*spoilers for both episodes*
Chuck 4×02: Chuck vs. the Suitcase
After being somewhat disappointed with the season premiere, I wasn’t too proactive about sitting down to watch the second episode of Chuck, but after some encouragement from friends, I went ahead and did it. And it is a much stronger episode (and strangely, has nothing at all to do with the overall Mom Bartowski Search plotline, as the previous week’s preview suggested it would), and gives me a little more hope for the rest of the season, though I do still have my reservations.
It’s back to a more case-of-the-week format, this time with Sarah and Chuck going after an Eastern European spy who has some sort of chip that guides smart bullets, some pretty cool looking tech if I do say so myself. Chuck is awkward dorky cool again and flashing to do kung fu and pick safe locks, Sarah’s going mano-et-mano on a Milan fashion week catwalk, you know, the sort of thing we expect from Chuck. I’m just hoping we don’t get a full return to status quo; as I said after the premiere, I’m not cool with that. And in a way, that’s what this episode was, but it also suggested some ways it can kind of have it both ways.
For example. The BuyMore is rebuilt (return to status quo). But it’s a CIA base now (significant change). Morgan and Casey are back working undercover there (return to status quo). But as of the end of episode two, Morgan is the manager, specifically tasked to keep the BuyMore from looking too CIA-level efficient and thus suspicious (significant change). Jeff and Lester are back (return to status quo). But as the head of Morgan’s unsuspecting make-the-Buy-More-a-shambles-again initiative (significant change? Okay, maybe that’s stretching it…). I’m still not a fan of the secret-keeping about Chuck being back in the CIA, but we’ll see where it goes. And I’m still always worried about them deciding to break up Chuck and Sarah, which had me flailing at the non-suitcase-unpacking throughline of this episode, but ultimately, they proved my fears wrong and that plot tied the ep together quite well. I’m going to try to quit worrying about that for now and just trust that the writers won’t burn me on this.
Chuck 4×03 – Chuck vs. the Cubic Z
Okay, whatever goodwill Chuck had from me from the last episode mostly dissipated after this one. (I wrote the section above before having watched this one.) Here our cadre of spies are tasked with guarding two prisoners. Sounds simple, right? Well, until one of the prisoners gets Sarah rattled about her commitment issues and Chuck botches interrogating her about his mother and the other prisoner escapes and goes on a rampage.
The fact that the writers can’t make it through an episode without some huge (real or perceived) crisis in Chuck and Sarah’s relationship is frustrating me to no end – last week’s made me hope that it was more related to the difficulties of being a spy and having a relationship (which could go interesting places), but this week was almost all Sarah’s own hang-ups as exacerbated by the prisoner spy chick who knew Sarah way back when she was Jenny and thinks her life experience maps directly onto Sarah’s. This is basically just the same old will-they0won’t they wishy-washiness that they’ve been doing for at least two years. I AM TIRED OF IT. I was tired of it a year ago, but I was hoping that if they finally got together the writers would focus on something else for a while, but apparently they can’t. Because there are NO OTHER interesting stories to be had here. What about Chuck and Ellie? What about Chuck and Ellie and their mom (we’ll be getting back to that, I know)? What about Casey and his daughter? What about Morgan and Casey’s daughter? What about Morgan and the BuyMore?
Oh, right, we did get some Morgan and the BuyMore story. Which was so dull I barely remembered it. Some big game launch, shipment didn’t come, Big Mike had to step in and same the day with an eye-rolling pep talk, yada yada yada. Didn’t care.
But despite all of this ranting, I didn’t totally hate watching most of the episode. There are some decent fight scenes, and some good interaction between Sarah and prisoner Heather. But the final sequence had me seething, so let’s just talk about that for a second. Chuck and Sarah are talking through the stuff Heather brought up and were making progress, and I was going, okay, maybe we can just put this behind us AGAIN and move on in the next episode onto something more interesting than Sarah’s commitment issues. But no, because intercut with this conversation for like FIVE MINUTES are shots of the engagement ring that Big Mike lost earlier in the episode sliding down the ductwork, inevitably heading toward Chuck and Sarah down in castle. And yep, just as Chuck and Sarah are getting cutesy going through a litany of things she’s ready for vs. things she’s not, the ring falls and Chuck picks it up, kneeling in a perfect proposal pose. FOR REAL GUYS? FOR REAL? This scene was horrible on so many levels – it forces yet another episode of will-they-won’t-they about the biggest will-they-won’t-they ever, it forces the question of marriage way too soon into the series/season/relationship, it reinforces once again the writers can’t think of anything else to do other than poke at Chuck and Sarah’s relationship, and besides all that, it’s done in the most painfully obvious, hamfistedly edited, and utterly ridiculous way that I almost shut my TV off and quit watching the show (I mean the entire series) before the ring ever fell all the way down.
And yeah. I’m still *this close* to quitting the show all together, because that scene was pretty much the last straw that destroyed any lingering hopes that the writers have any clue what they’re doing. I’ll stick around maybe based on the probability of Summer Glau guest starring later on in the season, but unless something drastically changes, I’m done after that.