How does a man go from reviewing the season premiere of a show to reviewing an episode a month later? Well, the answer is in the "why." I had reasons to review the premiere, mostly in an effort to draw attention to the show, not to mention figure out how I felt about the new direction.
So why does this, the final episode of Chuck until the Olympics are over, deserve a review? I think I just answered that in the question (it's the final episode until the Olympics are over). But I also think that the way this episode ended deserves some discussion.
See, I follow Josh Schwartz's Twitter, and one of the few comments he made last night about the show is that this episode seemed to be very controversial to Chuck fans. I can see why that might be the case, given that it ends with the holy couple of Chuck and Sarah actually with other people. But, as a hardcore Chuck fan, I wouldn't call that controversial (and anyone who thinks it is either hasn't watched enough Josh Schwartz shows or hasn't watched enough TV in general). No, I would actually call the ending disingenuous.
Why? Because none of it should have happened.
I don't have a problem with Chuck and/or Sarah dating other people. What I have a problem with is Chuck and/or Sarah dating anyone at all. Sarah giving Chuck her blessing to date Hannah, let alone Sarah discussing a relationship with Shaw, is incongruent with everything this show has done for the last two plus years.
It has been made very, very clear that spies can't date. Heck, it's been in a majority of the episodes. The entire reason Chuck and Sarah had such a difficult time was because of this rule. It's a rule that has gotten them into trouble time and time again.
But you can't keep talking about a rule and just keep breaking it, or else it loses any and all impact.
There is absolutely no way that Sarah, given her history, would let Chuck date Hannah, particularly as the scene comes just after they've announced that Chuck will soon be a solo agent. Chuck is THE spy; no one can do what he can. If anyone has to be bound by these rules it's the Intersect.
And then there's Sarah and Shaw. Even if we ignore the fact that this is the THIRD time this has gone down with Sarah, it's amazing someone hasn't completely defeated her simply by kissing her neck. Oh, and then there's Shaw, who just got his last lady's ring back like two weeks ago -- and that was an on the job romance, too.
In other words, given the way this show has established itself, none of the last five or so minutes of this episode of Chuck should have happened.
Even worse, they could have worked in these dueling relationships without undermining what they've already established.
Imagine Sarah telling Chuck he can't date Hannah, and Chuck react as if she's only saying it because she's jealous. And she very well might be, but she'd also be right and, of course, Chuck would sneak around with Hannah, trying to out smart the spy who taught him.
On the other hand, if they wanted something to happen between Sarah and Shaw, they could have actually spent some time developing it for more than 5 minutes in a single episode.
I don't think the Chuck/Hannah, Sarah/Shaw is a bad storyline necessarily, but I think it was handled badly.
I've more or less enjoyed this season of Chuck so far, but I'm hoping they kick it up a notch after the break (and follow the path I laid out in my last review, of course). I'm beginning to worry, though, as the show is dropping viewers on a regular basis. Let's hope more people return after the Olympics.