Chuck Review: “Chuck Vs. the Subway” and “Vs. the Ring: Part 2”

M: Well ladies and gentlemen, Chuck has ended another season, and after another year of teetering on the edge, we know that it will be back for a fourth season as well.  Woo-hoo!  Of course, the geniuses at NBC have only committed to it for 13 episodes as of yet, but there is always hope that they’ll do what they did this year and pony up for an additional set of episodes after those 13.  Maybe next year they might even give it a decent time slot or lead in!  Okay, I already know that’s too much to ask for; I’ve heard it’ll be back at 8:00 on Mondays.  Anyway, we’re a bit late with this, so on to the finale…  or, rather, the two back-to-back episodes that were not one two-hour episode, or even a two-part episode.  So let’s explain…

E: No, there is too much…  Let me sum up.  Ellie learns the truth!  It’s about bloody time.  A significant character bites the big one.  An even more significant location does, too.  There is romance in the air.  A villain is defeated. And a controversial Jeffster video attempts to end the season with a blaze of glory.

Also. Morgan acting like a grown up while Awesome lost his mojo?  Excellent.

C: Yeah, Ellie’s line about Morgan being in on the spy secrets was fantastic.  “Morgan Grimes, the boy who took my pillow as his date to junior prom?”

M: Oh, that was such an awesome line.

E: And seriously, don’t you want a flashback episode to see beardless Morgan and Ellie’s pillow?

M: However, while I am very glad that Ellie finally knows, I thought that the way it went down was almost as annoying as her not knowing.  I wanted her to find out either similarly to how she did, but by seeing Chuck being totally bad-ass – or by a nice brother-sister heart-to-heart talk.  To have her find out in a way that made Chuck look like a bad guy, and look crazy?  Boo.

C: Oh, I dunno.  The other two ways would have been cuter, of course, but this added to the drama of the moment.

E: And I’ve got to say it. General Beckman as Princess Leia?  Morgan Grimes, you’re my only hope?  How freaking hilarious is that?  It’s Morgan’s dream world.  Seriously, could that be any better?

C: Not much.  My other favorite line of the night was during Awesome’s “Ellie is cheating on me” drunken haze.  The Buymorians say rude things and Morgan scolds: “Nice work, guys. Awesome.” Devin: “What?” Morgan: “Not you, Awesome.”

E: That was funny but also kind of sad.  It hurts to see Awesome so pathetic.

M: No, you’re wrong and C’s right, that wasn’t sad, it was funny.  It’s good to occasionally see chinks in the Awesome armor, it makes him less of a caricature, while maintaining his Awesomeness.  Like the whole decapitating a bear thing, which is still my favorite moment of the season.

E: Whatever.  I get that, even though I don’t really agree. Now, let’s get into some more of the plot.

M: Yes, like the Three Bartowski Mission, which started out great, but ended, well, less than happily.

E: I don’t know about you, but from the way that Quantum Dad told Ellie he’d be right back, I knew he was going to die.

C: “This is the last time I’ll walk away from you”?  Yeah, talk about a dead giveaway!  Geesh.

M: “Dead” giveaway, har har.  Very punny, sis.  Anyway, the killing of Quantum Dad, while really lousy, turned out to be necessary for the direction they are taking the show next season – but we can get to that at the end of this.  In the meantime, what did you think of the Shaw plotline?  I was supremely disappointed in it.  Last year’s spectacular finale with the end of Fulcrum and Chevy Chase, the new intersect, Awesome and Ellie’s wedding, and Jeffster singing Mr Roboto was sooooo epic and hilariously great.  This year, with Shaw’ rising from the dead, the Ring taking over the CIA from the inside, the governor and the concerns of Chuck going crazy and Quantum Dad’s death, it just didn’t feel as well put together.  Now, Chuck going Chuck 1.0 (first and second season version), all witty and tech-savvy and tricking Shaw into identifying the heads of the Ring?  Morgan, Awesome and Ellie tailing the armored car, then using the hidden missile in Casey’s car to blast Casey, Chuck and Sarah out of it?  That’s more like it!

E: I agree that it wasn’t as well put together (much as I loved certain aspects, like the armored car tailing). I enjoyed it, but it didn’t scale the same heights on the mountain of genius. Probably because these last six episodes were an add on to the sort-of-finale we got when Chuck and Sarah finale got together. I love the way they got Shaw, though. That was amazing.  I couldn’t understand why Chuck just let Shaw leave the conference hall, and didn’t broadcast something damning over the screen immediately, but the way he trapped the Elders and relayed Shaw’s confession?  Brilliant!

M: Totally, and I loved Chuck tossing all the Nerd-Herd associate lingo into it.  Very fun!

E: Also?  I flat out adore the idea of Morgan dating Casey’s daughter Alex.  Love it.

C: It’s amazing how they’ve developed what is essentially a hilarious buddy-cop movie just below the level of our main characters: Morgan and Casey, spy partners!  Grizzled experienced cop can’t stand the thought of bumbling young cop dating his daughter… definitely seen that one before.  I love these writers!  The only thing I don’t love is that, at 19 or 20, Alex is too young for Morgan, who’s gotta be – what, 28?  As they’ve conveniently cast an actress who looks older, though (and looks a lot like Emily  Blunt – anyone else notice that?) it doesn’t seem so bad.

E: Yes, and she’s also too cute for Morgan, but we can overlook that too.

M:
Yeah, I thought she was supposed to be 18, which would make her a high school senior, which is just pervy in a Jeffster kind of way, and is, well, ewww.  But re-watching it, she may be graduating college, which would make her 22, which makes it a lot more reasonable.  If you’re able to put that aside, the whole buddy cop thing is terrific, and the two of them play very well off of each other, so the more interaction, and the more reason for Casey to be mad at Morgan, the better.

E: And Morgan probably has the social maturity of an 18 year old, so at least that works for them. Now, blowing up the Buy More?  Wow.  I can’t believe they went there.

C: I’ve been saying for most of the season that the Buy More had outlived its usefulness, but I didn’t think they’d really get rid of it!  And not just write it out of the plot – write it out of existence, no less!  When the Jeff-Lester-Big Mike plot started up this week I groaned: “Seriously, they’re gonna do this nonsense in the finale?”  But as the last bow of the Buy More, it worked all right.  I expected more from the Jeffster song though.

M: Kind of a Buy More’s last gleaming.  I liked it, even the song, though it was no Mr Roboto.

E: I don’t know about you, but I’m baffled.  Is this the last we’ve seen of Jeff and Lester?  Maybe Chuck’s new “cover” will be to start his own Nerd Herd type firm, for which he (inexplicably) hires some of his old coworkers? Or will they really just write them all off? I didn’t exactly like them but I’d be sort of sorry to see the back of them, too.

M: They did end with Jeff and Lester being wanted as the suspects in the BuyMore bombing, so they may end up involved in some underground manner.  As for the BuyMore, they better not bring it back next year!

E: Definitely not!

M: Okay, on to the heavy hitting stuff at the end.  I have to say, the whole thing of Ellie making Chuck quit being a spy?  Lame.  Totally lame.  It may, like the death of Quantum Dad, open doors for what they are going to do next season, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

E:
Oh, but Chuck as a sort of league of justice?  Leagueless of justice?  Lone agent of justice?  Classically influenced namer of problems?  That’s a super fun idea.  I’m a fan.  It very clearly violates the spirit of his agreement with Ellie, but it’s still super cool.

M: Oh, that I like, although it will get really old if he has to keep it a secret from everyone.  I mean, everyone going back to being in the dark?  Not the direction I want things going in now that everyone knows.  But the ending, finding out that Chuck has basically been an intersect since the days of the Mac SE, and the foreshadowing about Quantum Mom?  Very cool.

C: I don’t know what to think of Chuck having downloaded some sort of beta-Intersect as a wee youth.  Are we supposed to think he actually got some data/skills from that, or was it simply evidence of his very high image recognition ability – which we already knew of thanks to Bryce Larkin?

E: Yeah, that’s weird.  I’m not in love with the whole notion that the intersect is what makes him special.  (And let’s not forget the whole issue of the mental instability; Chuck would have been institutionalized long before the start of the show if he’s downloaded an even less stable beta-intersect.)

M: See, I think it was more of a test than something that he would have use of, and he was special because he could handle it, not because he had it.  But don’t get me started on the mental instability plot line.  The need for the governor, all of a sudden after three years, and Shaw wanting it despite having the intersect in him for three minutes?  Weak.  Lets move back to the stuff we liked.

E: As to the mom – you knew that, in the tradition of Alias, Mrs. Bartowski was eventually going to show up in some spy organization.

C:
Yeah.  Once they’d made it clear that she left them, and wasn’t dead as I’d mistakenly remembered, it was obvious she was going to be something in the spy world.  Now bring on the kickass stunt casting!  They’ve gotta find someone darn cool to live up to Scott Bakula.  (And if they care about realism, Mrs. B will also need to be astonishingly tall, athletic and good-looking, just to explain Ellie and Chuck!)

M: It’s Chuck, so we know they don’t care about realism, but that aside, no one in Hollywood has EVER cared about casting parents or siblings with an eye to whether or not it was genetically likely, or even possible.  That said, a good casting move will be huge for the whole next season.

E: They actually do that on purpose, so you can easily tell everyone apart.  Annoying, but there it is. What I want is someone on the level of Lena Olin in Alias.  Hell, I’d be thrilled if they actually cast Lena Olin. Or BSG‘s Mary McDonnell.

M: My favorite rumor so far is Lynda Carter.  Wonder Mom would be spectacular, and she fits C’s “astonishingly tall, athletic and good-looking” criteria to a tee.

E: Now that would be awesome.  Here’s the big fear, though.  They’re going to make us wait until 2011 for new episodes, aren’t they?

M: But of course.

C: Phooey.

E: That sucks. Chuck, Chuck, we will miss you!

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2 comments on “Chuck Review: “Chuck Vs. the Subway” and “Vs. the Ring: Part 2”

  1. the presidentrix says:

    Yay! You posted about Chuck! I checked back a bunch of times, but I figured C was busy with finals, and then this Greek class came along and tried to kill me, so I didn’t have time to internet anymore.

    Your reactions are all very much in tune with mine. I’m excited about the new directions they can take from here – no more Buy More, Chuck as secret agent of justice, Morgan and Casey fuh-ever – but I wasn’t altogether happy about the way they brought these new paradigms about.

    You know when you kill Quantum Dad, show? (If, indeed, it is ever necessary to kill him at all!) You do it when you’re on a high, firing on all cylinders. Not just because it’s more devastating by contrast that way (Chuck gets to be Luke Skywalker screaming noooooooooooo), but because then you’re not kicking out one of the only table legs still holding your show aloft. A lot of stuff was kind of wonky this season. The motivations were forced. Some of the funniest characters were prevented from being funny. Some of the most sympathetic characters were forced to act strident and shallow and one-note. The plot rarely made sense. Some big events were dropped on us in uninspired ways. That’s not to say it was all bad, but the show was not at its best. And you know what happens on this show when Quantum Dad shows up? The show gets better. More exciting. He’s a good actor, playing a memorable character, and he always makes things complicated for Chuck and Ellie. Killing off the guy who just showed up to inject some additional energy into your lagging story is disappointing in a way totally separate from the emotional baggage it deals to Chuck and Co. It’s also disappointing to viewers who are like, ‘Hey, show! You’re getting something right!’ Oh. Whoops. Spoke to soon. (Reminds me vaguely of the awful James McAvoy movie Wanted, in which every time a character shows a glimmer of likability, he dies with in thirty seconds. No. For serious. If you like him? Dead. He’s dead. Not in this movie anymore. No liking the characters for you! No being entertained!)

    I’m sad that Chuck will be lying to Ellie again come next year (2011? Seriously? Seriously?) and that Ellie has to be the obligatory female ‘no adventures for you’ shrew of the cast, still.

    I am happy about anything involving Casey and Morgan. I just the show is smart enough to know that means DON’T KILL THEM.

    • M says:

      Ohhh, quick update! At least according to NBC.com, Chuck is scheduled to be part of the 2010 FALL lineup, so we may not have to wait until 2011 after all!!! Woo-hoo!

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