Chuck 5.05 ‘Chuck vs the Hack Off’ review: Bare necessities

“I forgot something… I’m really good at this!”
—Chuck

Apparently Danny Pudi (Abed on another one of NBC’s low-rated but critically adored shows Community) just really likes to sing. Yesterday the very Glee-ful episode of Community aired and on tonight’s episode of Chuck, he once again belted out some tunes — well, 10 seconds of just one tune at least. And he actually sounded good tonight (maybe even better than on Community). Beyond that, his short cameo was fantastic. He was easily the funniest part of the episode. And when you add on a secret cameo by Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley on Community), it makes it even better.

Community and Chuck tape next to each other and according to Twitter updates, Yvette Nicole Brown and Zachary Levi have a fun relationship so it wouldn’t surprise me if Zac got Yvette to make an unscripted cameo, but that’s just me talking. Speaking of which, our leading man Zac took the director’s seat yet again with this episode for the third (and last) time and, honestly, it was his best yet. His first two were bottle episodes of sorts but apart from that it seemed like he wanted to add a bit more flair which didn’t feel in tune wit the show; tonight, it felt like a genuine and perfectly executed Chuck episode.

The actual content, however, may have felt a bit… off. Reading the descriptions this week of the episode I was a bit hesitant, just as Zac was, as to how they would pull off a nudist colony and unfortunately it wasn’t as funny as I think the writers thought it would be. And I was actually pleasantly surprised (which I think speaks to me as a human being) to see The Eraser not only die, but die by explosion. Wow. But, of course, that was just a small part of the episode.

The episode really brought back our Geek Chuck, which all too often is missing from episodes to the point where it seems he’s just now some normal guy who got the unattainable girl, and thankfully there was enough comedic element to it (Chuck’s chardonnay to the quote above) and maybe even a romance element or two[*]. But most importantly, it seems there could be a future arc towards the end of the series[**] where Chuck understands his true passion is computers and technology and the divide that could come between his marriage.

[*] Verbanski and Casey’s scene was probably more erotic than any Chuck and Sarah scene post marriage. Read: not romantic. But still, also cute. Which, by the way I’m absolutely loving.

Elsewhere, Lester and Casey are in prison and Lester has realized how to call the shots. The story was fine if it were to have any sort of arc, but I’m guessing there was absolutely no reason to get Lester to admit he was in the wrong for trying to poison Jeff. Smart Jeff or Non-Brain-Damaged-Jeff(?), on the other hand, is still working for me. It’s just funny in a Chuck way. And perhaps complementing that “normal Chuck” I mentioned earlier was Sarah who went full force trying to talk to Verbanski about her feelings for Casey. Just a couple of seasons ago, Sarah Walker would have had nothing to do with talking about feelings — let alone initiating the conversation. Sure, she was a much softer spy than John Casey, but not someone who was interested in that stuff. Especially not small talk during missions. It’s nice to see that transition of Sarah from completely cold to malleable and now this normal girl.

All in all, it was a fairly okay episode. It’s not as if the writers thought there was going to be a two-week hiatus or anything, so understandable. Cannot wait for the Christmas episode!

[**] Speaking of the end of the series: the show wrapped just two days ago and I feel obligated to write the following short love letter — well, paragraph. I’ll write a letter at some point:

Thank you, Chuck. Unfortunately, I discovered you late into season 2 and then had to wait almost 8 months for new episodes, but it was worth it. Buying Subways sandwiches, campaigning online, everything. It was all worth it for you, the little show that could and did again and again. You’ve been a staple in my life, a Monday night (and now Friday) institution. I’ve spent countless hours watching you, over and over again, hooking friends and family on you and enjoying every second. You truly are a gem, and I appreciate you. Thank you for the good times, Chuck. God speed.

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About the author: Michael Collado
Michael Collado
Mike's a television junkie located in Miami, where he spends all of his time watching TV with his best friends couch and cable access.

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  • http://twitter.com/grooveheroine Storm

    I think Verbanski wrote herself off the show after she killed Decker. 

    • http://nowhitenoise.com Michael Collado

      She bought some time off the show, but she’ll definitely be back — if not just because Casey needs some lovin’.