December 16, 2011

Episode Review: CHUCK, "Chuck vs. The Curse"

After one of the better episodes of Season 5, Chuck came back and gave audiences a decent enough follow-up effort in "Chuck vs. The Curse" that wasn't as strong as its predecessor but still enjoyable to watch.

"The Curse" picked up right where "Hack Off" ended with Decker being blown up real good and Carmichael Industries trying to regroup. Once the team was back in Castle, they received a message from General Beckman stating that they were in big trouble and were under arrest for murder and treason. Of course, Chuck was too busy freaking out to notice that she was also giving them a second message in Morse code telling them to run. So, now our heroes were officially on the lam with Chuck and Sarah going to Orion's cabin to learn more about the frame job while Casey headed out to meet up with Beckman.

While Chuck, Sarah, and Casey were on the run, the Woodcombs were on their own adventure as they went out for a nice dinner by themselves, but they wanted to spice things up by pretending that they were spies too. Their little role playing game, along with Ellie's use of Chuck's Open Table account, led to a case of mistaken identity which in turn led them to be captured by Decker's replacement, Agent Robin Cunnings.

Cunnings planned on using Ellie and Awesome as leverage in order to get the Omen Virus that was recovered during "Hack Off," and the thought of his family being harmed sent Chuck into his protective yet irrational mode (his belief in a Bartowksi family curse didn't help matters). Instead of letting the professionals come up with a plan of action to get the Awesomes back, Chuck went out on his own to free his family which ended up backfiring because Cunnings got her hands on the virus and unleashed it on the world. She was about to kill Awesome and Chuck when the rest of Carmichael Industries swooped into save the day, but Sarah was not too happy with her husband due to him going on the rescue mission solo. The happy couple kissed and made up, but their happiness was short-lived because they saw the effects of the Omen up close and personal.

Morgan also had a role to play during the episode as he was sent to Casey's apartment to wipe his computer clean so information would not fall into the wrong hands. Once there, he bumped into Alex, and the two ex-lovebirds were pinned down thanks to Cunnings and her men keeping watch on the complex. When Chuck realized that it may be a while before he sees his family again, he gave Morgan a second mission which involved getting his stash of personal items known as P.A.N.T.S. (Private Artifacts Never To Share).

Now, I'm probably wrong about this assertion, but "Chuck vs. The Curse" felt like the first episode in a long time where all of the storylines were inter-connected in a meaningful way which was one of the episode's strengths. Usually, we get a Buy More C-plot that's just there for comic relief, but the Morgan and Alex moments admirably filled that role while also being relevant to the main narrative. With that being said, I wasn't a huge fan of this one because it made Alex out to be a manipulative person with no sense of personal boundaries. Yes, her pretending to cry to the cops and going through Morgan's P.A.N.T.S. were supposed to be light-hearted, but something about her actions rubbed me the wrong way. Plus, I still don't see how she would be interested in Morgan, but I digress.

Everything else that went on during "Curse" was a mix of hits and misses. In some ways, Chuck took a step back during this episode because he once again let his emotions get the better of him which ended up causing more damage than good. I get that family's important to Chuck, and that they are his Achilles heel, but I also would like to think that he's grown to trust Sarah over the years, but apparently not. His obsession with the "Bartowski Curse" also felt like something old Chuck would've worried about back in the day. I don't want it to sound like I was inherently upset with his actions because they were understandable to a point, but it felt like character was sacrificed for the sake of plot.

On the flip-side, I'm always a fan of Awesome being brought into the spy world even though we're starting to see diminishing returns every time he's involved in a mission, and it was nice seeing Ellie do something besides nag Chuck and be dressed in scrubs. I also thought that this was a strong episode for Sarah, especially when she gave Chuck her best disapproving wife stare. It'd be easy for her to be put in the stereotypical shrew role, but her disappointment in Chuck felt rational and deserved because she too wanted to believe that her relationship with Chuck has evolved past the point of him not trusting that she has his best interests at heart.

Other Odds and Ends:
  • Devon and Ellie's Spy Names: Six-Pack and Hot Mama.
  • Chuck needing his P.A.N.T.S. before going on the run seemed a bit far-fetched and like an unnecessary risk, but I guess it had more to do with Morgan than anything.
  • George Strait's "All My Exes" playing in the roadhouse was probably one of this show's best moments ever.
  • I know that some were upset with the killing and torturing, but it didn't bother me too much. Chuck's not supposed to be dark like Alias or Nikita, but they've delved into the depths before.
  • I was a little bummed that the fugitive arc ended so soon.
  • Not hating the idea of Shaw coming back.
  • "You live with your girlfriend's father?"
  • "This is where we come in our darkest hours. Iran Contra, Nicaragua, the Clinton years."
  • "Not the face."
  • "You still don't know who you're dealing with do you? Right now, there's a spy in your midst, and she's going to take you and all your men down to save her husband."
The inclusion of Ellie and Aweome, along with some decent action and Sarah's growth as a caring wife made for a fun time. I just wish we Chuck didn't have to regress as a character in order for everything to work. All-in-all, "Chuck vs. The Curse" was a serviceable episode of Chuck, but not its finest.


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