“Chuck Versus Phase Three” is the conclusion to the events in “Chuck Versus The Fear Of Death.” It’s been three days since Chuck’s abduction. He’s having strange visions, Sarah is wound, and Morgan is poking around where he shouldn’t, like usual. The episode starts with fairly high stakes when Sarah and Casey abduct a known associate of The Belgian from the Thai embassy; you’ll recall that sneaking around an embassy got Jack Bauer shipped to and tortured in China on 24, if you’re a spy TV connoisseur. I know that Chuck isn’t about to see Casey disappear from the show and come back looking like a homeless guy, but I still wouldn’t recommend starting international incidents.
Sarah, however, didn’t consult me before setting out to rescue Chuck. She tortures the associate for information, locks Casey inside Castle, and sets off on a one-woman mission to Thailand. This means that Yvonne Strahovski spends part of this episode resembling Bridgette Wilson as Sonya Blade in Mortal Kombat. It doesn’t help that she ends up fighting a guy in a makeshift arena to the sound of techno (even if it’s nowhere near as good as KMFDM’s “Juke Joint Jezebel”). This episode is really centered around Yvonne Strahovski, and maybe it’s because I’m a woman, but forgive me if I don’t talk about how attractive she may look. I’m more concerned with how Sarah is capable of being both shockingly vulnerable and completely ruthless within scenes of each other. Strahovski is capable of believably portraying both sides of Sarah, and she shows that range off in this episode. Furthermore, in case you missed the first few episodes of this season, she continues to make her action sequences look easy. They help carry a plot that moves at a pretty steady pace. I also never argue with anything that gives me Adam Baldwin carrying a big gun. You can never go wrong with that.
The other half of Chuck is the characters’ personal relationships, and those aren’t without progress this episode, either. In fact, I’d consider it fairly major progress. Sarah drops a big bombshell early on when, after learning Chuck is planning to propose marriage, she blurts out to Morgan that she wants to spend the rest of her life with Chuck. She later admits the same to Chuck himself when they’re reunited at episode’s end. That’s a lot of progress for a woman who wouldn’t even unpack her stuff into his closet earlier in the year. Devon and Ellie, meanwhile, uncover a mysterious computer under her father’s car and Devon has practically the entire Nerd Herd working to figure out what it might hold. Of course, the answers aren’t going to come that easy; it’s password protected, and although Ellie knows the password, we don’t get to see what it unlocks. The show does have to leave some secrets to reveal another day.
“Chuck Versus Phase Three” is a worthwhile continuation of “Chuck Versus The Fear Of Death.” As I predicted, I liked it more than that episode; with the exposition out of the way, it was able to be chock-full of action and character development. There are some plot developments here that are definitely going to come back in later episodes, or at least they should. Where does Chuck and Sarah’s relationship go from here? We’ve seen that Chuck will blurt out to Ellie that he’s a spy; is he ever going to tell the real Ellie the truth? All this, of course, happens right before the return of Chuck’s mother and her new friend Volkoff next week in “Chuck Versus The Leftovers.” By setting this two-parter right before that episode, the Chuck writers give us characters who have made steps forward just ahead of what’s bound to be another important hour. They’ve certainly given us food for thought to chew on. (And yes, since next week is also the Thanksgiving episode, that pun was definitely intended.)