In "Chuck Versus the Hack Off" two characters felt like they were getting sucked back into something they had tried desperately to get away from in the first place. Chuckles didn't like getting back into the business of working for manipulative CIA head honchos, and Radzinsky* was deathly afraid of getting back into the evil tech device game.
* The character played by Eric Lange was not important enough to be referred to by anything but Radzinsky...the actor's character on Lost.
Thankfully, it looks like neither character will have to deal with such issues ever again. Radzinsky will likely head back to his naked yoga cult in the woods, while Chuck will never have to take another order from the likes of Decker... unless technology advances to the point that a man can get blown back together by a reverse bomb.
Stepping back to the here and now, "The Hack Off" was a great hour on its own, but was an even better example of how Chuck is killing it to start its final season. Fedak, Schwartz and company have weaved the long-running arcs of these characters' end games with funny, action-packed, interesting episodic stories pretty darn perfectly over the first five episodes.
Some of that success might be due to the end date, as many shows seem to become more focused once the writers can see the light. Whatever it is, I hope they keep it up because there has not been one point in these first five episodes where Chuck has dragged along. That's not something I could say at this point last year.
Now let's all be thankful that Chuck will not be hunted the way they hunted Bin Laden, and take a look at the brilliance of this week's episode in the Chuck Triple Threat...
It's easy to start here because there was just so much to laugh about in "The Hack Off." The little things always work so well in Chuck. The fact that Charles went to Kinkos to shrink blueprints of the jail, Morgan thinking he should be the sniper because of his Call of Duty skills or Chuck chugging chardonnay while hacking really help bring the entire show together.
What a great use of Lester this week! I questioned what he was going to do when he asked for the 12 gauge, but after finding out it wasn't a gun but electrical wiring, I lost it. Of course the shorter, feminine version of Posh Spice would give the inmates cable and internet in order to be the shot-caller! Classic.
The funny didn't stop there, as Lester's prison sentence led to Morgan and Jeff finding an Indian nerd herding replacement to make Lester jealous. And who was it? Danny Pudi of Community!!!** Pudi was great in helping to get Lester back, especially his version of "Oh Canada." It was also a pleasant surprise to see Yvette Nicole Brown of Community for the two seconds she came on screen.
**Don't forget to petition NBC to get Community back on our televisions in 2012.
Not only was there a ton of action in "The Hack Off," but all of it was different from each other. My favorite was probably Chuck and Sarah doing battle in their robes following naked yoga, although it might be difficult to erase the image of Chuck giving Radzinsky the Heimlich.
Casey's brawl in prison, which was interrupted by Lester and his new-found power, was nice, but the other classic scene was Sarah and Verbanski double-teaming everyone while Chuck was killing The Routine on the computer. There's nothing like a couple of gals in leather pants taking out a bunch of dudes with high kicks and elbows to the face!
Most of the heartfelt material had to do with one John Casey and his new lady, Verbanski. I loved Sarah attempting to have a heart to heart with Gertrude only to have her refuse to let it out, a la John Casey. Later on she rolled her eyes at Chuck and Sarah calling each other babe... more evidence that she is meant for Casey.
Finally, by the end of "The Hack Off," Casey and Verbanski both admit they want to be together, and it was cute. What was cuter, though, was the fact that Morgan came to help Casey get out, as Verbanski stated that there was someone else who had missed the big guy!
The end game continued to get sprinkled in, as Chuck and Sarah talked a little bit about turning Carmichael Industries into a tech company. But, like Sarah mentioned, what does the loving wife do for work at a company like that? Administrative assistant? Housewife? Not bad jobs at all, but they aren't for Sarah Walker.
It left me even more curious about how this series is going to end, in an occupational sense.
What about all you TV Fanatics? Did you enjoy "Chuck vs. the Hack Off" as much as I did? What was your favorite moment? And what will happen next? Weigh in below!
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.