This review may contain spoilers.
The week before Halloween provides television viewers with many Halloween themed stories. Chuck Versus The Aisle of Terror stands out among them. Robert Englund of Nightmare on Elm Street fame provides a not too over the top villain and we get a frightening glimpse into the minds of Jeff and Lester.
Also fear inducing is the way in which Awesomes mother tries to direct how Ellie and Awesome raise her grandchild. Shes that scariest of mothers in law. Shes so sweet, perfect, and well intentioned that she makes others feel helpless against her. Morgan Fairchild portrays this character quite deftly.
Weve all been waiting to find out about Chucks mom. Is she a good spy or a bad spy? (Good is used as a relative term. Shes good if shes working for the CIA.) At the end of this episode, we are still not sure but were leaning toward thinking shes a bad spy, a double agent.
The use of peripheral characters Jeff and Lester worked well although they did not get to save anyone from peril as they did in Chuck Versus The Couch Lock. Their vision of what is scary probably struck a chord with many a viewer. Its not the impossible, improbable things such as ghoulies and ghosties and long legged beasties that make us cringe and cower in everyday life. Its the everyday things that for one reason or another trigger an emotional response that is irrational but real just the same. Jeff and Lesters Aisle of Terror was brilliant.
Sarah and Caseys distrust of Mary (Chucks mom) works because seasoned spies would not be fooled by her cover stories. Shes a shifty character at best and a villain at worst and they know it.
Linda Hamilton, Robert Englund, and Morgan Fairchild all worked well in their roles as each was nicely creepy in her or his own way.
What Didnt Work
While overall, Chuck Versus The Aisle of Terror was a fun episode, there was a disjointed feeling to it. The story in which Chuck, Sarah, Mary and Casey were involved didnt connect well with the stories involving the Buy More Crew and the doctors Woodcombe. It seemed as though they were stories that ran concurrently but didnt end up with much to connect them to each other.
Ellie has to appear in any episode involving the search for her mother but the other elements of her story in this episode might have fit better in another plot line. The scene in which her mother surreptitiously watches her as she shops for baby items was a bit too clichÃ© and seemed out of character for Mary Bartowski. Mary is good when shes being tough but tender moments dont ring true.
The things that didnt quite work in Chuck vs. the Aisle of Terror are overshadowed by those that did but your reviewer cant call this one perfect.
Credit Where Credit is Due
Chuck Versus The Aisle of Terror was written by Craig Di Gregorio and directed by John Scott. It starred Yvonne Stahovski, Zachary Levi, Joshua Gomez, Ryan McPartlin, Vic Sahay, Scott Krinsky, Martin Christopher Lawrence, Bonita Friedericy, Sarah Lancaster, Adam Baldwin, Morgan Fairchild, Linda Hamilton, and Robert Englund.
Chuck airs at 8 p.m. ET Mondays on NBC.