mxpw vs. Frea - Chuck vs. the Aisle of Terror

Chuck vs. the Aisle of Terror
Season 4, Episode 05, air-date October 25, 2010

Summary:  Chuck, Sarah, Casey and Morgan are sent on a mission to stop Dr. Stanley Wheelwright from releasing a toxin that causes nightmares. The mission makes Team Bartowski suspicious of where Chuck's Mom's allegiances lie. Jeff and Lester make Halloween plans for the Buy More while Ellie and Awesome get a visit from Awesome's mom.

So...there's a new Chuck on very soon, and mxpw and Frea are only getting around to posting last week's review?  What gives?  Wellllll...there are lots of things going on.  Frea is fighting a cold and the cold medicine is doing strange things to her, November has started, and Frea spent most of last week in a car driving across states like Wyoming and Nebraska.  And Sarah Walker in glasses quite frankly broke mxpw's brain.  We actually got half of the review done and then Frea literally had to go lie down before her head exploded, but we want you to know, you ARE getting the review before Chuck Vs. the First Fight...maybe.  If you click the link before then.  :) 


- Frea and mxpw

mxpw: So, Frea, first let me welcome you back to...wherever it is that you live.

Frea: Second star on the right, straight on til morning. Also, I can fly.

mxpw: Rufio! Rufio! Rufio!

mxpw: Sorry, sorry, that just popped into my head.

Frea: Ru-fi-ohhhhh!

mxpw: Now somebody just needs to crow.

Frea: Wepdiggy?

mxpw: Oooooh, good choice. I agree.

Frea: So, Maximus, person who got the watch the episode on Monday night while I was doing
the flyover thing, what did you think?

mxpw: I'm really conflicted about this episode. As most of you know by now, I was not a big fan of the ending. I just didn't like what Sarah did there and I'm really worried that it's going to be just...swept under the rug in the next episode. Not the fight itself, but all the issues her actions brought up. So yeah, not a big fan of the end. Yet I also had a lot of issues here and there with the rest of the episode. The first half was pretty solid but the second, once the toxin subplot kicked in, was weak and uneven. Chuck and Sarah were hit by the stupid stick in the Castle scene. And the whole Jeffster/Buy More subplot was mostly unnecessary. The payoff in the Aisle of Terror with Robert Englund's character wasn't worth it, I didn't think.

Frea: I find tailors to be very terrifying.

mxpw: Despite all that, the Chuck and Mary scenes were really well done. The Chuck and Sarah stuff was great up until the end. And oh boy, that white dress. Oh yeah, and the glasses. Hard to hate on an episode that had that.

Frea: The glasses did look amazing. I mean, no wonder Chuck ignored the oddly sexlessness of this season to hit on Sarah in that scene.

mxpw: That was a really cute scene and it was great to see some genuine flirting between them. And even better, that they actually seem to have sex. This season has been seriously lacking, as you said, in any kind of heat between Chuck and Sarah.

Frea: I enjoyed the episode. Everybody knows how I feel about Morgan and Jeffster, but I thought with everything going on that it was an intriguingly set up episode. The first half was a lot tighter in construction than the second half, you're right. I didn't have as much of a problem with the end—for now—as I could see what it happened. If it gets swept under the rug, like you said, I will have issues, but for right now, I didn't mind the ending.

Frea: On the subject of Mama B, I'm going to have a very unpopular opinion

Frea: Linda Hamilton's okay in the role, but I think they could have done better. *ducks*

mxpw: Oh boy!

Frea: Yeah. I know. I'm just causing trouble.

mxpw: Really? I thought she did a pretty good job, especially in the car scene. She was actually one of the few things in the episode I didn't have much of a problem with.

mxpw: See, I knew we'd disagree a lot about this episode! Never let it be said I don't understand our Most Benevolent Overlord Frea.

Frea: It's very true. Some episodes we completely see eye to eye, but here I'm like, "Everything you liked, I...didn't."

Frea: Let me clarify about Linda Hamilton as Mama B: she's really not bad. I don't loathe her or even dislike her, I just think that they could have a gotten a better actress? It's terrible because she seems so nice in the interviews and I know everybody loved it, but she was distracting me a little bit. She has a John Wayne style of acting, where every word has Importance, and I wish she would be just a little more natural.

Frea: She was good during the whole playground scene, but I feel like in the car, I was just distracted by the cadence of her speech.

mxpw: We really do disagree about this episode, as I felt like LH in the playground scene was actually the scene where she was least convincing for me. When she shouted at Chuck not to tell her anything about him or Ellie, I kinda cringed because it came across as a stilted line reading to me. She seemed more natural and comfortable in the car and everything after. I do understand what you're saying about her cadence, but I didn't even realize there was anything there until you mentioned it to me.

mxpw: But I'm still trying to warm up to this episode even a week later. I keep looking at everybody talking about it, and I think I kinda feel like AoT like you felt about Coup. Everybody loved that episode, including me, and you were meh. Here I feel like I'm having the opposite reaction.

Frea: We all have the things that bring us to the show and if the wrong buttons get pushed, it can lead to simply not liking an episode, unfortunately. We know what brings you back every week is the SWP, and there wasn't very much of that (though the white dress and glasses do make up for some of that), so it's understandable. And I think it's a matter of the end, if you take an optimistic standpoint on what went down or a pessimistic one.

mxpw: Heeeey now, I'm not ONLY about the SWP. That's just like a big reason. But really, to be honest, I was kinda lukewarm about AoT before it even got to the end, the end was just a nice cap. I can't really explain why. Like I said earlier, I didn't care for the toxin subplot (or Chuck and Sarah being idiots), I didn't like the BM stuff, and I'm still trying to figure out what point the Ellie/Honey stuff served other than some vague parallel to Chuck's concurrent storyline with Mama B. But oh boy, that white dress does make up for a lot. Heh.

me: Can I say something about the toxin subplot?

mxpw: Of course, MBO.

me: A note to the directors and cinematographers that work on the show Chuck:

me: This an an official announcement from the desk of Frea O'Scanlin. Like you, I love Requiem for a Dream and I approve of the use of strapping a camera to your actor, putting it on a dutch angle, and letting it go. However, you have now done this two weeks in a row and have used up your allotted time with this trick. Thank you very much for your time, Frea.

mxpw: Short and to the point. Very succinct, Frea. Is it funny that I didn't even make the connection about them using it two weeks in a row until just now? During the episode, I was too busy wondering why it was happening at all.

Frea: I think it's such a neat trick, I always applaud when it's used...however, two weeks in a row was pushing it. Speaking of other things I liked, let's see...I loved Jeffster's narration of the "Aisle of Terror." The whole "Is it a baby? Or a snail?" thing was inspired. I loved Sarah's dress and glasses in that scene, and Casey's using Morgan as "the magnet." As much as I don't like Morgan, his dressing down of Casey after that was hilarious.

mxpw: I might have liked the Morgan/Casey stuff if I wasn't feeling burned out on Morgan lately. As it is, I really was pretty indifferent to Morgan's dressing down of Casey. I was just like, "Eh, Morgan, be quiet."

Frea: Mostly I just liked him looking to the guy in the middle for backup.

mxpw: That was the only good part of that scene, when the guy agreed with Morgan that Casey was mean.

mxpw: This is like the episode of opposites. Usually I'm the one defending Jeffster and yet I really didn't care for them this episode. Other than Lester getting assaulted by the bat and Jeffster's "Is it a baby? Is it a snail?" I really could have done without the whole BM plot.
mxpw: I felt like it was pointless screentime that could have better been used to develop the Ellie/Honey subplot or more time with Mama B.

Frea: I have a very important question about the BM plot.

mxpw: Yes?

Frea: Why didn't Chuck use the Castle Slide to get away?

mxpw: Cause he was tripping balls?

Frea: These writers need to play to their strengths.

Frea: And what is their strength?

Frea: Clearly, the Castle slide.

mxpw: No, SWP. DUH.

Frea: Also, I'm going to a horrible Chuck fan.

Frea: Fringe did the "scared to death" thing first!

mxpw: Actually, I think Batman Begins did. :P And before that, there was probably an X-Files episode. And before that there was Freddie Kreuger. And before that there was probably some Outer Limits episode. And before that, there was probably something on the Twilight Zone.

Frea: Okay, let me rephrase: Fringe did it better.

mxpw: Eh, on Fringe, it was the focus of the episode. On Chuck, it was the B plot.

Frea: My apologies to everybody. I'm currently sick and on cold medicine and even though I'm supposed to be the optimist here, I don't seem to be pulling any punches.

mxpw: No need to apologize. We at Castle Inanity expect honesty from all our contributors, even the MBO.

Frea: The writers are very proud to have a Prison Break alum on staff. This is the second week in a row I've caught a Prison Break reference.

mxpw: What reference is that? I never watched the show, so I probably missed it.

Frea: The scientist being named Scofield, like Michael Scofield, main character of Prison Break. And last week, Jeffster referred to Casey as C-Note, who was a main character in the first two seasons of the show.

mxpw: Ah, okay. I guess this means it's inevitable that we're going to get a tea bag reference?

Frea: Oh, geez, I hope not. Talk about least favorite characters

mxpw: I could make a wildly inappropriate joke about Chuck and Sarah right now, but I'll restrain—I mean, refrain.

Frea: I could make a really wildly inappropriate joke about Sarah and Chuck and restraints, but I'll likewise refrain.

mxpw: Ha! I would have liked to see yours, as you so rarely go there.

Frea: Maybe in the "After Hours" review. How awesome is it that Mama Awesome's name is Honey?

mxpw: It's confusing is what it is. Every time I hear it, it always takes my brain an extra second to process whether or not it's an endearment somebody is saying or her actual name.

Frea: Yeah, I kind of had the same problem. But hey, she can always go by Mama A. And then Ellie has a Mama A and a Mama B!

mxpw: Oh that's clever, I like.

mxpw: I will say this, Honey did have one of the few bits of the episode that got a chuckle out of me when she insisted that they get Baby Awesomette a dictionary instead of a teddy bear.

Frea: Yeah, apparently the Awesomeling is going to be a nerd? I mean, she already had influence on the Bartowski half (you know Chuck is going to make sure the kid always has age-appropriate video games that stimulate brain function in growing children), but a dictionary? Seriously?

mxpw: I suppose it kind of makes sense. With Ellie and Awesome as parents, the kid is guaranteed to be ridiculously good looking, so that's already taken care of. Why not start early on getting the brain in top shape too? Though choosing a dictionary over that cute teddy bear is a bit extreme.

mxpw: Speaking of the cute teddy bear, what was with Chuck just leaving it at the end? WTF, dude! You could have at least given it to Ellie. That poor teddy bear. Oh and honestly, for one of the few times all series, I felt for Ellie at the end. I was like, "Bad Sarah! You made Ellie sad."

Frea: Oh, right, I guess Mama B dropped the bear when she was snatched!

Frea: So Maximus and I have decided by mutual agreement (aka I told him what he was going to do and he said yes, Mistress Frea, and then went and reread a certain scene in my Hallowhedon fic) to wait to discuss the end of AoT in our review of "First Fight."

Frea: Which means I get to recap my thoughts on the episode! I liked it. I didn't find it to be a particularly solid episode of Chuck and probably won't ever put it in the rewatch constantly file, a file which hasn't really had any additions since S2, but it's still under the clause of "Way better than anything S3 produced!" I was a little disappointed with some things, like Mama B shooting Chuck and him of course having a vest on (*cough cough NEMESIS cough*) and I think I might be lowering my expectations every week in order to fully get a kick out of the show, which is a horrible thing to say, but it's the truth. Yvonne Strahovski brought her A-game with freaking out about Chuck getting hit with the toxin, Zachary Levi brought his A-game as well, Morgan wasn't too overbearing (but still, writers: PLEASE cut back on the Morgan time!), and the episode got a few genuine laughs from me. Truth, though? I thought Jeff and Lester could have done a better job being weirder for Halloween.

mxpw: Oh man! Jeffster being even weirder? Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it!

mxpw: As for what I thought of the episode, well, it should be pretty clear by now. The acting was uniformly good, I thought, especially from Zac and Yvonne (But then she's always amazing. What, who me, biased? No, not at all). I enjoyed the Chuck and Mary scenes, especially the scene in the car and at the port. I enjoyed most of the Chuck/Sarah stuff up until the end. And since our most benevolent overlord has decreed that we don't discuss the end of AoT until we review First Fight, I'll hold my tongue on final thoughts about that. All in all, I think this was actually my least favorite episode of the season so far.

mxpw: Oh, and because it can't be said enough, the white dress!


mxpw: 2.5 Sarahs in THAT White Dress out of 5

Frea: 5.9 Castle Slides


  1. JohnClark1.11.10

    I just gotta ask was it just me or did 'the Magnet' Morgan in the suite and sunglasses look a lot like a garden gnome-d sized Mohammed Ahmedinejad?

    While were on the subject of this seasons Chuck doppelgangers doesn't Zachary look quite a bit like Carson Daily with this seasons haircut? Its kinda starting to bug me this year.

  2. Anonymous1.11.10

    My God, Timothy Dalton + Zach combo: spectacular.


  3. Ayefah2.11.10

    JohnClark, that's a terrible thing to say about Levi. You take that back right now. :P

    She has a John Wayne style of acting, where every word has Importance, and I wish she would be just a little more natural.

    Someone on my f-list actually enjoys that and likens it to how Matthew Bomer acted on the show - Way Too Intense because long-time operatives under constant levels of high stress are...a tiny bit off. Which is why you can't have 'em on every day but they do ratchet things up when they are on screen.


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