Season premiere: Chuck Versus The Anniversary (S04E01) – Episode review

[[Chuck (TV Series)|Chuck]] blasted back onto our screens in the Season 4 premiere. At the end of season 3, not only did his father die, but Chuck (Zachary Levi) promised Ellie he’d stop being a spy, just before he discovered a secret bunker with his mother’s files underneath the house. So now he’s faced with the ethical dilemma – does he honour his promise to Ellie, or does he try to find out what happened to their mother?

As it turns out, he enlists Morgan (Joshua Gomez) to help him in this covert mission, opting to keep it secret from Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and Casey (Adam Baldwin). There’s no real good reason why Chuck would keep a secret from those two – every time he does it leads to drama. Chuck and Morgan follow clues to his mother all around the world, but end up back at home with nothing to show for it and mounting debts.

And mysteriously, every job interview Chuck attends ends badly. It becomes fairly clear somebody is challenging him, and we soon find out why: General Beckman (Bonita Friedericy) has rebuilt the Buy More, but as a “full-fledged NSA/CIA substation.” Everybody in the store is a spy. Being a purpose built substation, the entire premises have been tricked out with trapdoors and slides and all sorts of cool stuff. What I don’t understand is how Chuck and Morgan weren’t aware of this, since “castle” was tricked out too, and Sarah and Casey are based there.

Excellent cameo from darling of the Internet, Olivia Munn, as a seriously hot operative who gives Morgan an icy reception. Well, he does love a challenge, so hopefully we’ll see more of Miss Munn in future episodes.

So, Chuck’s hunt for his mother leads him to Moscow, and coincidentally enough Sarah and Casey get kidnapped by the same people Chuck is tracking. They discover this while Morgan is ‘sexting’ Sarah, pretending to be Chuck. So, after building up to having Chuck use his Kung Fu moves, Bartowski finally unleashes the dragon, but all of the action is off camera. Disappointing. This was the season première!

Chuck eventually rescues Sarah and Casey, but the price he pays is having to give up the information that would lead him to his mother. It’s nice to see that he valued the friends he has over the mother that disappeared years ago.

And on that note – Linda Hamilton as Chuck’s mother. What did you think? I found it hard to warm to her, to be honest. And I’ve loved her in the Terminator movies and even the Beauty and the Beast show from the 80’s. Maybe it’s the character – she’s the mother who walked out on her family, is she an ice maiden? Certainly, she put a bullet in Dolph Lundgren’s head as he was pleading that he had a family. “So do I.” she deadpans, before blowing his beefy, Russian brains out. Morally speaking, I’d like her to be the bad guy – it would be better than having some lame excuse as to why she chose to give up her family.

Poor old Dolph. Though he got more screen time than Hamilton, it felt like it was all leading up to that “I must break you” line, something from Rocky IV that the fanboys might remember.

A decent season premiere, but a tiny bit on the underwhelming side. The fact that Chuck decided to lie to Ellie about spying and let her believe he’d got his job at the Buy More back was thoroughly disappointing. What would have been wrong with allowing Ellie to have to a say in the decision to pursue their mother/Chuck becoming a spy again?

All in all, it’s a ‘good episode, but must try harder.’ How did you feel about the new Chuck?

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