anne Moss continues to be the show's best recurring guest-star since Scott Bakula, and as the show races towards its climax I feel confident that Chuck will end having produced a season I'd compare favourably to seasons 2 and 3.


  • That was British stand-up comedian Jim Tavare playing the bald English villain in the teaser, which was rather strange to see from my perspective. If you're not aware of his work, watch this.
  • Loved the Downton Abbey shout-outs here. That UK drama really appears to have entered the American consciousness at this point.
written by Craig DiGregorio & Phil Klemmer / directed by Fred Toye / 6 January 2012 / NBC