After suffering through over a month without Chuck, I was feeling a little giddy last night during the “Chuck sandwich” of two new episodes, which by the way, was improperly named by the cast who showed up as “hosts” during the commercial breaks; if it was really a sandwich, it would be a Celebrity Apprentice sandwich, but I digress. The pre-hiatus show left us all wondering what would happen with that beta Intersect, and whether or not Casey would go bad. Alas, those burning questions were put on hold while we got some insight into Casey’s love life and romance in general.

Which is not to say that the first hour of Chuck was worthless. It revealed that Casey (a.k.a. Sugarbear) is not a robot after all. A few years ago he was in love with Ilsa, a photojournalist who he thought died in a bombing in Chechnya. Of course, when Chuck flashed on her name, he saw her connection to Casey and made it his personal mission to know everything about their relationship. Chuck is nothing if not consistent in trying to crack the hard shells of his handlers. Seeing a Casey in love with a person, rather than guns and his Crown Vic, was refreshing and just added to the funny. The movie he watches after an especially unpleasant encounter with Ilsa, who’s now engaged to a Russian baddie? Casablanca. When Casey emerged from a death-defying drop from a hotel window into a pool (pictured) — looking like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade redux tied to a chair and Chuck — with “Love on the Rocks” as an underscore, I was torn between laughing and cheering. I might have been blinded by my excitement, but I even enjoyed Casey’s Casablanca moment with Ilsa, who was actually French Secret Service undercover.

addCredit(“Chuck: Justin Lubin”)

Casey and Ilsa weren’t the only couple having issues in thisepisode. Awesome and Ellie didn’t agree on whether to buy awasher/dryer (his choice) or HD TV (hers) for their anniversary. Itwasn’t surprising when Morgan took it upon himself to try and talk thecouple through their issues. It was surprising when Morgan actually facilitated a make-up by inviting Awesome to a poker game with the Buy More gang; a strippoker game with the likes of Lester, Jeff, and Morgan was enough tosend Awesome running back to Ellie with the TV she wanted. Who knewthat Chuck and Morgan would turn into such relationship doctors?

Maybe one hour of Chuck is quite enough for me, or perhaps the new-episode high was wearing off, but the second episode of the nightwas not as thrilling to me. It’s possible that because the quirky NerdHerders and Buy More employees are really only funny in small doses,their pivotal antics in this plot were particularly grating. I preferwhen these folks stay as much on the sidelines as possible, and Jeffand Lester’s involvement really pushed the limits. They order in fromthe Pita Palace constantly just to stare at the hot delivery girl’scleavage. In a shocking twist (read sarcasm here), the Pita girl is amember of Fulcrum, the rogue CIA group trying to get their hands on theIntersect. Turns out Fulcrum hid bugs all over the Buy More, plus areceiver in Big Mike’s stuffed marlin (stolen by the brilliant Jeff andLester). This put Chuck in the unfortunate position of facing a lifehidden away for the good of National Security, and his personalprotection. Complicating matters, Chuck put Awesome’s engagement ringfor Ellie in his locker, which was confiscated — along with theentirety of the Buy More — by the CIA/NSA people who were looking forthe bugs.

Whew. Anyway, it wasn’t looking good for our hero when he was on hisway to permanently disappearing, but Chuck handled it with maturity.Even when Sarah came to his rescue, on the roof where he learned herspy status back in the pilot, he didn’t ask for a way out, instead heonly asked that Sarah tell Ellie how much he loves her. This was hugefor Chuck because he finally proved that he is tough enough to handlethe ultimate hardship of being a spy. Although, he didn’t need to testhis limits further because the bad guys were defeated (for now), andChuck even got to see Awesome propose to Ellie.

I don’t know about you, but even after the fake-out last night, I’mpretty confident that Chuck is never going to have to go to the cushyhideout that the government set up for him. Both Sarah and Casey haveshown that they are willing to do everything they can to preserveChuck’s “normal” life. The real fun of the show is the interactionbetween Chuck and his handlers, and all the spy/normal guy stuff. Youcan’t have any of that if he goes has to drop the “normal guy” thing.

What about you, PopWatchers? Were you rejoicing over two new episodes of Chuck?Who had the better quote last night: Chuck with, “I don’t want to dieas a man-stewardess,” or Awesome’s “I always knew you could handle myfamily jewels”? Also, did you dig the cast as “hosts” for theinadequately named “Chuck sandwich”? For the record, they reallystarted to bother me after the third segment. Finally, the threat oftaking away Chuck’s normal life has been hanging around for months, butwill it ever actually happen?