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Chuck Vs the Living Dead

We are back on track after a couple of mediocre-to-good episodes, as Chuck delivers on all fronts: A plot connected to the overall story arch, action, family, emotional reveals, and a solid dose of seriousness underlying it all.When Dad comes back from his self-imposed exile, it is time for some hard truths between Bartowski Sr. and his wayward son – while Ellie is tricked further and further into the dangerous world of espionage, expertly manipulated by the mysterious Ring organization.

This is an episode that does not do rainbows and candycanes. This episode is all about hard truths, unwanted reveals, and lies. Lots of lies. Chuck lies to Sarah. Chuck lies to Dad. And everyone lies to Ellie – who lies to all the wrong people.

While expertly handled by a very sneaky Ring-operative, Ellie tries to contact her father in order to protect him from the “evil double agent” John Casey. Instead of revealing his location, her father – a.k.a. Orion – shows up in her kitchen, much to Ellie's chagrin. Ellie leads the terrifying double life of a covert operative with minimal support, believing everyone is against her as she tries to save her father's life. Given how well she handles herself, it would appear that being a spy is something of a Bartowski family trait.
Orion's reappearance leads to a series of semi-confrontations between father and son, as Chuck desperately tries to cover up the fact that he is currently carting around the Intersect 2.0 in his noggin. He gets to demonstrate just how good he has gotten at the spy game as he repeatedly lies to his father, his face straight and giving nothing away. No more nervous fluttering or guilty looks: Chuck is growing up indeed.

Like the episode Chuck Vs the Beard, we get an emotional confrontation between our favourite geek spy and one of his loved ones, although the result is a bit different. Whereas Morgan was thrilled to discover Chuck's secret, Dad is horrified. Considering his experience and insight into the world of spies and black ops, that is hardly surprising – who would want that for their children?
The initial pain and subsequent acceptance on Orion's part is well managed, as is Chuck's emotional confession.

Ellie gets more and more screen time as her part in the plot evolves. She is very believable as the terrified yet brave daughter, wife and older sister, trying to shield everyone around her from the perceived “danger” only she is aware of. She gets a Crowning Moment of Awesome when she actually takes down NSA superspy John Casey – with a frying pan! Like her brother, Ellie is NOT a fan of firearms, fortunately – for Casey.

In an underlying (or perhaps overlying) plotline, Chuck is more or less convinced spy-turned-traitor Shaw is still alive. While attempting to find proof one way or another, Chuck and Sarah are repeatedly confronted with the hard, cold truth that spies rarely die of old age. The realization that either one of them could die at any time brings a serious undertone to the episode that is part of what defines the whole series: When at its best, the comical and goofy icing hides a surprisingly mature and serious center.

In the end, the episode leaves us impatient for more, awaiting answers to some very important and immediate questions.

But the penultimate scene is the most touching of all – Chuck, sitting down to write his “spy will”, knowing that this may be all he will get to leave behind to his loved ones, and showing clearly that he is well aware of the possible consequences of his life choices.
Throughout the series, we have watched Chuck gradually mature from goofball puppy-charm to debonaire-with-a-touch-of-geek, but it is moments like these that show us what kind of man he has grown into.



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