Chuck Review: The Game of Life

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It was teased back in September that Sarah Walker's mom would be introduced in the final season of Chuck. Over three months later, Momma W finally showed up, played by the wonderful Cheryl Ladd in "Chuck Versus the Baby," and helped produce what was one of the most emotionally rewarding episodes of the series.

Although she came to Chuck Bartowski, as well as the audience, with a hard candy shell, it didn't take long for both parties to figure out that Sarah Walker had a softer side. While Sarah's father wasn't all bad all the time, it was obvious that Jack Burton was not responsible for the giant heart Sarah has proven to have over the past four years.

Awesome and His Baby

Cue Cheryl Ladd and a baby. There were so many heartfelt moments between Sarah and those two that it is difficult to wait until the Heart section of the Chuck Triple Threat to comment on them. Between her inherent need to help the baby, wanting the kid to have all of the normal things she never did, and the pair of reunions after five years apart, Yvonne Strahovski and Ladd knocked it out of the park together.

All of the emotional moments dealing with Sarah's life, combined with a solid stand alone mission, Morgan and the Awesomes playing games in Castle, and a couple of additional guest stars in Tim DeKay and the return of Tony Todd, made "Chuck vs. the Baby" even better than last week's highly regarded "Santa Suit."

Before taking a look at where Chuck has to go in the final three episodes before the two-hour finale, get your white and purple roller skates out of the closet, and talk about this week's Chuck Triple Threat...

Comedy
As great as this episode was, it was a bit lacking in the laughs. Zach Levi provided a few one-offs, highlighted by Chuck thinking he was going to get game chairs in the living room and wondering if it was important to know how Ryker takes his coffee.

There was also the entirety of Morgan's rambling during The Game of Life on the comedy side of things. Both his astonishment that Alex only had one person in her pink car while he had a vehicle full of children, and his thinking that a game of Sorry would work as an apology, brought huge smiles to my face.

Per usual, Captain Awesome added a number of hysterical moments, which included the return of his Abercrombie and Fitch ads and the fact that he has no idea what a British accent sounds like.

Action
I don't know if any action sequence this season - or any season - can compete with what Sarah Walker did to start "The Baby." Watching her take out all of those dudes at the long table was reminiscent of a number action movies, while strapping the baby to her chest and firing multiple machine guns was something I never thought I'd see our sweet Sarah do. It was ridiculously awesome, though.

A number of fights were left until later as well, as Chuck and Casey saved Sarah from Ryker's interrogation, and Sarah disguised herself as Momma W and took her former handler out in the kitchen. It was a pretty powerful episode for our favorite ex-Orange Orange employee.

Heart
It takes every inch of me not to repeat how great the aforementioned emotional Sarah moments were... so I won't. They were fantastic! But this episode also gave us some Chuck heart in which he didn't deserve to be slapped. That is not always the case. Wanting to get a house with Sarah was great, giving up on that goal so that Sarah didn't have to re-join the CIA, was even better.

When you add the fact that Alex and Morgan got back together thanks to the pep talks by Awesome and Ellie, and it really did hit on almost every emotional point of the series. The only one missing out here was John Casey, but he'll get another turn.

Moving Forward
Sarah gave up all of the normal things in life, and had to leave her mother and the baby for five years, because of her gig with the CIA. It was insanely refreshing to see her so strictly turn down the offer to jump back into that life now that she has all of these great people around her.

Thank God for that! With only five hours left in the history of Chuck, it would have been very upsetting if they went right back to where they were before this season started. Let's keep moving forward until it all comes to an end on January 27th.

The questions still remain, though. Where are these characters going to end up when it is all said and done? How are they going to get there? And is this giant make-shift family going to be able to stay together as a unit?

I can't wait to find out. What about all of you, TV Fanatics? What did you think of "Chuck vs. the Baby?" What do you hope to see happen next week? And what do you expect to see from the Chuck series finale?

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (61 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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@Nick Just because Sarah's mother is competent NOW/years ago does not mean she was always there for her daughter. In fact, I'd say the phone call between them at the beginning establishes that they had, at best, a strained relationship when Sarah was growing up.

Joyeful

A friend of mine pointed out a couple really cool things that I didn't notice: 1. In the first or second episode of the entire series, Chuck flashed on Sarah's ring and saw the Hungary massacre. That kind of continuity is awesome. 2. He suggested that Bryce and the CAT squad were likely Sarah's partners when she first started, and when she started taking solo missions then she got handlers. Which also makes sense. With the above considered - I change my verdict on this episode from "mixed" to "awesome".

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Here's what I think they did to Sarah's pre-Chuck backstory: 1) Bryce & Carina pre-date Ryker (Tim DeKay) and are considered Sarah's earliest handlers/training partners.
2) Bryce is sent on the solo mission to get the Intersect while Sarah is paired up w/Ryker temporarily.
3) Bryce sends the Intersect to Chuck at around the same time Sarah drops off the baby at her mom's house, roughly 5 years ago.
4) After Bryce disappears, Sarah gets the Intersect assignment, a much better hairstyle, and John Casey, Partner Extraordinaire. LOVED this episode and the take-no-prisoners feel of the series as it heads toward its final episodes. There is no doubt that Sarah is a trained killer. But, the audience never feels she enjoys that part of her job. I also thank TPTB for not making the child a secret baby she had w/Bryce 6 years ago. That would have been awful. This was somehow more right, that she would take in an orphan in danger; kind of like how she came to care for Chuck.

Danforcella

@Nick Yeah I agree with you on everything you said, but I was so overwhelmed by the good to take note of the bad.

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This is one of the best show that you can watch through online TV. Nice story line!

Joyeful

I'm also mixed on this one. The acting was great, Sarah and her mom certainly tugged at the heart strings. All the family moments were really well done. I particularly liked the contrast between Sarah and Chuck...wasn't it just two episodes ago where Sarah was furious with Chuck for running out alone? When it was Chuck's turn to deal with Sarah's lone wolf tendencies, he just pulled out a chair and calmly told her she was wrong. That was one of Chuck's best moments. What I didn't like was how much the writers disregarded the entire timeline and history that the show built up. If Chuck was Sarah's first solo assignment without handlers, how do we explain Bryce and the C.A.T. Squad? @Nick - In the Wedding Planner, we see that Sarah tried to run away with her dad. I just got the impression from there that she ran away with him after that, he didn't have custody. I could be wrong though - could have gotten that confused with another show...

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I speak some Hungarian as well, and while there was a lot of what sounded to me like gibberish, there were some phrases inserted in the middle of it that were definitely Hungarian. Badly accented though.

Nick-m

Honestly, I'm really mixed on this episode. Yvonne and Lad really brought their emotional A game to the episode, but so much retcon happened that it makes me almost hate the episode. At the end when Sarah talks to Graham and he gives her the Chuck assignment it completely disregards everything else that the show has done with the moment Chuck and Sarah first meet. Nacho Sampler established that Sarah didn't know who Chuck was until she was in the Buy More and received his picture on her phone. Ryker being her only contact screws over Bryce (and Carina), and essentially eliminates him entirely, and without him nothing can actually be set in motion. On top of that, it means Graham isn't the one who discovers her, and that completely changes Cougar's ending. Don't even get me started on why Sarah's mother, a stable and competent adult, didn't get custody of her when she was a child.

Danforcella

@Wapiti: great call on that Alex moment!

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Great episode not counting the fact that the Hungarian speaking actors blew it for me. I'm Hungarian and didn't understand one word they were speaking in Hungarian. That needed some more work. I mean a lot of work.

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