Stars: Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Joshua Gomez, Adam Baldwin, Vik Sahay, Scott Krinsky, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Ryan McPartlin
 Craig DiGregorio
 Zachary Levi
 NBC, Friday nights, 8 p.m.
Original Telecast:
 December 9, 2011

“Chuck vs. the Hack Off” is star Zachary Levi’s third time behind the cameras on CHUCK, and I’m thinking he’s got his next career move lined up for himself. It truly helps that he gets the show from its DNA, but this was one slick episode, filled with those little bits that leave you smiling when you catch them.

So, when we last left the independent spies of Carmichael Industries, Casey had just been arrested for murder by CIA jerk (and possible bad guy) Clyde Decker (Richard Burgi). Not only is Casey stuck in the joint, he’s there with Buy More skank Lester (Vic Sahay), who got busted for attempted murder for his drugging of the newly recovered Jeff (Scott Krinsky).

Decker now wants to do a deal with Chuck (Zachary Levi) and Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski). Chuck gets the copy of a computer super-virus from its creator and brings it to Decker and Decker will get Casey released.

See the problem already? Probably should knock points off the episode’s grade because it doesn’t make sense that Chuck and Sarah would be willing to trust Decker, but we’ll let that go. The search for the virus takes them to a nudist colony – a scene that could never have happened pre-CGI and pixelating, and then to the den of a bad guy where Chuck has to out-hack a major hacker while disabling the security systems so Sarah and Verbanski (Carrie-Anne Moss) can get the delivery drive for the virus.

Yes, Verbanski’s back, clearly with the hots for Casey and taking his place – and the best part is that Moss has Baldwin’s trademark grunt down but good. The next best part is Verbanski and Sarah doing the girl talk thing about Verbanski’s feelings for Casey while kicking bad guy butt. And the wine geek in me is seriously amused by the product placement in the episode: Rombauer Chardonnay. It’s a decent, reasonably tasty mid-priced wine, but nothing that special, nor something a student hacker could afford. Probably should have knocked points off for that one, too.

And speaking of points, not a smart move to name the facility where Casey and Lester are incarcerated as the San Gabriel County Jail. Way too many Angelenos are going to know that doesn’t exist. Fictionalizing is one thing, but when they go to the trouble to get the Sheriff’s uniforms right, then mis-name a public facility, it throws everything off.

So why haven’t I dropped all these points? Because the episode works! It’s funny, it’s surprising. It moves the larger story arc along nicely. It’s got a hysterical cameo with Danny Pudi from COMMUNITY. Lester in jail is frightening to behold and in typical Lester fashion, finds a way to land on top of the prison dog pile. The only think I’ll miss is more of Lester in the slammer.

Like I said, it looks like Zach Levi has his next career move set up.


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Article: TV Review: CHUCK – Season 5  – “Vs. The Hack Off”

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