May 9, 2011

Episode Review: CHUCK, "Chuck vs. The Last Details"

After a slow start, "Chuck vs. The Last Details" picked up some steam and ended up being a mediocre episode. "Last Details" was nowhere close to classic penultimate episodes like "Chuck vs. The Colonel" or "Chuck vs. The Subway", but there were enough good moments to salvage the entire thing.

The episode kicked off with Mary Bartowski trying to steal the Norseman device, just to be interrupted by Vivian Volkoff, Riley, and a lab geek (who was the first victim of the weapon). Just when Frost was about to get her hands on the Norseman, she was captured, and it was up to Team Bartowski to save her in time for Chuck and Sarah's wedding. While saving Mary, Vivian found out that Chuck's the son of the woman who betrayed her father. Nutty, I know.

Team Bartowski also found out that Vivian was planning on selling the Norseman device, and as luck would have it, one of the potential buyers looked kind of like Morgan. The Bearded One was finally being asked to be a crucial part of a mission, much to Casey's dismay. Apparently, Alex has been worried about Morgan when he's in the field, and Casey's taken it upon himself to be his protector. So sweet.

The meeting to sell the Norseman was all a ruse, and Riley and Vivian used it as a way to demonstrate the weapons power. Since it works using the victims DNA, Morgan was not affected, but was almost killed by the cleaners until Casey snipped them without even seeing them.

In the final showdown, more information about the bond between Alexi Volfkoff and Stephen Bartowski was brought to life, further complicating things between their respective offspring. When it was all said and done, Riley was taken out and Vivian was on the run once again.

Out of all of the storyarcs this show has given us, the Vivian Volkoff chapters have been by the far the weakest, and all of the momentum from last week's episode came to a halt as soon as Lauren Cohan showed up. While I don't have any problems with Cohan's performance, the character has been so one dimensional and uninteresting, that I cannot muster any care for her whatsoever, which is shame because they could've done something really special with her. Instead of a compelling and conflicted character, we've been given a poorly drawn out cliche that does not resonate with the audience. There's still the chance that she could be redeemed by the end of the season, but Vivian's time on Chuck has felt like a wasted opportunity, and the moments where the writers tried to make her sympathetic fell on deaf ears.

This show's bread and butter has always been the relationship between Chuck and Sarah, and while the writers have been somewhat successful at keeping everything interesting between the two now that they're engaged, they have made some missteps. Tonight, was an example of one of those mistakes. Having Mary and Sarah bicker and put Chuck in the middle of their squabble was such a tired plot point, that I couldn't help but moan every time they snipped at each other. I get that tension can make for interesting television, but such weak attempts at fabricating said tension just feels lazy.

Per usual, the best stuff came from Casey and Morgan as they continued to develop their relationship. It made sense that Casey would look after Morgan for Alex, but you also got the sense that he really cared about him as well. I'm a little interested to see how long Morgan stays out of the field since having him be a part of Team Bartowski injected new life into the series, but we only have one episode left, so I guess it's not the end of the world.

The B-plot had nothing to do with Vivian Volkoff, the Norseman, or international terrorism because it revolved around Ellie and Devon tying up loose ends for the wedding. First on the list was putting together a video highlighting the happy couples relationship for the rehearsal dinner. Since Sarah didn't keep photos, it was up to Jeff and Lester to use footage they got from spying on the couple in the Buy More. You read that correctly. Of course, Lester's cut of the video was a disaster, but leave it to Jeff to save the day by putting together a sweet montage about the happy couple.

I've made my feelings about the Buy Morons clear, and I really don't think they add all that much to the overall show, so having them at their all time creepiest took me out of the episode momentarily. Just the thought of Jeff stalking around the Buy More, videotaping people just felt dirty, and not funny at all. What was even worse was how characters that I do like (Awesome and Big Mike) were sucked into the craziness of it all.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • A lot of Star Wars references tonight, but the best had to be Chuck and Morgan using "The Imperial March" to psych themselves up for the mission.
  • If Morgan recommends Breaking Bad, then I should definitely check it out.
  • Having Vivian waffle between being innocent and being a dangerous killer started to wear thin. I'm glad they finally picked a side towards the end, but I didn't care by the time they did.
  • The big twist at the end made zero sense since we know how things are going to end, so there weren't any emotional stakes, which made the whole scene moot. Kind of like we were in the year 2026.
  • "It's a me, Mario."
  • "You go find you mom. I'll be right there as soon as I get this guy's pants off....Oh, shut up."
"Chuck vs. The Last Details" was not the worst episode of Chuck ever, but it did focus too much on elements that I don't really care for (Vivian and the Buy Morons), so I can't say that I loved it which was a letdown. With only one more episode left of the season (and the series?), I wanted more out of "Last Details", but I did laugh a few times, so it wasn't a complete waste. Let's just hope next week's "Chuck vs. The Cliffhanger" doesn't disappoint.


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