Chuck 4.4 Review (spoilers)

I really, really enjoyed 3/4 of this episode.  It brought the funny in a way that has been missing so far this season.  The fact that I managed to skip doing a review for 4.3 should pretty much tell you what I thought of it; it could have been the first episode of Chuck during which I didn't let out a single chuckle.  But 4.4 made up for that, and would have been the first truly great episode of the season if not for a really, really awful climax.

Heavy Cheese

As crazy as I am about this show, I know that Chuck isn't real.  But there are, at the very least, levels of ridiculousness on this show.  The simple fact that none of the spies just kill people, instead choosing to capture Chuck and his team, should be a good indication that "realness" is not a priority.  This isn't the Bourne movies.

But there are times when Chuck pushes the boundaries well past the acceptable level of whimsy.  It pushes so far past, that it turns into grade A American cheese.  And that's what the climax of this episode was: cheesy. It was painfully cheesy.  Even worse, it was heavy handed cheese.  Sarah and Chuck need to talk about their relationship -- what a coincidence, so does the former dictator of a fictional country and his supposedly communist wife!  Hey, the only way to fix this is by having Chuck walk in and get everyone to talk about their feelings.  The fact that we didn't get a shot of Casey going "ugh" at some point in that scene just underscored how awful it was.

I'm fine with some ridiculousness now and again.  But it was just too far gone in this episode, and far too fabricated and forced for the sake of the other plot line.

Old Is New Again

I think it's safe to say that this episode was anything but new viewer friendly.  Granted, this isn't a great thing for a show that's in need of new viewers (more on that later), but the Costa Gravas set up from last season pays off nicely in this episode.  A lot of the humor stems from Casey's past as the Angel of Death and it almost always works, but it obviously wouldn't for someone brand new to the show.

And, yeah, I think the Generalisimo is funny.  I can't help it. "In Costa Gravas, we revolution, but then we party."

From the get go I thought this was going to be a good one.  Chuck/Sarah, Awesome/Ellie double dates are almost always entertaining, and a vacation in which Awesome would be recognized as a hero was even better.  That statue was priceless.  And it's always entertaining to see Chuck and Sarah on a mission together these days -- I really can't get enough of that.  I know I sound like a broken record, but I really love their dynamic. Chuck's "no, I didn't flash, really, I just want to be on vacation with you" bit was actually pretty nice and worked well on me.  I like that Chuck can still be a reluctant spy from time to time.

Speaking of dynamics between two people, the Morgan/Casey show continues to get better and better.  They did a really nice job with it last season and so far I really like the way they're handling the Morgan/Alex relationship.  The scene at Casey's place was really entertaining -- the advice from Big Mike was just as good, too.  Honestly, Morgan's creating a nice little reality of his own on the show which I'm really enjoying, although I realize some of that is to the detriment of screen time for Jeffster.

The coup was obvious, of course, but the nuclear angle was a good one.  It was also great to see Chuck engage in some spy action in front of Ellie -- it's something they never really addressed after last season.  It's also something I've wondered about everyone on the show: how much do they all know?  We know that Morgan has the full story, but do Awesome and Ellie know about the Intersect in Chuck's head?  Do they know how he became a spy?  That Jill is/was a Fulcrum/Ring agent?  That Bryce Larkin wasn't really a bad guy after all?  I know it would most likely make for bad TV, but I would love an entire episode in which Chuck just explains everything to the others.

Climax notwithstanding, I also really liked the structure of this episode.  I liked that the first half felt like an episode on its own, and how Sarah and Chuck were tasked to return to Costa Gravas.  It's nice to be reminded on the show that Team Bartowski also happens to be the top spy team the CIA and NSA have.  And this episode was a good example of why that is, given that Chuck flashed on the weapons system, Casey gave them intel, Sarah snapped off the pictures, etc.  It was good to see the team working like an actual spy team, which is perhaps another reason why the climax didn't work for me.

And, of course, we finally got the Chuck/Ellie scene that I'd been waiting for.  While not as clear as I was hoping it would be, at least it set things in motion.  At least Chuck admitted he was looking for their mother, so he can claim his CIA work is completely related to that, which, of course, it isn't.  I did find it strange that, when Ellie suggested there was no reason their mother could give to justify leaving, Chuck didn't point out that their father had left them and his reasons were pretty darn good.

Season of Previews

If nothing else, this season has had damn fine previews.  I was really excited for 4.3 based on the preview, but was ultimately let down.  I was really excited for 4.4 by the preview, and was more or less happy with it.  Yet again I'm excited for another episode by a preview.  Next week looks like it will be a lot of fun.