Yvonne Strahovski, Zachary Levi
Chuck's Season 4 finds Chuck on the hunt for his mother — who doesn't seem to want to be found. TVGuide.com caught up with executive producers Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak to get the lowdown on everyone's family issues this year, including an impending baby and Morgan's brush with death — well, Casey will want to kill him if he keeps going after daughter Alex, right?
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TVGuide.com: If before the show was about Chuck (Zachary Levi) trying to be a man, and then Chuck trying to be a spy, now what is Chuck trying to be?
Chris Fedak: This season is Chuck trying to find his mom. That's the mythology, that's the big search of this season. At the end of last year, his father gave him a quest, a big mission, and that was to find Mama Bartowski [Linda Hamilton] and figure out what had happened to her. It's a big dynamic shift for the show this year.
TVGuide.com: Because Mama Bartowski is only being introduced this year, she clearly has a lot of secrets. What can you tell us?
Fedak: Ellie [Sarah Lancaster] and Chuck grew up thinking that their mom had left and run off. Through the first episode, we're going to learn that the story is much more complicated than that; that Mary Elizabeth Bartowski was involved in the spy world. We have plenty of surprises even there in regards to who she is, and what we expect her to be, and what's really happened. She's been living in a very dangerous world.
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TVGuide.com: When casting Timothy Dalton, you only said he had a past with Mama Bartowski. Fans are leaning towards him being Chuck's real dad. Is that a possibility?
Josh Schwartz: No! We will never desecrate the memory of Stephen J. Bartowski, played by Scott Bakula. We don't even want to entertain it. To do it would be spitting on the grave. [Dalton]'s character is still shrouded in mystery. He's not Chuck's uncle, nor his son or daughter [Laughs].
TVGuide.com: Fans are really excited for Ellie to be pregnant this year.
Schwartz: So is Sarah Lancaster. It's always good for an actress who has yet to have a child to play pregnant because it just gives them a dry run. [Laughs]
Fedak: It is true for us, too. Sarah Lancaster is fantastic and it's really given her and Ryan McPartlin something fun and exciting to play. Their world is changing as well, and how Awesome and Ellie are dealing with that is great. It's great to see how awesome Awesome wants to be as a father, and Ellie has to deal with that.
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TVGuide.com: Is Awesome going to be pulled back into the spy world this year?
Schwartz: Awesome has his hands full.
Fedak: With Ellie now pregnant, Awesome pretty much comes to the realization that he's going to be the best father that ever existed, even if she's only three months' pregnant. He's totally focused in the beginning of the season on the future baby.
TVGuide.com: With Chuck searching for his mom and Ellie being pregnant, it feels like this is a very grown-up season.
Fedak: Absolutely. This show has always been about family; a spy show about a guy who has a spy life, but always comes home to his family. This year we're going to learn even more about the family than before.
Schwartz: It's also Season 4. When we met Chuck, he was hiding from his own birthday. He's come a long way in these four years. He's not the mid-20s kid that he was when we first met him. He's grown up as well.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of family, will we see any of Sarah's this season?
Schwartz: Depends on how many episodes we get. Fedek has a master plan. We have a tightly constructed house of cards in the first 13 episodes.
Fedak: It's all written on napkins, strangely enough.
TVGuide.com: What is the overall arc of the first 13 episodes?
Fedak: For us, we've always wanted to tell the biggest, most exciting story that we can possibly imagine. Since we have 13 episodes, we're going to do what we did last season. We're going to tell a huge, epic story about Chuck's search for his mom and how it affects everyone else in his life, including Sarah [Yvonne Strahovski] and Casey [Adam Baldwin]. Each episode is pushing and going further in regards to the Chuck-Sarah relationship as well as finding mom. If we get an order for more episodes, we'll expand the story out. We paint ourselves into a corner and find a way out. We're not afraid to push the story forward. Get ready for a lot of game-changing things to happen.
Schwartz: The first five minutes of the first episode encompasses numerous continents and periods of time.
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TVGuide.com: How does Sarah feel about Chuck searching for his mom?
Schwartz: She doesn't know about it at first. It's a secret that he's kept that only he and Morgan [Joshua Gomez] know about.
Fedak: One of the things in our first episode is all about how the team comes back together. Is Chuck still going to be able to search for his mom as a rogue operative? Can he convince Sarah and Casey to help him? We really like the team when they're working together on missions.
Schwartz: We don't like Morgan and Casey getting a long that well.
Fedak: We like them gut-punching each other.
TVGuide.com: What are we going to see for Morgan this season?
Schwartz: Gomez is going to have a banner this year. As Chuck has grown up and matured, Morgan is the guy experiencing this for the first time. ... His relationship with Casey, and especially with Casey's daughter [Alex, played by Mekenna Melvin] and how that impacts his relationship with Casey, is going to be really fun.
Fedak: We'll give you two words there: forbidden romance.
Schwartz: It was no accident that Jeffster came out dancing to "Bad Romance" at Comic-Con. That was a clue.
TVGuide.com: Bottom line, is Chuck Season 4 going to be filled with even more action and crazy explosions?
Schwartz: We don't hold anything back. The normal amount of insanity, which is twice the insanity of what's recommended to you by your doctor.
Fedak: We feel great about it and think this season is really fun.
TVGuide.com: Well, Chuck really is unstoppable at this point. The fans are crossing their fingers for another pickup.
Schwartz: We do bear a striking resemblance to a cockroach. [Laughs] That's probably not the headline we want.
Fedak: What's that even mean?
Schwartz: They always say cockroaches can survive a nuclear explosion.
Fedak: Chuck can survive a nuclear explosion!
Chuck premieres Monday at 8/7c on NBC.