Chuck 4.11 Review (spoilers)

I think it's time I finally read the writing on the wall: Chuck has seen better days.

For every moment that I enjoyed (Lester, the near proposal, the A plot itself), there was a moment that made me groan (the lack of logic in the ending, the proposal storyline, the lack of logic in the ending -- did I say that already?).  Sadly, this has become a pattern this season on Chuck, and one I don't see ending until the initial season order of 13 episodes has wrapped up.

Old School

There was something incredibly charming about the spy story in this episode, something that harkened back to early episodes of the show.  Perhaps it was the somewhat wacky, very simple premise: crazy CIA gadget needs to be retrieved and the team goes undercover to get it.  Perhaps it was Casey taking on a role as yet another person who has to serve Chuck (like a waiter or a bartender, etc.) or Sarah and Chuck posing as a couple on a romantic trip again (even though, this time, they're exactly that).  There was a certain purity to this story, like something out of season one.



The same could actually be said for the Buy More crowd.  It was good to see Big Mike get decent screen time and, really, as far as this episode goes you'd never know he was no longer in charge.  And, of course, there was Lester being Lester and another great performance by Jeffster.  It really was the most awkward five minutes on television.

And before I go ahead and start sounding like a jaded old man, I have to say that I really enjoyed the scenes leading up to Chuck's near proposal, particularly when he was working up to popping the question.  I love Chuck and Sarah and it was a really sweet moment to watch...

Killing Me

...but that doesn't take away from the fact that this proposal is killing the show.

On the surface, the fact that the issue of the two of them getting engaged has even been talked about at this point is a bit much.  The audience got to see them as a couple for 8 whole episodes before the issue came up.  That's not a whole lot of time.  It's so little time, in fact, that it's made this entire story seem forced.

I'm willing to let that slide, though.  I understand that they wanted to create some drama in Chuck and Sarah's relationship.  I also understand that they initially only had a 13 episode season.  It would have been far more organic had this proposal come up mid-way through the season, but, sadly, the people who run Chuck had no idea if they'd get more episodes.  They had to jump the gun, just as they had to give Ellie the fastest pregnancy in television history (baby Awesome is reported to be born in the next two weeks).  It's not a perfect world, so I accept that.

The problem is that this already forced storyline has taken over the show.  The third episode was called "Chuck vs. the Cubic Z" for crying out loud.  The ending to "Chuck vs. the Coup D'Etat" was incredibly heavy handed and cheesy solely for the purpose of connecting that storyline to Chuck and Sarah's relationship.  Chuck's perfect proposal plan and his attempts to propose come up again and again in episodes like "Chuck vs. the First Fight" and "Chuck vs. the Fear of Death," and even "Chuck vs. Phase Three."  And then, this week, we get another episode where the supposed B plot for the season takes over.

Even worse, it has no turned the A plot -- Chuck's mom and Volkoff -- into yet another vehicle for their proposal.  There is no logical reason for Volkoff to believe that Sarah has gone rogue.  None.  He would never even give her the chance to prove herself and even if she passed some kind of test, he still wouldn't let her join him.  She's Chuck's girlfriend.  We have seen that Volkoff runs an airtight operation, and now we're supposed to believe that he would do something as stupid as to believe that Sarah wants to join him.

But he has to do that for the sake of the proposal storyline.  He has to be stupid so there can be another complication that will drag this out even longer.  As of last night, the B plot has completely taken over so that no aspect of the show this season stands on its own; it's all about whether Chuck and Sarah get engaged.

Here's the problem (or another one, at least): I'm not a 13 year old girl.  In fact, I don't even think a 13 year old girl would find any real tension in this story.  What's the worst that can happen, they don't get engaged?  Really?  That possibility is supposed to create tension and drama?  It's supposed to keep the audience interested?

At this point, does anyone even care what happens to Frost?

There's no weight to this show anymore, and that's a shame.  Season one had its moments.  Season two was filled with so many twists and turns that it raised the bar for the show.  And even as sporadic in quality as season three was, there were still consequences, there were still things at risk.

What's at risk now?

In a Perfect World

In a perfect world, this storyline would go away, and perhaps it will.  Since the first 13 episodes were ordered together, maybe the proposal storyline will end with the 13th episode, and the next 11 episodes can move forward.

Now, as is my way when it comes to all things Chuck, I will share my wild speculation/borderline fan-ficquo.

I think that Frost should die and that it should seem like Chuck had something to do with it.  Volkoff would, of course, launch an all out assault on Chuck, which would include going after anyone that's close to him.  People would get hurt (anyone and everyone, from Sarah to Alex).  There would be no stopping Volkoff and his men.

And then Chuck is killed.  Big explosion, body that is ID'd as his, the whole bit.  And there would be massive mourning.  I picture a shot of Sarah crying in Chuck's bed -- it would be totally heart breaking.

Then, of course we see Chuck in some hidden location, video conferencing with Beckman.  She tells him she's made sure all of his records say he's dead.  They talk about the fact that, in order for everyone to be safe, Chuck needs to be gone, and how he is now going to go full on black ops in order to take down Volkoff...alone.  Beckman says she will expect to hear from him exactly 1 year later, but until then it will be complete silence.  And we'd get "it was an honor working with you," of course.

End season.  Cliffhanger?  Sure, but one that, in theory, could be left that way.

Then the next season would open with Chuck returning, and that would be a complete CF, as everyone would have moved on with their lives...or tried to.

Of course, there are variations.  It doesn't have to be a year, it could just be six months.  And Frost could actually stay alive for this.  She could simply betray Volkoff and then "die" with Chuck -- then the two of them would go underground, which would actually give the season some symmetry.  And, of course, next season we would see that Sarah and Casey have been trying to avenge Chuck...but perhaps someone kept beating them to the punch.

Again, think of how much tension would be in those last few episodes.  This kind of a storyline would probably require 3 episodes.  From the moment Frost dies on would be nonstop drama.  It would be heavy duty.  It would be gut wrenching.

It would seem like something is actually at risk again.