This review may contain spoilers.
Although Chuck is ostensibly a spy story, its always been more about how Chucks uninitiated entry into the spy world affected the characters personal lives than anything else.
Chuck vs. the Coup DÃ©tat is no exception to that rule. The main focus is the love lives of all the main character but one. John Casey (Adam Baldwin) remains stoic and single minded but the rest of the gang go through some changes.
Chuck is, to some extent, a soap opera for the geeks among us. There is action and intrigue and gadgets but what makes it work overall is that the characters play well with each other. Chuck vs. the Coup DÃ©tat is a showcase for this element of the show. The only series regular characters missing from this episode were Jeff and Lester and it would have been pushing it to find an appropriate use for them this time out. So, its good that they got a week off from work at the Buy More.
The creators of Chuck have, intentionally or unintentionally, developed a modern show that seems to be a combination of The Greatest American Hero and I Spy. Each week, we see Chuck struggle with his Intersect given abilities and with trying to live a normal life.
Normal is just not to be had. When you have someone like Generalissimo Goya (Armand Asante) popping up in sisters living room without warning to whisk her and her husband away to Costa Gravas, its just not normal. When you look at a red door and it brings on a flash of information, its not normal.
Just the fact that Chuck can work as a Nerd Herder at the Buy More and just leave work anytime he wants or needs to may be the least normal thing of all.
Chuck struggles in the ratings but that may be more because it is up against CBSs Monday night comedy line-up and having been the preceding show for two year to the failing Heroes. Fans of the show truly love it. They love the characters and they love the fictional Buy More. They love that nerds are the good guys and ultimately the cool guys in the show.
For all that Chuck has become an action show with the addition of butt-kicking skills given to Chuck by the Intersect, Chuck vs. the Coup DÃ©tat is all about love, friendship, kindness and understanding. Its just nice.
Bringing back Armand Asante as Generalissimo Goya made for a lot of fun moments. Hes so over the top that you cant believe hes real. Hes like a character from Rocky and Bullwinkle. This works because Chuck is basically a science-fiction/fantasy show and over the top is okay.
The relationship changes for Chucks sister and brother in law show that even the most perfect for each other people can have miscommunication. Ellie needs a break from Awesomes constant focus on the baby they are having and he has not realized that he has been smothering her in baby concerns. Being Awesome and Ellie, they work this out almost immediately but it was still something that made them more real than they sometimes seem.
Overall, what worked in this episode was the chemistry among the characters. That truly is the best thing about this one.
What Didnt Work
The one thing that didnt work is the one thing that doesnt work in general. Chuck having to keep his spy career secret from Ellie has gotten old. This needs to be resolved for good. Chuck is a spy. Ellie should know that. She will worry but thats what family does. She knows her dad was a spy and she knows that Chuck has been a spy. The signs are there and yet she doesnt figure it out because she believes Chuck when he lies to her.
In Chuck vs. the Coup DÃ©tat, there were two points at which Chuck could have told her he is still a spy and theyd have been believable. Why didnt the writers let him just tell her? Just let the cat out of the bag once and for all and then move on. We dont need anymore stories in which Ellie not knowing Chuck is a spy is an element.
Credit Where Credit is Due
Chuck vs. the Coup DÃ©tat was directed by Robert Duncan McNeill and was written by Chris Fedak and Josh Swartz. Chuck stars Zachary Levi, Adam Baldwin, Yvonne Strahovski, Joshua Gomez, Sarah Lancaster, Ryan McPartlin, Vik Sahay, Scott Krinsky, and Mark Christopher Lawrence.
Chuck airs Monday at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.