Chuck versus Doc Brown and the Cuckoo’s Nest

Love, and a faulty Intersect, might be driving Chuck crazy — crazy enough to get him locked up in the psych ward. Meanwhile, Ellie's getting wooed by the Ring and Morgan's getting his groove back.

Chuck has been trying, very hard, these past two weeks to find a way to integrate the relationship evolution with the espionage progression. I'm sure the producers realize that a happy Chuck makes for a boring series. (We've talked about that, haven't we? Okay, just making sure we're together on this.) And so this week's episode, "Chuck Versus the Tooth," looked like it was going to add something new and interesting into the mix: insanity.

Or, specifically, that the Intersect was malfunctioning and beginning to infect Chuck's dreams to the point where he's starting to dream the future. While falling asleep on Sarah's lap while watching Spies Like Us — and getting the big "I love you" matzo-ball from her — Chuck wakes up having seen flashes of Gen. Beckman clanging cymbals, Beethoven's bust, the words "the terrible troll raises his sword...black troll with nasty," and the dead Agent Shaw delivering Zamibian take-out. All of which leads Chuck to believe that someone's gonna make a play for the President of Zamibia at the Philharmonic the next night — and leads everyone else to believe that he needs to see a therapist. Specifically, a CIA therapist (played by Christopher Lloyd) named Dr. Dreyfus who tells Chuck that he's benched until the Intersect — which might be screwing with his subconscious — works itself out.

Chuck versus Doc Brown and the Cuckoo’s Nest

Back in the world of Morgan — who actually dropped a "fear is the mind killer" when talking to the miraculously unmalarial Devon — his old flame Anna (Julia Ling) has returned, looking to get back into his life. If only he had time for her: He's gotta help his boy crash a Symphony. While wearing a tux. And driving Anna a wee bit crazy.

Anywhoo, as Chuck and Morgan prepare to rescue Zamibia's president from a dream-threat, Ellie is confronted in the Buy More by Justin, the handsome young doctor who injected Devon with the malaria-juice. But now, he's posing as a CIA agent hot on the trail of Stephen J. Bartowski, and trying to protect him from an allegedly rogue John Casey. Naturally, Ellie can't tell anyone about this, but if she's got a way to contact Dear Old Dad, she should use it. (Which will, of course, end spectacularly not well for all involved in upcoming episodes.)

Chuck versus Doc Brown and the Cuckoo’s Nest

So Chuck falls asleep while listening to the Beethoven Symphony — how anyone could nod off during "Ode the Joy" is beyond me — and dream-flashes on Shaw, telling him that President Cudi's science buddy is the assassin. Chuck and Sarah blaze up to the presidential box and Chuck flashes on the scientist, Dr. Kwambe, and clocks him in the kisser, hoping to dislodge what he's sure is a Ring data-tooth. For his trouble, Chuck is remanded to a psychiatric ward — and Sarah learns that Chuck's been lying about his condition.

And then we're in full-on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest mode, with Lloyd (who costarred in Cuckoo's Nest, way back when) introducing a bathrobed Chuck to his fellow inmates — a motley crew of crazy former agents. And when Sarah and Casey visit Chuck in the ward, he turns on the full-bore crazy: flaring his eyeballs, horking up the tooth he knocked from Kwambe's mouth, and asking Sarah to test it. To prove that he isn't crazy. Except poor Chuck knocked out the wrong tooth.

Chuck, locked away in the loony bin, straining his credibility with the CIA, fraying his relationship with Sarah, discovering a whole raft of unsolved cases from the insano-agents — that could've been a pretty interesting couple of episodes. It would've undercut the whole "Happy Boring Chuck" problem, while letting us see new corners of the characters. How much does Sarah love him? Enough to watch him meltdown? How much does Chuck want to be a spy? Enough to take on the cold cases left by his inmates? What happens to the world of Chuck when Chuck can't be in it?

Chuck versus Doc Brown and the Cuckoo’s Nest

We'll never know, as this episode nipped that in the bud by having the Evil Dr. Kwambe show up in the psych ward and threaten to kill Chuck unless his explains how he knew about the data-tooth. And then Sarah and Casey barge in, beat people up, and Dr. Dreyfus declares Chuck fit enough for duty. And Sarah finally tells Chuck that she loves him.

Oh, and Shaw might not actually be dead after all and Chuck's Intersect might be killing him.

While I would've liked to have seen Chuck play out the asylum stuff a bit longer, I'm rather intrigued by the new clock that's ticking on Bartowski the Younger. Nothing adds urgency more than impending doom. And that's what Chuck's been lacking since the faux-nale of a couple weeks back: urgency.