I accept product placement as a reality of modern television. It's a way of defraying some of the costs of producing a series, while also adding a touch of realism to the world in which the characters live (rather than using generic products like "cola" and "smokes"). There are even ways of doing product placement without being distracting. A show can choose to simply have the product appear or be quickly referenced without making a big deal of it (generally the most common type of product placement). Or, a show can mockingly lampshade the product placement, something "30 Rock" does regularly and effectively.
Then there's the way "Chuck" did it on Monday, with a conversation between Chuck and Sarah about the product they were placing into the show that was so stilted and absurdly glowing that it felt like a bad SNL sketch mocking a bad commercial for the product. Hell, the in-character Honda commercials with Morgan, Ellie and Awesome during the 2010 Winter Olympics were less pandering than this thing, which completely took me out of the episode (and I refuse to say what product the in-episode commercial was for, so not to give the company any more free publicity).
Aside from that, the episode itself was good, but not great. It did mark the return of both Isaiah Mustafa and Stacy Keilber, reprising their "Greta" roles from earlier in the season. I liked that the whole "Greta" thing was finally explained, but the way it tied into Casey's new secret mission and Chuck's dad's computer just felt forced. Plus, let's be honest, the Gretas kind of had a point. They were two actual trained NSA spies with Intersects in their head being led by Casey, an NSA spy with military background. Neither Sarah nor Chuck has a traditional spy background, and while that kind of worked out for them in this case, I understand where the government was coming from here.
What I don't understand is why the evil NSA lady (described as a less-friendly version of General Beckman) decided that the key to her intersect project was giving the computer back to Ellie. Does this mean Ellie is Intersected now, or will be? If so, I'm not a fan of that. I really liked that in the mass of insanity that permeated these people's lives, she was the one bastion of normality (and no, the Buy More crew doesn't count. There is no place in the universe in which Big Mike, Jeff and Lester could be considered "normal").
For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the AdamReisinger.com TV Reviews home page.