The second season of Chuck has worked much better due to some minor retooling -- namely, putting less focus on the relationship between Chuck and Morgan. Last night marked a return to that Chuck/Morgan focus, but because we haven't seen it week after week (after week), it was actually quite refreshing. "Chuck vs. the Best Friend" also worked well in its incorporation of the Buy More into the mission, something that's not always so easy to do gracefully. Add to that the 8 Mile homage of a side story for Jeff and Lester's band Jeffster, and you have probably the best episode of the new year for the sophomore series.
Which makes it all the more unfortunate that "Best Friend" was preempted by President Obama's address a couple weeks ago, as it forced NBC to air it out of order (flipping it with "vs the Suburbs"), blemishing an otherwise fine pair of episodes. The main issue I had with the Valentine's Day episode was the added layer of awkwardness between Chuck and Sarah that went unexplained. The touching moment they share near the end of the episode carries over into last week's mission in the suburbs. Seeing this retroactively makes Chuck's heartbreak more real but also makes it more annoying that they aired these episodes out of order. Would folks really be that put off by having Chuck's Valentine's Day episode a week after the holiday?
Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become
I enjoyed Jeffster's take on Toto's "Africa," in part because it provided an interesting lift to the rekindling of the Anna/Morgan pairing, and also because it provided the opportunity to remember just how bad some of the lyrics were to this song. Elsewhere, in a Morgan/Chuck flashback we were treated to some classic Jane's Addiction ("Been Caught Stealing"), which served no purpose other than to illustrate the time.
The other choices, however, worked better in telling more of the story. Chromeo's "Momma's Boy" provided a nice backdrop to the geek surveillance being laid out on behalf of that momma's* boy Morgan. But it was Benji Hughes' "Why Do These Parties Always End the Same Way" that provided the most succinct commentary on Chuck, pointing out (with a nudge and a wink) the inevitability of something going wrong, as it does with any party that Chuck attends in the series. The ending here isn't nearly as bad as in the song, though ("We need to call the cops, somebody killed the DJ!").
*Speaking of Morgan's mom, you can add her new relationship with Big Mike as another casualty of the episode flip-flop. I've been assured that they do indeed pick up that storyline again next week.
Playlist: Chuck - Episode 2.14
Previously: How do I work this? (Episode 2.13)