Chuck 4.03 “Chuck Versus The Cubic Z” Review

Admit it, Chuck fans: this was the episode you were really waiting for. (Chuck, not so much.)

If you’re not prepared to be spoiled, catch up with Michael Salerno’s recap. The rest of you can sit back with me and enjoy the returns of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Nicole Richie to the Chuckverse, which are just part of the mayhem on a highly busy night in Burbank.

Morgan has to deal with a huge game-release mob (i.e. Madden) and the return of Big Mike (Mark Christopher Lawrence) on his first big night as manager, while trying not to ogle the new Greta (Stacy Keibler). If that wasn’t bad enough, he has no idea that General Beckman has rerouted Hugo Panzer (Austin) and Heather Chandler (Richie) to Castle for temporary detainment. Needless to say, this particular night is not anyone’s idea of a good time.

In short order, the bombshells begin to drop: Big Mike wants to propose to Morgan’s mom. Sarah has to tell Chuck she doesn’t want kids with him. Chuck flashes on Heather and finds that she’s connected to Volkoff and his mom. Oh, and Hugo escapes. There are plenty of balls in play in this episode, and all of them are kept in play fairly deftly. (Though every time I see Steve Austin, I can’t help but recall his time as commentator on Celebrity Deathmatch.) Most of the action takes place within Castle, as Hugo tries to lock it down and off our heroes as well as Heather, who’s gotten on Volkoff’s bad side. The banter between Richie and Yvonne Strahovski, and to a lesser extent Richie and Zachary Levi, is as funny as ever (“I bet you have like a Tron poster in your room,” Heather says to Chuck at one point) while they’re all forced to collaborate. Funnier still is Casey’s interaction with Castle’s new AI, which only seems to understand him when he points a gun at it.

There are more impressive action sequences in this episode, as Strahovski gets to engage in another fight with Richie that’s not quite as engaging as their first but still fun to watch, and Levi is stuck struggling with Austin in one of Castle’s many ducts before Adam Baldwin corners him with a big gun. Later on, there’s a shootout with some of Volkoff’s men who arrive posing as the CIA transport. All of these are cool. However, I’d give the cake to Jeff (Scott Krinsky) and Lester (Vik Sahay), who have to hold off a big, unruly mob of gamers when Team Buy More discovers that they only have six copies of the elusive video game on hand. I’d rather take on Steve Austin than three hundred ticked-off hardcore gamers. I’ve seen enough WCG Ultimate Gamer to know they can be both crazy and ruthless.

It’s not surprising that everything comes down to Heather and Sarah having to work together to save both of their lives (although Volkoff’s men shooting Casey to make this necessary is so not cool). That’s almost to be expected, as is the mini-riot that breaks out at the Buy More. What isn’t expected is Hugo’s body weight causing both him and Chuck to crash through into the Buy More stockroom (ha) or Morgan losing Big Mike’s engagement ring in the melee. Thankfully, the man himself has seen enough of these to get the newly-minted manager and the Buy More through the night. It’s so great to see Big Mike back. Watching him take down Hugo just because Hugo puts his hands on Morgan is even more awesome.

Heather gives up what information she has on Chuck’s mother (that she worked on Operation Beacon, something about an arms pipeline) since Sarah saved her life. Yet she’s also there to cast aspersions on Sarah and Chuck’s relationship, and Sarah’s true feelings for Chuck, further moving the development of their personal relationship through another episode. Casey gets some vacation time (as if there wasn’t already a shortage of Adam Baldwin in this episode). Unfortunately, Morgan never finds the ring (but Chuck does!), but he does promote Big Mike to Assistant Manager, as well as accept him as his future stepfather. Whoa, that’s going to be an interesting subplot this season…

I can’t say this was my favorite Chuck episode, but it certainly does advance all the plotlines on the series, whether it’s the Sarah/Chuck relationship, the search for Chuck’s mom, or the Buy More, and it’s fun watching all those things happen. That’s all you can really ask for in a TV show, so I consider this episode a success. Until next week, I’m off to go reorganize the remains of the Buy More’s DVD section.

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