While rushing from my bedroom to the family TV room at the other end of my house to watch “Chuck vs. The Balcony,” bottle of grape soda and container of cheese balls in hand, I was very excited to see exactly what kind of story tone the show’s creative team would use to bring us back into the Chuck fold after a very long seven-week hiatus. As I watched the episode start with the ill-fated CIA agent stashing the nano-chip in the wine bottle, cut to Chuck & Sarah’s romantic dinner out (coupled with Chuck’s very funny efforts to stop the poorly-chosen proposal atmosphere he had set up), and progress through the mission to recover the nano-chip (and Chuck’s efforts to find the perfect place and time to propose to Sarah), I was pleased by what I saw.
I thought, “Ah, they’ve decided to ease us back into the season with a lighter-hearted spy caper/Chuck & Sarah relationship episode.” While the more seriously-toned spy mission and “mythology” episodes seem to be more popular among a lot of fans–and I certainly love those episodes myself–I was glad to see lighter fare in advance of the heavy material I feel is sure to come in the coming episodes.
Needless to say, I was caught off guard to see that all that was just a setup for the “sucker punch” of Beckman interrupting Chuck’s proposal and setting up Sarah’s cover as a traitorous double-agent so she can infiltrate Volkoff’s organization and bring it down once and for all. It was a very clever and wise choice for the show’s writers to leave us with a deadly-serious reminder of what is at stake for the characters and for Chuck & Sarah’s relationship, while still allowing for a glimmer of hope that everything will turn out okay.
I thought that the secondary story of Lester’s arranged marriage was entertaining, though not wildly so overall. Having said that, I really liked the way that after his typically over-the-top efforts to ward off and then win over his arranged bride, Lester showed unguarded emotion as he spoke to her one last time, and then made a straightforward effort to win her over by being himself–namely, with a Jeffster rendition of “Is This Love” by Whitesnake. And as unsympathetic a character as he usually is, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Lester as his bride very harshly and cruelly rejected him. Given the comments Vik Sahay has made on “Chuck vs the Podcast” about Lester being deeply envious of Chuck, this development with the arranged marriage makes me wonder if this isn’t foreshadowing Lester turning on Chuck in some way should he discover Chuck’s secret by the end of this season.
Three other parts I really enjoyed from this episode included Sarah showing no hesitation to share with Chuck the story of her parents’ failed initial engagement and its effect on their marriage, Casey telling Chuck the story of how he initially proposed to Alex’s mother, and Chuck being gutsy enough to teasingly treat Casey like his manservant as part of their cover. These scenes were further reminders of how Casey, Sarah, and Chuck have grown and changed in their time together.
All in all, I thought this was a good, solid episode, I can’t wait for next week, and I definitely can’t wait to see how this season plays out! 🙂