EPISODE REVIEW: Chuck: "Chuck vs. the Cubic Z" (Season 4, Episode 3)

Sam White
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Morgan's now the manager of the Buy More and everyone in Burbank has gathered for the release of a new video game. Unfortunately, Morgan's BM branch has only been sent 6 copies of the game. The crowd is about to get ugly (who are we kidding? they started ugly!) and Morgan has neither Casey or Chuck to help with the chaos. Fortunately, in walks Big Mike, who is a] looking for a job and 2] wants to ask Morgan for permission to marry his mom.

Chuck and Casey can't help in all this because two incorrigible Ring prisoners are being routed to castle until they can be picked up by other agents. The prisoners turn out to be Hugo Panzer (played by Steve Austin, who once again proves that when given no lines he's a pretty actor) and Heather Chandler (played by Nicole Richie in the recurring role of the snotty, amoral character she used to play when sidekicked to Paris "Built like a #2 Pencil" Hilton). Heather pushes all of Sarah's buttons (perfectly timed as Sarah's worried whether she can really commit to Chuck--or anyone) and Hugo pushes Chuck's buttons by, well, killing everyone in sight.

A large portion of the episode takes place in the duct-work that apparently runs between the Buy More, castle and the Orange Orange. While it made for an interesting episode, it was hard to keep from thinking (repeatedly), "That's a LOT of ductwork!" Seriously, there must have been 5 miles of it, all clearly labeled so no one could get lost and wouldn't accidentally puncture one of the gas lines. [What, if anything, in castle runs on GAS?!?!]

Last season, "Chuck" was renewed for 14 episodes. Then NBC realized their programming lineup sucked and Jay wasn't funny if you were awake, so they suddenly ordered 5 more eps. This lead to some uneven eps last season that made you think they had been quickly cobbled together. Not bad eps, just "half-eps" that bridged a gap that didn't really need to be bridged. That's what this week's episode of "Chuck" felt like to me.

The only real reason for the whole episode was to bring Big Mike back. This is good news, because he's suddenly and inexplicable likable. His speech to the nerds about how they should be thankful for being able to camp out for a week and talk to other nerds was the highlight of the episode.

If I were giving stars, out of 5, this would be a solid 3.