'Chuck' recap: Too soon, too soon!
Doesn’t it seem a little soon?
I mean, I love Chuck and Sarah together like nobody's business, but it sure seems like these two crazy kids should be taking a little more time to figure out their relationship before jumping straight into marriage. Maybe it's because the producers feared the first 13 episodes of this season were all they would get to close out the story line, but it's sure seemed like the two have been embarking on a new, relationship-altering path in every other episode this season, like they're in a little car game-piece in The Game of Life and they keep rolling 10s. Next thing you know, Sarah's going to be popping out twins in every third episode, even as Chuck will be worried that she doesn't really love him for some asinine reason.
So what I'm saying is that it's bizarre to have Chuck and Sarah suddenly be on the eve of getting engaged when just a few episodes ago they were much less confident of this prospect but the show still sort of made it work. The scenes in which Chuck and Morgan were trying to plan out the perfect proposal on the fly were fun, and the scenes in which Sarah secretly took charge of the operation were amusing, largely because Sarah knocking Morgan around will never not be funny. And the scene in which Chuck launched into a speech about how much he loved Sarah and wanted to spend his life with her -- after a few high jinks, of course -- was nicely done and true to the spirit of the relationship. But then the CIA swooped in, took Sarah down and arrested her for being a traitor. What?
Of course it's all an elaborate ruse! The CIA needs someone to infiltrate the Volkoff operation, and Sarah's the best person the agency's got. But this makes her behavior in the episode ... mildly perplexing. Just why would she be trying to get her boyfriend to propose to her when she knows she's going to be embarking on a potentially life-threatening mission as a double agent? Why does anyone in the CIA think Volkoff is just going to fall for this whole trick? Is this all Sarah's idea, or Beckman's? I think the show wants us to think the CIA came up with this whole thing and launched it on Sarah unannounced, but that seems ridiculous, even for this show's version of the spy agency. Sure, we all know Sarah will pull through and that she and Chuck will get engaged soon enough. Furthermore, this was a pretty cool twist in the moment. I'm just not sure it stands up to any level of real scrutiny.
But never mind that. The episode had plenty of other enjoyable moments. Lester tried to seduce his arranged bride, who hailed from Saskatchewan! Casey was forced to go to, ugh, France! Everybody in France was played by someone with the thickest, most comedic French accent possible! There was a really cool action sequence in which Chuck fought a bunch of dudes without spilling a glass of wine, catching it at the end on the back of his outstretched hand! Jeffster performed Whitesnake's "Is This Love" to the adoring (and not-so adoring) crowd at the Buy More! All in all, it was an episode with a lot of good parts; it just didn't necessarily knit them all together as well as the series does at its best.
One thing I really did enjoy was the Lester subplot. I like the idea of Lester being instantly in love with the Canadian "Hinjew" who appears in the store, causing the Buy More wind machine to get yet another workout. It would have been hard to go wrong from there, but things kept topping themselves, from Jeff paging through Lester's schedule to Lester setting up his elaborate, preposterous lair (in seemingly record time) in the A.V. room. Even better was Lester going from singing the praises of online dating and the three dates he'd gotten just that day to saying he had to break up with all three girls as soon as he saw his bride-to-be. I get that this was a one-episode thing, but I liked the actress playing the girl, and I think the idea of Lester being in love with someone who was ostensibly promised to him but is so utterly out of his league has lots more comic mileage left in it. Here's hoping that everybody involved with the show brings this story line back sooner rather than later.
As always, there was plenty of enjoyment to be found in hanging out with Casey, who seemed as horrified by the idea of merely having to spend time in France as Lester seemed initially horrified by the idea of having an arranged marriage. And although there wasn't a great deal of Casey material, everything we got was solid, particularly the big guy pairing with Morgan in the Castle to make sure that the proposal went off without a hitch, or Casey talking with Chuck about how no proposal is perfect and that the neurotic man should just let go and not let it bother him so much. Similarly, I love just about any scene where Morgan is back at the Castle, trying to talk people through something, and although the long string of silly rhymes about the specific wine bottle the spies were trying to locate ("a stable on the label," for instance) was a ridiculously stupid gag, it still made me laugh.
But what it all comes down to is the idea of whether you think that Chuck and Sarah are finally ready for marriage. And although, sure, they've been faking a relationship for four years now and have been in an actual one for probably close to a year, it still seems rushed to me, as though Sarah is pregnant and has a disapproving grandmother who will be upset if the baby is born to an unwed mother or something. I know that all of this is just happening because it's what the fans want and the show's producers didn't know if it would be back after these 13 episodes, but it still strikes me as incredibly strange that these two have gone this far this fast. Then again, it's only a TV show. If those two crazy kids want to run off and get hitched in an entirely fictional universe, who am I to tell them no?
Some other thoughts:
--I can't overstate just how cool that fight between Chuck and the bad guys, with the wine glass in the balance, was. It's nice to see that the Intersect is pretty much what it always was, and the stunt work was, as it always is on this show, airtight.
--I love Big Mike and the actor who plays him, but I genuinely have no idea why he's still on the show. What's his role within the show's cosmos at this point?
--As far as motivations for missions go, the nanochip thing was not the strongest reason that the writers have ever come up with for these people to be heading into the field. On the other hand, they seemed to realize this fairly quickly, as the nanochip was in the CIA's hands by the episode's midpoint, meaning that its real reason for existence was to provide a long string of France jokes. Not the worst idea in the world.
-- Todd VanDerWerff (follow me on Twitter at @tvoti)
Photo: NBC seems intent on not providing new photos of the show, so here's a photo that has next to nothing to do with this episode, except that both it and the episode feature John Casey (Adam Baldwin) and Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski).