November 18, 2011

Episode Review: CHUCK, "Chuck vs. The Business Trip"

It's starting to look like Season 5 of Chuck has finally found its groove. "Chuck vs. the Business Trip" was a decent episode that was jam-packed with pop culture jokes, solid character moments, the end of Intersect Morgan, but it also felt like not much happened.

At the end of "Chuck vs. the Frosted Tips," we learned that Decker placed a kill order on Morgan since he kept blathering on and on about him being the Intersect. "Business Trip" picked right up from where we left off as Carmichael Industries worked with General Beckman to remove the super computer from Morgan's head which should have been enough to stop the kill order. Unfortunately, Decker hired on outsider, code named the Viper, who could not be stopped.

In order to smoke out the assassin, Chuck posed as Morgan at a Buy More retreat, and he and Sarah tried to figure out who the killer was with the help of fancy finger-tip lie detectors. As it turned out, the bartender was the baddie, but he was being a decoy because the real Viper ended up being an innocuous looking woman who was trying to befriend Sarah.

The Viper followed our heroes back to the Buy More where her plans to blow up Sarah and to kill Morgan were thwarted. Decker recalled the original order, but he secretly hired the Viper to take out everyone except Chuck and Sarah presumably because he has bigger plans for the two of them. Luckily, Casey was trailing the bad guys and took them out first, but that led to him being arrested for murder.

The A-plot of "Business Trip" was pretty straight forward as Chuck played human target while Sarah lamented about not having a normal life. It was nice seeing Sarah show a different side of herself, someone whose job can be exciting but whose life can be lonely because of it, and Yvonne Strahovski was solid throughout the episode. It was also nice that she ultimately realized that she was not alone because of the surrogate family that formed around her thanks to Chuck.

My only gripe about "Business Trip" had to do with the lack of forward momentum despite everything that had occurred during the episode. In regards to the bigger story arc, all that really happened was Morgan got the Intersect out of his brain, and everything else felt like filler. It could be argued that Casey's arrest pushed the story forward, but that seemed like it was just a twist ending to keep people around for a little bit longer. That being said, seeing Chuck and Sarah in a different environment was a nice change of pace. "Business Trip" was by no means a bad episode, but it could have contributed more to the season long arc than it did.

The Buy More B-plot continued to explore Jeff's transformation and how it affected his relationship with Lester. Now that he's no longer living in his van and suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, Jeff's been more responsible and intuitive, which bothered Lester. In order to "fix" his friend, Lester decided to expose Jeff to the toxic fumes that kept him in a haze, but he almost ended up killing Big Mike. The new and improved Jeff realized that his friend was not a good person and needed to suffer the consequences for his misdeed, so he had Lester arrested.

Now, I've been praising most of the Buy More stories this season, but this one didn't do it for me. Sure, it was fun watching Jeff be a human being for once, but that was about the extent of my enjoyment. The fact that Lester's self-esteem was so low that he'd risk killing his only friend just to get him back to his old dullard ways wasn't funny but dark and disturbing. I just hope this means that Lester will be out of the picture for a few episodes because he's best in small doses, and if he's just going to be pissy about Jeff's new mental state, then I could do without him altogether.

The minor C-plot about Ellie's unhappiness with leaving Clara behind in order to work felt tacked on to me. If the writers were going to have Ellie end up staying home with the baby, then why even bother with Devon taking paternity leave and being a stay-at-home dad? I just have a bad feeling that this is going to lead to some odd postpartum depression story involving Ellie which would end up sticking out. I'm glad that they're trying to give Ellie and Awesome something to do, but their story felt like a step in the wrong direction.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Would Sarah really take part in Morgan's ninja star tomfoolery?
  • Nice Flowers for Algernon reference.
  • Did they really need to replace Morgan's head with Chuck's? Why not just replace the photos altogether?
  • I will never tire of seeing Sarah in her Nerd Herd outfit. Never.
  • Man, George Lucas took a beating during this episode.
  • Adam Baldwin was phenomenal during that last scene where he's visibly worried but trying to pretend that nothing was wrong.
  • "Morgan, you stay away from the douche cycle."
  • Gen. Beckman: "So shocked you people are running out of money."
    Chuck: "Missile Command is part of our process."
  • Chuck: "How's your memory buddy? Do you remember Die Hard, Star Wars, Chewie, Yoda, yippe ki-yay?"
    Morgan: "Sorry dude. No, it all kind of sounds like gibberish."
    Sarah: "It is."
  • "Selling fine goods to the few people who haven't discovered Amazon."
Again, there was a lot to like about "Chuck vs. the Business Trip." I'm never going to dislike an episode with so many Star Wars shout-outs and decent character development, but there were some moments that felt out of place or didn't make much sense, and there was not enough emphasis on the larger story for my liking. It was still a good installment of Chuck, but not the best either.


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